Tropico was just a sleepy little village in the early 1900s. The
business district included a few wooden buildings containing a general
store, a blacksmith shop, meat store, livery stable, real estate offices
and a few other small concerns.
The buildings were all clustered near the intersection of San Fernando
Road and Central Avenue. But within a few short years, the wood-frame
buildings were replaced with brick, business boomed and the community
The Tropico Art Tile Works stood just west of the railroad tracks,
employing many people, and Tropico also became the shipping center for
the strawberries raised in the area.
Because of its proximity to Los Angeles, the area became a popular
residential spot. The Tropico Chamber of Commerce organized in 1910,
along with the Bank of Tropico, and soon the community realized it needed
a city government.
With so many of its residents commuting into Los Angeles, many favored
annexing to Los Angeles. Others, seeing Glendale's successful example of
home rule, wanted to be part of Glendale, which had incorporated in 1906.
They felt that since the two communities were adjacent and in the same
valley, they should be affiliated. Those favoring annexation with
Glendale (mainly in the northeast part of Tropico) approached Glendale
officials in 1911 and asked that an election be called.
The date was fixed for March 20, 1911. The proposed annexation
district was bounded on the west by a line drawn between Brand Boulevard
and Central Avenue, on the south by the Southern Pacific Railroad line
and on the east by a line approximately 2,000 feet west of Verdugo Road,
running out to the south boundary, according to an article in the second
edition of Glendale Area History, published in 1981.
The publishers of the Tropico Sentinel vehemently opposed annexation,
and the issue failed. Instead, Tropico incorporated as its own city, with
Elkanah W. Richardson, son of Tropico's founder, W.C.B. Richardson,
serving as a member of the board of trustees.
The new city government immediately embarked on a badly needed
improvement of the roads, but the annexation issue didn't go away.
Petition after petition was filed, each one eventually failing, until
finally, in 1918, the annexation proposal passed.
The upper half of Tropico voted to go with Glendale, and the lower
half voted to merge with Los Angeles. Today, that portion makes up the
area known as Atwater.
Katherine Yamada is a volunteer with the Special Collections Room at
Central Library. To reach her, leave a message at 637-3241. The Special
Collections Room is open from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays or by
appointment. For more information on Glendale's history, contact the
reference desk at the Central Library at 548-2027.
Photo: annexation day
Credit: Courtesy, Special Collections, Glendale Public Library
Caption: Looking east on Broadway at Brand on Annexation Day, 1911.
The first attempt to annex Tropico to Glendale in 1911 failed. It wasn't
until 1918 that the measure passed and the upper half of Tropico merged
with Glendale. The lower half merged with Los Angeles. Today that portion
is known as Atwater.