We're Exploring LA County's 88 Cities. Here's Your Guide To Glendale

(Map created by Angie Quintero)

Los Angeles County has 88 cities, and KPCC/LAist plans to explore them all. We're recruiting listeners and readers to take us to the neighborhoods they live in and love. From Long Beach to Lancaster, follow our journey here and on the radio with Take Two.

Here's your guide to...

GLENDALE: A CITY OF OPPOSITES

Like many parts of Southern California, Native Americans first called the land home before Spanish settlers took over.

Photograph of a radial-engine airplane outside the Grand Central Airport in Glendale. (California Historical Society/USC Libraries Special Collections)

It wasn't until 1884 that the city got its name. Then in the 1920s, it developed Grand Central Air Terminal, one of the the most important sites in America for the development of planes and air travel. At the same time, the population took off, transforming Glendale into a sleepy bedroom community for L.A.

For a long period, it was also very white and, unfortunately, very racist.

"We did have sunset laws — unwritten sunset laws," said longtime resident Alicia Lloreda. It was also known as being a "sundown town," meaning that minorities — mostly blacks — were not allowed to be on the streets after sundown.

On top of that, it was selected to be the West Coast headquarters of the American Nazi Party in 1964 (they moved out in 1966).

But the city's demographics and values started to change in the early 1970s when migrants from Iran, Cuba, Korea and other countries were able to move in.

Alicia Lloreda, photographed outside of her home in Glendale. Alicia has lived in the city since 1968 and has seen many positive changes over the years. (James Bernal for LAist)

Armenian immigrants led that wave (even though decades before, some were not seen as "white enough" to escape discrimination), and now nearly 3 in 10 people identify as non-white, according to the 2010 Census.

Today, Glendale is the third largest city by population in the county behind Los Angeles and Long Beach. It bustles with big industries, hosting the headquarters for DreamWorks Animation and Disney Consumer Products, along with regional offices for Whole Foods and IHOP, to name a few. It's also a powerhouse shopping area that includes the Americana and the Galleria.

OUR GUIDE: LITTY MATHEW

Litty Mathew, cofounder of Greenbar in DTLA and longtime resident of Glendale, photographed at her home in Glendale, on December 21, 2018 in Glendale, Los Angeles, California. (James Bernal for KPCC) (James Bernal)

Years lived in the city: 24 years

What led her here: When she was a USC student, her friend Melkon Khosrovian convinced Mathew to move to Glendale.

"He claimed it was the best place to live," she said. "Now I understand he had some ulterior motives!"

Mathew and Khorsrovian later married, and are co-founders of Greenbar Distillery in downtown L.A.

"Glendale is this vibrant and, I would say, cosmopolitan and energetic city," she told KPCC's Take Two.

EXPLORING THE CITY

(Map created by Angie Quintaro)

1. BRAND PARK HIKING TRAIL

Glendale may be a big city, but it embraces both its urban and undeveloped sides.

"I love my town's proximity to nature but with sweeping views of its downtown," said Mathew.

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She suggests starting at the 31-acre Brand Park and taking a trail that leads up to the hillside overlooking the Valley.

2. DISCOVER ARMENIAN CULTURE ALONG ARTSAKH AVENUE

One block east of the Glendale Americana is Artsakh Avenue, a street once known as Maryland Avenue that went through a name change last fall.

Artsakh is a region mostly populated by Armenians, and the avenue's new name is a tribute to the large Armenian population that also calls Glendale home.

Formerly known as Maryland Avenue, this two block portion of street in Glendale was recently renamed to Artsakh Avenue, in honor of Glendale's Armenian community. (James Bernal for LAist)

They make up the largest ethnic group in the city, and Glendale has the biggest concentration of them in the U.S. outside of Armenia.

"There are a lots of businesses that cater to Armenians and those who love Armenian things," Mathew said.

Stop by Urartu Coffee for a coffee or tea. Owner Urik Ghazalian features the work of Armenian artists on the walls, and welcomes local musicians occasionally.

Urik Ghazalian, owner of Urartu Coffee, an Armenian-owned cafe on Artsakh Avenue, photographed on Dec. 21, 2018 in Glendale. (James Bernal for LAist)

Urartu also hosts coffee readings, where people like Ani Carla Kalafian will study the grounds at the bottom of finished cup to foretell people's futures.

Then grab dinner at Raffi's Place just off Artsakh Avenue for Persian cuisine like soltani kabob and ghormesabzi, before stopping by Abril Books to pick up some Armenian reading or gifts for home.

Also coming to the area will be the Armenian American Museum, which breaks ground at Central Park Paseo in 2020. It will educate the public on the story of Armenians, while also being a center for people to learn about their culture's own history.

A rendering of the upcoming Armenian American Museum, scheduled to break ground in Glendale in 2020. (Alajajian Marcoosi Architects/Armenian American Museum)

"We will have a world-class cultural and educational center," said the museum's development director Shant Sahakian.

3. WHERE TO SOCIALIZE AND SHOP

The Americana on Dec. 21, 2018 in Glendale. (James Bernal for LAist)

Glendale is no longer just a sleepy, bedroom community. While some neighborhoods are still on the quieter side, the city's bustling downtown attracts people from all over the Southland.

Brand Boulevard is the epicenter of it all, with millions each year stopping by the indoor mall, The Galleria, and the mixed-use shopping complex The Americana.

"The thing is, I remember this corner and it didn't look like this when I moved here in 1995," said Mathew. "There used to be smaller businesses here and parking lots, of course."

But she said that there are still many small shops and restaurants nearby worth visiting.

Tucked away in a shopping center is Khinkali House. Formerly known as Tumanyan Khinkali Factory, it specializes in dumplings from Georgia (the country) that the late Jonathan Gold called "your latest obsession."

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You can also catch a show at the iconic Alex Theatre, which many see as "the Glendale beacon," according to Mathew.

The Alex Theatre in Glendale. (James Bernal for LAist)

"It used to be a movie theatre, but now it's a refurbished theatre for concerts, shows and plays," she said.

To taste a different side of Armenian cuisine, there's Carousel Restaurant. While Raffi's has Persian Armenian specialties that focus more on rice, Carousel has Lebanese Armenian dishes that tend to be more bread-oriented.

Many different cultures call Glendale home, too, and Mathew said that you can see that in the places to get cakes and pastries.

"It is the city of bakeries!" she said.

Try the famous guava and cheese strudel at Porto's Bakery and Cafe, a powerhouse chain started by a Cuban family.

A Swedish couple runs Berolina Bakery, where you can get your loved ones some vaniljhjärtan, or Swedish custard hearts. There's also Village French Bakery, tucked away in the cute walkable area called Kenneth Village.

MORE TO LOVE ABOUT GLENDALE

The Museum of Neon Art - This museum has preserved some iconic neon signs and works from Southern California's past, while also featuring some of the best contemporary artists.

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The ceramics sale at Glendale Community College - The campus inspired the critically-acclaimed NBC sitcom Community, but Mathew especially loves it for its ceramics sale. The twice-a-year event features affordable works by students, and the proceeds go back towards classes.

See the first links in the chains - The city is where Bob's Big Boy opened its first location ever in 1936. Baskin-Robbins was also founded in Glendale. So were the world's first Panda Express and Disney Store, both at The Galleria.