There is so much misinformation surrounding the term 'Chávez Ravine' that it becomes truly mind-boggling. First, of course, there is the ravine itself, which is a distinct geographical feature located far to the west of anything else that later bore its name. Next, there were the three so-called Chávez Ravine communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop, none of which was remotely connected to the actual Chávez Ravine. Finally, the name was ludicrously appropriated and mis-applied to Dodger Stadium, which was constructed against the bulk of a decimated Mt. Lookout, and which sits firmly astride Sulphur and Cemetery Ravines; again, with its having no connection whatever to the geographical feature called Chávez Ravine.
This map, surveyed in 1868 by George Hansen and Wm. Moore, shows the Stone Quarry Hills as it looked at the time.
This is a portion of the same map, but with the ravines identified. Reservoir Ravine was initially not named; it was named only after a reservoir was constructed at its mouth.
Next, let's take a look at a modern image of the same area, with Chávez Ravine clearly marked; the red line is the original Chávez Ravine trail, and the heavy yellow line is the location of Stadium Way today.
Finally, here's the same image, but with the approximate locations of the three so-called Chávez Ravine communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop marked, along with historic Solano Canyon, which is outlined in red on the right-hand side of the image.
By now, it should be clear that Chávez Ravine — the heavy red line on the left-hand side of the image — has nothing at all to do with either the communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop or Dodger Stadium. And, for that matter, if la Loma (the right-hand yellow polygon) is a part of Chávez Ravine—the Communities, then why not include Solano Canyon in that designation, too? In fact, la Loma was less a stand-alone community than it was a natural extension of Solano Canyon; it was simply the growth of population up and onto the loma that gave the community its name. To illustrate that argument, look at this 1930s-era photograph, taken from a point high above the Solano Avenue School, where most of the children from la Loma attended school, and looking up into la Loma. It is impossible to tell where Solano Canyon ends and la Loma begins.
So what does it mean — if anything?
It probably doesn't mean anything, in reality, other than to serve as a vestigal linguistic curiosity. But there does seem to exist a bit of a 'cult of Julián Chávez' surrounding the historical context of the names, and which, of course, is entirely unwarranted, given that the oft-repeated '83 acres' that Julián Chávez actually owned was not within Chávez Ravine itself, nor within any of the communities that co-opted his name, but rather on the northeast side of the Stone Quarry Hills, on the flat land by the Los Angeles River in the area that is known locally as Frogtown; and the Palo Verde Tract, which included all of la Loma, most of Palo Verde above Effie Street, and all of Bishop was subdivided and developed by Alfredo Solano, son of the founders of Solano Canyon, Francisco Solano and Rosa Casanova, beginning in 1897.
One further thing: it is entirely possible that the name Chávez Ravine derives not from Julián Chávez at all, but rather from his brother, Mariano, who once owned land high up in the ravine near the summit. And the Chávez Ravine trail itself led directly, not to the Frogtown properties of brothers Julián and Mariano Chávez, but to the adjacent, larger acreage of Juan Bouet, my great-great grandfather.
The author was fortunate to have been able to attend, for the first time, the annual reunion and picnic of los Desterrados on Saturday, 18 July. For a historian and genealogist, it was a treasure chest of memories and living history. Although I am a relative outsider — I descend from the founders of Solano Canyon and no one in my family lived in Chávez Ravine — I felt welcomed, and I was able to talk with many of the residents and descendants of those who were displaced from la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop.
Neither lightning nor rain (but no snow or sleet) ...
Right at nine o'clock, as if on cue, the skies opened up, and a magnificent thunderstorm passed directly over the picnic site, accompanied by profuse lightning and heavy rain. Spirits were not dampened, however, and when it passed and the sun came out, it was a warm and pleasant day.
The need to preserve history from living memory ...
It is important to preserve and record the history that is within the memory of those who lived it. For something as momentous as the Chávez Ravine evictions, and for those of us who wish to study that event, it is particularly important. It is incredible how much the generation that went through the evictions — even as relatively young children — remember about the events of that time.
... by recording memories and asking questions
That's the author on the left, asking a question to clarify a point from some of the ones who were actually there.
We at ChávezRavine.org want to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a safe and happy Fourth of July celebration this weekend.
About the Author
Bouett is a retired research scientist and registered professional
engineer who now conducts historical and genealogical research
full-time. A ninth-generation Californian, he is particularly interested in the displacement of the nearly 1,100 families that lived in the Chavez Ravine communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop to make way, ultimately, for the construction of Dodger Stadium. His ancestors arrived in California with Portolá in 1769 and came to Los Angeles with the founders on September 4, 1781.
"Thank you for such an informative site which highlights the plight of those relocated from Chavez Ravine. My stepfather was a happy child growing up in the Palo Verde area. He had many stories about living in the area and working at the [Ayala] store."