What Happened in the Elysian Hills Before the Dodgers?

Elysian Hills
Panoramic view of the community of Chavez Ravine, circa 1952. Photo by Leonard Nadel, courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.


Contemporary Los Angeles best knows its Elysian Hills as a backdrop to baseball. Beyond the outfield pavilions of Dodger Stadium, their green slopes fade to brown each season beneath "cotton candy skies," in the words of the retiring Vin Scully. But long before such legendary names as Scully, Koufax, and Lasorda emerged from the hills, the landscape gave rise to legends of a different sort: man-eating lions on the prowl; an incredible "moving mountain"; an Edenic garden of exotic trees.

These earlier legends point to a long history that preceded the Dodgers' arrival in 1962 -- a history that "Lost LA's" second episode explores in depth. Below are the stories that inspired the episode, debuting Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 8:30 p.m., accompanied by several others.

Click on the links below for the full story.

Story continues below

1) Millions of years ago, the Los Angeles River carved a series of ravines into the hills.

35 Acre Tracts

 2) In 1886, much of the hilly land became one of L.A.'s first public parks.

Elysian Postcard

 3) One hilltop, Mt. Lookout, attracted artists and photographers with its sweeping city views.

Hills Sketch

 4) Mountain lions stalked the hills through the last decade of the 19th century.

Mountain Lion Hunt

 5) In the 1890s, horticulturalists planted an arboretum of rare and exotic trees in Chavez Ravine.


 6) Figueroa Street burrowed through the hills in the 1930s. A freeway runs through the tunnels today.

Elysian Tunnels

 7) An incredible "moving mountain" - a massive, slow-moving landslide - captivated the nation in 1937.

Moving Mountain

 8) The city evicted Mexican-American residents to make way for a never-built public housing project -- and, later, Dodger Stadium.

Protest in Chavez Ravine

 9) Bulldozers moved eight million cubic yards of earth to carve Dodger Stadium's bowl-shaped amphitheater.

Dodger Lot

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading

Full Episodes