Inspired by Militant Angeleno’s awesome “88 Suburbs In Search Of Their Names” post from last week and equipped with the indispensable “1500 California Place Names” by William Bright, I decided to crack the latter open and see if I couldn’t add to the former’s impressive list of suburbs ‘n stuff. Turns out I could. Some are almost too obvious or well known to mention (Century City? Duh) and some are about as obscure as it gets (Lamanda Park?), but I mention them anyway — and there are a few that are pretty cool (check out the the 220-year-old typo that is Point Dume and the darkness that lurks behind the meaning of “Verdugo”).
So without further to-do, here’s my 65 supplemental places (64 in Los Angeles County and a 471-year-old one just up PCH in Ventura County). Enjoy!
Angeles National Forest: So named in 1908 because the larger part of the forest is within Los Angeles County.
Antelope Valley: Named not for a true antelope, but for the pronghorn (pictured) — the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere — which was once abundant in the state.
Ballona Creek: From the Ballona land grant of 1839; probably a misspelling of Bayona, the name of a town in Spain.
Bel-Air: Named for its developer, Alphonso Bell, in 1923, on the model of French bel air, meaning “fresh air.”
Bouquet Canyon: A misinterpretation of Spanish El Buque, “the ship,” the nickname of a French sailor who settled there.
Brentwood: Named after Brentwood in Essex, England, the ancestral home landowner John Marsh.
Cahuenga Pass: From the Gabrielino village name kawé’nga, probably meaning “at the mountain.”
Canoga Park: Named in the 1890s after Canoga, New York, which was originally a Cayuga (Iroquoian) village.
Castaic: From Ventureño Chumas kashtiq, “the eye, the face”.
Centinela Creek: From the Spanish word for “sentry, sentinel.”
Century City: Named for 20th Century Fox film studios, on the site of which it was built, starting in 1961.
Chatsworth: Named in 1887 after the estate of the Duke of Devonshire in England.
Chilao: Formerly Chileo or Chilleo, a nickname of the herder Jose Gonzales, famous for killing a grizzly bear near here with only a hunting knife. Chil- what? Yeah, me too. It’s primarily a campground area waaay up in the Angeles National Forest.
Continue reading Sixty-Five More Los Angeles Placenames In Search Of Their Origins