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What Happened in the Elysian Hills Before the Dodgers?

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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.

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.

Artboretum

 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

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Photographic portrait of Mrs. Arcadia de Baker; previously Mrs. Abel Stearns, Arcadia Bandini, ca.1885. She can be seen from the waist up turned slightly to the left in an oval cutout. Her long dark hair is parted up the middle and pulled back to her neck. She is wearing a frilly shawl over a frilly dress with a low neckline.

The Powerful Mexican Woman Who Helped Shape Early Santa Monica

Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker was rich, beautiful and connected. This savvy businesswoman would be an important player in early California and helped shape Santa Monica and the west side of Los Angeles.
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They Built This City: How Labor Exploitation Built L.A.'s Attractions

In the early 1900s, Los Angeles’ temperate climate and natural attractions drew droves of tourists seeking an escape from crowded, industrial cities. But behind the pristine curtain of Mt. Lowe’s tourism industry was a harsh reality of labor exploitation that continues to disproportionately affect Los Angeles’ Latinx population today.
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Before Motown: L.A.'s Black-Owned Soul Music Empire

During the 1950s and 1960s, Los Angeles had its own Motown records — Dootone Records. The label's owner, Dootsie Williams, was a trailblazing Black music executive and entrepreneur who not only left an impact on the music industry, but also in his community.