La Canada-Flintridge is named in part after Frank P. Flint due to his part in being one of the main players in the development of La Canada. “La Canada” literally means in Spanish, a canyon, or gorge, which describes how it is nestled as a small valley between the San Gabriel Mountains and San Rafael Hills. La Canada is somewhat isolated from city congestion but with a 15 minute drive to downtown Los Angeles, it’s close enough to experience the cultures that L.A. has to offer.
In 2003 La Canada property values rose by 23.4%, an. Profiled as having one of the lowest crime rates in the country and an excellent school district have been the contributing factors for the desirability to live in La Canada.
The La Cañada Unified School District serves most of the city. Three public schools serve grades K-6: La Cañada Elementary, Palm Crest Elementary, and Paradise Canyon Elementary School. The public high school, La Cañada High School, which also serves as a middle school for grades 7-8, is a 2004 Blue Ribbon School and is ranked as one of the top 100 high schools in the country.
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EARLY HISTORY OF LA CANADA
The first inhabitants to occupy the areas covering what is today known as the Crescenta-Canada Valley were the Tongva Indians. It was the later years of the 18th century when missionaries were sent from Spain to convert the native occupants throughout California to Catholicism. The natives who did not go to the California missions to live and work were either collected by soldiers, fled to the hills and canyons, or gave way to diseases that were brought by the new settlers.
It was Don Jose Maria Verdugo who first claimed ownership over the area, which was granted to him after asking the governor of California for a piece of land for him to retire at and to raise cattle after having served the King of Spain. Ignacio Coronel, who was granted a portion of the Verdugo family’s land in 1843, named La Canada, meaning “a glen between the mountains”. The section of Verdugo’s land that Coronel was granted extended from Tujunga all the way across from the northern tip of Glendale to the Arroyo Seco and it was this entire area that made up what was Rancho La Canada. It was in 1871 that the first U.S. citizen, by the name of Colonel Theodore Pickens, moved into the Crescenta-Canada Valley area, who built a small residence at what is now known as Pickens Canyon, an area that lies along the La Crescenta-La Canada city border line. He built a small, humble residence up against the foothills close to one of the valley’s only water sources.
The three key players in the planning and development of what was Rancho La Canada were Dr. Benjamin Briggs, Dr. Jacob Lanterman, and Frank P. Flint.
Suffering from tuberculosis, a man by the name of Colonel Adolphus Williams moved to California as a healthseeker from Lansing, Michigan in 1874 for its warm, dry climate. He settled in at one of the many health resorts that were open at the time in La Canada. As word of the area’s healthful air quality began to spread, the valley became a tourist attraction. Hotels and sanitariums sprang up. At one time there were as many as 25 health sanitariums in operation. Williams, almost immediately recovering from his tuberculosis, wrote to a friend from his hometown in Michigan, Dr. Jacob Lanterman, who was suffering from bronchitis, and strongly urged him to move to California, insisting that it’s climate will cure any illness. Lanterman made the trip, joing up with Williams at the Dunks Hotel, which was located roughly where today Green intersects with Angeles Crest Highway.
Because both Williams and Lanterman praised the valley’s air quality they made the decision to collectively purchase what was the entire Rancho La Canada land Grant from the Verdugo family for $10,000, which was a low price even for that time. Water was hard to come by in the valley which made the land in the area unappealing for settlers and developers.
Upon purchasing the 5830 acres of land, Lanterman and Williams immediately took up a search for a water source in the area, which was not an easy task. Gravity water and run off was all there was to suffice. It wasn’t until Frank P. Flint, one of La Canada’s other developers, came into the area that this problem became solved.
In the process of subdividing off the land for resale, Lanterman and Williams began to develop the main road that ran across La Canada, naming it Michigan Avenue after their hometown state, which in later years was renamed Foothill Boulevard. Michigan Ave was initially a dirt road that ran along the foothills of the land grant and was hard to travel across because of the ditches and ravines in the valley that it dipped up and down into. Eventually over the years these ditches and ravines were filled in, and Michigan Avenue became a well traveled road.
In working at subdividing and selling off parcels of Rancho La Canada, Lanterman and Williams fell into a law suit with eachother, with Lanterman accusing Williams of falsely surveying and dividing the parcels. During this time Benjamin Briggs, an accomplished man who originally moved west from the east coast for the gold rush, purchased the western half of Rancho La Canada from Lanterman and Williams.
Briggs had arrived to the West Coast in his early 20’s in 1881 with his two brothers, and eventually settled into Rancho La Canada after he and his brothers had succeeded in pioneering California’s fruit growing industry. Briggs felt that the Crescenta-Canada valley offered the best climate in terms of aiding ones health, which he felt to be important in a time that he was morning the death of his young bride, Abby Briggs, who had died of tuberculosis.
After purchasing his portion of land from Lanterman and Williams, he began surveying and subdividing 10 acre lots to be sold as ranches, which included what eventually became Montrose as well as the land that he named La Crescenta, named after the crescent shapes that the mountains formed along the foothills. Briggs built his home near where Theodore Pickens had lived, in Pickens Canyon. It was the road that led up to his home that eventually became named Briggs Avenue, a road that exists today running north and south, close to the La Canada, La Crescenta border.
Briggs is remembered for having started the first school in the valley, as well as forming the first church, which he initially started in his own home, the first public park, and the first full-time medical practice in the area.
La Canada Flintridge is named in part after Frank P. Flint due to his part in being one of the main players in the development of La Canada. As Senator of California, Flint played a great part in making the Mission style the official architecture of government buildings in Southern California and played a major political role in bringing Owens Valley water to metropolitan Los Angeles. In addition to his title as a United States Senator, Flint was also a judge, a banker, a deputy Marshall, a lawyer, and a real estate developer.
After many political endeavors, in 1912 Frank Flint gained an interest in developing a wealthy suburb adjacent to Pasadena, which at that point had been already fully developed for some time and was one of the wealthiest addresses in the nation. He purchased 1700 acres of Rancho La Canada that lied south of Michigan Ave (now Foothill) and named it Flintridge.
Along with the Flintridge Equestrian Center and the Flintridge Country Club, Frank Flint built the Flintridge Hotel at the top of the southern end of the San Rafael mountains, all within his 1700 acres of land. Designed by the renowned architect, Myron Hunt, the hotel opened in 1927 but because it was remotley located and the rooms were expensive the hotel failed and was forced to sell it to the Biltmore Hotel chain, who not long after sold it to the Catholic church. Shortly after the onset of the great depression it was founded by Dominican Sisters and since 1931 it has been an all girls Catholic high school, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.
Even though the 210 freeway, which was built in the 1970’s, cut through what was the Golf Course that Flint had built, the Flintridge Country Club became what is now St. Franics High School, and his hotel became Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Frank Flint’s name is still reflected in the name of La Canada-Flintridge, as well as the cities clubs, schools, and businesses.
It was after the second World War when most of our country was settling and starting families after the war that La Canada changed from a ranching community to the residential family community that it is today. In 1950 Frank Lanterman, as resident of La Canada and relative to one of La Canada’s founding member, was elected to the California State Assembly and succeeded in gaining Colorado River water for La Canada in 1955. This was a pivotal event in La Canada, allowing further development of residential communities in the town. Many post war defense industry workers saw La Canada as an appealing place to settle, increasing the demand to built in the valley and with a new water source the area began to boom.
Many of the homes in La Canada that exist today are mid-century California Ranch style homes that were built during this time, and serve as homes for families to raise new generations of La Canada residents with the interest to have their children attend the cities blue ribbon schools.
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE TODAY
In 2003 La Canada property values rose by 23.4%, an astronomical increase that placed the city at the top of the charts for the entire nation. Although now, five years later, the market has shifted, the community of La Canada, as well as many surrounding areas, have held its own in comparison to the nationwide drop in house prices. La Canada has not dropped anywhere near a number that would compensate for the rise in property values that have occurred like that 23.4% increase in 2003. Profiled as having one of the lowest crime rates in the country has been one of the contributing factors for the desirability to live in La Canada.