Greatest Dead Angelenos #25: Father Juan Crespi

crespi1.jpgOn August 2, 1769, Friar Juan Crespi (1721-1782), a diarist with the first European land expedition through California wrote in his journal of a beautiful river that he named, “El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reyna de Los Angeles de Porciuncula,” or “The River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Small Parcel.” Ironically, while the name was shortened to “Los Angeles”, the “small parcel” would grow into the second largest city in the United States.

Juan Crespi’s mark on the city goes further, as he was also one of the leaders of the expedition that would blaze a trail known as El Camino Real through California, that freeway bound Angelenos will recognize as the roadside bells that commemorate its path.

Buried at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in Carmel, Encino’s Crespi Carmelite High School is named in his honor.

sources: LA Almanac, LA Avenue, Wikipedia. Image from Piruca.com.

4 Replies to “Greatest Dead Angelenos #25: Father Juan Crespi”

  1. I was just wondering… is there any significant road or monument in Los Angeles bearing Crespi’s name? Seems like there should be.

    I always thought it would be nice touch if those bells were somehow illuminated at night.

  2. MA is too funny, I was on the same thought train and thought maybe “Crespi Critters” and they all could be shaped like donkeys, pack mules and cattle.

  3. I was just wondering… is there any significant road or monument in Los Angeles bearing Crespi’s name? Seems like there should be.

    There’s a Crespi Street in Woodland Hills (part of the “lost town” of Girard), but it’s only a minor residential street. (Or, more exacly, three minor resdential streets.) Here’s a Google map link.

    By the way, the “Porciúncula” in the name of the river doesn’t refer to the LA area itself – the Portola expedition first camped by the river on Aug. 2, the day after they’d celebrated the Aug. 1 feast day of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula.

    Porciúncula, “the small portion”, is the small chapel in Italy where St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franiscan order. Wikipedia describes it here.

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