The secret to La Crescenta’s unbeatable climate also gives rise to its motto, “The Balcony of Southern California.” A deep cleft in the hills to the south opens La Crescenta to a clear view of the Pacific Ocean, a shimmering source of sea breezes that brings a welcome afternoon relief to summer heat, a relief not found in many inland cities and towns. The highest point is 2,700 feet above sea level. The mountains to the north offer winter sports and summer fun. The world-famed southland sports area is spread like a carpet at the feet of La Crescenta.
Historically, the Crescenta Valley dates back to 1798 when Don Jose Maria Verdugo established his 36,000-acre Rancho San Rafael. It was not until the years between 1870 and 1920 that developers discovered the rancho’s fertile acreage and began to lay the foundations for the communities that now make up the Crescenta Valley.
In 1843, a Mexican soldier named Ignacio Coronel obtained the land east of Pickens Canyon and named it Rancho La Cañada. One of the first settlers in Crescenta Valley was Colonel Theodore Pickens, for whom a street, a mountain peak, and a canyon are named. Pickens Canyon runs next to Mountain Avenue School in La Crescenta and crosses Foothill Boulevard at Briggs Avenue. In 1871 Colonel Pickens settled in the foothills north of La Canada in the area now called Briggs Terrace at the top of Briggs Avenue.
Geographically, the Crescenta Valley extends eastward from the Los Angeles City communities of Sunland and Tujunga through a portion of the City of Glendale and the County territories of La Crescenta and Montrose to the incorporated city of La Canada Flintridge.
Sunland was annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1926 and Tujunga in 1932. The remainder of the Crescenta Valley stood as county territory until January 1952 when the City of Glendale annexed the strip, which included the commercial section of Montrose and extended up into the Verdugo Mountains. The communities of La Canada and Flintridge joined together incorporation in December 1976, while portions of La Crescenta and Montrose still remain as part of Los Angeles County.
After the disastrous flood of 1934, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District embarked upon major construction of dams, channels, debris basins and continued efforts to control erosion. Major fires swept the La Crescenta area in 1933, 1964, and 1975. A major earthquake in 1971 left La Crescenta with a minimum of damage, but several old commercial buildings had to be demolished.
The population boom in Southern California that followed World War II, when servicemen discovered the many delightful advantages of life in the Golden State, saw the Crescenta Valley emerge from an agricultural economy to become a choice location for veterans seeking single- family residences on pleasant lots for their wives and children.
The opening of the Foothill Freeway in July 1972, with its subsequent extension westward to Interstate 5 in 1981, and the completion of the Glendale Freeway in 1978 had a tremendous impact on the Crescenta Valley by bringing it “freeway close to everywhere.”
Businesses have changed, schools were built, then closed due to lack of population, then reopened again. Many families are third generation in La Crescenta. Despite these freeways and despite its growth, the Crescenta Valley remains today a most pleasant, a most attractive, and a most convenient place to raise a family, conduct a business, or enjoy life in Southern California at its very best.
La Crescenta is a residential community offering night-time rest, seclusion and quiet for families who make their living in the roar of one of America’s greatest cities. It is a community that combines urban living and metropolitan convenience.