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Eagle Rock takes its name from this
unique rock formation that resembles an eagle in flight.
It is believed that early day Indians living in the area and
coming upon this distinctive sandstone rock formation,
very fittingly bestowed the title of the
"Eagle Rock," which in actual
fact does bear a striking resemblance to the head and wings of an
eagle in flight.
In later years, as settlers began arriving in the area,
the name was attached to include a large area of land surrounding the
rock, mostly in a westerly direction in what is now called Eagle
The land's elevation varied from 565 to almost 1,000 feet,
which provided some spectacular views of the surrounding areas
Real estate promoters described it as "The Switzerland
of Southern California," at one point, to would be buyers.
The air was clean, and the ground gave up a plentiful supply
of pure, clean water. Farming became a part of early day living
in the Eagle Rock area, and numerous and extensive truck gardens
and orchards flourished within, the products therefrom finding a
ready and viable market in nearby Glendale, Pasadena, and Los
Angeles. Strawberries were a mainstay of this type of business.
As subdivisions were plotted, divided into lots, and sold, a
minor influx of people created a need for some public services.
The first school was established in 1884, and had an enrollment
of 17 students.
The roads were mostly dirt, with the expectation that later
they would be oiled or paved with asphalt.
A land boom after the turn of the century brought many new
residents into the area.
Churches and clubs were organized and they knit the social
fabric of the community.
Two electric railroads were brought into the area. One, a
narrow gauge trolley system, provided passenger service between
Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles. The other, initially a
narrow gauge system, offered service between Eagle Rock and
Glendale, but was later standard gauged to provide adequate
freight service to and from the area. This service was established
primarily to transport lumber and other building
materials to major suppliers, located near the corner of Colorado
Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard, for the eventual use of local
Eagle Rock incorporated itself as a city in 1911, and was
annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1923.
Telephone, gas, electric, and U.S. Mail service found their
way into the area, all by the mid-teens.
The need for additional room forced Occidental College to
move from its Highland Park campus to a more spacious 95 acre
rolling hills site situated in Eagle Rock. The grounds and
buildings were planned by the noted architect Myron Hunt, and
opened (with only three major buildings) in the spring of 1914.
Wanting to make the campus more of a "community" the first
of several dormitories was built in 1925. During the twenties,
in a surge of construction, an outdoor theater, a student union,
library, gymnasium, and a music building, all complimented with
generous landscaping, appeared on the campus.
The area's natural attraction, the Eagle Rock and its
surrounding recreational land, drew interest from a wide variety
of sources. The first Boy Scout Convention was held at the park in 1910,
at the urging and support of William Randolph Hearst.
Easter sunrise services were conducted each spring, drawing
thousands of worshippers who gathered around the Eagle Rock.
Major state, national, company, and union events were held at the
Eagle Rock High School was opened in 1927, with 690 students,
eliminating the need to send students over the knoll to
attend Glendale High School.
Eagle Rock resident Staff Sergeant Philip Johnston helped
the U.S. Marine Corps develop, in 1942, the Navajo Code. It is
said to be unbroken, though used extensively in the South Pacific
The novelist/writer John Steinbeck once lived in Eagle Rock.