I love working at City Hall, the most-recognizable building in all of LA, but sometimes it’s nice to get outside too! So I’ve been looking forward to my first day in the field with a survey team. I met with Gretchen Hilyard and Huiquian Chen at the Page & Turnbull office in the historic Subway Terminal building in downtown LA and we started the long drive north to the Sunland & Tujunga region.
Sunland has one of the lowest residential densities in Los Angeles, with less than 4,000 people per square mile (3,825 to be exact). The population of the whole neighborhood was only about 16,450 people in 2008, according to census estimates. Overall, the region looks like how I imagined southern California before I moved out here—car-oriented commercial strips along the main roads, with bits of googie-inspired architecture spicing up sprawling strip malls, and cute modestly-sized bungalow-style houses lining the side streets. Like everywhere in Los Angeles, the lawns are almost all beautiful, with flowers and shrubs and palm trees. (I grew up on the east so I’m still astounded at how green and fecund the landscape is in Los Angeles.) The only problem, from our point of view, was that some of the houses were mostly hidden behind all the trees, making it hard to really tell much about the buildings.
Most of the houses were built between about 1925 and 1960, with a few newer and a few older. The very oldest ones have the bottom few feet constructed from “arroyo stone,” dark rounded chunks of rock that must have been brutal to carry. We only saw 2 or 3 of those, though, and it seemed like most of the rest were built after the area was annexed to L.A. in 1932.
Gretchen was amazing—I’m astounded at her ability to glance at a property and nine times out of ten correctly identify not only the decade, but actually the year it was built!
(Neighborhood info from http://mappingla.com/sunland)