Archiving Angeles (AA): Six Degrees of Presidents


Every President in U.S. history can be tied to Los Angeles. For each one that you think is too much of a stretch, take a shot. For each historical inaccuracy, take two.

Let’s begin…

George Washington (1) has a statue here, in Civic Center Park, presented by the citizens of Los Angeles School Children Women’s Community Service Auxiliary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

One of the oldest middle schools in Los Angeles is named after John Adams (2). They sometimes call it “JAMS.”

Jane Floyd, retired black teacher from L.A., is said to be a great-great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson (3).

James Madison (4) High School was at the heart of a debate over the control of large secondary schools in the LAUSD.

The students of James Monroe (5) High School once tried to change the name to Marilyn Monroe High, because they thought it would be more relevant using a modern era person instead of a President no one knows much about. Apparently, the Monroe Doctrine isn’t in the curriculum.

Actress Mary Kay Adams is a direct descendent of John Quincy Adams (6), who just happens to be the first president to have his photograph taken.

In 2008, the Center Theatre Group gave birth to a new rock musical revolution, with Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (7).

One of Martin Van Buren‘s (8) most famous descendants is singer Nelson Eddy, who has 3 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

William Henry Harrison
(9) took office at the age of 68, and was the oldest president to be inaugurated until actor Ronald Reagan 140 years later. Harrison died on the job, having served one month.

John Tyler (10) is buried in Hollywood Cemetery. Of course, it’s In Richmond, VA.

James Knox Polk (11) declared war on Mexico. Annexed something called California.

Although he was a slaveholder, Zachary Taylor (12) angered the South by encouraging California to ban slavery while applying for statehood.

The 80s sitcom Head of the Class took place at the fictional “Millard Fillmore (13) High School” in New York, A.K.A. Burbank.

Franklin Pierce (14) wanted to build a railroad from Chicago to California, but he created a rift among states with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which reopened the question of slavery in the West.

The neglected Mission San Gabriel and Mission San Fernando were restored to the Catholic Church by James Buchanan (15).

Couldn’t find much on this Abraham Lincoln (16) guy. Although, he did pass the Pacific Railway Act, which led to the Transcontinental Railroad to California.

In the TV series The American President, Andrew Johnson (17) was portrayed by Don Imus, who hails from Riverside.

Ulysses S. Grant IV, a professor of geology at UCLA, is a descendant of Ulysses S. Grant (18).

At the end of WWII, a ship named for Rutherford B. Hayes (19) returned 1400 discharged soldiers to Los Angeles on each of two round trips.

A school in East L.A. is named for James A. Garfield (20), and was made famous by the film Stand and Deliver.

The name “The Forgotten Presidency of Chester A. Arthur” (21) was once in the running for an L.A. band, which decided to go with “The Henry Clay People” instead. A no-brainer.

Cleveland High School in Reseda is named after Grover Cleveland (22, 24).

Visiting Pasadena, Benjamin Harrison (23) became the first U.S. President to visit the Los Angeles area.

The first President to visit the actual city of Los Angeles was William McKinley (25). Good looking out, Bill.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is named after Theodore Roosevelt (26). Stop by Teddy’s and toss a few back for the Rough Riders.

William Howard Taft
(27) has a high school named for him in Woodland Hills. He’s the fat guy on the train, above.

Woodrow Wilson
(28) was the subject of the 1944 biographical film “Wilson.” Considered a commercial failure, Wilson received ten Oscar nominations and won five. He’s the old guy on the train, below.


The first modern political campaign to use Hollywood stars was run by Warren G. Harding (29), who never shied away from a photo-op with the likes of Al Jolson, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford.

The Lindbergh Beacon, Los Angeles City Hall’s 1928 aircraft guidance light, was first lighted by Calvin Coolidge (30).

Herbert Hoover (31) High School in Glendale was named after the President while he was still in office.

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (32) executive order that displaced over 100,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps – many of them from the Los Angeles area.

Souvenir horseshoes were made for a tribute dinner to Harry S. Truman (33) at the Ambassador Hotel, which is now a dirt lot on Wilshire.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
(34) gave a speech at the Hollywood Bowl. He also gave us the Interstate Highway System. Thanks a lot, Ike.

The library at California State University, Los Angeles is named in honor of John F. Kennedy (35).

In the aftermath of the Watts riots, Lyndon B. Johnson (36) declared that “neither old wrongs nor new fears can ever justify arson or murder.”

Born in Yorba Linda, Richard Nixon (37) once practiced law in Los Angeles. Then he broke a few.

Gerald Ford
(38) received a Commitment to Life Award with AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Jimmy Carter (39) partnered with Habitat For Humanity to build homes in L.A.

As President of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan (40) testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Captain Kevin O’Flaherty of Los Angeles became the first commanding officer of an Nimitz-class aircraft carrier named in honor of George H. W. Bush (41).

Bill Clinton
(42) played the saxophone here, on the Arsenio Hall show. The next day, thousands of young American men signed up for music lessons. And their own interns.

George W. Bush (43) stayed at the Beverly Wilshire to tape an interview with Larry King. He then declared mission accomplished, and went to bed.

Happy President’s Day, Chief.

Photo from USC Digital Archives

11 thoughts on “Archiving Angeles (AA): Six Degrees of Presidents”

  1. Well….now that I have had time to catch up on my reading. A. Congrats on the most original post since I started reading Bla. B. Most educational post in ages and finally C. Proof you have more spare time than I on your hands.


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