Man Finds Wall, Man Takes Photos of It
After nearly a week of doing the Highland Park Photo Survey for 2008, I finally found the very hidden Hermon Car Wall. It was the first thing I set out to document, and everyday I kept returning to the general area to only come within a few feet, and miss it. Some background:
The Hermon Car Wall as it is called, was created as a retaining wall by property owner Albert Emmanuel Sederquist in the 1930′s and 1940′s. He used bricks salvaged from a schoolhouse that was demolished after the Long Beach Earthquake of ’33, and car parts from the 1920′s that he embedded in concrete. He also embedded unique stones that he collected. Sederquist never lived on the property, but instead camped there at what he called The Dugout, and used it as a get-a-way to go hunting in the area where Deb’s Park is now. Sederquist died in 1959, the property was sold, and houses were built in front of the wall in 1960. The wall itself reminds me of something Antonio Gaudi, Simon Rodia, or Noah Purifoy would have built. A fine example of Folk Art.
I kept looking at the address, one document said 400 block of Terrill, while another said 400 block of Pullman, which according to Google Maps puts it over on the other side of Monterey Road. The area of Pullman on the East side of Monterey Road seemed plausible. There was an empty lot there where a development of some sort stood, and a collapsing concrete wall that sounded somewhat like the current description of the fabled Car Wall. But the field that was guarded by the loose dogs of Pullman Street, didn’t show any signs of having auto parts, bricks, or stones embedded in them –just concrete.
I looked at satellite photos, studied maps and descriptions, drove, biked, hiked up and down nearby streets, walked up and down stairways, climbed hills, crawled through brush, discovered other long forgotten hidden developments along what is called Bobcat Hill in Debs Park, but no sighting of the fabled monumental wall, until today. The most detailed information came from the proposal for monument status by local historian Charles Fisher, on behalf of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. (Sadly, that proposal was rejected by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. It was initially rejected, but now is one of LA’s newest landmarks, and will be protected and restored. See Hermonite’s comment.) At first, I only read the first couple of pages of the proposal, before I made to the later half of the proposal with more than just an undefined street number, but a map!
Looking at the map, I could see that I had walked right above the wall along the Pullman stairway, and driven past the driveway that led to the wall. The problem was I was looking over it, and didn’t realize what I thought was a private driveway, actually led to an alleyway that was originally the 400 block of Pullman Street before 1960. The key to finding the wall, is going up the driveway that shoots off from the 400 block of Terrill Avenue, between Monterey Road and Bushnell Way, in beautiful Hermon, California 90042.
So far, this was my favorite find on the survey. With one day to go, I have a lot to shoot. I set about this self-imposed assignment, thinking that doing it over a week I could be more productive. Now that the week, and the year for that matter, is almost over I find myself missing a lots of things I wanted to document this year. Hopefully after editing over the next week, I’ll have some good footage to share.
Remember tomorrow, Wednesday, December 31 is the last day of the survey, and I’ll have some Highland Park prizes at Cafe de Leche at 3pm for those that filled in their Highland Park Bingo cards. See you then!