Monday, September 27, 2010

"They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot."

I need your help. I'm trying to list some of the best Orange County historical sites that are now parking lots. The Mission Yard and Reservoir site (at El Camino Real and El Horno St.) in San Juan Capistrano is a good example. Used as a watering hole, a reservoir, and a staging site for construction for well over two centuries, it's now a paved parking lot for the library.
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Another example is the parking lot at 5th St. and Sycamore in Santa Ana (shown above). At this site, in 1869, town founder William H. Spurgeon climbed a Sycamore tree so he could see above the tall mustard and get an overview of the land he'd just purchased. A younger sycamore tree has been planted in one corner of the parking lot.
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So,... What significant historic sites in your community (or others you know about) have been turned, completely or partially, into parking lots? Please leave your thoughts by clicking the "comments" link at the bottom of this post.
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Once I have a longer list of sites, I have a fun idea for what to do with them all. Details will follow after I flesh out the list a bit. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
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(Update: Even if you don't have anything to add to the list, be sure to read some of the discussion in the "Comments" section. What a great thread! Thanks, everyone! Keep those ideas coming!)

49 comments:

DregerClock.org said...

it is not a specific area maybe... but just to get the ball rolling... how about the Costco and Home Depot parking lots in Garden Grove near Main Street, which were part of the Pacific Electric Right of way through the heart of old Garden Grove.

Chris Jepsen said...

Good one, Glenn!

Ricky Blake said...

Dana Point harbor has a parking lot smack dab in the spot where surfers used to ride and Richard Henry Dana himself loaded up cow hides after throwing them off the cliff. The Ocean Institute has their main parking lot in the exact spot that great waves used to wrap around that beautiful point...

Ronan Murray said...

The site of the former Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa is, in part, a parking lot.

DregerClock.org said...

This might be also a little non-specific... but the two or three big parking structures in Downtown Anaheim are where all the old town buildings were torn down when the "civic center" was "renewed" in the 80s.

Does anyone know any specific historical landmarks that stood where those parking structures are now? Where did the Pickwick Hotel stand?

Anonymous said...

How about in reverse? A historic parking lot ( sort of ) Hi-way 39 that is now a walmart. Or even more historic would be the World famous Fountain Valley drive-in which is now a ralphs market.

Connie Moreno said...

I'm not that familiar with the OC but sounds like a great project. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

As has been stated, downtown Garden Grove & Anaheim. Wonderful craftsmen period homes bulldozed. Downtown Brea,
Plano Trabuco, the bluffs of Bolsa Chica, etc.....
Big bucks and the over reaching arm of local redevelopment agencies.
Doug Mac.

Chris Jepsen said...

Great suggestions, folks! Keep 'em coming.

Doug: Isn't the Japanese Language School in GG now part of a parking lot too?

CoxPilot said...

How about the north east corner of 4th and Main in Santa Ana? Wasn't that where the old Montgomery Ward building stood?

DregerClock.org said...

Japanese Deer Park...
33.870336,-118.009603
near Knott and the 5 freeway. it is now a parking lot and business park

CoxPilot said...

Also: The south west corner of 3rd and bush was where the old Walker Theater stood (just behind the old city hall). Went there a lot when I was a kid.

CoxPilot said...

Also: The south west corner of 3rd and bush was where the old Walker Theater stood (just behind the old city hall). Went there a lot when I was a kid.

Bob G said...

How about the old jail site just north of the Old Orange County Courthouse? Isn't the outline of the old building in the parking lot?

CoxPilot said...

One last one: This may not be much history for most, but it was a big deal when I was in High School. Feducia's gas station was where all the hot rod car clubs hung out. It was on the south west corner of Bush and Main, just across from the fire department where my Uncle was a captain.

Chris Jepsen said...

More good points. And yes, Bob, the old jail ("Lacy's Hotel") was in what's now the parking lot of the Old Courthouse. I can see the outline out my office window.

Here are a few other spots that also came to mind:

The Talbert house in Huntington Beach is now a parking structure for "The Strand" retail development.

The Juan Pacifico Ontiveros adobe site in Placentia is now an industrial park with lots of parking lots. I wouldn't be surprised if the actual footprint of the adobe is now parking lot, but I need to check the aerials.

The Joy Zone amusement park in Seal Beach was at the foot of the pier, where a small park and a larger parking lot are now situated.

We all love to see the historic buildings in Downtown Orange, but a lot of buildings were also torn out to make the parking lots behind them.

The Pacific Beach Club in Huntington Beach once (briefly, before the arson) partially sat on the current site of the State Beach parking lot.

And Susan B. points out that the Hi-way 39 Drive-In in Westminster is now a Walmart parking lot.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. What else can we think of?

Mike Cook said...

My grandfather leased a Spanish land grant from the Whitings in the 50s and 60s. Bake Avenue in El Toro now runs through an indian site (Gabrileno?)where I collected many stone tools as a boy. (Mr. Whiting gave me written permission).

doug mcintosh said...

Yes, Chris, The Costco parking lot is the location of the National Register eligible GG Japanese Language School.
It the building was torn down with limited protest. I collected a couple of boxes of artifacts from the site and passes the items on to the GG Historical Society.
Lots of parking spaces.

Anonymous said...

who is Susan B. ?

Bob G said...

The old Skate Ranch in Santa Ana is now under the N lanes of the 5 Fwy. Does that count as a parking lot? ;)

Anonymous said...

Reverse:

Disney's California Adventure

Bob said...

There is parking in the old Pacific Electric right of way all the way through Sunset Beach.

There is subterranean parking underneath the site of the old Golden Bear on Main and PCH in Huntington.

Chris Jepsen said...

Bob: I hadn't even thought about the parking UNDER the Bear! That's an excellent point! I used to park there for the movie theater.

Anonymous: Yes, the old Disneyland Parking Lot was historic in its own right -- It was an innovative step forward in terms of parking huge numbers of cars at a single venue.

Also, "Susan B." is Susan Berumen, who I work with at the Orange County Archives. Don't know why I just gave her initial -- I guess I've just gotten in the habit of doing that with readers and contributors here.

Back to Garden Grove,... Don Dobmeier points out that a number of other historic structures were located on what is now the Costco Parking lot, including a rather old VFW hall.

Wow! I am really amazed at all the great comments you folks are coming up with. So often, I get *no* comments (or only one) on my posts and I wonder if anyone is reading.

I'm glad to know you're all out there. And of course, I'm even more glad to have your help with this project.

Thanks, and keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

Corner of El Camino Real / W Main St. Used to be Tustin First National Bank. Now a parking lot.

Ricky Blake said...

Huntington Beach Meadowlark Airport restaurant and main building is now a Ralphs parking lot. Huntington Beach Little League fields that were on Heil and Graham are all now one parking lot for the Mormon Church...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for asking the question Chris! You are gathering some great comments! There were several small stables on Goldenwest near Talbert -paradise for a kid. There was also a great open space with oil derricks up on Edwards Hill. All of these are only memories now - removed to make way for more houses. I remember a Drive In Theater on Warner and Gothard, gone years ago! There was also the much loved/disliked Meadowlark Airport - my dad flew into there often - I loved it! Now a parking lot for Ralph's. And any local to this area cannot forget the Mushroom Farm on GW and Talbert.
Thanks for asking the question Chris! You are gathering some great comments! ~Diane

Chris Jepsen said...

Thanks, Diane and Ricky. Meadowlark is an especially good one.

Here's a few more historic sites I remembered that are now parking lots...

Capistrano Beach Club, between Dana Point and San Clemente.

The Plunge, next to the Huntington Beach Pier.

Nixon's first law office, La Habra (now Civic Center parking).

French House, 10th and Bush, Santa Ana.

Holly Sugar Co Plant, Dyer Rd., Santa Ana.

Maybe if I keep priming the pump like this, we'll get even more good comments. :-)

doug mcintosh said...

The Juaneno village site of "Putiidem" (CA-ORA 855), located near the intersection of Camino Capistrano & Junipero Road, has been unbelievably impacted by a huge development, including a school complex, sports fields and PARKING LOTS.
This was reported to be the "mother site" of the Juaneno people, with habitation dates of c.1200ad to post 1776.
Part of my field school was at this cultural site. Truly amazing.
Google earth shows lots of parking spaces at several large parking lots on the former village site.

Anonymous said...

1200 AD . . . you mean they weren't "always" there?

Chris Jepsen said...

Anonymous: The Shoshonean peoples, including the Juanenos, are relative newcomers to Southern California. Prior to them, another group (groups?) of Native Americans lived here, but we don't know much about them.

Doug: That's an outstanding bit about the village site. I imagine there are more than a few PREhistoric sites in O.C. that are now parking lots. I can use those too.

Anonymous said...

Just a suggestion: Map all these locations on Google Earth. You can create an overlay with all these sites that others can download and see, even including pictures and descriptions for each. See making KML files at Google Help or: http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php/Cat/0

- An HB kid in exile on the east coast

Chris Jepsen said...

Nice idea. However, I have another plan for all this...

Gustavo Arellano said...

How about old barrios? Do they count as historical landmarks? Because I know more than a few...

Anonymous said...

Disney studio at Hyperion is now a Gelson's parking lot.

Anonymous said...

http://bigorangelandmarks.blogspot.com/2008/07/no-163-site-of-first-official-walt.html

Chris Jepsen said...

Gustavo: Sure! Barrios should be on the list. Do you know of any that are parking lots now? The Santa Ana redevelopment folks haven't red-tagged all of Logan yet, but that seems to be the direction they're moving in.

giddy girlie said...

There was an old tree (I can't remember now what type it was) in Orange on Chapman Ave in the Ralphs parking lot (2620 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA). The parking lot was paved around the tree, because it was historic, but then Ralphs wanted to expand and I remember there being an uproar about not allowing them to destroy the tree. But then a short time later, the tree collapsed (if I remember correctly, a car hit it) and I remember a lot of people thinking it was an odd coincidence.

Chris Jepsen said...

Giddy: I'd forgotten about that tree! It had an association with one of the old families in the area, right? I vaguely remember something about the roots being damaged by the paving process. I think my Lovely Orange Correspondent knows the story. I will ask her. Thanks for reminding me!

giddy girlie said...

I think you're right. I think the construction damaged the roots or something and then a car in the parking lot was enough to send it toppling over. We used to shop at that Ralphs and that was a GIANT tree, so I doubt an errant Honda Civic or whatever would have been enough to do any damage to the trunk itself - it had to be something structural with the root system.

Ricky Blake said...

Historic Springdale School that was at Springdale and Warner in Huntington Beach is now a parking lot for Steve's Charburger and a Donut shop. It was the only school around for all the children of the farms in the area.

CoxPilot said...

There used to be a sweet little church in the area off South Bristol, Santa Ana, when the area was all bean fields, and before South Coast Plaza was even an idea. We would drive down bristol to go to the beach, and see the little church on our right about 1/4 mile away. It stood out because it was the only building for miles, and it was all white. I don't know the exact location, so I'm not sure what took it's place. I just know it's gone.

DregerClock.org said...

I checked with Dean Dixon, the Buena Park Historical Society's Museum Curator so as to make sure this was accurate (rather than me going off what I had heard). He had this to say about the home of Buena Park's Founder James A. Whitaker:

"The Whitaker-Pierce House (a/k/a Founder’s House) was located just north of Manchester Blvd. (now Auto Center Dr.). James A. Whitaker built it on the west side facing east onto Grand Ave. (now Beach Blvd.). When the Pierce Farm was subdivided into housing, the Whitaker-Pierce House was rotated on its axis to face south onto the newly created street Virginia Ave. The house was torn down on March 14, 1985 to make way for – you guessed it! – one of the parking lots for the buildings named Buena Park Commerce Plaza."

Bob G said...

Regarding the sweet little white church to the right off S. Bristol -- there is a tiny old church on Greenville just north of MacArthur that just may be the one. ... not a parking lot yet!

CoxPilot said...

Bob G: Yes, that's it. I remember when everything else was farm fields

doug mcintosh said...

A prehistoric shell midden site (CA-ORA 368) was located at the present location of a parking lot for a commercial building near the NE corner of Warner Ave. and Bolsa Chica, in Huntington Beach. As was previously mentioned this was also the location of Meadowlark Airport.
Also, a parking lot for Oceanview High School is also located on top of another prehistoric shell midden site.
This part of O.C. was rich in terms of prehistoric cultural resources.

Chris Jepsen said...

Glenn: Thanks again. And be sure to thank Dean Dixon for me!

Bob & CoxPilot: Yes, the Greenville Country Church is still standing. (Did you know Walter Knott's father once preached there?) Glad I don't have to add that one to the list.

Doug: Both good ones! So I guess Meadowlark is at least a DOUBLE historic parking lot now!

Allen P said...

Here are a couple from here at Knott's: The Lagoon area across Beach Blvd. Also, the Henry's Auto Livery area.

Some other places in Buena Park: How about where the Nabisco plant used to be and I remember there being some kind of fruit and/or vegetable packing plant being were Ganahl Lumber is now.

Captain said...

Serra School, formerly at the intersection of Victoria Blvd and Via Santa Rosa in Capo Beach, is now a parking lot.

The only thing remaining form the old school is the beautiful line of Queen Palms that once flanked the handsome entrance of that venerable old building. They are quite visible in the current sat view on Google Maps.

In that view, the footprint of the former school is occupied by the dark asphalt lot with the white lines that is just to the right of the palm trees.

Schopie said...

It's not a parking lot yet, but it is soon becoming one--the site of the Eadington Fruit Company packinghouse (before it burned down in the early 1950s) and a Blue Goose building, at Spadra (now Harbor) and Santa Fe in Fullerton. More recently, the site was a Citrus World West juice packing facility, now slightly derelict, and soon to be a parking garage for the Fullerton Transportation Center.