That Time 50,000 Pupils Enrolled in L.A. Schools; Taxing Buildings’ Capacity

“More than 50,000 pupils enrolled in the city schools this morning. By the end of the week the superintendents estimate that a maximum enrollment of 70,000 will be made—50,000 in the elementary, the rest in the intermediate and high schools…

Principal Housh of Los Angeles high school hopes to limit the enrollment of his school to 1900, but may be forced to take in 2000. There were 250 registrations for the senior class, a record-breaking number. About 850 pupils can be accommodated at Hollywood high school, but no estimate could be made this morning whether any would have to be turned away…”

“Miss Maria de Lopez, Teacher of Spanish, Who Has Been Instrumental in Opening the Second School in the City for the Education of the Poor, Addressing a Group of Mexicans in the Plaza,” Los Angeles Herald, September 16, 1912

Source: “50,000 Pupils Enroll in L.A. Schools; Tax Buildings’ Capacity,” Los Angeles Herald, September 16, 1912. California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, http://cdnc.ucr.edu

J.T.

An Excavation of East Hollywood, Part I

This is the first of a three part series.

All photos are specific to a particular pocket of Los Angeles known as East Hollywood, and are courtesy of publicly available collections at the University of Southern California Libraries and California Historical Society, as well as at Los Angeles Public Library with the exception of two: The first, taken at LACC by L.A. Times photographer B.I. Oliver on March 13, 1969, and the second, taken by J. Benton Adams at Vermont & Santa Monica, circa 1998.

Before Los Angeles was called so by Spanish settlers,“the city” is supposed to have been known as Yaangna village by aboriginal Tongva people, with respect to what we now refer to as the L.A. river. This is according to Cindi Moar Alvitre, a descendant of the Tongva and Cal State L.A. lecturer of Indian American studies. An excerpt from Alvitre’s essay, “Coyote Tours,” from Latitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas (2015) reads:

“Yaangna was the principal ancestral village that moved along the Los Angeles River for countless generations, before the water was confined and silenced in a concrete sarcophagus, separating the people from that which gives life. In pre-contact times people moved slowly, with the seasons, the food, and ultimately, the water.”

Alvitre also points out that Spanish invasion of the land in the late eighteenth century, which would eventually lead to “Los Angeles,” continually pushed out native or indigenous people farther away from their ancestral lands. For a time, the dispossessed communities found refuge along their ancestors’ storied riverbed. In Alvitre’s words:

“Colonization and missionization accelerated the pace of relocation as native people tried to outrun the colonizers, always clinging to the river…Yaangna became a refugee camp for tribal families seeking some sense of tradition.”

Finally, Cahuenga, the name first given to our special little library on Santa Monica boulevard in 1916, is Tongva for “place of the hill.” And since Cahuenga is also supposed to be related to Kaweewesh, describing “fox,” one can think of Cahuenga as “hill of the foxes.” Of course, more people think of the “Cahuenga pass” in Hollywood when that word comes up, but hey, I guess that does show the link between Humphrey’s Hollywood and our “East Hollywood.”

A few archival images of the area show hilly farsides, both before and up to the area’s time as a major site of lemon groves, hence Lemon Grove Park and such. The rest is history, as they say, although in a past that’s not yet past for our communities. At least, not if we’ve got anything to say about it.

J.T.

Los Angeles: Intellegentsia

JT_Cahuenga_Panorama
Cahuenga Library; East Hollywood, L.A.

“First of all, Los Angeles is usually seen as a peculiarly infertile cultural soil, unable to produce, to this day [1990], any homegrown intelligentsia. Unlike San Francisco, which has generated a distinctive cultural history from the Argonauts to the Beats, Los Angeles’s truly indigenous intellectual history seems a barren shelf.”

Davis’s introduction to The City as a land with no ‘intellegentsia’ is an interesting way of casting L.A. as a place without leadership; even if intellectuals don’t necessarily lead people, they influence people, or at least acknowledge that there is a group of people to talk about in the first place, without which people have less of a sense of themselves or their culture. In the case of San Francisco, for example, San Franciscans can point to the literary romance held between the young Beats and their town. It is also an historic process. Though Jack Kerouac and his contemporaries weren’t ‘homegrown’ in SF, the Beats still inspired San Fran legend and discourse to this day as figures of a revolutionary time in the town, not to mention the United States as a whole. For L.A. to lack in its own cast of poets and cultural icons, then, at least in the intellectual sense, is for L.A. to lack in culture or a sense of culture.

But I want to scan my mind for a moment, to think of the icons of Los Angeles.

Snoop Dogg and D.R.E?!

Tupac Shakur, certainly.

Eazy-E, maybe?!

To be certain, Mike Davis’s City of Quartz is talking about L.A. up to 1990, and it’s 2016. We’ve had some additions to the band of intellects from and about The City since then.

In particular, I think of musicians that also serve as intellectuals or cultural critics, like Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the MachineKendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle and YG, and generations of lesser known but equally active political artists in the ‘underground’.

I also think of L.A.’s writers, who have grown the canon substantially since 1990, and which includes authors such as Hector Tobar, Luis RodriguezHelena María Viramontes, and generations of other literary forces in the scholarly and journalistic fields throughout L.A.’s universities and other research centers.

Still, even if Davis introduces L.A. in terms of what it lacks, he expands on the introduction to make the point that even while ‘L.A.’ commands fame and reputation second only to that Other City, what it lacks is a true historical archive which shows what L.A. was, is, and is becoming.

“Virtually alone among big American Cities, Los Angeles still lacks a scholarly municipal history – a void of research that has become the accomplice of cliche and illusion.”

I see, then: even in its history, Los Angeles is just like its streets and boulevards; decentralized; a sprawl of different histories across different neighborhoods and communities, with no area or any of its figures really capturing more of the overall character of The City than the other.

I also see, then, how the author introduces what’s lacking in order to fill it up with something at last. That is, if L.A. is lacking history, City of Quartz is going to do something about it.

And hey, JIMBO TIMES is going to do something about it, too.

With more soon,

J.T.