Writing East Hollywood History

Santa Monica Blvd, east of Vermont, circa 1954. The Cahuenga Branch Library can be seen right of center (From USC Digital Archives)

I’ve never thought of myself as a historian. I’ve always been interested in history, particularly local history, and I’ve always been an active writer…but never a historian.

But oftentimes, you grow into the role.

As part of my East Hollywood Neighborhood Council activities, I’m currently busy re-vamping the easthollywood.net website for a long-overdue update.

I basically did the original version of the website around 2004 or so during our neighborhood council’s formation. One of the pages that I spent a lot of time on was the history page, which was basically an expanded and updated version of the Cahuenga Branch Library’s history page. Over time I would add new information (such as the EHNC’s 2007 certification).

Now, for the new EHNC website, I’ve learned considerably more about the neighborhood and about local history. For instance, “Cahuenga” or “Cahug-Na” was not the name of a native American tribe (the tribe was called the Tongva), but simply the name of a place or village (the suffix “-Na” in Tongva means “place (of)”); “Cahug-Na” meant “Place of The Hill” (Which hill, Olive Hill (Barnsdall Park), perhaps?).  Another corrected inaccuracy from new research has revealed that the old East Hollywood was mostly today’s Los Feliz and Griffith Park, while the majority of modern East Hollywood actually belonged to a town called Colegrove (which stretched as far south as Exposition Blvd).  Of course, it was too late, and other pages have picked up on the old history I wrote.

But I guess that’s just how history works: It’s the best that what we can remember, and the most of what we can gather of what happened before our time. And another qualifier: No one else is doing it.

A building near Vermont & Santa Monica burns during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, early May 1992 (Photo: Ely R. Trinidad)

Maybe one of these days, I’ll get to write or compile a history book on the history of East Hollywood…

The newly-updated East Hollywood history page can be found here.

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