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Old Posted May 8, 2013, 8:04 PM
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Flyingwedge Flyingwedge is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Los Angeles
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Originally Posted by tovangar2 View Post
It never occurred to me that the tree ever made it off Central Ave. I thought it was trashed with the Arcade Depot to make way for Central Station. I also didn't know where it was from, although it was described as "a San Pedro palm" in one account, I couldn't make any sense of that.

LOL, you should have seen me frantically searching Google Maps around the Coliseum trying to find it. The placement is so grand, the tree's been rendered almost invisible, so different from it's former placement. I should have known about it since I was 10 at least. One more reminder that LA owns me, not the other way around.

Maybe some of the other San Pedro Street palms exist unnoticed somewhere. Washingtonia filiferas don't get so tall that their age is readily apparent. I'd like to know who transplanted them to LA. Who was living on San Pedro Street back in 1858? When I have another minute I'll look for some early pix of the tree at Exposition Park. I can't quite visualize it's surroundings then.

This has apparently recently come up on Curbed LA:

Is this photo on San Pedro Street before the tree was moved to Central Ave?

lapl via
Apparently, yes. Here are photos from your earlier posts. Compare this tree . . .

With this one on the left . . .

With the one that has a guy on a ladder leaning up against it. The guy probably secured the ropes seen in the middle photo. All three photos could be the same tree, especially the last two photos. I realize it has a longer "beard" in the top photo. I count four trees along the wall, with two of the other three palms in the photo right next to each other. There is no St. Vibiana's in the background.

The caption at LAPL says: The moving of palms on the east side of San Pedro Street, between 2nd and 3rd Street, on the old Wallace Woodworth property. A crew of men is working on the project, using a tall ladder and a horse and wagon. An orchard lies behind a wall. Photo dated: 1888.

However, this is the only photo that identifies the location as the Woodworth property. Other sources attribute the palms to William A. Hammel.

According to the 1881 Map of Los Angeles, Hammel (#205) and Woodworth (#208) lived across from each other on San Pedro near Second -- Hammel on the west side, and Woodworth on the east side. Maybe they both had palm trees? Look for Blocks 50 and 51 on the left side of the drawing, which are also on the lower left portion of the model (50 is the triangular block):

Calisphere --

This photo of the Woodworth residence is dated c. 1880 [SEE P.S. BELOW]. I don't see any palm trees, not even small ones. And where's that long brick wall? Note the small home to the right:

This is a closeup of the "Res. of W. Woodworth Laur" (I don't know where Laur comes from) on an 1871 E. S. Glover map of Los Angeles; it seems like the same home. I'm guessing the small house was built first, then the big one:

USC Digital Library --

BTW, that Glover map seems to have been incorporated into the c. 1929 Gore's 1871 Birdseye Map of Los Angeles:

Anyway, this is looking south down San Pedro Street, across 1st Street. LAPL says c. 1875; USC says c. 1868. LAPL caption reads: "View of San Pedro Street looking south at 1st Street. The tall building is on the Wallace Woodworth property and has an observatory cupola. It was built in 1871. Fan palms were planted later." So, maybe this is the same small home as above, although the roof and cupola look a little different? No palm trees yet, unless they're too small to see:


A few other things to note in the above photo:
1) The thing on the street corner in the lower left corner of the photo . . . it looks a little like those watering troughs or whatever they were in the old photos of the plaza.
2) Is that a zanja in the shadows on the right side of the street?
3) The asterisk marks the Antonio Maria Lugo adobe, built in 1819.

This c. 1885 view of the Antonio Maria Lugo adobe shows it with palm trees:


Back to those palms along the brick wall . . . keeping in mind the 1888 photo above of the trees being removed, with the guy on the ladder against one of the palms . . . I think this c. 1886-87 photo was taken from the other side of the brick wall, looking the other way. I again see four palms along the wall and, well, four others in the background, but two of them are right next to each other, as in the 1888 photo. But if you're on San Pedro Street and you can see St. Vibiana's in the background, you've got to be looking west, so this has to be the Hammel property, not the Woodward property. Note that we seem to be looking end-on at a brick building (we see one wall and a slanted roof) behind the one along the street:

USC Digital Library (where this photo is reversed; I've flipped it the right way) --

More similar photos; this one is c. 1880:

CA State Library --

This is dated c. 1895. The caption reads in part "California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) trees behind brick retaining wall on San Pedro Street":

CA State Library --

Now look at this undated photo . . . sure looks like same brick wall, palms, and wooden shack . . . but the brick building at right is different. I have no explanation:

USC Digital Library --

More palm photos, which I believe show the same brick building (not the one along the street, however many stories it had -- I mean the one behind it). The first one is captioned "c. 1885 Photograph of the two old palm trees on San Pedro Street, home of Sheriff Hummel [sic], showing old well, Los Angeles":

USC Digital Library --
Note: Photo above is also reversed; see JScott's post below (thanks!) for correct orientation.

"c. 1886 Photograph of 2 large fan palm trees at the residence of Sheriff Hammel on San Pedro Street near Second Street, Los Angeles. A well is situated between them":

USC Digital Library --

"Fan palms, c. 1890":


So if they're Hammel's Palms, we must credit Dr. William A. Hammel (d. 1889), who came to Los Angeles in 1849 and built one of the first brick homes in the city (perhaps the one seen in the photo above?), on San Pedro near 2nd Street (This source -- -- and Harris Newmark put the house on San Pedro between 2nd and 3rd, but the 1881 map/model has it on the NW corner of 2nd and San Pedro. Whatever.)

His son, also William A. Hammel, was LA County Sheriff 1899-1902 and 1907-1914. In 1899 he hired LA County's first African-American Deputy Sheriff, and in 1912 hired the nation's first female Deputy Sheriff (his sister-in-law).
From: and

# # #

I'm surprised and delighted to learn that that palm tree, now outside the Coliseum, has survived so long. I figured it had just been unceremoniously ripped out like all of William Wolfskill's orange trees.

P.S. The accuracy of LAPL's caption to the 1880 Woodworth home photo above ("Exterior view of the Woodworth residence, located at 2nd and San Pedro Streets.") has been called into question. Further investigation reveals that the large home is apparently absent from the 1888 Sanborn Map of the area, and it cannot be found in other photos of the area.

Last edited by Flyingwedge; May 14, 2013 at 6:25 AM. Reason: call attention to and amend P.S.
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