History of Monterey Park
The original inhabitants of Monterey Park were Shoshone Indians, later renamed the Gabrielino Indians by the Spaniards. When Fathers Angel Somero and Pedro Canbon led the first parties of soldiers into the San Gabriel Valley in 1771, there were more than 4,000 Gabrielino residents.
By the early 1800's, the area now called Monterey Park was part of the Mission San Gabriel de Archangel and later, the Rancho San Antonio. The area first received a separate identity when Alessandro Repetto purchased 5,000 acres of the rancho and built his home, not far from where the Edison substation is now located on Garfield Avenue.
20th Century Expansion
Some years later, Richard Garvey, a mail rider for the U.S. Army whose route took him through Monterey Pass, a trail that is now Garvey Avenue, settled down in the King's Hills. Garvey began developing the land by bringing in spring water from near the Hondo River and by constructing a 54-foot high dam to form Garvey Lake located where Garvey Ranch Park is now. To pay for his development and past debts, Garvey began selling portions of his property. In 1906, the first subdivision in the area, Ramona Acres, was developed north of Garvey and east of Garfield Avenues.
January 2015: Garvey Avenue past and present featured in KCET column (external website).
Growth of a City
In 1916, the new residents of the area initiated action to become a city when the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, and Alhambra proposed to put a large sewage treatment facility in the area. The community voted itself into city hood on May 29, 1916, by a vote of 455 to 33.
The city's new board of directors immediately outlawed sewage plants within city boundaries and named the new city Monterey Park. The name was taken from an old government map showing the oak-covered hills of the area as Monterey Hills. In 1920, a large area on the south edge of the city broke away and the separate city of Montebello was established.
By 1920, the white and Spanish-surname settlers were joined by Asian residents who began farming potatoes and flowers and developing nurseries in the Monterey Highlands area. They improved the Monterey Pass Trail with a road to aid in shipping their produce to Los Angeles. The nameless pass, which had been a popular location for western movies, was called Coyote Pass by Pioneer Masami Abe.
Real estate became a thriving industry during the 1920s with investors attracted to the many subdivisions under development and increasing commercial opportunities.
One such development was the Midwick View Estates by Peter N. Snyder, a proposed garden community that was designed to rival Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. Known as the Father of the East Side, Mr. Snyder was a key player in the vast undertaking in the 1920s of developing the East Side as part of the industrial base of Los Angeles. His efforts to build Atlantic Boulevard, his work with the East Side organization to bring industry to the East Side and his residential and commercial development projects along Atlantic Boulevard (Gardens Square, Golden Gate Square, and the Midwick View Estates) were a major influence to the surrounding communities.
Jardin del Encanto
The focal point of the Midwick View Estates was Jardin del Encanto, otherwise known as El Encanto, a Spanish style building that was to serve as the administration building and community center for Midwick View Estates and an amphitheater to be nestled into the hillside above Kingsford Street. Although the amphitheater was never built, the observation terrace from which viewers could look down to Jardin del Encanto and the fountain with cascading water going down the hillside in stepped pools to De La Fuente remains and is now known as Heritage Falls Park or the Cascades. It was result of the Depression that brought an abrupt end to the real estate boom and the Midwick proposal. The city had little development for nearly two decades.
The end of World War II resulted in a revived growth trend and explosive population gains during the 1940s and 1950s. Until this time, the population was concentrated in the northern and southern portions of the city, with the Garvey and Monterey Hills forming a natural barrier. With the renewed growth, many new subdivisions were developed, utilizing even the previously undeveloped central area to allow for maximum growth potential. A series of annexations of surrounding acreage also occurred.
Monterey Park...Then & Now
- Introduction (PDF)
- Monterey Park in the 1920s (PDF)
- Monterey Park in the 1930s (PDF)
- Monterey Park in the 1940s (PDF)
- Monterey Park in the 1950s (PDF)
- Monterey Park in the 1960s (PDF)
- Monterey Park Elected Officials (PDF)
- Historical Photo (PDF)
For more information on the history of Monterey Park, please visit the Monterey Park Historical Museum, 626-307-1267, or the Bruggemeyer Memorial Library at 626-307-1368.