Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

The Verdugo City Tribune

Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the  Crescenta Valley. Reach him at
Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley. Reach him at

I’ve written before about the mythical town called Verdugo City, a place most valley residents are blissfully unaware of. Today, Verdugo City officially is just the Verdugo City Post Office at La Crescenta and Honolulu avenues, with its own zip code (91046) that applies only to the PO boxes in the post office. Anyone who does have an awareness of Verdugo City thinks of it as being the two or three block area around that intersection.

Verdugo City was, like Montrose and Highway Highlands, the brainchild of a developer who established a business district and sold home lots around it. It was conceived in 1923 by Harry Fowler, and was anchored by the Fowler Building on the northwest corner of La Crescenta and Honolulu. That was known in later years as Roger’s Pharmacy until it succumbed to the ’71 earthquake. By the way, that impressive two-story brick building is the architectural inspiration for the design of the new Montrose Trader Joe’s.

Verdugo City had a strong start in the boom years of the ’20s, and Harry Fowler decided to launch his own paper called the Verdugo City Tribune. Volume 1, Number 1, dated Jan. 22, 1923 carries the header “Embracing the district of La Crescenta Valley and the green Verdugo Hills – The Switzerland of America.” The headline is “What’s in a Name?” – a promo piece for Harry Fowler’s ideas for renaming the Crescenta Valley. He leads in with the idea of calling Montrose Avenue “Indiana Avenue” and his desire to change Honolulu to “Broadway Avenue.” He then proposes that since CV is about to get its own telephone exchange (by the way, the building’s still there at 4111 Ocean View), a more grandiose name for the valley  is warranted: “North Angeles”! He briefly notes that the name “Harmony” was suggested as well.

Another article covers the recent meeting of the Crescenta School District, in which a bond measure was proposed for schools in the quickly growing “La Crescenta Valley.” In the article we hear the same opposing arguments we hear today. Should we have large central schools or “Little Red Schoolhouses,” one room affairs built in neighborhoods so kids don’t have to go so far? Should we concentrate on higher education, or stick to the basics (the paper calls it “The three R’s – Reading, Rithmatic, and Riting”)?

Under the headline: “Blankety-Blankety-Blank – Quoth Steve Meyers” tells the story of Stephen Meyers, “one of the business pillars of Montrose but a resident of Verdugo City” (obviously a jab at Montrose). Meyers was the first major developer of Montrose, building both the Montrose Hotel (now Andersen’s Pets) and the Montrose Theater (now Andersen’s Pets’ parking lot). In the news story, the aggressive Meyers tries to prevent someone passing him by speeding up while driving to Montrose on Honolulu, and gets a ticket from a motorcycle cop. On the way home that evening, he gets another speeding ticket from the same officer at the same spot!

Another interesting article outlines the proposal of Perry Whiting (Whiting Woods) to donate 500 acres of Whiting Woods for a public park. The Tribune was very excited about this prospect and estimated the worth of the 500 acres to be at least the phenomenal sum of half a million dollars! We might ask today why it never happened. Whiting’s terms had strings attached – the county was to improve the park land out of its own funds and not set up a special local tax for improvements. The county said, “No thanks.”

Other miscellaneous articles report that dance parties are being held in the Verdugo City Auditorium (2nd floor of the Fowler Building) for 50 cents admission, featuring “modern dances – one step, fox trot, and waltz.” The new post office was just finished by a volunteer crew. The new Stutz fire engine is available for inspection in the garage of the fire chief’s house on Hermosa, and that he favored a wired intercom system for calling volunteer firefighters rather than a siren, which attracts looky-loos.

Verdugo City, despite having its own newspaper, faded away and is just now another neighborhood of CV.