National Boulevard & Military Avenue
National Boulevard was laid out in 1889 – a county road connecting Los Angeles and Santa Monica through The Palms community. As part of the project, a “branch driveway” – Military Avenue – was plotted to the Soldier’s Home; it straddled two ranchos, Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres, and Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica.
The Los Angeles Times raved, “[s]uch a view as exists along the route is not to be met with in many parts of the world” and “no spacious highway of Romagna or Europe can excel it in natural beauty.”
The road benefited landholders by better connecting them to Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Sentous Brothers gave 99,000 feet of right of way next to their slaughterhouse. Manual Higuera moved his house. “Mr. Durkee, who owns the old Gird dairy, now called the Bonita Meadows, gave $1000.” However, they had to fight John Wolfskill, owner of the Buenos Ayres ranch since 1884, for right of way. The County offered $800 for three acres, but Wolfskill wanted $2000, so the County sought to condemn it. (Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1889)
Palms Hill (later Lowe’s Hill) likely explains National Boulevard’s curve – just as it caused the parallel railroad right of way further north to curve. Today Overland Avenue crests the hill just south of its intersection with National Boulevard as the latter jogs over the interstate.
Part of the route was achieved by stitching together existing roads: in February 1889, the County Supervisors ordered the “name of Washington street and Santa Monica boulevard changed to the National boulevard.” (L. A. Times, Feb. 7, 1889.) Pacific Avenue was changed to Military Avenue. (L. A. Times, Feb. 19, 1889.)
Image at top of page: “Map of the Washington Street, ‘The Palms’ and Santa Monica National Boulevard” from Huntington Digital Library Map Collection.