Michael Edlen: Celebrating the Palisades’ Rich History

By Michael Edlen
Special to the Palisades News

(This article is based on the now-classic book by Betty Lou and Randy Young, Pacific Palisades—Where the Mountains Meet the Sea.)

With a rich history dating back to the Gabrielino Indians and Spanish land grants, Pacific Palisades has many stories involving competitive developers, world-famous artists and entertainers, a strong core of religious and family values and a heritage of community activism that surfaces from time to time when prompted by local situations. Many of the historic events and people have been honored and recognized by various local landmarks within the community.

Ysidro Reyes and Francisco Marquez families jointly received a Mexican land grant in 1839. The 6,656-acre Rancho Grant extended from today’s 26th Street in Santa Monica to the ocean, and from Montana Boulevard to a mile past Topanga Canyon. Ysidro’s adobe home was the first permanent residence built in the Palisades. In 1952, a marker was placed at the corner of Pampas Ricas and Sunset.

Another marker was placed on Jacon Way at the corner of Marquez Avenue in 1953, honoring Don Francisco Marquez and Don Ysidro Reyes.

An Indian marker was placed at Los Liones and Sunset in 1959 “in commemoration and appreciation of the Indians who were the first to live here.”

Canyon School is the second oldest remaining school in Los Angeles County, originally built in 1894 on Sycamore Road and later moved to Channel Road and then to Elder Street. It was made a landmark in 1965.

Founders’ Oak Island received Los Angeles Historical Landmark number 38 in 1955. It was the site of a 300-year-old oak, which was where the town’s founders gathered in 1922 to establish the new community. The tree died and had to be removed in the 1970s, but the original site has been preserved on Haverford Avenue (across from the Pierson Playhouse).

In 1887, the first experimental forestry station was established in Rustic Canyon, across from 574 Latimer Rd. It received California’s 840th Historic Landmark status in 1971.

It is interesting to note that the Palisades oceanfront was the site of the Port of Los Angeles in 1893. Collis Huntington and the Southern Pacific Railroad built the longest wooden pier in the world (more than 4,700 feet) coming off what is now the Coast Highway at the foot of Potrero Canyon. The Pacific Palisades Historical Society and the California State Department of Parks and Recreation gave the “Long Wharf ” site historic status recognition in 1976.

In 1979, a landmark status was given to the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, commemorating the continuous occupancy of the land by members of the Marquez family from 1839 into the 1970s. It was placed on Elder Street, across from the old Canyon School.

There are numerous other historic sites such as the former Bernheimer Gardens off Sunset near the western end of Marquez Avenue, and also the Will Rogers estate and home.

The remains of Murphy Ranch, which was designed to be a Nazi stronghold in upper Rustic Canyon; the Uplifters’ legacy of authentic log cabin homes in lower Rustic Canyon, and a variety of special homes and properties with historic significance associated are also of note.

Michael Edlen has been ranked as the leading Pacific Palisades agent for 20 of the last 23 years. Call (310) 320-7373 or email Michael@MichaelEdlen.com.

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