"Palos Verdes Resident since 1947"

Palos Verdes Estates

I’ll add more early history, but suffice to say for now that the “Palos Verdes Project”, as it was then called, was started just after World War I and did pretty well thru the ’20’s.  It was one of the first planned communities in Southern California (along with Rancho Santa Fe of the same vintage), when enough families had attained sufficient affluence to make such a venture viable.  In those early days, the Palos Verdes Homes Association (aka the Art Jury) functioned as aesthetic control as well as City Council.  Economic events of late 1929 thru the late 1930’s seriously eroded that affluence and the project fell upon hard times.  By the late 1930’s Palos Verdes was sufficiently delinquent on property taxes that the County was threatening to take it over.  To avoid that, the city of Palos Verdes Estates was incorporated as “a city of the 4th class” in 1939.

After the next war (that would be WW II) things began to boom once more.  Young families back from the War began to buy up lots primarily in Valmonte and, in the early to mid-1950’s, lower Lunada Bay.  My parents were one of them, moving to PVE in early 1947.  PV was pretty remote and rugged in those days.  Many of the water supply pipes were still hollowed out redwood logs, which resulted in a lovely shade of brown bath water . . . I have pictures that I’d be arrested for posting here.

Despite the inception of the Baby Boom, most of those young families were not affluent by any stretch, resulting in a lot of

On the front steps of 4205 Via Pinzon in 1950 with my mom and sister Lucinda

bare bones 2 bedroom 1 bath homes being built, especially in Valmonte.  In those days, there was very little difference in price between PVE and South Torrance (the only other choice on the Hill in those days was Rolling Hills, but no one we knew could afford that).  Torrance had the advantage of sewers, more convenient location, and clear bath water, while Palos Verdes had nice terrain, quiet streets (everyone got lost, just like now, so no one drove by), and good schools, tho we were part of the LA District in those days.

My parents bought the plans for 4205 Via Pinzon out of a catalog and paid $2000 for the lot and $10,000 to have the house built — 2 bedrooms 1 bath in 1950.  Payments were $60/month.  Pinzon was a dirt street then, so my dad and Mr Norman at 4204 went in together to have it paved, as the City would not permit occupancy on a dirt street.  I have a picture which I’ll post as soon as I find it of me in the driveway on my tricycle and my dad in the background on a steamroller paving that street.  Can you imagine?  The far background is also pretty interesting — hardly a house in sight.  In those days there was neither trash pick-up or mail delivery in PVE — we took our trash to the dump (now the South Coast Botanic Garden), and picked up our mail at the Malaga Cove Post Office.

In 1948 construction began on those homes in the Upper Riviera (Calle de Madrid, Calle de Arboles, etc).  There were few roads in the Riviera and access to the construction sites was difficult, so the dump trucks, back-hoes, graders, etc, came up Hawthorne Blvd (now Via Valmonte) and down Via La Selva to gain access.  The parents of us little baby boomers riding around on our tricycles were concerned that we’d get run over so my parents, among others, prevailed upon the City to install those barriers at the streets (Via Colusa, Via Alameda, Via Pascual) that went thru to the Riviera.  They are still there.  There has been lots of urban myth about the reason for those, but that is the straight story.

Valmonte Elementary opened in, as I recall, 1952, and I began kindergarten along with all the other boomers.  PV was a pretty idyllic place to grow up in the ’50’s — the Cleavers (Ward and June, not Eldridge) had nothing on us.  Of course, we had no perspective and just assumed the whole world was like that.  If you attended Valmonte in those days a) I know how old you are, and b) you probably remember kindergarten teacher Miss Webb, 1st grade with Miss Adams (she of the ruler used to rap your knuckles for misbehavior), and Mrs Rucker’s 5th grade classes (I still have the papier mache buffalo made out of a Minute Maid frozen orange juice can).

In 1959 the schools “unified” (aka:  broke away from LAUSD) and became the Palos Verdes Unified School District.  My parents were very active in this drive, which began my father’s long association with the School District.  Concurrently, the District obtained the new Jr High being built in Lunada Bay.  In dire need of a high school, this facility was converted in the early stages of construction, to what is now Palos Verdes High School, opening with the 1961-62 school year.

OK, we’re up to 1960, which is practically current events to me.  More later, but see “The Things You Always Wondered About Palos Verdes“, which traces the events and changes I witnessed in PV during my (now distressingly) long life here — the blocking off of those streets along Via La Selva, the night the Dominator ran aground, the Portuguese Bend landslide, and more.