Saturday, October 18, 2014

CHANGING STREET NAMES



As dynamic as Monrovia is, one aspect of city life that has not changed much over the past 127 years is, surprisingly enough, residential street names. Despite some spirited citizens’ zealous efforts to alter them, only a handful of street modifications have been made. As our city thoroughfares were being shaped in the late 19th century, city founders decided that a street grid with a framework of flora would be best. North-Southbound streets would be named for flowers, while all East-Westbound streets would be named after trees. Two bucolic exceptions were made in honor of William Monroe’s daughter, which gave us Myrtle Avenue, and Colonel Samuel Keefer's daughter, giving us Charlotte Avenue (now Canyon Boulevard).      

Within 30 years of the city’s founding, many Monrovians questioned the suitability of the flowery names for future generations. In 1911 a fairly contentious civic argument broke out in the Monrovia Daily News. Several editorials voiced support in erasing the trees and flowers framework, and suggesting that Spanish translations and the inclusion of more indigenous plant life would represent the City better.   

From this public outcry in 1911, some immediate changes occurred, while others crept up more gradually over the years, with history claiming such streets as Banana Avenue, Daffodil Avenue, and JIC Avenue. Many lost streets have fascinating origin stories that may go unnoticed without checking in with Monrovia history. Banana Avenue* got its name because residents on the street believed the temperate climate of Monrovia would be an ideal place to grow bananas. That the name changed in January 1913 speaks to the horticultural success of the trees that grew on Hillcrest then.  JIC Avenue**, another street that didn’t conform to the plant-inspired street grid, has an ambiguous, and somewhat disputed origin story. The street was either named after a prominent farm tools manufacturer, J.I. Case, or a famed racehorse that belonged to him. Whatever the real story may be, this one and only initialed street in town became Alta Vista Avenue.   

Not all the modified street names have been relegated to the history books, though. Walking around town, you may notice that the walkways adjacent to Colorado Commons are all named. In fact, they honor several of the more popular fallen streets. White Oak Avenue is now White Oak Alley and there’s nearby Date Court, named for Date Avenue. See how many more street signs you can spot next time you’re in the area.       

* Named after banana trees that proved unsuitable for the San Gabriel Valley climate (Monrovia Daily News,  01/31/1911, pg 1)  

** There are two competing stories about the origin of J.I.C. Street.  John L. Wiley, in his History of Monrovia, states it was named after after J.I. Case, a famous farm implement manufacturer that city trustees wanted to honor by naming a street after him (p. 118). Another story is that the street was named after the racehorse Jay Eye See that belonged to Mr. Case.  http://earlymonroviastructures.org/subdivisions/monroe-addition-to-monrovia-tract 


What follows is a key to all curious-minded Monrovians who may come across a street name that no longer exists because at some point it was changed to better suit the community’s needs or municipal image. The list doesn't track streets that were lost to land or other economic development, and is by no means definitive.  Any amendments, suggestions, or corrections are appreciated.
     
Street Change Date Original Street Name New Street Name
1/28/1913 Banana Avenue Hillcrest
8/12/1929 White Oak Avenue Foothill
6/5/1916 Falling Leaf Avenue Huntington
5/1/1962 Falling Leaf Avenue Cypress
8/13/1934 Orange Avenue/Rte 66 Colorado
6/15/1925 East Avenue Norumbega Drive
5/15/1951 Plum Ave Los Angeles Ave
12/19/1910 JIC Avenue Alta Vista Ave
1/20/1914 Violet Highland Ave
1/28/1913 Charlotte Avenue Canyon
2/16/1965 Daffodil Avenue California
unknown Oak Park Lane E. Greystone Ave.
11/16/1936 Date Avenue Cherry


4/19/1966 Bonita Court Court Street
5/5/1958 Live Oak Avenue Walker Avenue
11/19/1957 Hill Street Crestview
4/4/1949 Duarte Ave Royal Oaks Avenue
12/5/1949 Royal Oaks Avenue Royal Oaks Drive
7/19/1926 6th Avenue Madison Avenue
7/30/1923 Center Street Avocado Place
11/3/1930 Main Street Duarte Road
11/16/1936 Marie Avenue May Avenue
11/16/1936 Centre Ave Greystone Ave
11/16/1936 Diamond Street Central Street
11/16/1936 Route 9 Huntington Drive