Verdugo Views: First city signs inspired by 1923 Rose float

New signs have popped up all over Glendale, naming the various districts within the city and bearing an image of the city seal, with a peacock in the center.

Councilman John Drayman, who suggested the signage, grew up in Montrose and remembered that neighborhoods then had designation signs.

“Each had a different design,” he said . “Crescenta Valley had mountains, Sparr Heights had lemons for the citrus industry. The signs all related to something in that neighborhood.”

In the 1970s, Drayman continued, the theory was that these signs divided the city, so they were taken down and sold at a city-run store in the new Glendale Galleria.

Drayman took office with a goal of redeveloping a sense of community and recalled the neighborhood signs of his youth.

“We tried to find the originals, but weren’t successful and there were no photographs, so we chose one design based on Glendale’s seal.” Many may not know that the peacock in the center of the seal was inspired by one of Glendale’s earliest entries in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

A city employee, L.W. Chobe, was then designing the floats. His entry for 1923, a “Peacock,” was a huge bird, 36 feet long with a tail that spread a full 9 feet. The peacock’s head towered 14 feet above the ground, according to the Glendale Evening News, Dec. 30, 1922. Some 10,000 blue cornflowers and 50 bunches of violets covered the breast of the colorful float, which garnered the city’s first Sweepstakes award.

The massive float became famous when Hollywood showman Sid Grauman saw it.

He was so impressed that he got the secretary of Glendale’s Chamber of Commerce on the phone — on New Year’s Day — and asked to display the float for two weeks at the Egyptian Court of Grauman’s Hollywood Theatre. The float left Glendale the next day, with assurances from Grauman that it would be kept decorated with fresh flowers.

The next year, the City Council held a contest to design the first flag of the rapidly growing city. The winning entry was by artist Hugh Maron, of Myrtle Street, who had adopted Glendale as his home five years before. Judges included representatives from the Tuesday Afternoon Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion, and although he was unable to serve, float designer L.W. Chobe.

The flag’s background was buff-colored to suggest sunshine, while an amethyst blue border echoed the surrounding hills. On the shield, a peacock in all its gorgeous coloring posed against a background suggesting royal purple. Across the shield in large white letters was “Glendale,” below that “California” and underneath, on a ribbon design, the legend “The Jewel City.” At the top of the shield was the American eagle, as described by the Sept. 8, 1924, Glendale Daily Press.

After the new flag was unveiled at a City Council meeting, the council voted to incorporate the peacock into the city’s seal and do away with the star that had been adopted after incorporation. Although the seal has been redesigned since, the peacock remains.

So, the next time you spot one of the city’s new neighborhood signs, take a closer look at the peacock. It was inspired by the city’s Sweepstakes-winning 1923 Rose float.

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Katherine Yamada’s column runs every Sunday. To contact her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at (818) 637-3241. For more information on Glendale’s history visit the Glendale Historical Society’s web page:www.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or visit the Special Collections Room at Central (open by appointment only).

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Readers Write: Connie Carlson Hanson recalled the neighborhood sign that stood at both ends of Mary Street in the Crescenta Valley in 1953.

“There were many olive trees on our street—and in our backyard. There were signs at both ends of our street declaring it Olive Woods.” She said they were wooden signs and had an olive tree design on them.

Hanson and her parents, Dave and Marie Carlson, and her younger brother, Tom, left a brick house in Chicago and moved West along with her grandparents, Edward and Matilda Ohlund.

“We bought two brand new ranch houses which shared a long driveway up to the two garages.”

They connected the backyards.

“It was amazing to move from Chicago’s cold climate and live in a place with the San Gabriels in the background.”

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If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Katherine Yamada/Verdugo Views in care of the News-Press & Leader, 111 W. Wilson Ave., Suite 200, Glendale, CA 91203. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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