Hello, great site, I recently read a book called Ghosts of Echo Park in which it mentioned that the hill that the Baxter steps are on is called Kite Hill. Where could one find names for Echo Park's other hills and maybe historical background on them? I recently toured the neighborhood on bike as training for the Fargo street event two weekends ago. Lots of hills and interesting streets in your neighborhood. Appreciate any information, thank you. -- Virgilio Reyes
In the great many historic maps I have viewed of the neighborhood I have never come across specific hill names. But some of the old maps refer to Elysian Park as the Stone Quarry Hills, Rock Quarry Hills and Red Rock Quarry Hills . I’ve seen maps name specific ravines in Elysian Park in the years before the stadium and landfill. They are, from west to east, Chavez (now Stadium Way), Sulfur, Cemetery (later Bishops Canyon) and Solano. Oh, and the ravine that is now Glendale Blvd was called Arroyo de Los Reyes.
Kite Hill is the hill east of Avon street and north of the Baxter street stairs. It is an old community name that was resurrected by the neighbors when a developer came along and wanted to build 10 or so houses on a new cul-de-sac held up with huge retaining walls.
As it happens, I grew up in Echo Park during the 1960s, and lived a short walk from what is now known as Kite Hill. The hill had no name when I would go there to fly kites as a kid. I began calling it Kite Hill and the name stuck with the other kids. I later wrote a short story called "Kite Hill" that was published in 1996 (you can search it online). Many years later, it seems that everyone knows that place by the name I gave it as a pre-pubescent kite lover. It's the magic of naming things; one never knows what can be created.
Jordan Elgrably, Culver City
Born in Cuba, migrated to California, I grew up in Echo Park.. went to Belmont High and since then have moved all over the U. S., searching for home...I miss the old town. Back in 1970's it was all so much simpler. My parents used to take us to Downtown at x-mas time and observe all the beautifully decorated department stores, (Broadway, May Co. etc.) it was a beautiful time and I am thankful I was part it. We lived so close to downtown, we could see the building lights from our bedroom window at night. I miss the cuban food and all the different cultures around us. When I was a teen I had a job in Olvera St. We use to visit China town, Griffith Pk merry-go-round. The Observatory was free and so where all the museums. Great place..I am thankful I was part of it all.
The hill I remember being called "Kite Hill" in Echo Park is where Alvarado goes up into the hills from the corner of Alvarado, Berkeley and Glendale ave. There was a radio station in the late 1960's called K B L A that had towers up there. Every one used to fly kites in October - November. It was just east of and across the street from where Clifford and Alvarado meet ... up to the top of the hill from Clifford Street Elementary School ... and yes .. it was a great place to fly a kite.
Re: Kite Hill - My two brothers, sister and I grew up on Lake shore Ave., just over the hill from Echo Park Avenue. In the late 40s, we used to fly our kites on a hill just above Avalon and Lake Shore Ave - and we all called the area kite hill. We climbed up that hill every day to go to Clifford St. School, located between Clifford St. and Duane. I am not sure this is the same hill that is close to the Baxter steps, but we dug seats out of the cliff at the end of the flat space so we could sit down when our kites were in the air. My brother Ron reminded me that many of the boys would try to attack each other's kites with their own, hoping to bring them down. I also remember that one day we found a rather large pile of peanuts (still in their shell) dumped right in the middle of the flat area. We filled several shopping bags to the brim and our mother made us roast them to be sure they were safe to eat. Now apt. bldgs. sit in that space and Gateways Hospital is just below it. I too remember the beautifully decorated department stores in Downtown. Our father worked in the Metropolitan Bldg., near Newberry's and Orbachs. And I remember drinking the best malts on Sunset Blvd and at the Echo Park Boat house - just 25 cents.
Sorry to burst so many bubbles in one shot. I was raised on Arron St. off of Glendale Blvd. My great grandmother built the house i lived in in 1906. In 1926 the original house was raised and a unit added making it a duplex (building permits are on file with the city). I lived in the house from 1941 to 1963 and again from 1972 until 1979. There is a hill that parrallels North Alvardo ,on the east side, that was graded level ,the site now has several radio towers on it and apartments on the north side of the graded area at the intersection of Brandon St. and N. Alvarado. I just checked with my mother and she moved to Arron St And went to Belmont HS in 1937. The hill was flat at that time. We called it Kite Hill in the late 40s and early 50s because sll the kids in the area flew kites there. It had no trees or wires to eat your kite. Sorry Mr. Elgrably but you were a little late to name the hill.The old maps may show an additional kite hill but everything north of Brandon St. from No. Alvarado to Lakeshore had to many trees and power lines. Kite hill only was graded from what would be the ROW of Effee St. to Brandon St. In the summer we would "sled" down the sides of the hill on the dry grass using cardboard boxes. Slso the Baxter stairs by Avon Terrace are quite a ways from N. Alvarado. Adjacent to Kite Hill on the west side of Alvarado was an early sound stage that belonged to Mack Sennatt. In the 40s it was converted to the Palace Roller Rink. To bad but it closed in the 50s.
This post is awaiting approval by a moderator.
I lived in Echo Park from 1959 until 1982. I know at least three different "kite hills". The one Mr. Lilley refers to is one (a friend of mine lived right next to that hill on Alvarado and Clifford, two blocks for Arron street. I heard it called kite hill from him). The hill that Mr. Elgrably refers to was also called "kite hill" (and I know other people who claimed to have named it so). Finally, at the end of Echo Park Ave. where Landa crosses there is a big flat open space cut by Cal Trans for fill for the Golden State Freeway which is perfect for flying kites, it too was called "kite hill". Kids, kites, and hills go together well in Echo Park it would seem.