Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

CV Street Name Origins – Part 6


Last week we were naming the streets of La Cañada. We were moving east to west across the top of the valley and were just approaching Angeles Crest Highway.

Wiladonda Drive – According to a local historian: “Wiladonda Drive was a combination of four names, Wilbur & Daisy Seright, their daughter Donna and daughter-in-law Laura.” I notice that the two streets below Wiladonda are Chehalem Road and Milmada Drive. These are undoubtedly similar combinations of family first names but who these families are, we haven’t a clue.

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

Angeles Crest Highway – The long straight section at the beginning of Angeles Crest Highway was originally Haskell Street. The Angeles Crest Highway name was coined by Angeles Forest Supervisor Mendenhall in 1929 when only a fraction of the highway had been cut into the San Gabriel Mountain – just 2½ miles of unpaved road. It took almost 30 years to finish the highway all the way past Wrightwood.

Haskell Street – Moving up Angeles Crest Highway, we find the remnant of Haskell Street at the top of the straight portion of the highway. Haskell Street was named for Maria Haskell. Maria was Benjamin Briggs’ sister and she went in with him on purchasing the western half of the Crescenta-Cañada Valley. She quickly tired of the rocky soil on the Crescenta side, sold her share, and bought 100 acres on the western side of Angeles Crest Highway (then Haskell Street) above Foothill. The land was improved and planted in orchards and vineyards. Apparently the lifestyle didn’t suit her because in 1887 she sold her 100 acres to the Knight family and moved back to San Francisco. She left behind for us the name Haskell Street and her daughter Helen, who helped to start schools in La Crescenta and La Cañada by serving as their first teacher.

Pizzo Ranch Road – This tiny street with a big name comes off Harter Lane just above Angeles Crest Highway. It’s named for the Pizzo family, who bought acreage here just after the turn of the century. The elder Pizzos subdivided the property and deeded it to their children. Descendants of the Pizzos still live in the area.

Starlight Crest Drive – Next up the Angeles Crest Highway is this street, which serves as the entryway to the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club and the high-end housing development that surrounds it, built in 1961. This entire project was the brainchild of developer and La Cañada resident Bill Godbey, and indeed there is a Godbey Drive in the development. There are also a number of “star” themed street names, which perhaps are a nod to JPL that is just below the development. Starlight Heights Drive, Galaxy Heights Drive and, hang on to your hats science fiction fans, Startrek Drive. I’m quite sure that street sign gets stolen on a regular basis.

Does anyone out there know the origin of this iconic street name? It couldn’t have happened before 1965 when the series premiered.

Green Lane – Heading back down Angeles Crest Highway and moving west we find Green Lane, named for Dan Green, a former newspaperman who was very active in the community in its early days.

La Cañada Boulevard – La Cañada Boulevard comes off Foothill Boulevard, where it intersects with Verdugo and runs north all the way to the mountains. This used to be called School Road, because the first school was right there at that intersection where Memorial Park is today. The old school was taken out by construction of the 210 Freeway, and rebuilt a little higher up. We lost a school, but gained a park built on top of the freeway, a unique project. I don’t know when the change in street names occurred.

Hillard Avenue – Hillard comes off Foothill, immediately across from the Foothill offramp of the 2 Freeway. Dr. Frank Hillard suffered horribly for 25 years from internal injuries suffered in the Civil War. Despite the pain, he tried to continue his practice. He retired to La Cañada for the healthful climate in 1884 and built a home, but died in 1887. Hillard Avenue was his driveway.

Next week, more La Cañada street names.