The year 2007, marks the 80th anniversary of Mar Vista being a Los Angeles community, and much of Mar Vista’s history is connected with Grand View Blvd.

Here is some of Grand View Blvd.’s history:

1. When Grand View Blvd. was named, Centinela Ave. was called La  Ballona Rd.

2.  Grand View Blvd., between Venice Blvd. and Palms Blvd. (originally Ocean Park Ave.) was the first gated community in Los Angeles County.  A mammoth wrought iron gate spanning Grand View Blvd. at Venice Blvd., with “Ocean Park Heights” across the top was quite impressive.

3.  For the upscale people who built homes on Grand View Blvd., it’s very wide street made it easy for a team of horses pulling a carriage to make a U-turn to head back down the hill to Venice Blvd.  In 1910, Grand View Blvd. ended at Palms Blvd.

4.  Busby Drug Store on the southwest corner of Venice and Grand View was the first commercial building in Mar Vista.

5. A summer home built on Grand View in 1901, by a wealthy East Coast family  may be the oldest house built in Mar Vista that is still standing.  The oldest house in Mar Vista was built in 1892, in Pasadena, and relocated to a La Ballona ranch east of Grand View Blvd.

6.  Grand View Blvd. predates both names for the community developed on the rail line built in 1902, connecting Los Angeles to Ocean Park, Ocean Park Heights and Mar Vista.  The City of Ocean Park was renamed the City of Venice in 1907.  In 1924, the name of the community known as Ocean Park Heights since 1904, was changed to Mar Vista.

7.  Until the late 1940’s, Grand View Blvd. north of Palms was a narrow dirt road through a dump site.  Large trash pits on the top of the hill were used by local teenagers with model T Fords (the first off road vehicle) to see if they could get through the pits during a rain.  It was not unusual to see a stuck car being rescued by a team of horses.

8.  During the 1930’s, on the area that is now Ocean View Farms, were twelve truck farms, with Japanese tenant farmers doing the farming.

9.  During WWII, on top of Mar Vista Hill at the end of Rose Ave., an Army anti-aircraft installation provided protection from Japanese bombers for the camouflaged Douglas Aircraft plant. In 1942, these guns were fired during the “Battle of Los Angeles”.

10.  During the mid 1940’s, the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power was looking for a Westside reservoir site.  At 200 ft. above sea level, the top of Mar Vista Hill was an ideal location.  Grand View Blvd. was still a dirt road across a dump site. DWP bought the truck farms west on Grand View, providing a 15 acre site for a reservoir.   By the 1960’s, with the availability of Colorado River water from the Metropolitan Water District, the reservoir was no longer needed.  Recreation and farming returned to the land on top of Mar Vista Hill, west of Grand View Blvd.  The DWP’s “Venice Reservoir Site, located in Ocean Park Heights” became the home of the North Venice Little 
League in 1966, and the home of Ocean View Farms in 1977.

11.  Because of its commanding ocean view, in the 1930’s, the Mormon Church considered building their Los Angeles Temple on top of Mar Vista Hill.  The Mormons however, selected Route 66 in Westwood for their temple. In the 1960’s St. Bede’s Episcopal Church was built on the corner of Grandview and Charnock. The Mormon Mar Vista Ward Chapel on Centinela was built in 1928.

12.  “Centinela”, comes from the Spanish word for sentinel, or lookout . In the early 1860’s, Union Army troops from nearby Camp Latham (Culver City) used Mar Vista Hill to watch for an anticipated  Confederate attack by the sea, from Catalina Island.  Camels from the U.S. Army Camel Corp. were located at Camp Latham. The Army had determined that camels would be a better choice for desert travel than mules.  Can you imagine seeing camels and uniformed soldiers on Grand View Blvd. in 1862?

Glen Howell

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