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Sycamore Grove Days

July 8, 2010

Just another cool afternoon in Sycamore Grove park on Figueroa Street. Photo circa 1920, via The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archive.

Along the 4500 block of North Figueroa sits one of Los Angeles’ most fabled and oldest public parks, Sycamore Grove. Established officially by the City in 1905, it was an important gathering place for major and minor events for many decades of the early 20th century.

Figueroa Street at Sycamore Grove Park in the 1920's.

Easily accessed by any part of Los Angeles thanks to the Pacific Electric Railroad that ran on Figueroa Street, or the Los Angeles Railway’s W Line that ran along nearby Marmion Way, the park hosted thousands of visitors for special events, and was thee destination for annual state picnics for Southern California emigrants.

The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archive has a wonderful collection of photographs from the 1920’s and 30’s that show Sycamore Grove Park in its heyday. Here are a few of those photos:

10,000 Southern Californian Norwegians and Norway's Crown Prince Olav at Sycamore Grove Park for Norwegian Independence Day in 1939.

Not Long Beach, but Highland Park's Sycamore Grove Park was the gathering place for the 1929 Iowa state picnic.

The Alaska State Picnic at Sycamore Grove, 1926. (Looks like half the state.)

Nebraskans gather in front of the Sycamore Grove band shell (and a long-gone large BBQ pit) for their state picnic in 1925.

Some sort of Nebraska tradition taken from the Black Hills of their homeland.

Doing the Charleston at Sycamore Grove during a state picnic circa 1929.

Mexican-American family at Sycamore Grove in 1939.

Korean-Americans at Sycamore Grove circa 1935.

The '49ers in 1939.

Reading in Sycamore Grove Park circa 1920. Note the water feature that was fed by the Arroyo Seco in the background.

Sycamore Grove in the days before the gophers came. Beyond that well kept-lawn in its glory days is the Hiner House seen across Figueroa Street.

Sycamore Grove. The state picnics, and this horse trough on Figueroa Street are gone but the native sycamore trees remain.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joseph Riser permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:00 am

    This is very cool. Long before I moved to the area, I had heard the story about how my parents — MOM, a real-live Dust Bowl “Okie” and DAD, and “Oklahoman” who moved back to California after falling in love with it while stationed here after serving in the Pacific theater of WW II — had first met at an Oklahoma State Picnic in SG Park in the mid-50s. After he passed away, I found the paper ribbon he wore that day, with “OKLAHOMA” written in large letters, among his favorite keepsake possessions.

    Considering that the Arroyo Seco area is still a first stop for tens of thousands of immigrants, it would be great to someday see “Taiwan” or “Sinaloa” state picnics there someday, again — as part of community building for newer residents.

    — Hermon community resident

  2. July 10, 2010 8:18 am

    Wow, I bet my grandparents attended the Iowa, Nebraska and Alaska events. What is especially curious to me is the group of Korean men. I didn’t know Koreans were in California that early. Bet there is an interesting story behind that (and maybe something to do with why they aren’t pictured with women)

  3. November 12, 2010 11:00 pm

    In the “Five Friendly Valleys,” a historical pamphlet published by Security Pacific bank, about Highland Park, there is a passage containing the phrase “to confine the saloons to the sycamore grove at the arroyo,” in oblique reference to the Highland Park becoming a part of Los Angeles. In another history book, I just can’t remember which, (possibly one with a forward by Jack Smith ?) there is a slightly less diplomatic telling that, upon annexation of Highland Park by the City of Los Angeles, at the stroke of midnight on the day of said annexation, the “bawdy houses” at sycamore grove were burned down to the ground by the Los Angeles Police Dept. Saloons, eh? Bawdy houses, eh? Hmmm. Saloons and Bawdy houses in Highland Park! It’s never let up on being a colorful place!

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  1. Sycamore Grove Park: A Garden for the Masses | LAvenues Project

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