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Once upon a time, Garvanza, the first town founded in Northeast Los Angeles, was a major entry point to Southern California via a station on the Santa Fe Railway. Originally Garvanza was one of the many sectioned plots of the Rancho San Rafael and was mainly a collection of garbanzo bean fields—hence its original name "Garbanzo." Later, as the railway brought more and more people to Southern California, the town became attractive to bohemians eager to take advantage of the Arroyo's unique natural setting, close proximity to Los Angeles, and inexpensive properties. These elements helped contribute to the development of the first artist colony in Los Angeles, with leading lights like William Lees Judson making the area their home and establishing studio space there.
After it was annexed to Los Angeles in 1899, Garvanza lost much of its identity as a separate neighborhood, but this unique neighborhood is being resurrected today by the Highland Park Heritage Trust. The collection of historic homes and the close proximity to the natural resources of the Arroyo remains attractive now as it was a decade ago. Today, Garvanza neighborhood signs welcome residents and visitors alike.
Above, Highland Park Heritage Trust preservationist, Nicole Possert, and great-great-grandson and heir of William Lees Judson's Judson Studios, David Judson, talk about the development and allure of Garzanza for artist and new migrants to the West. See also a slideshow of historical images.