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The Arroyo Seco
Geographically, the Arroyo Seco, literally "dry creek" is the most prominent feature of the northeast Los Angeles landscape. The great, long canyon of the Arroyo Seco extends from the foot of the San Gabriel mountains north of Pasadena, southward along the western edge of South Pasadena. It skirts the Garvanza district, and continues south through Highland Park until it joins the Los Angeles river not far from Elysian Park.
The Arroyo Seco, which is dry most of the year, served as a primitive hunting ground for the area's earliest residents. Wild animals, especially bears and coyotes, roamed among the live oaks, sycamores and lush grasses that lined the course of the canyon.
In the early 1800s, the wilderness area became a hideout for outlaws, where they rendezvoused, divided and buried their loot, and established bases from which they emerged for raids on travelers and settlers.
In the 1850s the Arroyo became identified with a herd of camels imported for the U.S. Army Camel Corps, at the instigation of Jefferson Davis, then secretary of war. The idea was to use the dromedaries for Army transportation in the arid Southwest. The camel drivers brought the animals to the Arroyo for water and pasture. The camels could often be seen tethered beneath the giant sycamores.
In in the early 1900s the lowland Arroyo became a center of artistic and intellectual activity, a home to the Arts and Crafts Movement. Revolting against industrialization, followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement built their own houses and handcrafted as much of their environment as possible.
The rich legacy of The Arts and Crafts Movement can
be seen throughout Northeast Los Angeles: Shingled
craftsman homes, walls and fireplaces of Arroyo boulders,
and a creative, independant attitude that is still
evident in many of the area's residents.