Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thoughts on Glendale

Tomorrow I've been asked to participate in some sort of interview with the firm working on Glendale's "brand development and marketing strategic plan". I've been thinking about my relationship to Glendale recently because my work situation is in flux. I hope to be back at my office in downtown Glendale soon, but if I'm not working in Glendale, why am I here? I've been here for three years. What is my relationship to this strange place? There are lots of things I like about Glendale and some that I don't. I've been pondering this for a few days and even considered fleeing in the general direction of Sunset and Vermont. To prepare for the interview I started brainstorming from the prompt "where has Glendale been, where is Glendale now, and where you would like Glendale to be in the future".

historical: negative associations
ultra-white, racist

historical: positive associations
red car link to downtown LA, eagle rock, burbank
small town downtown feel
semi-rural, agricultural
link to golden age of aviation

present: bad
schizophrenic mix of conservative and gaudy
unimaginative, bland, small-minded
nanny-state, over-regulated HOA mentality
soulless retail
eurotrashy conspicuous consumption (MINX)
those fucking frogs
lack of distinctive art/music scene
pedestrian holocaust

present: good
walkable, well-kept downtown
proximity to downtown, atwater, silver lake, los feliz, hollywood, eagle rock, pasadena
good restaurants
wildly diverse (my zip code is 62% foreign born, fairly evenly distributed between armenian, mexican/latin american, filipino, and korean)
beautiful historic neighborhoods
mountainous, good hiking, also close to Griffith

beyond the Galleria and Americana, interesting independent businesses. off the top of my head: Damon's, El Morfi, Kozy Korner, Elena's , Brand Bookshop/Mystery and Imagination, Porto's, Jax, Urartu, Angela's Bistro, Ranch Market, Palate

where I'd like Glendale to go:
truly pedestrian and bike friendly
more open-minded, supportive of art and individuality

negative trends:
A Noise Within fleeing as fast as they can
rampant downtown retail vacancies, especially the feng-shui sucking death star that was Mervyn's

positive trends:
museum of neon art moving downtown (and already looking good with some nice window displays)
Laura Friedman on council
Goodwill moving to Brand/California
forthcoming update of bike master plan

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Glendale Seeks Google

From Google:
Google is planning to launch an experiment that we hope will make Internet access better and faster for everyone. We plan to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Our networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We'll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.
If you're sick of AT&T DSL and Charter Cable (and everyone I know is), you can help Glendale attract Google by nominating the city via Google's nomination form:

Nomination Form

Here are 9 reasons why Glendale is perfectly suitable for Google Fiber. You can find out more at Google4Glendale and join Google4Glendale on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mystery of the Ruins Solved!

I made a trip to the Glendale Central Library today to research the mysterious ruins in the Verdugos that I explored this weekend. I described the site to George in Special Collections and he quickly dug out a binder he thought might be useful. The binder was a treasure trove of photographs and documents relating to the city of Glendale's ill-fated Camp Clarence Edwards, built in 1933 and abandoned in 1938 due to frequent flooding.

Library: 1, Internet: 0.

Apologies for the image quality, I snapped these shots on my iPhone through protective plastic so there are some reflections.

From the Glendale News-Press, March 8th, 1938:


Conceived during the depression years, maintained in a constant struggle with violent nature, Camp Clarence Edwards today faced abandonment by the city parks department. At a meeting of the city parks and recreation commission yesterday afternoon, J.T. Allen, parks superintendent, reported that the flood erosion damage at the camp had been extensive, that ordinary maintenance costs were excessive and that the area constituted an ever-present hazard.

Urges Investigation

While withholding definite recommendation in regard to the camp, Allen urged the commission to make a personal investigation of the property. No action was taken by the commission but members individually agreed to inspect the camp.

Started with the two-fold purpose of providing work for the unemployed and furnishing young people's organizations with a camping place, the camp was finally completed after expenditure of several thousands of dollars. Some of the money for the enterprise was furnished by the American Legion and the remainder by the city.

Named For Fire Victim

At impressive dedication ceremonies, the camp was named in memory of Clarence Edwards, Glendale resident who lost his life battling a fire sweeping the hills back of Glendale.
Despite the work of the CCC in soil erosion and flood control, each heavy storm has spread destruction, the flood of last Wednesday finally completing the havoc, according to Allen.
The problem, Allen told the commission, is an engineering one of providing adequate protection for residences at the mouth of the canyon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mysterious Ruins of the Verdugos*

This is what I hoped being on the board of the Glendale Historical Society would involve: exploring mysterious, unknown ruins in the local mountains.

Leading up to the mysterious site is a canyon with the foundations of three structures that were apparently washed out during the 1934 flood. This canyon leads to a debris catch basin. Around the other side of the catch basin, up another canyon, lie the stone foundations of a camp, approximately a dozen structures. At the center of the "camp" is a large flagpole with a concrete base.

View Mysterious Ruins in the Verdugos in a larger map
Unlike the very accessible Brand Cemetery, unless you are an experienced bushwhacker I can't recommend you explore the site yourself. It requires trespassing and avoiding rattlesnakes, bees, and dense thickets of poisonous sumac. Here are two rattlesnakes I had a close encounter with:

My best guess at the moment is that the site was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp - I believe they worked on the nearby catch basin, so that would make sense. The only thing that feels odd about that hypothesis is the permanence of the rock foundations - it feels overbuilt for a temporary camp, and I haven't found references to a CCC camp near Glendale other than in Griffith Park and Tuna Canyon. Perhaps a base for the Army Corps of Engineers working on nearby flood control projects? Or a private ranch? A Boy Scout Camp? If you have any ideas, let me know.*

*Update: Mystery solved (by research in an actual library). Camp Clarence Edwards, 1933-1938.