EAST SIDE CLOVER
Initials: ESC, C19, CST
213 Area Code
Bandana Color: GREEN
Logo: THE 3 LEAF SHAMROCK, aka LUCKY CLOVER.
The plant most often referred to as shamrock is the clover and has served as a good luck symbol since the earliest times.
Hand sign: Big C (Pending Art)
The Varrio is from the later 1920s or early 1930s.
1950s Car Club: Thee Phantoms
Original clique: Leprechauns (Duendes)
Calle Sichel Locos
19 Street (Avenue 19)
Irish and Mexicans where the first membership, but as the years went by, it became predominantly Italian and Mexican. But today, even though there still remains a sizable Italian population in The Heights, the Mexican/Chicano population by far supplies the majority of members to the Varrio ranks.
Varrio name origin stems from: “CLOVER STREET” proper; obviously named because the Irish first settled in Clover Heights or possibly from the large clover fields which existed there. Clover fields and wild mustard grew rampantly in those early times.
The EAST SIDE part of the Varrio name stems from the fact that when this section of greater East Los Angeles became officially renamed Lincoln Heights in 1917, as endearing as the new name was to become, it was still common for residents to refer to their neighborhood as “The East Side.” To this day, when older residents talk about The Heights, they’ll often say
~> “You know, The Eastside.”
Even the old LAPD quarters located by the Five Points (the intersection of Pasadena Avenue, Avenue 26 and Daly Street), was known as the East Side Police Station, until the Police Commission in 1919 changed the name to Lincoln Heights Police Station, so as to reflect on official records.
Another remnant of the name “Eastside” was the Eastside Brewery, which then became Pabst/Eastside Brewery, then Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery, and in present times referred to solely as The Brewery. This is where the locals got their cold long neck bottles of “Eastside Beer”, it was really good stuff and cheap too.
The Old Clover Street community was bounded by the railroad on the south, the L.A. River on the west, North Broadway to the north, and EastLake (Lincoln Park) on the east. It was a close-knit community and everyone knew everyone else.
Officially, the Varrio East Side Clover, as well as the Varrios of East Lake 13, Happy Valley, Rose Hills, East Side 18 Street and Varrio Lincoln Heights are all located within the greater Lincoln Heights district surrounding Lincoln Park, aka East Lake.
But CLOVER itself is located in an enclave that was oldenly known as Clover Heights which stretched from North Broadway, all the way along the East Side of the LA River, south to the vineyards and railyards.
NORTH BROADWAY was formerly DOWNEY Avenue, renamed in 1910, it stretched from the LA river to Mission Rd. Named after John Gately Downey an Irish Catholic pharmacist who had served as the 7th governor of California from 1860 to 1862; In 1874 Downey Avenue was a 100 foot long street bisecting “The Eastside.” Since almost all horse car and cable lines were conceived to promote land development, Downey’s partner John Griffin began running a used omnibus along Downey Avenue to promote local home sites. North Broadway (Downey) became a busy commercial strip, which it remains today. This is where the heart of CLOVER HEIGHTS was established.
Clover Heights is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, dating back to the 1870s. Perched on bluffs above the L.A. River, it was originally home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents, who built a large number of Victorian mansions in the district (many of which can still be seen standing today as you stroll through the neighborhood). By the turn of the Twentieth Century, however, the rapid industrial development along the riverbanks made it less appealing for wealthy Angelinos, who then began to move out to other areas, first to the Arroyo Seco area, then from the 1920s on, to the rapidly developing Mid-Wilshire area. As the wealthy residents moved out, Clover Heights became home to a large Italian population as well as an ever greater Mexican population. It and its cross-river neighbor “Little Italy” (what is now Chinatown) formed the heart of the Southern Califas Italian-American community. But beginning just after World War II, Italians and Mexicans alike began to also move out from the immediate areas next to the River. This process accelerated during the 1950s, with the construction of the Golden State Freeway running parallel to the river, which split the Clover Barrio right down the middle and devastated the neighborhood. Ever since, Clover Heights has been a poor-to-working class Chicano neighborhood.
In present times, The Heights can roughly be considered to be bordered by the Los Angeles River on the west, the San Bernardino I-10 Freeway on the south, and Soto Street on the east; the district's northern border is unclear due to the area's uneven terrain. Adjacent communities include El Sereno on the east, City Terrace on the southeast, Boyle Heights on the south, Dog Town and Solano Canyon on the west, Cypress Park on the northwest, Mount Washington on the north and Montecito Heights on the northeast (The Hills, as the area is referred to by the locals). The Hills are connected to Lincoln Heights and go under a small valley behind Montecito Heights. Many of the hills in this area have no trees and much dry grass, but the area also shows amazing panoramic views of the entire city. Many northeast L.A. communities have been formed and defined by the many hilly areas that run through this northeast area. So while the freeways may surround The Heights, there are larger, natural forces that have created and defined the community.
Originally the CLOVER STREET neighborhood was founded by a growing affluent class which chose to move away from the hustle and bustle of downtown LA. Griffin Avenue was named after one of the founders and investors in the area. Other streets such as Workman and Sichel were also named after original settlers. Around the 1930s the immediate area surrounding the old barrio became a working class neighborhood adjacent to the EastSide Brewery and the San Antonio Winery on North Main and Lamar Streets. Back then, there were houses between the brewery and the LA River which separated Barrio Clover from Dog Town on the other side.
The Clover Street Barrio was a close-knit community and everyone knew everyone else. Houses were seldom locked. Of course not everyone was rich with material things and there was really no reason to lock anything. Nevertheless, if you had a bike, it was prudent to lock and secure it at night. Although protected by natural boundaries, outsiders may sometimes wander through the streets at night.
Albion Street Elementary School was nearly at the center of the community, which made a short walk for all of its students. It was one of the first schools to be built in the city of Los Angeles in 1891 opening a year later. The wooden schoolhouse was initially on Albion St, but later new classrooms were added and the administrative offices were moved to Avenue 18. But, it still retained the original name. There were after school activities like kick ball, softball, and outdoor basketball. These were complemented with activities at the Downey playground (Clover Park) across the street. During the summer there was baseball and in the fall touch football. Many of the young Clover Boys that graduated from Albion who then proceeded to Nightingale Jr High were tempted to ride the rail to Figueroa Street(The Espee railroad tracks ran along the LA River on the west edge of the playground and underneath the Spring Street bridge). However, this never became a habit with anyone. There were always stories of someone getting tangled up and forever living with the nickname of peg leg. After graduating from Nightingale, the youngsters would continue their education at Lincoln High School at the east end of North Broadway. Besides developing minds-- In the fall, football was the event. Although the teams were competitive, the school was small and it was a challenge to develop championship teams. Nevertheless, on occasion the right mix of players and coaches would come together and the school would march to the city playoffs --there used to be a lot of social events like Sock Hops and Sports Nights. There was the acrobatics of the jitterbug in the late forties, the Latin rhythms of Richie Valens and La Bamba in the fifties, and the gyrations of the twist in the early sixties.
Most of the homes in the neighborhood had cellars. Some youngsters liked to hang out and there they would assemble in an effort to be cool like James Dean or Humphrey Bogart, secluded in the cellar, they would experiment with cigarettes and sneak a Lucky Strike from an uncle or in some extreme cases grab a Coors from the ice box or a nickel 8 ounce femininely shaped bottled coke from one of the local stores and hang out in the cool shade of their front porch.
Hidden at the south end of Lamar St is the San Antonio Winery. In 1917 Santo Cambianica left his home in Italy and settled in Clover Heights to open up the winery. While many wineries went bankrupt during Prohibition, he cleverly survived by making sacramental wines for the Catholic Church. His family still makes wines for the church today as well as wines for the general public. It is one of the last wineries in Los Angeles and has been declared a cultural historical monument.
Today, most of the old houses on Clover St have been demolished. The land was converted to parking lots for the Piggy Back trailers of the Union Pacific railroad that bought out the Espee. Later, this land was sold to The United Parcel Service, which built a distribution center for their growing delivery service. The Golden State Freeway now borders the east side of the community. The old Clover Street birth grounds became increasingly an industrial hub, which even to this day still has turn-of-the-century workers' cottages near Main Street just blocks away from the Southern Pacific rail yards.
The railroad was built by immigrants who were mostly Chinese and Mexicans who laid railroad tracks over the High Sierras and Rocky Mountains into the plains of the Midwest; And in some cases they tenaciously bored tunnels through the mountains to lay their railroad tracks. Along the Clover Barrio, there were machine shops and rail yards to support the railroad. These facilities maintained and managed the distribution of locomotives, box cars, and cabooses. They were constantly serviced, taken apart and put back together to keep them running. The Southern Pacific Taylor yards and shops were located at the south end of Clover Street. It attracted many workers in the local area that consisted of machinists, apprentices, their helpers, and laborers. It was a convenient area to live. In the morning many of the workers in their overalls would walk from their nearby homes to the shop swinging their lunchboxes in rhythm with their stride. At 7AM the Espee (Southern Pacific) whistle could be heard throughout the neighborhood signaling the start of the work day. On the weekends with a 15-cent token one could take the streetcar downtown to go to the movies at the big theaters, or take in a live show at the Million Dollar Theater. Otherwise, one could just walk to the Starland Theater on Broadway a few blocks away or to the San Carlos Theater east of Daly Street on Main. On Sunday, after going to Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians, many would take the streetcar east to Lincoln Park. They would get their thrills on the various rides of the amusement park, try to catch the gold ring on the merry-go-round, or just go fishing at the lake. Sweethearts might rent a boat and cruise the lake taking care not to scare the fish away. Unfortunately, there weren't many places for the fish to hide in the small lake.
The lake was originally named Eastlake, but the name was also changed in 1917 to Lincoln Park, reflecting on the new official name for the community; And Eastlake Park Avenue was also changed to Lincoln Park Avenue. This grand street was the "red carpet" leading to the main entrance to the park in its day. A hundred years ago Lincoln Park was the city limit and people crossed bridges by foot, horse, trolley, etc. over the LA river down N. Broadway and turned south on Eastlake Park Avenue. In 1913 William N. Selig (1864-1948) purchased 32 acres of land next to Eastlake Park at a reported cost of $1 million. The property was turned into a zoo for the animals that he used in his films. By 1915, 700 animal species were residing at the Selig Zoo. The Selig Zoo is gone, but Lincoln Park and the Lake remain. And so does the San Antonio winery at its original location. The San Antonio Winery, continues to operate today, albeit with non-local grapes, and Lincoln Park is now used to celebrate Chicano culture and Mexican heritage. Cinco de Mayo at the park, is now an event that brings Raza from all over, down to The Heights!
Like most other inner city LA neighborhoods, the 1970's and 1980's saw the rise of "white flight" and "brown flight" too, as established Raza moved onto the growing and more prosperous suburbs of Los Angeles.
In a City of Angels that often disdains the old for the new, Clover Heights is a tough old neighborhood where 26% of the residents live below the poverty line and timeworn beauty hangs in the balance.
.. History yet to be completed, pending further revision!
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