is a district in the San Fernando Valley
region of the City of Los Angeles, California
. It is located east of Interstate 5
and north of the city of San Fernando
. Sylmar was once the site of the world’s largest olive groves - hence its name, which means “Sea of Silver”, due to the silver color of the leaves of an olive tree.
Some 1500 years before the Spaniards
settled, the Sylmar area was inhabited by the Tongva
Indians. In 1797
, the Spaniards founded Mission San Fernando Rey de España
in what is now the nearby community of Mission Hills
. Father Iballa, Padre at the Mission from 1820 to 1834, was indirectly responsible for Sylmar’s olives. He recognized the similarity of the climate and soil to those found in Europe where olives had been cultivated for centuries. He sent to Spain for young seedlings and planted them around the mission. Sylmar’s existence is so entwined with that of San Fernando that for many years the two were thought of as one. San Fernando became a city in 1874, leading to the naming of the unincorporated land surrounding San Fernando to Morningside. The area was renamed Sylmar after incorporation into the city of Los Angeles during the building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct
, which passes through the north-west corner. Local stories state that the designer of the old aqueduct, William Mulholland
, stood on the foothills near the site of the planned aqueduct and noted that the wind caused the green and silver leaves of the olive farms to look like waves crashing against the mountains.
By 1890, a group of Illinois businessmen bought 2,000 acres (8 km²) east of the railroad tracks on San Fernando Road just south of Roxford Street and planted olives on over 1,100 acres (4.5 km²). Calling themselves the Los Angeles Olive Growers Association, they built a packing plant and sold olives under the Tyler Olives label, later changing to the Sylmar Packing label. Sylmar’s olives became famous throughout the state for sweetness and purity. Chinese pickers were hired to harvest the crops and produced up to 800 US gallons (3,000 L) of olive oil a day. The pickling plant was located on the corner of Roxford and San Fernando Road.
Along with its near perfect climate for growing olives, Sylmar seemed also ideal for the treatment of respiratory problems. The present Olive View-UCLA Medical Center has its root in a tuberculosis sanitarium which opened close to the current site in 1920 and was destroyed by a fire in 1962. A new major medical center facility opened in January 1971 and was destroyed in the Sylmar earthquake the following month. The new Olive View Medical Center was completed and opened in 1987.
Located on a 3.8 acre (15,000 m²) site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street, the Pioneer Cemetery was originally a 10 acre (400,000 m²) site when dedicated in 1892. It was known at the time as the San Fernando Cemetery and also as the Morningside Cemetery and is the second oldest cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. Over 740 outstanding residents were buried there between 1892 and 1939. The cemetery was officially abandoned in 1960. Edith Reber, a long time resident of Sylmar and an active member of the Chamber, for many years ran a volunteer effort to maintain the grounds with the help of local volunteer groups. It is located on what is currently the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street.
Topography and Climate
Sylmar is generally flat with sloping hills of the San Gabriel Mountains
to the north. The average summer temperature is 88°F (31°C), dropping down to 68°F (20°C) in winter with cooler evenings. It is the one area in the Los Angeles basin that is relatively smog free due to the occasionally strong winds along the foothills.
Stetson Ranch Equestrian Park, located just below the mountains and adjacent to Angeles National Forest, is one of only two equestrian parks located in Los Angeles City. Sylmar is the World Capital of Hang Gliding (http://shga.com/). Hang gliders can be seen soaring in the mountain areas and landing in Sylmar. Several other city and county parks are also located within Sylmar, the biggest being El Cariso County Park. Two golf courses are also located within Sylmar’s boundaries, El Cariso Golf Course and Cascades Golf Course.
A Veterans Administration hospital built in 1926 at the end of Sayre Street was destroyed by the 1971 earthquake and the entire 97 acres (390,000 m²) were dedicated to Los Angeles County in 1977 as Veterans Memorial Park.
The first public park (Sylmar Recreational Center) was formally dedicated in 1964 on the site of the old El Retiro School for Girls at Polk Street and Borden Avenue. Sylmar fell heir to 160 acres (650,000 m²) of land among Hubbard Street at Eldridge Avenue when the state abandoned plans for a regional mental hospital. Eleven acres (45,000 m²) were bought by the Los Angeles Unified School District for a future junior high school and subsequently sold to the Los Angeles Community College District, and Los Angeles Mission College was built. The remaining land is now El Cariso County Park. El Cariso County Park was named to memorialize 12 members of the El Cariso Hotshots, a U.S. Forest Service Interregional Wildland Firefighting Crew, who died on November 1, 1966 while fighting the "Loop Fire" in the San Gabriel Mountains overlooking the park.
Power and Water
Near Sylmar is the Sylmar Converter Station
, the static inverter plant
for the HVDC Pacific DC Intertie
power line. The plant was inaugurated in 1970, destroyed in the earthquake of 1971, rebuilt in 1972, and extended in 1985.
When the Pacific Intertie was extended in 1989, a second static inverter station called Sylmar-East was built a few kilometers away.
Sylmar is the terminus of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
Sylmar is the northernmost neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles. It is accessible from the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5) and the Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210). The southern terminus of the Antelope Valley Freeway (SR 14) is at the northernmost section of Sylmar. Sylmar is roughly bounded by Interstate 5 on the west, the San Gabriel Mountains on the north and east, and the city of San Fernando on the south. Granada Hills lies to the west and Mission Hills is to the southwest of Sylmar. Major thoroughfares include Foothill Boulevard, San Fernando Road, Bradley Avenue, Glenoaks Boulevard, Roxford Street, Polk Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
Sylmar is served by the Los Angeles Unified School District
Elementary schools that serve Sylmar include:
Other schools: Light & Life Christian School
St. Didacus Elementary School,
Los Angeles Lutheran High School,
Hathaway-Sycamores Village NPS,
First Lutheran High School,
Sunland Christian School,
Our Lady of Victory,
Poverello of Assisi Preschool.
Most residents are zoned to Olive Vista Middle School, while some are zoned to San Fernando Middle School in the city of San Fernando.
Almost all area residents are zoned to Sylmar High School. A few are zoned to San Fernando High School in the city of San Fernando.
Evergreen Continuation School is in the area.
Los Angeles Public Library operates the Sylmar Branch.