So why break the preview into two parts? Doesn’t that make it more annoying?
I’d have to agree with you most of the time, but I have a purpose.
Just a mile up the road from CicLAvia sits the rarely mentioned San Fernando. I think this area is a real jewel of the
valley and while I should probably not give this region its own special session, when will CicLAvia ever be out this way again? Carpe Diem.
The fact that the San Fernando Mission, which helped birth the valley, is there should be enough to draw you in. But there’s a lot more. Adding to the charm is that the region’s early development was helped by the old Pacific Red Car Line that went up Brand Blvd. Oh, and to the 99% of you, we’re not talking about Glendale.
While the city’s core got ripped away by some poor 1950s planning, the surrounding area still retains a small town charm that you’ll find refreshing.
If you’re not an experienced cyclist, the San Fernando Road Bike Path is a very simple way of getting there and if you’ll be coming from the Antelope Valley Metrolink Line, The rest of the city doesn’t really have much in terms of bike infrastructure, but you’ll find the streets calm enough for most to feel comfortable.
My alternative tour also continues into Mission Hills, which you’ll notice instantly when bike lanes appear. I could go deeper into this area, but I don’t want to take away too much from CicLAvia. But do give yourself an hour to step away and explore the valley’s birthplace.
1. San Fernando Middle School
(130 N Brand Blvd.)
Rarely do I get excited for a middle school, but you’d be hard pressed to take your eye off of this beauty. San Fernando High School was established back in 1894, one of the earliest in Los Angeles. In 1906, the campus moved to this site where it flourished with this neo-classical themed auditorium, erected in 1916 designed by architect John C. Austin, who was also responsible for such little known buildings as LA City Hall, Shrine Auditorium and Griffith Observatory. The school held grades 7 – 12 until 1952 when the high school moved to a new campus east of the site. That’s too bad because Nury Martinez and Felipe Fuentes, the two LA City Councilmembers represented at this CicLAvia went there.
2. San Fernando Brewing Company
(425 Park Ave.)
Full disclosure: I love beer. To expand on it, I love places that has a great atmosphere to drink it. The San Fernando Brewing Company has only been here since 2012, but it’s here to stay. The space’s openness, soothing ales, healthy pours and free snacks is enough to do it for me, but the staff is super friendly as well. They’re also very accomodating to bikes as well. I’m glad I don’t live nearby or else I’d be changing my profession to barfly.
(1100 Pico St.)
The Lopez Adobe is a well preserved house that plays a large part in the area’s history. Geronimo Lopez served as a messenger during the Mexican American War, even delivering the terms of capitulation to U.S. General John Fremont. Lopez had built his first adobe in 1861 which also served as a general store, school and post office. In 1882, his cousin built the two story adobe that stands today and is now the city’s oldest building. The first adobe didn’t nearly have this longevity, as it was raised in 1910 for the San Fernando Reservoir. The current adobe almost faced the same fate as the city secured funds to purchase the property back in 1971. The adobe holds tours on the fourth Sunday of the month. When is this CicLAvia again?
4. Mission San Fernando
(15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd.)
What you’d consider the valley’s earliest landmark hasn’t always been what you’d think. The Mission was founded in 1797 and what you see today based on the third church built in 1806. In 1834, the mission was secularized and Governor Pio Pico used the buildings as headquarters for his rancho. Thanks to President Lincoln, the mission was returned to the church in 1862 with much needed work necessary on the structure.
Improvements progressed slowly, but it wasn’t until 1923 that things were in working order to function as a church again. Still, work needed to be done and the Hearst Foundation stepped in during the 1940’s to rehabilitate the structure. That was until 1971, when the Sylmar earthquake destroyed the church forcing it to be completely rebuilt. On top of it’s long history, such luminaries as Bob Hope, Chuck Connors, Ritchie Valens, Jane Wyatt and a host of others are buried there.
(10940 Sepulveda Blvd)
One of the most historic homes in Los Angeles, the Romulo Pico adobe was built starting in 1834 with many additions along the way. Originally built by a mixture of Native Americans, it was sold by Governor Pio Pico to Eulogio de Celis along with a big portion of the valley in 1846. A couple of rooms were added, but by 1853, the adobe found its way back into the Pico family’s hands. The property was rarely used, but Romulo Pico was credited for restoring the house and adding a kitchen and another couple of rooms. Near the end of the century, Romulo moved to Los Angeles and the home fell into disrepair once again. It lingered for years until the city bought it in 1965 by the urging of the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, that now occupies the site today. You can come visit the grounds on Mondays and the 3rd Saturday of the month where you can also see the Lankershim Reading Room, the only remaining structure from the Lankershim Ranch.
6. The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q Restaurant
(10825 Sepulveda Blvd.)
There’s a lot of competition in the valley for your Barbecue dollar, but the Bear Pit keeps on coming up in conversation as the valley’s best. Originally rooted in the Santa Clarita valley in the 1940’s the restaurant moved to the better valley in the next decade when the owner, Ben Baier, decided to partnered with Don Carrow. Yes, that Carrow. The restaurant expanded and added a couple other locations, but changed hands a few times leaving Mission Hills as the last Bear Pit left. Still, the restaurant is highly popular and has a great reputation for its food.
As you can tell from my map, I didn’t include a route, but it should be pretty straight forward to use Brand Boulevard as the spine to see all these sites. If you happen to wander off, then lucky you!