A city by any other name is … confusing

On the rare occasion that our semi-bucolic Crescenta Valley is featured on the evening news – for either good or bad news reasons – I’m often left staring at the superimposed type identifying the location of the (Live! On-The-Scene! Eyewitless News Exclusive!) talking-head reporter.

Expecting to see a familiar name like La Crescenta, Montrose, or perhaps Tujunga, the news station often identifies the location as some place I’ve never heard before. For instance: Crescenta Highlands, Rancho San Rafael, Emerald Isle or Verdugo Viejo. Say what?

I’ve lived in this valley nearly my entire life and have seldom or never heard some of these names. Could you find Rossmoyne on a local map? Or tell someone how to get to College Hills? Montecito Park? Not me. And yet, sure enough, the other day while driving west on Foothill I passed through the intersection at Pennsylvania and just happened to see from the corner of my eye a sign I hadn’t noticed before. I turned to look as I drove by and, sure enough, it said “Crescenta Highlands.” Crescenta Highlands? Who knew?

How long has part of the Crescenta Valley, or more specifically La Crescenta, been called Crescenta Highlands? For that matter – why? How is it that I’ve never heard this name in the past 50 some odd years? I’d have to ask my columnist-colleague, Mike Lawler, to be sure but I have no doubt that the name has been around for a long time. Most likely the sign has been there too. I probably have just never paid attention to it.

The bigger question, for me at least, is why news directors (or whomever makes these sorts of decisions) use such obscure, rarely used names when reporting from various locations. It seems to me this would only confuse viewers rather than help them locate where the action is taking place. I remember watching TV reporters doing their standups on Ramsdell out in front of the Crescenta Valley High School auditorium during the big meningitis panic several years ago. The word “Glendale” was on the bottom of the frame as the reporters droned on and on. Sorry, dear news people, but Glendale is several miles down Cañada Boulevard. This is La Crescenta, thank you very much. (I know, technically and cartographically they’re right. But can you name one person who says CV High is in Glendale? Exactly.)

That brings up another pet media peeve (I realize I have lots of them) of mine – the way broadcasters can’t seem to agree on what to call our many southland freeways (or highways, thoroughfares, whatever you want to call them). As I say, I’ve lived here my entire life and I often can’t figure out where a traffic accident or slowdown is happening during a traffic report.

I mean, is it the “5” or the Golden State freeway? Or maybe the Santa Ana? If you’re traveling on the 405 to get to the San Fernando Valley, why is it called the San Diego Freeway? Then again, the 210 is also the Foothill Freeway. The 2 is the Glendale Freeway if you’re driving north or south, but I often hear the east/west 134 freeway called the Glendale Freeway, too.

Woe unto anyone who moves here from another state with less confusing highways. Do you want to take the 405 or the Long Beach? The 710 or the Harbor Freeway? Even lifelong locals I know have trouble figuring out if the freeway they’re on (or are trying to find) is the Santa Ana, the San Diego, the Long Beach, the Foothill, the San Fernando Valley, the Simi Valley, Antelope Valley, Long Beach, Santa Monica, 210, 605, 5, 134, 405, 10, 110, 105, 710, or the 2.

I just want to know how the heck to get to Verdugo Viejo, wherever that is.

I’ll see you ‘round town.