Save Kite Hill
Founded in 1886, Elysian Park was born out of municipal lands that defied development. It is the oldest park in the city of Los Angeles with a much forgotten history.
In 1776 Explorers Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi camped in the area alongside the Yang-Na Native Americans. In 1781 It was part of the land grant to the pueblo of Los Angeles from King Carlos III of Spain dedicating around 17,000 acres as a public land grant.
Later, in 1849, much of this land was auctioned off, but the Elysian Park area was reserved for public use, then called Rock Quarry Hills.
In 1883, after the city failed to find a buyer for a 550-acre tract of steep hills and cavernous ravines northwest of the city, it turned the land into Elysian Park.
1886 City Ordinance Number 218 signed April 5 by Mayor E.F. Spence, dedicated Rock Quarry Hills in the following words: “That the real property located in the city of Los Angeles and owned by the city of Los Angeles hereinafter described, is hereby set apart for the use of the public as a Public Park, and is forever dedicated to the Public as such park.”
Kite Hill, part of the original land grant, runs alongside and around Baxter street, one of the steepest roadways in America. They say it was called Kite Hill because the height created a perfect opportunity for, yes, flying a kite. And the name has lived on, a community mascot to all those that have been lucky enough to dwell here.
The kite hill trail at risk, part of the Santa Monica Mountain conservancy, is that beloved path running from the Baxter Stairs to the lost Lautner on Avon Terrace.
The roots of Los Angeles’s major economic and cultural movements still lie in the small, hilly, idyllic neighborhood. In a city notorious for its lack of public green space, Kite Hill stands as a monument to solitude, community and beauty.
From the Yang-Na tribe to the Little Rascal’s derby race in the 1930s to artists and activists such as John Huston and Grace E Simons to architects like John Lautner, this hill has always been a refuge.
Our goal is to preserve the kite hill trail for public use as it has been since the 1960s and as it was intended to be by our ancestors who came before us.
“It is Nature’s contours versus Man’s ever stronger bbulldozers, the historic past versus the politically expedient, the private vale versus the public highway, the orchard versus the subdivision, . . . the person versus the populace. . . .”
Richard Lillard, 1966