Palmer Morton Scott
Palmer Morton Scott’s Place in Local History
The EPHS has always taken great interest in the origins of our neighborhood’s street names that crisscross our community. Two of our most important streets, and maybe a third – Scott, Morton and Parmer avenues – are very likely linked to the same family, and a very early, very passionate advocate for our community.
Palmer Morton Scott – or P.M. Scott, as he was frequently known – was a major landholder in Echo Park’s earliest days. He was also deeply involved in our neighborhood’s civic life, or so it appears reading press accounts from a century ago.
In 1889, P.M. Scott went to downtown Los Angeles to the corner of Spring and First Streets to circulate a petition against a plan to repeal the city’s designation of Elysian Park as a park. Scott gathered signatures from prominent business leaders to stop the City Council from using parkland for a “pesthouse.” Scott was extremely excited about the proposal and warned anyone who would listen that “boodlers” wanted to get hold of the park land.
“He was very much in earnest, and his hands trembled so that he could scarcely hold his petitions,” the Feb. 14, 1899 article stated.
Scott waged another public fight a decade later, urging the Board of Public Works to make Lake Shore Avenue – now Glendale Boulevard – a bona fide boulevard. In that area, Scott spoke passionately for the project, and directly confronted one of the speakers fighting the proposal. So excited was Scott that his wife begged him to sit down, and eventually he had to be led from the room.
Much of the land along Echo Park Avenue – known as Mecca Avenue around the turn of the century – lay within the P.M. Scott tract. East of Echo Park Avenue, another significant chunk was part of the E.M. Scott tract, named after Scott’s wife, Elizabeth.
Scott was one of the original builders of Echo Park Avenue, sometimes described as the Elysian Heights road. One newspaper article describing the electrified trolley line that was proposed on Echo Park Avenue even refers to the area as Scott Canyon. When the rail trolley finally opened, replacing an old horse-drawn trolley, it was billed as a way to take Angelenos into Elysian Park and was celebrated with a big party. The event included a speech from the Elysian Heights and Echo Park Improvement Association.
Scott’s widow Elizabeth, who remained a real estate developer with an office at Echo Park and Scott, served refreshments at the event. Local historians believe Scott Avenue and Morton Avenue were named for Elizabeth, the widow of the man who fought passionately to keep Elysian Park from being developed.
And quite possibly, a small residential street that links those two streets – Parmer Avenue – may also trace itself back to P.M. Scott, albeit with a slight misspelling.