What's in a Name


Two hundred years of Los Angeles stories written in concrete and asphalt are told in a fun series of web shorts created by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The six-part series Street Names of Los Angeles – A History begins with a look at 18th century diseño maps that mark routes along geological contours and natural features. “Turn left at the big sycamore tree” is a little more challenging today, but the pueblo is still pretty recognizable. Most of the five-minute videos examine an area within carriage distance of the old center of town and call on the great maps and photos from the Seaver Center for Western History Research.  The survey isn’t all center city, we’re also taken to Trolleyway Street along the beach at Palisades Del Rey (the train never happened) and Olympiad Drive in Baldwin Hills (The Olympics did happen, but the athlete’s village once located there is long gone.) I was surprised to learn that Washington, Adams and Jefferson are the last remnants of a series that once included every commander-in-chief up to Andrew Jackson. I knew about (Pio) Pico, but who knew (Jose) Figueroa, (Miguel) Micheltorena, (Jose) Echandia and (Juan) Alvarado were also governors of Alta California? I’ve got to pay closer attention to state politics…

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