A Walk Through Montrose in 1929 (Part 1)

Montrose got its start in 1913, but development was slow thanks to the financial uncertainty of WWI. It wasn’t until the 1920s that things started to develop and businesses quickly grew along Honolulu Avenue. Let’s travel back in time to 1929 and take a stroll through Montrose. We’ll find that many of the buildings are the same ones we shop in today but with (mostly) different businesses.

Let’s start our walk on Verdugo Road near the bottom of Sparr Heights. We notice immediately how many vacant lots there are, quite different from today’s “built out” landscape. The first business we come across is an auto wrecking yard on the east side at Verdugo and Chiquita Place. Glendale-Montrose Auto Wreckers is at 3460 North Verdugo Road. The big lot is covered with the hulks of brands we know today: Ford and Chevy, plus several that are unfamiliar: Hudson, Hupmobile and Franklin. On that site today is, appropriately, an auto repair shop.

As we walk up Verdugo, we’re startled by an electric trolley running right up the middle of the road. In the center median where we’re used to seeing mature trees is instead a railroad track with a series of poles next to it holding up the trolley’s power lines. The Glendale and Montrose Railway trolley passes us headed up the hill. It rocks and pitches on the uneven tracks and we note it’s full of teenagers. A couple of them are jumping up and down on the back platform, making the trolley car bounce even more. They’re probably coming home from Glendale High as our valley doesn’t have a high school yet and high school students had to ride the trolley to and from school.

As we continue our uphill climb we pass the Wallace-Tupper Ford agency where we see the Model A, just released the previous year. These were very popular and the dealership is doing a brisk business. Further up past Broadview we spot on the west side a familiar sign for the Anawalt Lumber Company, still in business today. The building is smaller and a little north of today’s Anawalt building. We note that the lumber barn we’re used to seeing behind Anawalt has trolley tracks leading into it. It’s the maintenance shop for the trolley cars. We see someone in a pit underneath a trolley car working on the single-truck of a small car. We remember that in present time that barn still stands, over 100 years old, and that the trolley tracks are still there, now under a layer of asphalt.

As we reach Honolulu, we look east and can see the iconic archway of Indian Springs Resort further up Verdugo Boulevard. Before we walk Honolulu, let’s check out Indian Springs. After a short climb up Verdugo, we reach the archway. It’s on the north side, right where we are used to entering the shopping center where Vons and CVS Pharmacy are located. We walk under the arch and descend a driveway heading down into an oak-covered canyon. We remember that this canyon was filled with dirt when the shopping center was built. We see instead a playground with swings under the oak trees. Further back in the little canyon we hear a horse nickering and we spot a horse stable. When we reach the bottom of the driveway, we turn back toward the west and we can see the big above-ground pool sporting an “Indian” motif. It’s lively and we can hear the squealing of kids and splashing water. A young man climbs a long ladder up to the high-dive and without hesitation leaps off the board into the pool below. We smell food cooking and stop by a hamburger stand, done up to look like a Pueblo Indian dwelling. Burgers and 8-oz. Coca Colas are being served to a group of kids. The kids are excitedly talking about Indian Springs soon getting one of the new coin-operated “whiffle boards” – what we would call a pinball machine.

We head back up the driveway, under the arch and down the hill on Verdugo Boulevard toward Montrose.

Next week we’ll walk down Honolulu in 1929.

Mike Lawler is the former president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves local history.
Reach him at