88 Suburbs In Search Of Their Names

Los Angeles County is quite a county. With a population of about 10 million, it’s not only the most populous county in the United States, but it has more people than the entire nation of Sweden. It’s home of America’s aerospace and entertainment industries. It’s home to the two largest ports in the U.S. Los Angeles County has got it all: Mountains, beaches, deserts and 88 incorporated cities.

Eighty-eight cities with eighty-eight distinct names (Okay, some of the names are similar). And what’s in a name? A glimpse of the town’s history, that’s what. Many of the cities are named after the original Mexican-era ranchos, or even invented (i.e. gringo) Spanish. One is even in French. some are named after the native Tongva or Chumash. Another is named after a Native American language from the Midwest. Some are named after saints. Others are named after the town’s founders, or their native hometowns.  And a few are named after lofty, idyllic visions of what their founders wanted their city to eventually be.

So after much Militant research, here it is, the etymology of Los Angeles county’s 88 cities, in alphabetical order:

Agoura Hills – Misspelling of French Basque settler Pierre Agourre.

Alhambra –Washington Irving’s book, “Tales of the Alhambra.”

Arcadia – Named by founder Lucky Baldwin, meaning “utopia” or “paradise,” which originated from the Greek region of Arcadia.

Artesia – The artesian wells found in the city.

Avalon – Referenced in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Idylls of the King;” meant “Bright gem of the ocean” or “Beautiful isle of the blest.”

Azusa – Derived from the Tongva village Asuksagna (“Place of the water”).

Baldwin Park – Founded by Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin.

Bell – Founded by James George Bell.

Bell Gardens – Nearby Bell and the farms developed by Japanese gardeners.

Bellflower – Anglicized version of the Bellefleur apples that grew in local orchards.

Beverly Hills – After Beverly Farms, Massachusetts and the Santa Monica Mountain foothills.

Bradbury – Founded by Louis Leonard Bradbury.

Burbank – Founded by dentist and land developer Dr. David Burbank.

Calabasas – From Spanish word “Calabaza” (pumpkin).

CarsonJohn Manuel Carson, developer and head of Dominguez Water Corporation, grandson of Don Manuel Dominguez.

Cerritos – Nearby Rancho Los Cerritos (Spanish for “Little Hills”).

Claremont – Name arbitrarily given by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway for a train station

Commerce – Chosen late 1940s by community leaders to encourage…well…commerce.

Compton – Land pioneer Griffith Dickenson Compton, who donated much of his land to incorporate city.

Covina – Named by engineer Fred Eaton (who eventually became Los Angeles Mayor and conceptualized the Los Angeles Aqueduct) after the San Gabriel Mountain valleys, which formed a natural “COVE” around the local “VINE”yards.

Cudahy – Founded by Irish immigrant and meat packer Michael Cudahy.

Culver City – Founded by real estate developer Harry H. Culver.

Diamond Bar – Named by ranch owner Frederick E. Lewis for the “Diamond-Over-A-Bar” cattle branding iron design, which he registered in 1918.

Downey – Founded by former California governor John Gately Downey, a land developer.

Duarte – After Mexican rancho grantee Corporal Andres Duarte.

El Monte – Old Spanish name for “meadow” or “marsh.”

El Segundo – Invented Spanish for “The second” Standard Oil refinery on the West Coast.

Gardena – Invented Spanish reference for area’s reputation as the only dry-season garden/green spot found between Los Angeles and the sea.

Glendale – Named by local residents, meaning “valley valley.”

Glendora – Founder George Whitcomb combined the “glen” (valley) where he lived, with the name of his wife Leadora.

Hawaiian Gardens – Named in reference to a bamboo shack refreshment stand that opened in 1927 on Carson and Norwalk boulevards, that was decorated to resemble a Hawaiian garden.

Hawthorne – Named by the daughter of town’s co-founder Benjamin Harding; she shared the same birthday with author Nathaniel Hawthorne (OMG, really?!).

Hermosa Beach – Spanish for “beautiful.”

Hidden Hills – Named by developer A.E. Hanson, who also developed Rolling Hills; location is “hidden” between the San Fernando and Simi valleys.

Huntington Park – Founded by Pacific Electric Railway’s Henry Huntington.

Industry – Named by city boosters to promote industry; incorporated to avoid being annexed by neighboring cities for tax revenue.

Inglewood – Founder Daniel Freeman’s hometown of Inglewood, Ontario, Canada.

Irwindale – A Mr. Irwin who used the town’s first gas-powered water pump to bring a water supply to the community. His daughter’s name was Dale.

La Cañada Flintridge – From Mexican-era Rancho La Cañada, and Flintridge, named after developer and former U.S. Senator Frank P. Flint.

La Habra Heights – From Mexican-era Rancho La Habra (mountain pass).

La Mirada – Invented Spanish – “The Look.”

La Puente – After Rancho La Puente – Old Spanish for “The Bridge” (The Gaspar de Portola Expedition built a bridge over San Jose Creek).

La Verne – French for “growing green” or “spring-like.”

Lakewood – Named after the Lakewood Country Club, established 21 years before the city’s incorporation.

Lancaster – After Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Lawndale – Named by landowner Charles B. Hopper after Lawndale, Illinois.

Lomita – Spanish for “little hill.”

Long Beach – Named after the “Long Beach Land & Water Company” who bought land and incorporated the name “Long Beach,” a double-reference to the beach’s length and Long Beach, New York.

Los Angeles – Oh come on, you should know this one already.

Lynwood – Named after Lynne Wood Sessions, wife of dairyman and major land owner Charles H. Sessions.

Malibu – Derived from Chumash village Humaliwo (“The surf sounds loudly”).

Manhattan Beach – Named in 1902 by land developer Stewart Merrill after his hometown of Manhattan, New York; “Beach” was added 25 years later.

Maywood – Named after May Wood, woman who worked for real estate company who owned much of city’s land.

Monrovia – Named after founder and rancher, William Norton Monroe.

Montebello – Spanish for “Beautiful mountain;” named by William Mulholland who also engineered that city’s water system.

Monterey Park – Named after the nearby Monterey Hills, which were named after Pennsylvania’s Monterey Pass, site of a major Civil War battle.

Norwalk – Named after the “North Walk” path the Anaheim Branch Railroad crossed. The railroad named their station “Norwalk.”

Palmdale – Originally named Palmenthal (“palm valley”) by Swiss/German Lutheran settlers who mistook Joshua trees for palms.

Palos Verdes Estates – From Mexican-era Rancho de los Palos Verdes (“Ranch of the green sticks” – with “sticks” referring to trees).

Paramount – Named after Paramount Boulevard, meaning “important.”

Pasadena – Chippewa Native American for “Crown Of The Valley,” suggested by settler Dr. Thomas Elliot, who was recommended the name from a missionary friend from the Midwest who worked with Native American tribes.

Pico Rivera – Named after Mexican California governor Pio Pico, and the local confluence of the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers.

Pomona – Named by horticulturist Solomon Gate, who won a contest to name the town. Named after the Roman goddess of fruit.

Rancho Palos Verdes – See Palos Verdes Estates.

Redondo Beach – Named after Mexican-era Rancho Sausal Redondo (“Round Willow Grove Ranch”), a reference to the round shape of the original rancho property.

Rolling Hills – After the rolling Palos Verdes Hills.

Rolling Hills Estates – See Rolling Hills.

Rosemead – Named by town pioneer Leonard J. Rose, who named his horse ranch, “Rose Meadow,” which later became “Rosemeade.”

San Dimas – Spanish for St. Dismas, the Biblical figure who was the repentant criminal that was crucified alongside Christ.

San Fernando – Named after Mission San Fernando Rey de España (“St. Ferdinand, King of Spain”).

San Gabriel – Named after Mission San Gabriel Archangel (“St. Gabriel the Archangel”).

San Marino – Named by founder James DeBarth Shorb after his grandfather’s plantation in Maryland, which was named after the small European republic of San Marino, which was named after Saint Marinus, a 4th-century monk.

Santa Clarita – Invented Spanish for “Little Santa Clara.” Named after the nearby Santa Clara River, but intentionally differentiated from the northern California city of Santa Clara.

Santa Fe Springs – Named after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which ran through town, and the local artesian springs.

Santa Monica – Named by Father Juan Crespi, who, upon arriving at Kuruvugna Springs (at modern-day University High School’s campus), thought the waters reminded him of the tears of Saint Monica.

Sierra Madre – Spanish for “mother mountain range,” the original name of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Signal Hill – Named after the hill that was traditionally used by the Tongva for smoke signal communication with the island village of Pimugna (Catalina Island).

South El Monte – See El Monte.

South Gate – Originally named “South Gate Gardens” – a reference to its location on the old Cudahy Ranch.

South Pasadena – See Pasadena.

Temple City – Founded by land owner Walter P. Temple. Originally named “Temple,” but U.S. Postmaster General wanted to avoid confusion (in the pre-ZIP code era) with Tempe, Arizona.

Torrance – Founded by land developer Jared Sydney Torrance.

Vernon – Named after Vernon Avenue, which was named after the French town of Vernon.

Walnut – Named after Rancho Los Nogales (“Walnut Ranch”).

West Covina – See Covina.

West HollywoodOriginally named “Sherman” after local electric railway tycoon Moses Sherman, who later called it “West Hollywood” to closely associate it with nearby Hollywood.

Westlake Village – Named after Westlake Lake, the westernmost lake (well, reservoir, really) in Los Angeles county (Their city government must have a Department of Redundancy Department).

Whittier – Founded by Quaker settlers who named it after their homeboy, poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

Let’s Go Dogers!*

The Militant loves memes. In fact, if he wasn’t a Militant, he’d be making memes all day long (So, uh, it’s actually good her turned out to be a Militant). He also loves the Los Angeles Dodgers, so much that his life generally revolves around the baseball season (he mostly languishes during the off-season) and is super-stoked about today’s home opener at the (newly-renovated) Stadium, which he may or may not attend.

But there’s one dark cloud that hangs over Dodgertown, and that’s the whole television thing [cue ominous thunder].

As you may or may not know, Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA channel has the exclusive rights to all Dodger games, which they paid the team $8.35 billion two years ago to do. So, you cannot watch Dodger games unless you have Time Warner Cable (except those of you out in Bako who subscribe to Bright House Cable, perhaps the only good thing about living in Bakersfield). No more games on Fox Sports West. No more games on KCAL 9. Ergo, not only are those of us cable-disadvantaged folks (e.g. the low-income population and intellectual types who would rather read books or go online than watch cable TV — and The Militant qualifies as both) assed-out, but so are those who have cable and satellite service that’s not TWC.

The contract lasts for 25 years. So, no new TV deal until…the 2039 season (The Militant, as well as all Dodger fans, TWC-advantaged or not, sincerely hopes the team wins at least a couple of World Series titles by then). Sucks, huh?

Yes, this season’s Dodgers tagline is “Live. Breathe. Blue.” But Time Warner Cable took away all the oxygen.

The only other options for the cable-disadvantaged are:

1) AM 570 Radio. Remember, you need to be listening to an actual radio (you know, that little box thing with speakers, or that thing in the center panel of your car’s dashboard), and not the online stream, which is blocked due to MLB licensing restrictions. Which is fine, since we can still listen to Vin Scully (for the first three innings at least…), and we can listen to Dodger Talk with Kevin Kennedy and David Vasseigh. But then we also have to deal with the endless 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS and California Earthquake Authority (it was not cool) commercials. Ack!

2) Undocumented Internet Streams. The Militant was able to watch the Dodgers games in Sydney thanks to an undocumented internet stream of ESPN’s UK feed. You can try undocumented streams like Wiziwig and Strikeout.co. The Militant didn’t tell you anything.

3) Go To An Actual Damn Game. Of course, that is the ideal. Considering the TV debacle, maybe it’s the reason why the Dodgers have already sold 3 million tickets before the home opener.

Yeah, there will be the rare dog bones thrown at us when the games are on ESPN or Fox’s Game Of The Week, and we will inevitably chomp on them like emaciated hounds. And if when the Dodgers go to Teh World Series, everyone will be happy again for more than one reason.

To protest this, The Militant has decided to, well…he can’t boycott the Dodgers since things aren’t as bad as when McYouKnowWho ran the team. So, he decided to combine his love of Dodgers and love of Internet Memes and create the Doger Meme.

You’ve heard of the Doge Meme, right? Well, from this point on, until the TV thing is resolved, The Militant Angeleno will no longer refer to his favorite baseball team by their properly-spelled name. He will now call them The Los Angeles Dogers (note, no second “d,” which stands for, “Damnit, The Militant can’t watch his favorite baseball team’s games on TV anymore”). This goes for both This Here Blog as well as Twitter and Facebook.

PLEASE DO THE SAME IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE MILITANT (Or else he’ll just look like some illiterate fool who can’t spell the team’s name correctly).


Use them hashtags: #dogers  #ineedmydogers

A tree does not, a forest make


One species of a tree even if repeated a million times does not make a forest.

Today  September 21st has been declared the International Day of Struggle against Tree Monocultures , people around the world will come out, write or otherwise question the wisdom of creating tree monocultures in the name of development. In Sri Lanka we have gone even further, we create tree monocultures in the name of forestry.

It is time to recognize the fact that much of the investment in “forests” up to date, have missed the forest for the wood. We have engaged ourselves in actions that addressed only one aspect of a forest, its wood.  This myopic vision has allowed the massive discounting of all other values of a forest. While the value of a forest in biodiversity conservation is just being appreciated, its value in acting as a buffer for problems wrought by climate change is still poorly understood.  It is urgent that we re-evaluate a forest, so that the institutions of ‘forestry’ act effectively within their mandate ‘the art and science of managing forests’

In Myanmar, there has been a long tradition of forest knowledge. In fact the development of ‘Agroforestry’ was based on the Myanmar traditions of ‘Taungya’ where the king allotted land for use in agriculture where teak trees would be grown alongside the crops and protected by the farmers.

The report on Biodiversity by the UNEP to the CSD has highlighted the massive problem inherent in the current discussions on forest, by pointing out that   “Forests can only be sustained if you sustain the richness of forest ecosystems.” they demonstrate the need to have forests as an issue managed by a multi-agency consortium rather that placing it under a single institution.  It is a fact that none of the so called ‘forestry’ practices has been able to sustain the richness of natural forest ecosystems, yet there are innumerable claims that ‘sustainable forestry’ is being practiced.

Studies on biodiversity indicate that trees account for 1 % of the biodiversity or less. What is known by science reveals the forest as an ecosystem of tremendous complexity.  The trees, while providing an essential framework of a forest constitutes only a fraction of the total biodiversity.   A forest contains a huge array of organisms, that continually change in form and function.  Thus biodiversity is what gives a forest its identity.  It should also be borne in mind that, from the small bushes of an area after a fire to the tall growth fifty years later, the species and architecture goes through many changes, and all these ecosystems are expressions of the growing, maturing forest. The international response to the loss of natural forest ecosystems can be seen in the massive global investment in forestry.  However, a great majority of these tree planting programs around the world do not seem to provide an environment that is hospitable for sustaining local biodiversity.  A situation brought about by neglect of the ecological and biodiverse reality of a forest.  There is no excuse to be found in the argument that there was no information.  Forest Ecology has a long and distinguished history in the scientific literature.  The result of this neglect was that institutional forestry activity was centered around the growing of even aged monocultures of fast growing trees with no requirement to attend to the rehabilitation of forests.

It seems that the Forestry administration of Sri Lanka was following the dictum of Fenrow  the Head of US Forest Service. who pointed out in 1920 that;

‘The first and foremost purpose of a forest growth is to supply us with wood material; it is the substance of the trees itself, not their fruit, their beauty, their shade, their shelter, that constitutes the primary object’

We, as Sri Lankans who respect the vision of the Buddha, still cannot follow the vision of the Buddha, who sitting under a tree said :

“The forest is a most benevolent organism, offering freely of its life processes.  It even provides shade to the axeman who would fell it”

Thereby uttering the first recognition of ecosystem services in the historical record. But we seem to have lost the forest for the trees.

In many non-European societies throughout the world the protection or growing of forests often took on different social or religious meanings.  The example of Sacred Groves or Deorais exist in many traditions.  In India, these forests are usually located at the origins of fresh water springs.  They are associated with spirits, often a mother-goddess, deity.  Their belief system, in the swift and immediate retribution meted out by the deity if the forest is disturbed, has served to protect these forests even today.  The forest in turn provides the social functions by having a place of religious focus and community activity, as well as economic functions such as providing medicines or famine food or the ecological functions of stabilizing water and protecting genetic diversity.  A study of various forest formations in north-east India suggest that sacred groves may be the last refuge for remnant populations of certain species.

A similar concept of sacred grove was seen in the Trobriand Islanders.  This tradition was seen as the only force protecting the kaboma or sacred groves that were the only areas of uncut forest remaining on the Islands. To cut the rainforest species of trees that compose such sacred groves was believed to be dangerous because the angered sprits would bring human illness or crop failure.  The highly evolved traditional responses to forest management as seen in the forest agriculture of Papua New Guinea, where the taller structure of the forest was recognized as a feature to be retained, while the smaller growth was cleared for agriculture.  Further, the social and cultural recognition of the differential planting patterns of village tree gardens in west Java suggest that cultural responses to forestry may contain useful design elements for modern application. In Sri Lanka , the concept of sacred groves has generally been associated with Temples or Shrines.  The Temple Forest or Aranya has been referred to in Buddhist texts as far back as 200 A.D.

Forestry has to be developed within the local context.  Both social and biodiversity needs have to figure prominently in its design, otherwise we will only perpetuate the tyranny of the ‘Monoculture As Forestry Implementation Authorities’.

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