21 June 2006

The Melrose Neighborhood — 2

These days it's called the Melrose neighborhood though I'm sure there was a different name for the original tract development. That appellation's lost now —either to time or a dusty archive of the Los Angeles Public Library. As defined by the Melrose Neighborhood Association, its boundaries are Wilcox and Fairfax Avenues to the east and west with Wiloughby and Rosewood Avenues to the north and south. Melrose Avenue runs right through the middle.

There was a Melrose family. They were ranchers. Their property was a few miles east of here in an area known as Melrose Hill. I mentioned in a previous post that my neighborhood was originally California scrub. When this was Spanish domain the land was part of Rancho La Brea. The principle industry of the Rancho was the extraction of tar from the famous tar pits. Later, mineral extraction turned to oil. Lots and lots of oil.

This picture, taken in 1912, shows the view from Orchid Street just above Franklin Avenue. The orange patch in the middle distance indicates the highlighted area on the map. Those are oil derricks in the far distance around what would later become the Miracle Mile of Wilshire Boulevard.

A city map from 1926. All the black squares indicate developed properties. The circles dotting the bottom portion of the map are oil wells.

The United Artists Studio on Santa Monica Boulevard —highlighted in green on the map. The enormous set behind it was constructed for 'Robin Hood" which dates the photo around 1922. The studio's still there though under a different name. The grassy field behind it with the winding roads and gullies is where the Melrose neighborhood would be built.

Click on the images for a closer look.

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