Tuesday, December 27, 2011

White Front, Anaheim 1961

When it comes to collecting photographs of mid-century America, just as the locals saw it through the lenses of their cameras, our friend Charles Phoenix is king. He has amassed a treasure trove of more than a million vintage Kodachrome slides, and his retro slide shows play to standing-room-only audiences across the country.

This colorful view of the White Front store, once located at 2222 S. Harbor Blvd, comes from Charles' book Southern Californialand (published by Angel City Press). Orange County's first "big box" discount chain store, White Front was the Target of its day.

*Get yourself a copy of Southern Californialand.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Southland's Playground

A while back, we shared an image of the front of an old brochure from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. Our pal Chris Jepsen recently posted the brochure's interior fold-out map on his terrific OC History Roundup blog. The graphics are delightful! Thanks, Chris!

PS: You can also download a much higher-rez scan
of the map from Chris's flickr set by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ride A Bike, Take A Hike...in Anaheim Coves

If you never stepped out of your car, you wouldn't even know it was there. Stretching a full mile and a half right smack through the heart of Anaheim's urban cityscape is a corridor of peace and quiet for humans and wildlife alike.  Anaheim Coves, a brand new park, finally opened for public use this week alongside the Santa Ana River, not far from (and in striking contrast to) the humming 57 Freeway.

On land that was originally known as the Burris Sand Pit, the city's groundwater recharge basin has been transformed into a gorgeous 14-acre mile-long pedestrian trail and bicycle path connecting Lincoln Avenue and Ball Road.  The area is also a protected habitat for a variety of wildlife, in particular the many birds that live at Anaheim Coves, year round or during migration.  The water and a thriving fish population provide an appealing rest stop on the Pacific Flyway, especially for fish-eaters like American white pelicans, skimmers, egrets and great blue herons.  A large "Bird Island" near the basin's maintenance area has been built to encourage nesting above the changing water levels.

Over the past two years, the Orange County Water District, in partnership with the City of Anaheim, has diligently removed all invasive non-native vegetation that had been growing along the river's edge, and began planting thousands of native trees, scrubs and plants to restore the landscape to its natural condition.  Plants accustomed to Anaheim's dry climate, such as California fuchsia, bush monkeyflower, white sage, matilija poppy, and toyon now border the trail.  It's already breathtaking now, and as the years go by, the growth is expected to provide an oasis of shade and beauty.

People walking in Peters Canyon, 1895.
Local, natural and water stories are told along the trail through informative historical plaques provided with the guidance of Anaheim Public Library's Heritage Services. Vintage photos, like the one above, show locals enjoying an outing close to home in Orange County.  Even earlier in history, Tongva Indians relied on the river's water to grow plants for food, shelter, and tools.

Today, in addition to the water-smart landscaping -- fences, benches and even the surfaces for parking are made entirely from recycled materials. Anaheim was named by German settlers to mean "Home by the (Santa Ana) River".  Anaheim Coves now provides a natural, safe place for visitors to get outside and ride bicycles, go for a walk or simply relax while getting a closer connection and respect for our vital Santa Ana River.

Put on your walking shoes, hop on your bike, and treat yourself to Anaheim Coves. It's right here in the middle of your own city.  Enter the trail from any one of three convenient locations:  Lincoln Avenue, Ball Road or Rio Vista.  If you've only seen your neighborhood from behind a steering wheel, you are in for a wonderful surprise.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Looking good, with the tower caps finally back in place!
If you live or work in downtown Anaheim, you are probably keeping an eye on the amazing transformation happening now on Anaheim Blvd.  The 92-year old Spanish revival warehouse is one of the last remaining architectural treasures of Orange County's citrus era - and its being restored!

On November 3rd, the restoration crew marked a milestone of sorts, when they finally replaced the long-lost caps atop the two towers on the building's facade.  We got a rare opportunity to explore the construction site, and even went inside for a look at the newly painted ceiling.   It's an awe-inspiring space.

In the distance, the Anaheim Brewery occupies the old Packard dealership, with Los Angeles burger sensation Umami Burger scheduled to open next door in February.
When it opens next year, this cavernous sunlit space will hold over twenty restaurants.
Dining space will be communal- with seating inside and outside the packing house.
"Sunkist, I Presume!"
The original Sunkist orange emblem on the face of the building.
Vintage view of the building in its heyday, with the original tower caps.
Follow the Anaheim Packing House progress at www.anaheimpackingdistrict.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Anaheim Historical Society - Halloween Parade 2011 from Crescent Bay Films on Vimeo.

Ever since 1924, the residents of Anaheim celebrate Halloween in their own particular way...with a PARADE! This year the Anaheim Historical Society presented a fabulous "Hi Neighbor" Autocade of vintage cars and trucks, headlights flashing and horns honking to the delight of thousands lining both sides of Broadway. Highlights included a 1928 Buick Sedan Truck, a 1931 Ford Model A, and more! Among the Guests of Honor were Elsie Reed (Founder and past President of the Anaheim Arts Council) and Geri Bumpass (Disneyland's first Tour Guide).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Andy Anaheim is Back!

Could it be that our favorite mascot may be enjoying a comeback at last?  Andy Anaheim seems to be popping up everywhere lately, in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  

In what could be the first ever 3-dimensional version of Andy...

This hand-made plush figure was created by OC crafter Giddy Girlie.  Andy even has an orange in his hand! He's adorable!

Anaheim resident Allison Montanile (and the current AHS Secretary) carved some Halloween cheer for her front porch with this fantastic Andy-O-Lantern!
And this one certainly takes the cake...

Anaheim cake designer Norma Jauregui amazed the neighborhood when she showed up to a recent potluck with this edible delight.

His big letter 'A' was chocolate cake while his head and limbs were meticulously formed from rice krispy treats.  The whole thing was flawlessly covered in fondant, with black licorice for his hair.

As you might imagine,  he was gone in no time.

But, not one to disappear for long, Andy was featured in this weekend's annual Halloween Parade through downtown Anaheim...
Anaheim Halloween Parade, October 29, 2011
(Hey, he looks like the real deal to us!)

So, if YOU spot Andy Anaheim somewhere, be sure to share photos with us by uploading them to our facebook page.  We can't wait to see where he might suddenly pop up next!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Gather all the ghouls and goblins together this evening for a spectacular Anaheim tradition that goes back to 1924!

The Anaheim Halloween Parade will STEP OFF AT 6PM and travel east along BROADWAY (from Manchester to the Center Street Promenade).  Look for the Anaheim Historical Society's AUTOCADE of antique cars and participants from the community dressed in vintage clothing.

Among our special guests this evening will be Anaheim resident Geri Bumpass, who was Disneyland's very first Tour Guide, and previously appeared in the parade back in 1959.

See you there!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Survey History with Us!

Join the Anaheim Historical Society and stand out above the rest!  Simply print the membership form below, fill it out and mail it with your check made payable to the ANAHEIM HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Mail to: Anaheim Historical Society, P.O. Box 927, Anaheim, CA 92815.

For further membership information or assistance, please contact Kandee Beas at 714-397-9182. Thanks!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Starch your dirndls! Get out your lederhosen! It's that time of year again.
Celebrate Anaheim's German roots with an icy mug of Oktoberfest Beer, hand-crafted by the Anaheim Brewery from a hundred-year-old recipe! Polka to the exuberant oom-pah-pah of a 17-piece German brass band! Enjoy traditional German food treats (as well as some amazing vegan delights) ALL while benefiting the Anaheim Historical Society!

The grand event begins at 3PM, Saturday October 8 (that's tomorrow, meine freunde!) in Downtown Anaheim's Center Street Promenade.

See you there!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Tremendous Afternoon in Anaheim!

A round of applause to all who contributed to the success of Citrus Celebration, and a warm welcome to our many new AHS members who signed up this weekend.  Thank you for your pride in our amazing community.

And lastly, a tip of our hat to filmmaker Jason Garner for capturing the smiles and festivities on film!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Anaheim Historical Society on NPR!

Meet Andy Anaheim!

With his ant-like antennae and Mickey Mouse-ish nose, Andy Anaheim was a quirky little cartoon character who became Anaheim's official mascot in 1953.  Perpetually smiling, Andy embodied the city's optimism during a period of incredible changes.  In fact, his whole body stood for Anaheim, literally, with a capital A!  

The original Andy Anaheim model sheet, drawn by the Walt Disney Studio, early 1954.

Andy belongs to the City of Anaheim's Chamber of Commerce, a generous gift from Walt Disney himself.  While Disneyland was in its early planning stages, City officials requested a special mascot - a character with a cheerful face to help ease and endorse Anaheim's growth from a quiet farming community into a booming vacation destination for the whole world.

Andy Anaheim helped promote scores of city programs and events.
The character was designed (by an uncredited artist) in the spirit of familiar cartoon advertising icons popular in America during that time.  Advertising characters sold everything from breakfast cereals to air lines, so why not put one to work representing an entire city?

"Follow Andy to downtown Anaheim!" 1957 visitors' brochure

 Anaheim's new slogan at the time was "America's Hub of Happiness" with Disneyland being, naturally, "the Happiest Place on Earth." It was hoped that the throngs of visitors lured to Disneyland from around the world each year would also spread their vacation dollars into Anaheim's downtown district, located just one mile north of the Park.  Brochures listing Anaheim's department stores, restaurants, movie theaters and churches were given to visitors checking into the hotels and motels that were popping up all around Walt Disney's vacation kingdom.

Anaheim Welcomes You.
With property values suddenly on the rise, most of Anaheim's citrus growers were enticed to "sell the farm".  Responding to the inpouring of new residents, suburbs of ranch-style homes and tract housing replaced the seemingly endless acres of Valencia oranges, lemons, and walnuts that had once defined Anaheim.  A brand new Anaheim with a new focus was underway.

Anaheim Chamber of Commerce stationery, 1955.
"Andy Says" - Anaheim city newsletter, 1962

The Anaheim Bulletin, August 21, 1986
Anaheim's public image has evolved much, as can be charted by a lengthy string of mascots, logos and official slogans incorporated over the years.  But of them all, Andy Anaheim remains our favorite.  How can you not like him? Sure, we admit he's a little weird, but his unwavering positive attitude is a quality we admire in anyone.  For a job well done in lending his friendly face to a city that has always been challenging to define, we give Andy an 'A'.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Shocking Truth About Anaheim Chiles!

Did you know...
Anaheim chiles actually originated in New Mexico.  According to pepper legend, around 1896, New Mexico rancher Emilio Ortega brought these chile seeds to Anaheim to plant and sell.  The mild green peppers adapted well to our Southern California soil and climate, and soon everyone was referring to Ortega's peppers as Anaheim chiles.  The name stuck, and here on the West Coast the Anaheim pepper rules the roost.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Saturday, September 24, 2011
2pm to 5pm
Founders' Park, 400 N. West Street, Anaheim, Calif.

Join the Anaheim Historical Society at the newly opened Founders' Park and celebrate the agricultural era for which Orange County is named.  Enjoy presentations by Jane Newell of the Anaheim Public Library's Heritage Services, Artist Kevin Kidney, and a preview of Anaheim's landmark Citrus Packing House project by Lab Holdings!   Plus old-fashioned orange soda & vanilla ice cream floats provided by Ruby's Diner, fresh-squeezed lemonade from Anaheim lemons, and free tours of the historic buildings at Founders' Park!

Admission to the event is free, and open to all ages.  BECOME A MEMBER of the ANAHEIM HISTORICAL SOCIETY during the event (or RENEW your existing membership) to be entered in our drawing for a free citrus tree courtesy of Anaheim TreePower!

See you there!

No Finer Place To Live

Brochure published by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce,
early 1950s.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Art in Anaheim: Sculptor John Edward Svenson

"Child on a Dolphin", by John Edward Svenson (1970)
Near a busy sunlit intersection in Anaheim dominated by the sounds of traffic and occasional air-brake hiss of city busses, a young child is going for a joy ride with a trip of dolphins.  His arms outstretched like a rodeo bronc buster, the youth seems barely capable of keeping his seat, as the creatures slip over and below the waves of an imaginary sea.

The sculpture in 1970

John Edward Svenson's sculpture celebrating the joyful spirit of childhood has enhanced the southwest corner of Harbor Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue (one mile north of Disneyland) for over forty years.  The bronze cast was commissioned for Anaheim's Home Savings of America branch in 1970, to accompany Millard Sheets' brilliant tile mosaic depicting the early years of Anaheim history.  Through his association with the Sheets Studio from the 1950s through the early 1970s, Svenson produced more than twenty sculptures for Home Savings and the Ahmanson Corporation all over Southern California.

Plaster presentation model, 10" high.

1970, the original full-scale plaster pattern in Svenson's Studio.

Chase Bank now owns the building and the artwork, and sadly the reflecting fountain has become an unkempt planter with the addition of a scraggly bougainvillea and a large rock resting on the fountain's original nozzles.   Someone (probably well intentioned) placed plastic pots of flowers into the basin at some point, but the plants have long since died and dried up, and the pots have become just more litter among the trash tossed in by people passing by.  There is no apparent signature or credit given to the artist, who still lives and works today from his studio in Upland. (Perhaps John Svenson's name is buried somewhere beneath all that landscaping bark?)

A beautiful new book "Exploring Form: The Life and Sculpture of John Edward Svenson" by the artist's son David is now available and is an enjoyable way to become re-acquainted with Svenson's amazing body of work.  Wouldn't it be fantastic if Chase Bank would maintain Svenson's sculpture with the care and respect that it deserves?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Famous Anaheim Brewery

The brewery in 1906.
Bavarian-born, Anaheim resident Friedrich Conrad started his first brewery, the California Brewery at 113 Adele Street between Lemon and Los Angeles (now Anaheim Boulevard) Streets.  The brewery was so popular that on May 24, 1888, Conrad purchased 10 more acres on Broadway in West Anaheim.  There he built a vast brick building and named it the Anaheim Brewery, famous for its "Anaheim Beer."  
Anaheim Brewery's founder Friedrich Conrad
On the west end of the brewery, Conrad established a little park with trees, tables and benches, and a central pavillion.  The park was known as Tivoli Gardens, and later Columbia Gardens.  The park quickly became a popular gathering place for picnics, with people bringing their own food or buying sandwiches and beer at the brewery.   The Anaheim Gazette noted in 1890 that Conrad's beer "appears to be fully equal if not superior to the celebrated Anheuser beer of St. Louis.  Besides it is a stictly Orange County product and all who are in the habit o using beer should give it a trial if only to encourage home industries."

In 1904 Conrad sold the Anaheim Brewery to the Joseph and Anton Hessel who renamed it Union Brewing Company.  The family continued to make beer until National Prohibition closed the taps in 1920. 

(left to right) standing: Joseph Hessel, unidentified Hiltscher, Anton Hessel, unidentified Hiltscher, unidentified Hiltscher; (left to right) seated: unidentified Bennerscheidt, Leonard Hessel, Frank Hogle, unidentified. (1910)

Happily, after a ninety year hiatus, Famous Anaheim Beer is back again, with six delicious hand-crafted brews on tap, including Anaheim 1888.

Our Mission Statement:

"The Anaheim Historical Society's mission is to share and document the history, events, 
art and architecture of Anaheim, and to preserve these memories for future generations."