Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Golden West vs. Goldenwest

Tractor pulling a 20-ton dredger for Golden West Celery & Produce Co., 1915.
The Mayor of Huntington Beach, Matthew Harper, (an old friend from my high school days), just asked me, "Goldenwest or Golden West? The question will be on the agenda on Monday."

The origins and correct spelling of this north-south street running through Huntington Beach and Westminster have led to more than a little head scratching in recent years. I still don't have all the answers, but here's what I've discovered so far...

Maps from 1911 to 1927 show the street’s name as Westminster Ave. One of the conventions for county roads was to name them for the community they led to.

By 1935 at the latest, the road was called Golden West Ave. It likely took its name from the Golden West Celery & Produce Co., which incorporated in 1902 and did its packing in the town of Smeltzer, near the spot where Edinger Ave. now crosses the railroad tracks. (It became the Golden West Warehouse Co. after the celery industry tanked.)

On a related note, the phrase “the Golden West” was often used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to evoke a certain romantic or nostalgic notion of California. Examples include the play and opera entitled “The Girl of the Golden West,” the local Golden West Citrus Association, and the fraternal service group known as the Native Sons of the Golden West.
Golden West College, named for the street, opened in 1966.
The earliest reference I’ve found (so far) to the one-word “Goldenwest” in connection with the street is on a 1962 county survey map (RSB 59/2-3). But that seems to have been a fluke rather than the norm at that time. Almost always, “Golden West” was the preferred spelling until at least the 1980s or 1990s.

Beginning around 1981, a few references to “Goldenwest Ave.” began to appear in newspapers. By the end of the 1980s it was showing up that way on county survey maps and a few street signs. In 1997, the Thomas Guide changed the spelling in their maps from “Golden West” to “Goldenwest.”

In the 2000s, the digital mapping software used by Huntington Beach's police and fire departments in responding to calls was unable to cope with a single street having multiple names. City Council Resolution 2009-76 adopted a single name for each street facing this problem. One of these "fixes" was the official changing of “Golden West Ave.” to “Goldenwest Street."

I guess we'll learn the next chapter of this story after the City Council meets on Monday.
Akiyama Goldfish Farm, Golden West Ave, looking north from Bolsa Ave., Westminster, circa 1960.


Connie Moreno said...

You always have such interesting stuff on this blog!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that last photo is from 1960. Those cars look way out of date.