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Verdugo Views: Glendale became stamped in the '20s, '30s

January 31, 2012|By Katherine Yamada
  • Glendale grew tremendously in the 1920s and 30s and most residential areas (such as the one pictured above) included sidewalks that were installed by the contractor. They marked their work by stamping their names into the sidewalks. (Courtesy of the Glendale Public Library Special Collections)
Glendale grew tremendously in the 1920s and 30s and most…

Many of Glendale’s neighborhoods were developed in the 1920s and ’30s, when it was billed as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.

Most of these residential areas have sidewalks that were laid when the houses were built. The custom then was for the contractor to embed a stamp (sometimes called a stencil) on the sidewalks, and these stamps have become a visible history of those who built the city.

The history that those stamps preserve seems to be of interest to many people who use the city’s sidewalks.

Several months ago, resident Frank McNulty wrote, “At the time the part of the city I live in was being developed, in the 1920s-1930s, the contractors had a practice of placing a stencil in the cement sidewalks. As those sidewalks age and are replaced with new cement, the stencils are lost. These show a record of the people that actually built the city. For example, in my neighborhood, the sidewalks are stenciled with ‘Bates & Borland.’ Nearby sidewalks are stenciled with ‘Haddock-Nibley.’”

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Soon after his comments appeared in Readers Write, Eileen Wallis, who has done research on sidewalk stamps in Northwest Glendale, wrote with additional information.

Most of the stamps in her area were removed when the sidewalks were redone last year, she said, but a few survive. “The stencils are usually either the names of the developers of that particular tract, or of the contractors hired to lay the sidewalks.”

One stencil that she has often seen south of Glenoaks Boulevard and west of Grandview Avenue is “J.W. Henderson, Contractor.’’ He was a Tennessee-born cement contractor who lived with his wife and four children on South Glendale Avenue.

The Bates and Borland firm that McNulty mentioned was a much larger concern, Wallis added. “It seems to have specialized in streets, working not only on Glendale’s streets but on some of the housing tracts in Leimart Park as well. In 1927, the company’s general manager was a man named Earl Tuttle.”

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