Early Indian settlers, Spanish explorers and missionaries, and Mexican rancho landowners preceded the beginnings of the town of Eagle Rock, a pastoral suburb of the City of Los Angeles in the first years of the 20th century. Surrounded by hills, the Eagle Rock Valley was a rural respite far removed from the bustling city. At the time, the Gates Strawberry Ranch, worked by Chinese laborers, covered much of the area, replacing the grazing pastures of the great Rancho San Rafael once owned by the Verdugo family.
Eagle Rock became more than bucolic ranchland with the arrival of the Los Angeles Railway streetcar system in 1906. The tracks came from downtown Los Angeles along Central Avenue, which is now Eagle Rock Boulevard, and they extended to the intersection of Townsend Avenue and Colorado Street, the heart of town at the time. Another route came into Eagle Rock from Glendale and featured the “Dinkey” trolley car. The later single-track “toonerville trolley” was known locally as the “galloping goose” for its swaying movement and occasional precarious track-jumping. A round waiting-station shelter dubbed “the merry-go-round” was built in the center of the Colorado-and-Central intersection and became the social center of town.
In 1909, Hill Avenue, now Hill Drive, was (and still is) one of Eagle Rock’s most beautiful streets. Other streets were Royal Drive (now Mt. Royal Drive), Acacia Street (now Laverna Avenue), Kenilworth Avenue (now Hermosa Avenue), Highland Avenue (now Highland View Avenue), and Fairmont Avenue (now Maywood Avenue). These streets were dotted with large and expensive homes on wide lots.
Eagle Rock was incorporated as a city in 1911. Although Eagle Rock’s gentle slopes were dappled with grand Victorian farmhouses, many exquisite Craftsman homes in charming neighborhoods, and Occidental College, designed by Myron Hunt in the Mediterranean revival style and built between 1911 and 1913, the building boom really came between the wars. The 1920s saw an upswing of subdivision and building of “modern” homes, including many in the Spanish colonial revival style and smaller bungalows modified by such prevalent styles as Colonial revival and English Tudor.
Many other notable structures had come into being in the early part of the century, such as the Craftsman-style Women’s 20th Century Club, the Eagle Rock Carnegie Library, the WTCU home, various lovely churches, and many attractive brick and stucco commercial buildings along the main boulevards. In 1923, not long after the Eagle Rock City Hall and adjacent fire and police stations were erected, the people of Eagle Rock voted to become part of the City of Los Angeles under the threat of an inadequate water supply and the promise of an upgraded school system.
Later decades brought other architectural styles to Eagle Rock homes and commercial structures, like streamline moderne, International, post-war traditional, and mid-century modern. Diversity still reigns supreme, and it is this eclectic mix of architectural character among large and small homes that has made Eagle Rock a unique and fascinating place while ever evoking the welcome qualities of small-town America.
Eagle Rock today is filled with culturally rich neighborhoods and is largely a haven for those working in various creative fields. Our town is being discovered by many working in the nearby entertainment industry and other professionals who yearn for a place with a true sense of community and who cherish a slower pace in an ever fleeting society. They long for a town with good schools and involved parents, a feeling of shared appreciation for historic significance, and an older commercial district with the vast potential to develop its own unique appeal.
Eagle Rock is the hidden gem located between Pasadena and Glendale, and we are just minutes from the heart of the nation’s entertainment capital and downtown Los Angeles. We are home to Occidental College, one of our country’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges. Our elementary and high schools offer GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) curricula as well as gifted and highly gifted magnet programs. We attend community meetings and actively partake in the furtherance of quality-of-life endeavors. We stroll our lovely neighborhoods and greet one another in the friendly way of eras past.
Eagle Rock stands as a healthy example of the way a community should be — replete with small-town ambience, full of families of all kinds and backgrounds committed to achieving excellence in local education, a creative and activist populace with a strong and dedicated residents association as well as many other worthy service organizations. We enjoy tree-lined streets in hilly neighborhoods with panoramic views and an abundance of commercial, municipal, and residential architectural wonders — a place where anyone can feel at home.