The History Behind LA Street Names
What do you think about when someone mentions Pico Boulevard? For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the famous Roscoe’s Chicken ‘N Waffles that served that street for 30 years until the owner closed its doors last month.
For you, it may be a wide range of restaurants, neighborhoods and landmarks since it stretches from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.
This is the web version of our How To LA newsletter. Sign up here to get this newsletter sent to your inbox each weekday morning
How Pico Boulevard Got Its Name
But do you know the history of how the 15-mile street got its name?
My colleagues Brian De Los Santos and Caitlin Hernández talked to Mark Tapio Kines, a film director, producer and writer who turned his fascination with the history of L.A. street names into a personal research project. His nickname is the “King of L.A. Streets."
In the How To LA podcast, Kines tells reporters about the historical significance of street names like Pico Boulevard, which was named after Pío de Jesus Pico, the last governor under Mexican rule of Alta California before California became a state.
But did you know that Pico was supposed to be 13th street? Superstitions behind that number led to it being named after the former governor.
“He was really a fascinating character, he and his brother owned pretty much the entire San Fernando Valley at one point,” Kines said. “So obviously somebody in the 1850s was very superstitious, and either Pico was considered a good luck charm, or he was considered an unlucky character.”
In 1869, Pico ended up selling the area around his namesake street to landowner Isaac Lankershim in order to fund a new hotel. Lankershim, Kines said, got the better end of the deal.
I’m sure you're wondering, wait…what happened to Pico?
“He lost a lot of money to gambling debts and to real estate swindles,” Kines said. Because of those bad business deals along with some ruinous natural disasters during his time, Pico ended up penniless.
In 1914, Pico Boulevard was named.
If you’re interested in learning more about the avenues, boulevards and roads you see on your daily commute, check out Caitlin’s story and Brian’s podcast episode. It’s a part of a recurring segment called LA Explained about the parts in L.A. that are easy to take for granted, but make us wonder…why in the world does this thing exist like this?
Do you have questions about how L.A. works? Ask Caitlin by clicking on the purple button at the end of the article.
(After you stop hitting snooze)
- November’s election brought a wave of younger elected officials into office. With that comes a shift in perspective: many are renters vs homeowners. How might that change policies in the year ahead as both Los Angeles County and the City of L.A. are set to wind down pandemic-era eviction protections? My colleague David Wagner has some answers.
- The high price of natural gas is all anyone can talk about lately — it is just so much more expensive than it was months before. Well, SoCal Gas is partnering with United Way L.A. to create an assistance fund for those who are struggling to pay their bills.
- L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna announced he’ll create an Office of Constitutional Policing that will play a role in shaping — and improving — policies to ensure deputies follow the rules and the law.
- L.A. County jails have been under a lot of scrutiny in recent years for overcrowding and “abysmal” conditions. Today, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission is expected to vote on a motion that would require quarterly reports from the department about how it's working to improve the situation inside the jails.
- Fifty years after it was first released, the documentary Wattstax is returning to theaters. It captures a moment in time of a “city in flux” during the Watts Summer Festival at the L.A. Coliseum in 1972. Here’s why it still resonates.
- The Laguna Beach City Council is set to vote on a balloon ban in public spaces, citing environmental concerns. Several activist groups support the move.
- The good news: we got a great snowpack this winter. The bad news: it’s melting faster. Here’s what that means for our water supply.
- There’s a bipartisan effort in the Senate to protect children from digital “toxic content.” Legislators are looking to require tech companies "duty of care" and shield young people from harmful content.
- Get ready to rock out: Bruce Springsteen is bringing the E Street Band to the Kia Forum Inglewood on Dec. 4 and 6 for his upcoming tour.
*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding!
Wait... One More Thing
How To Raise An Urban Chicken
Given the current prices of eggs, you might have entertained a thought or two about raising your own chickens. I mean, backyard fowl is not that unusual in Los Angeles — they provide delicious fresh eggs and they are kinda cute, if a little noisy.
But even if you are a self-proclaimed connoisseur of fine, organic eats who loves creatures of all types, caring for chickens has its challenges. There is a LOT to think about, according to the latest article from LAist’s food team.
First, does your city even allow backyard chickens? FYI Beverly Hills has banned them and Santa Monica has a cap (at 13 total, including roosters). Second, what kind of chickens do you want (there are several different breeds)? Then, once you get those chickens, how will you deal with the poop? These are serious questions. There is also all the stuff that you need — space, a chicken coop, food and water, and a plan to keep them cool when the weather is hotter than one of Dante’s Circles.
If this hasn’t scared you off yet and you are interested in what it takes to raise chickens, please read this to learn everything you need to know. Cluck cluck.
Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.