Walking LA’s Original Four Corners

Through the support of Los Angeles Walks, I’ve been helping to organize a 4-walk series in which we’re making our way around the original border of the City of Los Angeles. This past weekend, about 50 people joined the trek down the eastern border which I co-lead with the amazing urban planner James Rojas.

For the last ten years, I’ve been wanting to walk Los Angeles’ original border, which is currently marked by plaques placed at each of LA’s original four corners. Back in the 1980s, the Los Angeles City Historical Society led the effort to establish these four plaques “to mark the four corners of the original Pueblo in a permanent and conspicuous manner.”

Plaque at Debs Park

As we plan our fourth and last walk along the city’s northern border, here’s a cartographic glimpse at Los Angeles when it was still a square, long before it swallowed up nearby cities and swelled into the amoeba-like shape we know and (mostly) love.

1916 Map of Los Angeles
Hamlin, Homer. Map showing territory annexed to the city of Los Angeles, California. [Los Angeles: City Engineer, 1916] https://www.loc.gov/item/2006627663
Diseño of the pueblo of Los Angeles
A deseño of the pueblo of Los Angeles found through the LA Public Library. An excerpt from the description of this map: “The first maps to record land ownership in California were diseños. These were sketches unverified by formal survey of land boundaries. Instead of using the coordinate system, boundaries were identified by location of great oak trees, large sycamores, streams, or mountain ranges.”
Map of Los Angeles (1875)
Caption for this UCLA map reads “City of Los Angeles: city limits as at end of year 1875” http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb9x0nb9vr/?brand=oac4
Map of Los Angeles via 1875
UCLA caption reads “Map of the county of Los Angeles, California” http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb2p3008sf/?brand=oac4

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