Part 1: The growth of a vibrant cluster of communities
According United States population census data, by 1940 there were 577 heads-of-household in the Chavez Ravine communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop, plus an additional 303 heads-of-household in Solano Canyon, for a total of 880. Census data are not available after 1940, but it is reasonable to assume that the four communities continued to grow, at times rapidly, at least until the eviction notice of 1950 was issued, when it was estimated that there were nearly 1,100 families living in Chavez Ravine. We can also assume that many, if not most, of the heads-of-household represented families rather than individuals living alone.
From its modest beginning in 1866, when Francisco Solano moved his family from Sonoratown to what was eventually to become Solano Canyon, by 1900 Solano Canyon comprised just 53 households. At that time, however, there were no households at all yet in what were to become the Chavez Ravine communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop. As late as 1920, Solano Canyon accounted for 90% of the 225 households in the area, while all of the remainder — a mere 22 households — were located in la Loma. By 1930, Solano Canyon accounted only for slightly less than 40% of all families; by 1940, it was down to 34%, and by 1950 — which marked the beginning of the end for Chavez Ravine — it was a mere 20% of households. One thing to notice from this chart is the very large jump in growth during the 1920s, as Palo Verde became populated and la Loma continued to grow. The 1940s marked another period of substantial growth, which is clear from the chart. It is perhaps fair to say that, while Solano Canyon may have been the 'seed community' for the development of the three Chavez Ravine communities, it was, ironically, the only one of the four communities that survived the disastrous purge of the 1950s.
Another way of looking at the data is to break down the rise in the number of households by community over time. Look at the steady growth of the number of households in Solano Canyon until the 1930s, when the population leveled off because all of the available house lots had been sold, built on, and were occupied by families. Meanwhile, the number of households in la Loma multiplied eightfold, from those 22 in 1920 to 182 by 1930, and with a further increase to 218 by 1940.
The growth of Palo Verde was even more dramatic. There were no homes at all in Palo Verde in 1920, but by 1930, there were 276, which was considerably more than in all of la Loma, which was limited by space, and nearly as many as the 309 in Solano Canyon itself. Bishop, meanwhile, came into being as a community during the 1930s, and by 1940, contained 57 homes.
The populations of the three Chavez Ravine communities — la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop — continued to grow during the 1940s, and, by 1950, was estimated at nearly 1,100 households. But, by then, the end was already at hand.
Next: Part 2: The destruction of a way of life
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."