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Korean Bell of Friendship

Korean Friendship BellKorean Friendship BellKorean Friendship BellKorean Friendship Bell

You know those places outside of national parks where they claim there’s a special magnetic force field and they create optical illusions to prove the existence of said force field?  Okay, the Korean Friendship Bell is a force field even though they do not advertise it as such.  Additionally, I don’t know that the magic seeps from the Friendship Bell itself, I think they chose a magical location for the bell.

This Angel’s Gate Park plateau overlooks the ocean, the harbor and a splice of Palos Verdes. There’s a strangeness to it all, and there’s a celebration of freedom and of gratitude.  One might even want to call it a west version of the Statue of Liberty, after all it was given to the United States to celebrate our bicentennial.  But while the Statue of Liberty weighs 225 tons, this metal emblem of freedom only weights 17.

In this particular case, size does not matter and a day at the park with a kite and a picnic is well spent at this San Pedro pagoda.  For more info, check here:

Chavez Ravine Arboretum

Elysian ParkElysian Park

Elysian ParkElysian ParkElysian Park

You could easily show up at Elysian Park, have a lovely picnic, and go home without having any idea you were smack dab in the middle of a 100+ year-old arboretum. Despite the fact that the entrance to the arboretum is poorly labeled, many of the 138 different species of trees in this collection are labeled. For more about the arboretum check here:

Canoga Avenue Pepper Trees

Historic Cultural Landmark 93Historic Cultural Landmark 93Historic Cultural Landmark 93Historic Cultural Landmark 93

Though The Covered Wagon was the highest grossing film of 1923, the frontier was not a sight Angelenos wanted in their backyard (see Hancock Park). In an effort to alter perceptions of the ex-grassland we now called Woodland Hills, a 1920’s West Valley developer planted 120,000 trees.  This Pepper Tree stand on Canoga Avenue, south of Ventura Boulevard, is leftover from that effort.  For more about this development’s history, check here:

Capitol Records Building

Capitol Records BuildingCapitol Records BuildingCapitol Records Building

Whether or not you believe in the practice of people with no artistic ability scraping money away from those who do have ability, you can at least commend these record promoters for their fine taste.  Over the years, Capitol Records has been at least partially responsible for delivering Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Garth Brooks, and Radiohead.  They also had the good sense to hire Welton Becket, famed Los Angeles architect, whose 13-story design resembles a stack of records.

Idle Hour Cafe

Idle Hour Cafe

According to the Los Angeles City Planning Department’s April Newsletter, the Idle Hour Café became an HCM because it “appears to be the last barrel-shaped building in Los Angeles.”  This of course begs the question: how many barrel-shaped buildings were there in Los Angeles?

Shakespeare Bridge

Shakespeare Bridge

The sonnet quoted on the dedication sign for the Shakespeare Bridge Garden reads,“…So long lives this, and this give life to thee.” One can only assume this quote is a testament to the Franklin Village neighborhood’s insistence on bridge preservation.  After all, they did spend $1.5 million on retrofitting the bridge after the ’94 quake.

It was built in 1926, coinciding with the decade of our monumental LA River bridges. In a similar decorative vein, this bridge is known for its mini tower-like structures we call “aedicules.”  But, an aedicule is a small shrine and though I looked, I found no small alters inside.

That’s not the only misnomer going on here; this bridge is actually named “Franklin Avenue Bridge.”  I don’t know how or when it became familiarly known as “The Shakespeare Bridge,” but I can certainly see Puck prancing to and fro over the ravine.

Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery

Oakwood Memorial Park CemeteryOakwood Memorial Park CemeteryOakwood Memorial Park CemeteryOakwood Memorial Park Cemetery

Like many neighborhoods, Chatsworth has a unique historical narrative and was incorporated into the city of Los Angeles for the purpose of easing water transactions.  But, unlike most of the San Fernando Valley, which was distributed as part of the Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando land grant, Chatsworth was allotted to the Rancho Simi land grant in 1834.  Since you had to get from one side of Rancho Simi to the other, they built the Santa Susana Stagecoach Road.

Though the road became moot after the development of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876, I bring it up for two reasons.  One, the entrance to the old stagecoach road pops out right next to the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery. There was once an Indian burial here, but their wooden markers burned down.  The cemetery as we see it today did not open until 1924, almost 50 years after the railroad development.  It’s a good thing too because a gravestone gathering makes a pretty lame San Fernando Valley welcoming party.  Although, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are both buried here, so depending on your belief system you could expect a return engagement.

Anyway, the second reason I bring up the railroad is that it demanded a tunnel. People flocked to Chatsworth from 1901-1904 to dig the 7,369 foot long Santa Susanna Tunnel. While they were at it, they also built themselves a church in their spare time. The Chatsworth Community Church was built in 1903 at Topanga Canyon Blvd. and Mayall St, and was moved to Oakwood Memorial Park in 1963 becoming the Chatsworth Historical Society’s first preservation success.

114 Deodar Trees

114 Deodar Trees114 Deodar TreesDeodar TreeDeodar TreeDeodar Tree

One day, Honi was walking down the street and saw a man planting a carob tree.  Honi said, “What are you planting that tree for?  You’ll die before it bears any fruit.”  The man responded, “Ahhh, yes, but my forefathers planted carob trees for me as I will plant them for my grandchildren.”

The story ends with Honi taking a 70-year nap, discovering fruit on the tree, meeting the appreciative grandchildren, and subsequently praying for death because the younger generation didn’t believe 70-year naps were possible.  Thankfully, the latter part of this tale is not relevant.

The relevant part is that sometimes, great people plant trees for future generations.  Men like John Orcutt.   In 1933, Orcutt planted these cedar trees along .75 miles of White Oak Ave. between San Jose St. and San Fernando Mission Blvd.  Nearly 80 years later, they tower over the street, transporting the onlooker to Pakistan.  After all, the Deodar Cedar is Pakistan’s national tree.

Leonis Adobe Museum

Miguel Leonis's House at the Leonis Adobe MuseumLiving RoomBarnLonghorn Cattle

Miguel Leonis died on a drunken carriage ride through the Cahuenga Pass.  He fell off his seat and was run over by a wheel, leaving behind a $300,000 estate and over 10,000 acres of land.  Whether or not Leonis rightfully owned his land, his wife fought for her rightful ownership in court.  She won possession of the estate, but there were rumors Leonis left behind treasure that nobody can locate.

While a visit to this museum won’t lead you to buried treasure, you will still find a gem.  When I walked through the door, there were four women dressed in 1860’s costume with their knitting needles, waiting to greet visitors.  They escorted me to a historical video narrated by Antonio Villaraigosa.  Then I got a one-on-one tour with one of the women through the house, the barn, the garden, and the “ranch.”

For more information about LA’s #1 historical-cultural monument, check here:



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