My dad grew up in Highland Park . . . first on Avenue 63, then Avenue 57, back in the 1930’s-1950’s. He lived south of Figueroa Boulevard and right by the Arroyo Seco Freeway. Back then, the neighborhood was still called “Garvanza” (originally named for the garbanzo bean plants that once grew about), and you could still pick blackberries high up on the hills of South Pasadena, across the way. As a kid, my dad attended Garvanza elementary school, and delivered newspapers, walking up and down the hilly streets in the early morning cold. Benner Street was his hub for hanging out with boyhood buddies. Of course, most of this is greatly changed now . . . but the school still remains.
These days, Garvanzans are working hard to emerge from under the bigger umbrella name of “Highland Park.” I am planning a future post that will detail a bit more about Garvanza’s early history, such as the flooding in 1938 (Garvanza sits above the Arroyo Seco, a suddenly ferocious river when heavy rains fall). In the meantime, I welcome your comments, personal anecdotes, and any information/images you might like to share.