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GLENDALE APPROACHES ITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF CITYHOOD.

Byline: Alex Dobuzinskis Staff Writer

GLENDALE - One hundred years ago, Glendale rolled toward cityhood with a streetcar line that passed through open ranch land and stretched to its northern end at a bucolic tourist destination called Casa Verdugo.

Now, the Jewel City of Glendale has more than 200,000 residents and is headquarters for some major corporations. Also home to Southern California's largest Armenian-American community, it has become one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

The area was mostly undeveloped ranch land when capitalist Leslie Brand and city father Edgar Goode worked to bring a Pacific Electric streetcar line to Glendale. The city was incorporated in February 1906, nearly two years after the Pacific Electric line started operating, connecting the area to Los Angeles.

Brand, who acquired the rail right of way along what is now Brand Boulevard, profited handsomely by selling off land he owned around the rail line, which spiked in value after the streetcars started running.

``He just basically gave Glendale a big push, a head start on massive growth,'' said Juliet Arroyo, author of the book ``Early Glendale.''

A commercial corridor grew rapidly along the rail line, and the city eventually expanded to include smaller communities. The 1918 annexation of Tropico, an agricultural community to Glendale's southwest that was famous for its strawberries, was key to Glendale's growth.

Glendale's population quickly grew from 13,756 in 1920 to 62,736 in 1930. During the 1920s, Glendale called itself the fastest growing city in America, according to the Web site for the Glendale Historical Society.

By the city's 50th anniversary in 1956, there were 115,000 residents.

The area that is now Glendale was once inhabited by the Tongva tribe of American Indians. Later, during Spanish rule, Jose Maria Verdugo received permission from the Spanish governor in 1784 to establish Rancho San Rafael in the area.

The ranch was broken up as the fortunes of the Verdugo family fell in the 1800s. By 1887, a small community called Glendale had established itself around what is now the Glendale Avenue-Wilson Avenue area. The city fathers kept the Glendale name when the city was incorporated.

Late in the 1920s, the Grand Central Air Terminal had opened in Glendale as the first airport in the Los Angeles region. In July 1929, Charles Lindbergh flew out of Grand Central to New York, establishing America's first regularly scheduled transcontinental airline service.

But Glendale's history also included periods current residents deplore. Decades before the civil-rights movement, restrictive real estate covenants prevented blacks from owning land in the city.

In the 1960s, Glendale became the western headquarters of the American Nazi Party, which later moved to El Monte and operated there through the 1970s.

``There was an attempt (by the Nazi party) to establish headquarters here, and the city was unfortunately tarred with a reputation for harboring racism and prejudice,'' said Arlene Vidor, president of the Glendale Historical Society. ``And this (reputation) is something that those of us who feel the city gets its strength from its diversity are certainly overcoming.''

Glendale is also where some touchstones of American and Southern California culture have their roots.

Hollywood legend John Wayne, who was then known as Marion Morrison, went to Glendale High School in the 1920s. And Southern California eatery Bob's Big Boy got its start in Glendale in 1936, when Robert C. Wian opened his pantry in the city.

In 1976, the Glendale Galleria opened and became a regional draw for shoppers. The city also became headquarters of Nestle USA, the International House of Pancakes and DreamWorks.

Another change came in the 1970s through the 1990s, with several waves of Armenian immigration to Glendale. It is estimated that 45 percent of the city's residents are of Armenian descent, and there have been tensions over the years as the Armenian-American population grew in Glendale.

``I see these tensions as the kinds of tensions that other immigrant groups went through,'' said Levon Marashlian, who teaches history, political science and ethics at Glendale Community College.

Irish newcomers, for example, encountered discrimination in their first big wave of U.S. immigration to the East Coast in the 19th century, he noted. ``So in the process of blending in and assimilating, (there) is that period between when you are a fresh immigrant and when you are an acculturated American.''

Alex Dobuzinskis, (818) 546-3304

alex.dobuzinskis(at)dailynews.com

IF YOU GO

Glendale will celebrate its centennial on Saturday, Feb. 18, on Brand Boulevard between Wilson Avenue and Lexington Drive.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

Firefighters with the latest equipment assemble in front of Firehouse No. 1 in Glendale circa 1919.

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IF YOU GO (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 16, 2006
Words:780
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