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Verdugo Views: Master-planned Montrose opened nearly 100 years ago

January 22, 2013|By Katherine Yamada
  • The corner of Montrose and Honolulu avenues a few years after Montrose opened for development. This photo was printed in the 1953 Progress Edition of The Ledger, and the caption at that time identified the man as realtor Frank Turner.
The corner of Montrose and Honolulu avenues a few years… (Courtesy of Special…)

Montrose, a 300-acre ‘planned community' opened Feb. 22, 1913 and more than 4,000 people showed up for the grand opening.

Many arrived by horseback or on horse-drawn vehicles, according to Carroll W. Parcher, writing in “Glendale Area History,” published in 1981.

The developers, Holmes and Watson, promoted their new development in a large display ad placed in the Feb. 21, 1913 Glendale News Press.

“Montrose, a few minutes ride up the Foothill Boulevard from Glendale, right at the junction of the Verdugo, La Crescenta and La Canada Valleys.”

“Be prepared to buy a lot or two. You've made money on your holdings in Glendale. You'll make a bigger profit if you buy at the opening prices of Montrose.” Situated at an elevation of 1,300 to 1,400 feet, it is “well above the fogs,” the ad continued.

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“We already have plenty of water, we're putting in the best of street work, laying out winding drives.” Plus, the developers promised to care for the trees, parking areas and vacant lots for seven years to “maintain the neat appearance.”

Holmes and Watson laid out the neighborhood in the form of a rose, with circular streets leading from the broad curve of Montrose Avenue; which was built very wide to accommodate planned streetcar tracks that were to extend an existing line from Verdugo Park in Glendale to La Crescenta Avenue in La Crescenta, and provide residents with easy access to the new community, Parcher wrote.

Montrose Avenue was designed to be the main shopping and business street. But despite their plans, the shops on Montrose never really materialized, he added. “An age-old law regarding the preferences of shoppers was rediscovered — shoppers don't care to walk uphill to visit stores.” So businesses began to develop along level Honolulu Avenue instead and it remains the primary shopping street.

The first major building, on the southwest corner of Verdugo Road and Honolulu, held a drug store, a bank (the first in the area) and the first office of the local newspaper (the Crescenta Valley Ledger), according to Parcher.

Then another drug store went up on the opposite corner, followed by a two-story structure with a hotel on the top floor and stores and offices on the lower level. With the later addition of a movie theater, Montrose became a community.

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