A Victorian-era Suburb
The residents of Angelino Heights and Echo Park share the same business district, parks, schools and historic pride. But Angelino Heights, located to the east of Echo Park Lake and north of the 101 Freeway, remains a unique and remarkably well preserved section of Victorian-era Los Angeles.
While known primarily for its Victorian landmarks, Angelino Heights, one of the first suburbs of Los Angeles, has an impressive array of architectural styles, among them: Queen Anne and Eastlake Victorian, Mission Revival, Craftsman/California bungalow, Brownstone, and Streamline Moderne.
More than 50 Victorian residences and carriage houses dominate the heart of the neighborhood, which has been referred to by some residents as “the hill.” The highest concentration and best collection of Queen Anne-Eastlake Victorians in the city maybe found on Carroll Avenue. More than a dozen of these homes have been designated Los Angeles cultural historic monuments and the 1300 block is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Born During the Boom
Angelino Heights was created at the height of the Southern California land boom of the mid 1880s. The completion of transcontinental railroads and a rail fares as low as $1 for a trip from the Missouri River to the West Coast helped trigger a land and population boom in the region. A flood of hysterical buyers and rampant speculation pushed some land prices up as high as 500% in one year.
It was a the height of this land boom in 1886 that William W. Stilson and Everett E. Hall filed for the subdivision of the “Angeleňo Heights” tract in what was then city’s lightly populated western fringe. The elevation of the hill offered beautiful vistas and a quiet suburban atmosphere to the upper middle class Angelenos who moved to the subdivision.
A nearby cable car line, which ran down Temple Street, then a main east-west artery to the heart of downtown 1-1/2 miles away, served residents. One could hop a car and be downtown a few minutes later or be whisked quickly home from the noise and dust of the city to a game of tennis at one of the three courts located on the hill.
From Boom to Bust
Because of the general banking recession of 1888, most construction on the hill came to an abrupt halt, leaving the unique island of Victoriana that remains today. When prosperity returned in the late 1890s, other areas of Los Angeles has become more prominent.
The second wave of development in Angelino Heights came between 1900 and 1915, bringing the Craftsman/California bungalow style. Many of these gracious homes were built and may be seen today on the Kensington Road crescent. This was an exciting time for the area. With the first silent film studios operating nearby, many chase scenes of the Keystone Cops could be seen filmed on the hills of Angelino Heights. Photoplayers from the studios and some of the first silent film start lived or owned property in the area.
From 1915 to 1940, higher-density housing was built to accommodate a new influx of newcomers who moved into the area. Angelino Heights remained relatively intact until after World War II when construction of even larger, multi-unit apartments began and many large homes were converted to multi-family dwellings because of a housing shortage. Beginning in the 1970s, the neighborhood’s historic structures began to enjoy a revival as many began to be restored to their former glory.
On August 10, 1983, Angelino Heights was declared the city’s first Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. The designation helps protects the architectural integrity and historic character of the area.Angelino Heights, with its rich ethnic and architectural diversity, reflects the growth of the city.
These beautiful older homes stand as historic citadels reflecting our cultural heritage. They tell us where we have come from. By preserving them, we give meaning to the city’s dynamic growth and its future.
This historic overview is based on a “Picture Album of Historic Angelino Heights,” published by the Carroll Avenue Restoration Foundation.
For more information on Angelino Heights, please contact the Angeleno Heights Community Organization at (213) 250-2214.