Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who Knew #4 Before the Los Angeles Dodgers the City of Vernon Tigers!

Who knew that before the Dodgers moved to LA we had the City of Vernon Tigers! 

Of course not a Major League Baseball team but a Pacific Coast League team. The Vernon Tigers were a Double A team meaning that some baseball players made a pit stop before being selected to play in the majors.

The Vernon Tigers franchise played from 1909 to 1925, the Tigers biggest rivals the Los Angeles Angels. (not to get confused with the current MLB team from Orange County, the LA Angels were the original team from 1890-1952, the now Angels took the name as a tribute to the old Los Angeles Angels)

I am assuming those still reading are questioning why did such a small city like Vernon have a professional baseball team, there are no libraries, parks, schools, or people but the reason is....... Money and Alcohol!!!

Vernon's single biggest attraction was that the sale of alcoholic beverages was legal within its city limits - as opposed to the bordering City of Los Angeles, which was dry! (The early stages of prohibition)

With the ability to serve liquor, the Vernon Tigers became a popular baseball team among LA natives.

The Stadium

The Vernon Tigers played in two different stadiums during their tenure in Vernon. In 1913 the team briefly moved to Venice in an effort to attract more fans, as the capacity for the first Vernon stadium was not very big. The Tigers played around the Los Angeles region for the next couple of years and were  considered the Vernon Tigers or Venice Tigers depending on their home stadium.

In 1915 the team was moved back full time to the City of Vernon and they brought the stadium from Venice with them too!

The team played in Maire Park (named after the Tigers owner) until the 1920 baseball season. After the 1920 season they would occasionally use it for practice games. The stadium was demolished in 1930.

I could not find any pictures of the actual stadium but the location of the stadium was in the intersection of Santa Fe Ave and 38th Street!

The Demise of the Vernon Tigers

In 1920, The Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified, criminalizing the production and sale of alcohol everywhere in the U.S., including Vernon. It took effect in 1920. The small population of Vernon became a liability, as fewer people  were willing to travel the distance to watch a game in a dry town.

The team was eventually sold and moved to San Francisco,  changing the name to the Mission Reds. The Mission Reds were moved back to Hollywood in 1938 up until the arrival of the first Major League Baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Famous Vernon Tigers

The Vernon Tigers were actually a pretty good baseball team from 1918-1921. They won the Pacific League Title in 1919 and1920.

Bob Meusel was probably Vernon's most famous player. Mesuel started his career with the Vernon Tigers, before having his contract purchased by the New York Yankees. Meusel was part of the legendary murders row Yankee team. According to this book that names the 50 greatest Yankee players, he is considered to be #30. He was not as popular back then because he played with legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Filming Location #1 Michael Jackson Thriller in East Los Angeles

 Address: 3700-3728 Union Pacific Ave
                        Los Angeles, CA 900223

As I began thinking about a new feature to the blog, I thought about famous filming locations. I pass through this location every weekend as I drop my mom to work. This red brick building gives a bold impression for its color.

Michael Jackson's Thriller is an American 13-minute music video and was released on December 2, 1983.

This video, change the industry of music videos, as it was the first music video to ever World Premiere for MTV. In 2006, Guinness World Records, listed it as "the most successful music video", selling over nine million copies.

In 2009, the video was inducted into the National Film Registry and was the first music video to ever receive the honor. 

So lets get to the pictures! 

Picture on the right was taken on Aug 23, 2014

Look carefully at the sign located in the left side of the picture! 

Same exact picture is still up Aug 23, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Who Knew #3 Vail Field in the now City of Commerce

Who knew there was an airport called Vail Field.

Through hours of research I did not come across an exact date of when Vail Field became an airport but it dates back to the mid 1920’s. Vail Field was historically important for being one of the first airports in Los Angeles to deliver mail by flight.

In 1925, the United States Postal Services began to give airlines contracts to carry air mail throughout the country. Western Airlines (first incorporated in 1925), was awarded a mail route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Western Air Express originally purchased six Douglas M-2 mail planes for service between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Vail Field was named after the brothers who sold the land to Western Air Express.

Los Angeles Times recently republished an article from 1929 about the Western airmail service,

The first east-bound night air-mail plane of the new coast-to-coast service roared away for the East last night from Vail Field at 7 o’clock with Jimmie Jones, veteran pilot of Western Air Express at the stick. New Yorkers are scheduled to receive letters contained in the 591-pound load of mail tomorrow morning, this saving a complete business day over the daylight air-mail run.
Today at 5:30 a.m. the first plane load of mail on the westbound trip is expected to arrive at the Western Air Express terminal at Vail Field….
Four new Boeings have been purchased by Western Air Express to rush the mail through the night on the 600-mile Los Angeles-to-Salt Lake leg of the national airmail hook-up. The ships are capable of 150 miles an hour and have a cruising speed of 125 miles an hour. Each plane is powered with a Pratt & Whitney motor of 525 horsepower and carries the latest equipment for night flying….
If the night planes stick to schedule the mail which left here at 7 p.m. yesterday arrived at Salt Lake at 1:45 a.m. today, left at 4 a.m. and will arrive in Chicago at 6 o’clock tonight. Two hours later it is scheduled to leave for New York and arrive there at 6:45 a.m. tomorrow, early enough for delivery on the second day after the local takeoff.


Interesting Fact: Western Airlines turned into Delta Airlines in 1986

 Charles Lindbergh:

In 1927,Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to fly a single seat, custom built airplane, non-stop flight from New York to Paris. It took him a total of 33 hours to fly from the U.S to France.  

After his transatlantic flight, Lindbergh went on a nationwide tour on his Spirit of St. Louis and actually stopped on Vail Field. 


By 1947, Vail Field was known for having  220 planes and was considered the busiest airport in LA County.

  Mines Field which competed with Vail Field during the 20's and 30's transformed into the Los Angeles Airport by the end of World War II (Present LAX) Vail Field was evidently closed at some point between 1950-53 due to development around the area.

Location of Vail Field

Now you ask someone from Montebello to tell you a brief history of Vail Field and they would say that it was under their city limits ask everybody else it belong to  Los Angeles. (Commerce became a City in the 60's) All of the articles that I found list Vail Field as an airport in Los Angeles. Now there is not an exact location or address to where I can say Vail Field was located but if we look at our current existence of streets it was somewhere near the intersection of Garfield Avenue and Washington Blvd

Overall, the location of Vail Field is located in the border of Commerce and Montebello

Interesting tidbit: There is a Vail Ave that runs from Commerce to Montebello near the area of the field and it intersects Mines Ave. (Short 1 mile street in Montebello that be named after rival airport Mines Field which became LAX)
Note: There was a smaller airfield in Maywood in present Atlantic and Slauson and there was also an East Los Angeles Airport somewhere in that area.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Who Knew #2 Before the Citadel Outlets the Tire Companies

Who knew that the building has existed since 1928? Who knew it was national registered landmark? The Citadel Outlets have existed since 1990, as I moved to the City of Commerce in 1996, I remember it being a small mini-mall. It only consisted of a few stores such as Old Navy, Toys "R" Us Outlet, a food court and a hotel, but its expansion in 2005 made this into one of the biggest touristic outlet malls in California.

 In 1928, Adolph Schleicher, owner of Samson Tire and Rubber Company had a small factory in Compton, California but decided to move to a bigger location in East of Los Angeles. The factory in East Los Angeles became the largest manufacturing facility to the West of the Mississippi; it  took 8 million dollars to create. This factory was modeled after the 7th century BC Assyrian Palace of King Sargon II, the wall surrounding the tire plant featured heraldic griffins and bas-reliefs of Babylonian princes. 

 In 1930, the Samson Tire and Rubber Company opened and the castle like building became known to many as the Citadel 

The Samson Tire Company only operated for a year and sold the factory to the US Tire Company due to effects of the Great Depression. In 1962, the US Tire Company changed its name to the Uniroyal Tire Co. After 40 years of operation, the factory was closed in 1977.
Picture of the abandoned citadel right after the Uniroyal Tire Company closed in 1977

For most of the next decade the building became abandoned,  In 1982, California State Historical Resources Commission approved  the site nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in order to preserve the building. The following year the City of Commerce purchased the property for a total of $14 million dollars.

According to a  Los Angeles Times  article in 1990,

Trammell Crow won the right to develop the project after assuring city officials that it would tread lightly on the landmark. It spent $6 million to restore and renovate the administration building and walls
Overall the Trammel Crow Company spent $118 million, on the  742,000 square foot mixed-use project which included a factory outlet retail center, five office buildings, a food court and a 201-room Wyndham Garden Hotel.

In 2003, the Craig Realty Group purchased  the Citadel Outlets for $53 million from the City of Commerce Redevelopment Agency and expanded the Citadel into one of the biggest outdoor outlet malls in California. 

Interesting Facts:
Ben-Hur (1959) was filmed at the Citadel, this movie won a total of 11 Academy Awards and 3 Golden Globes. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Historical Landmark #9 Rio San Gabriel Battlefield

Address: Intersection of Washington Blvd and Bluff Road 

 CA Historical Landmark #385

The battle of Rio San Gabriel was fought on January 8, 1847 between the United States and Mexico. 
The U.S commanded by General Stephen W. Kearny went to the headquarters of Commodore Robert F. Stockton in San Diego to discuss their next move.  Both of their missions were to recapture the City of Los Angeles, which they had captured but lost in a matter of days due to failed leadership. In route to Los Angeles, Robert F. Stockton led his force of 500 men from San Diego. 

The Mexican troops were led by Jose Maria Flores who was the Governor of Alta California from 1846 to January 17, 1847

According to the CA State Military Museum,

 U.S. scouts discovered the Mexican position at a key ford along the San Gabriel River on January 7. Stockton and Kearny planned a crossing for the next day. The U.S. forces were formed into a hollow square with the artillery and baggage in the center. Kearny ordered the artillery unlimbered to cover the crossing but Stockton countered the order and began to move across the river. The crossing proved to be especially difficult as Flores was in a good position to contest the crossing from the heights across the river and the ford had patches of quicksand at the bottom of the knee-deep water.
The U.S. force came under fire as it crossed, but due to poor ammunition and bad aim the Mexican artillery proved to be ineffective. The U.S. officers and men manhandled their cannon across while the forward quarter of the square took cover on the riverbank. Stockton personally helped unlimber and direct the artillery, which silenced both Mexican cannon.
 Lacking resources to immediately pursue Flores, Stockton and Kearny stayed on the field overnight and resumed the pursuit the next day, quickly encountering Flores again for the Battle of La Mesa, at the confluence of the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers. On January 10 the U.S. forces reoccupied Los Angeles
This battle was relatively short, it killed two officers from each side and wounded a total of 18 from both sides. The San Gabriel Battle was very important because it  led to the conquer of the Cuidad de Los Angeles. 

A memorial of this battlefield  is located at the corner of Washington Blvd. and Bluff Rd. The   memorial  erected by the City of Montebello in 1944 has a plaque and two cannons. 

Pictures taken on Aug. 16, 2014 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Historical Landmark #8 Pio Pico State Historic Park

Address: 6003 Pioneer Blvd
                Whittier, CA

CA Historical Landmark #127
National Register of Historic Places Reference #73000408

Pío de Jesus Pico is one of California’s most remarkable historical figures.  He witnessed and influenced nearly a century of California history in the 1800’s. Pío Pico was the governor of Alta California in 1832 and again in 1846 before and during the Mexican-American War. Pio Pico was the last Mexican Governor of Alta California and perhaps the one of the first African descendant politicians in North America!

Pio Pico was born in 1801 in Mission San Gabriel, according to records his ancestry included a mixture of Spanish, African and Indian. He live most of this young adult life in San Diego living with his father. It was up until his dad died where  he began exploring other territories receiving land grants where he became influential to California History.

In 1845 Pio Pico became Governor of Alta California. During that time he became a strong leader against the war and invasion of the Americans.

By the 1850's Pico became one of the richest men in Alta California, he purchased Rancho Paso de Bortolo (present day cities Montebello, Whittier, Pico Rivera) and built an adobe house.

After being defeated by the Americans in the  Mexican-American War , Pico fled to Mexico to prevent being captured and taken as a prisoner leaving all his land behind.  He later reclaimed his title to the land  and invested in more real estate, becoming wealthy and influential. In his later years Pico became more private and lived at the present day Pio Pico Historic Park.

Towards the very end of his life just like every rich man in that time frame of the late 1880's he became very poor. He was evicted of his own adobe house in 1892 after thinking he had gotten a loan by Bernard Cohn but ignorantly sold his deed without even realizing.

Pio Pico died in 1894. His remains are actually in the Campo Santo Cemetery that belong to the Workman family. For history of the Campo Santo check out my Historical Landmark #4 post

The Pio Pico Historic Park includes the adobe mansion and green fields which now include park picnic benches. In 1907 the land became historic and by 1917 this site belonged to the state of California. In 1927 the Pio Pico Adobe Mansion became the Pio Pico State Historic Park. Although it has been renovated many times due to floods, and earthquakes the foundation of the adobe house remains.

Present Day Pio Pico Adobe House Picture Taken on 8/10/14

Historical Landmark #127 Plaque. Picture taken 8/10/2014

Original walls most of the house had to be renovated due to floods in the 1920's and the Whittier Narrows earthquake in the 80's

Friday, August 8, 2014

Who Knew #1 Did the High-Five Originate From the Dodgers?

You think about high-fives and you think that  they have always existed. I mean what did professional sports athletes do when they celebrated after success? The term high-five became part of the Oxford Dictionary in 1981, so it can not be really old.

Although there are many different theories on the evolution of the high-five the most intriguing one and perhaps the most documented one in sports is that the high five originated in 1977.

According to online magazine The Week,
IT WAS OCT. 2, 1977, the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers left fielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros' J.R. Richard. It was Baker's 30th home run, a wild, triumphant moment as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Glenn Burke, a young outfielder whose astonishing physique and 17-inch biceps earned him the nickname King Kong, was waiting on deck. In front of 46,000 screaming fans at Dodger Stadium, Burke thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. "His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back," says Baker, 62, who's now managing the Cincinnati Reds. "So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do."
Burke then stepped to the plate and launched his first major league home run. And as he returned to the dugout, Baker high-fived him. From there, the story goes, the high five went ricocheting around the world. This simple, timeless gesture, it seems, was invented then and there in Dodgers Stadium by Burke, though sadly the game was not televised, and no footage survives of the first man to go up top.

ESPN did this documentary of this special moment and actually revealed that Glenn Burke creator of the high-five was gay.  Apparently his career was derailed  due to being openly gay. His situation was very similar to Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier but was not very successful. This video which talks about the high five goes more into detail about Glenn Burke career and story.
According to ESPN,
By 1980, the Dodgers were selling "High Five" T-shirts with a trademarked logo of two upraised hands connecting. A promotional poster explained: "The 'High Five' salute has become the Dodgers' standard salute during the 1980 season. It is given customarily following a home run, good defensive play or Dodger victory." 
Glenn Burke walked away from baseball after four seasons with a career .237 batting average. But as he told a newspaper reporter years later: "You think about the feeling you get when you give someone the high five. I had that feeling before everybody else."
Whether you want to believe this version of the creation of the high five or not it is still a great story. Who Knew! 

Historical Landmark #7 Rose Bowl

U.S National Historic Landmark
National Register of Historic Places
 Reference #87000755

As my summer vacation came to an end, my pursuit of national and state landmarks will still continue. 

My reason for this visit was not for a historic stadium tour or a random drive up there to know the history, it was because I had tickets for the Eminem/Rhianna concert. Of course, for some this is just a random stadium/venue but this is one of the oldest stadiums built in the United States. Just to give you an idea Dodger Stadium opened in 1962 and the Rose Bowl opened in 1922. The Rose Bowl the third oldest active stadiums of professional sports in the United States only Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Fenway Park (Boston) are the oldest

 College football games, Super Bowls, soccer world cup games (Men's World Cup 1994, Women's world cup 1999), summer olympics of 1984 and 1932, sold out concerts from Guns N' Roses, Pink Floyd, JayZ/Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Eminem/Rhianna and U2 have all taken place in this historic venue.

Memorable Events:

1999 Women's World Cup Final: 90,000 attended the Rose Bowl to watch the U.S women team defeat China. To this day this game  remains as  the largest crowd ever to watch a women's sporting event. Despite being 8 years old I remember watching this game on T.V.

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup: 93.000 attended this event. I remember watching this game at the MGM grand hotel before I left to the Electronic Dance Festival.

 I will never forget this game 2006 Rose Bowl USC vs Texas, I am not a fan of college football but this game has to go as one of the best football games ever.

 (Ariel View of the Rose Bowl)

Concert set up for the Rihanna-Eminem Monster Tour -Aug 7
First Game Ever Played at the Rose Bowl

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Historical Landmark #6 Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility

 Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility
Address: 11850 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90606

CA Historical Landmark Reference #947

So I was interested in visiting this site after coming across a video about it on YouTube. Then I remembered how my final college paper about solitary confinement and torture in juvenile delinquency centers actually mentioned this place, so I drove to the City of Whittier to look at this historic landmark.

My visitation attempt failed because you can not go into this property with out proper permits. Although it is not in operation it is still owned by the Department of Corrections and those who want to visit to film or take pictures need to purchase a film permit which runs about 1,000 dollars. Despite the location being on Whittier Blvd, it is hard to see anything from the main street other than the sign.  From the side streets you can see an abandoned area, but it is surrounded by barbed wired.

entrance sign of the Fred C. Nelles Youth Authority

According to the  CA Office of Historic Preservation:
Officially opened as 'Whittier State School' for boys and girls on July 1, 1891. Girls were transferred in 1916 and only boys have been in residence since that time. Renamed 'Fred C. Nelles School for Boys' in 1941 ('For Boys' was dropped around 1970). This school has been in continuous operation serving the needs of juvenile offenders since 1891.

Perhaps a bit outdated this correctional facility has been closed since 2004 and no longer holds any juvenile delinquents.

To get an inside view of the Fred C. Nelles facility look at this music video by The Game which was entirely filmed at that location or go get yourself a trespassing ticket, your choice.

Here is a short documentary that goes into full detail about the history of the Fred C. Nelles facility.