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City Name Origins Offer A Glimpse Into L.A. County's Rich History

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Glorious Los Angeles County. Photo by Jasperdo via the LAist Flickr pool.
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Militant Angeleno has a cool list of the origins of all 88 incorporated cities that make up the massive and eclectic Los Angeles County.

Many of the suburban monikers come from the names of the people who founded them (or, in some cases, their wives). Others are a combination of actual Spanish names and fake "Spanish" made up by white settlers in a possible effort to appear authentic. A couple of them are named after literary subjects and a few are named after the railroad companies that tore through the area in the latter half of the 19th century.

Here are a few of our favorites from the list:


  • Alhambra was named after Washington Irving's book Tales of the Alhambra, a collection of essays and short stories written while Irving was staying at the gorgeous Alhambra castle in Grenada, Spain.
  • Claremont is a random name given by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway for a train station. We're assuming the people who founded Montclair were just lazy.
  • Hawthorne was named after the famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who penned The Scarlet Letter. The name was given by the daughter of the town's founder because she shared a birthday with the author.
  • San Dimas was named after the repentant criminal who was crucified with Jesus Christ. Heavy.
  • Manhattan Beach was, of course, named after the founding land developer's home city of Manhattan, New York. The city was just named "Manhattan" until "Beach" was eventually added in 1927.
  • Glendale apparently just means "valley valley." Neat.

You can search through the entire list here.