Thursday, September 21, 2017

Everything Old is New Again

You know, they say that time is like river... it's cold and wet and teeming with bacteria or something like that. But, we think that time is more like a circle. Things come in and fade out only to return again when it's least expected. This blog post is dedicated to the old becoming new again. We know, that seems like kind of a deep topic for our blog, it's amazing how a couple of overcast days have turned us into philosophers!

So, what has us thinking about time in metaphors? Why are we questioning the very nature of how we organize our lives? The answer is Pavilions. Yes, you read that right, Pavilions grocery store has got us thinking about life, the universe and everything. Why has a grocery store affected us in this way? Because Pavilions will soon be looking a little different. Actually, it will soon be looking like a Vons. We know, we know, we just got used to calling it Pavilions, too! 

So what does this change mean for grocery consumers? In a nutshell (which you can buy at Vons, by the way) you'll probably see some lower prices. All of the great products and customer service that you expect from your Monrovia store will still be there.

If you're a planner in Monrovia (so, you know, if you're one of about 6 1/2 people), you're probably wondering about the new sign design. We were thinking that they could save on their new signs by just removing the extra letters, like this:

Pavilions
    v   ons

Shockingly, they didn't particularly like our design idea and decided to go with this instead:


So, if you're driving down the street and notice something different about the grocery store, you haven't time traveled back to 1985 (if we could travel back to 1985, we'd buy some Apple stock) (apples are also available for purchase at Vons... but we were actually thinking about the company that makes iPhones), it's just the universe reminding you that time is cyclical and everything old can become new again!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

When anti-aging cream doesn’t work... time for a nip-tuck!  Even buildings need facelifts.

Though we strive to be less creepy than the little girl from Poltergeist, in this case we are going to have to borrow her catchphrase… “WE’RE BAAAAAACK!”

Since it’s been a hot minute (it’s also been a particularly humid minute, don’t you think?) since our last blog post we wanted to update you on some of the revitalizations happening throughout the city. Some of the City of Monrovia’s commercial buildings are undergoing some major facelifts.. Just in case you look around one day and wonder where the heck you are, here are some of the more prominent age-defying changes currently underway.

The 7-Eleven on Duarte Road is getting a spanking new look! New eyebrow lift, new paint, and new parking will be noticeable. “Did you know?” 7-Eleven was previously named for their hours of operation 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. However, most are now open 24 hours per day. We guess those late night hours would age anybody! Not to worry, through the miracle of modern construction technology, 7-Eleven will be refreshed and looking new again in no time! This facelift is bound to bring new energy to a classic location. Now onto our next problem… is there any way we can let them be open more than 24-hours per day?
 
The renovated 7-Eleven is going to be a quality project, and we think this next one will be too. I mean, it says so right there in the name! We’re talking about the Quality Inn on Huntington Drive, of course! Yep, you heard it here first, folks, the Quality Inn is doing the Cadillac of all facelifts… new stone facades, shutters, and light fixtures, in addition to a new breakfast room and ADA upgrades! After they’re done, you may not even recognize them. But don’t worry, you can still expect the same QUALITY service and reasonable room rates.



And, have you seen the facelift that is in progress on Huntington Drive? Watch out, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, oh, wait, it is a plane! The iconic airplane mural at the former Albertson’s is getting saved! In fact, it is such an important piece of art, that the shopping center shall henceforth forever be known as “Monrovia Landing” (sound the trumpets!). Yes, this major transformative and refreshing fa├žade remodel is breathing new life into an important commercial center. New Facelift, New Make-up, New Parking, New Landscaping and New Businesses! Once the work is done, the tabloids will run side-by-side photos and report that Monrovia Landing denies having any professional work done. It just drinks lots of water and gets plenty of sleep. We swear.


It may be the end of summer, but things are still heating up around here! Stay tuned for more to come!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Year In Review

You know one of our guilty pleasures around here? No, it's not Keeping Up with the Kardashians... We're slightly addicted to those year-end web articles that show up around this time rehashing the big events of the past 12 months. December is one of those times when we take stock and look at what we've accomplished, what we can do better, and what we are pursuing for the next 12 months. After our extensive year-end assessment of 2016 (which consisted of looking at our previous blog posts), we can reach only one conclusion - it has been quite a year! So, in that spirit, we'd like to proudly present to you Community Development's top ten list of 2016 achievements:

10. 5th & Huntington and MODA Break Ground - Have noticed something a little different at the western gateway of the City and at Station Square? Maybe some buildings under construction? If you have seen them and you're wondering what they are, wonder no more! Two large residential projects broke ground this year - a 154 unit building at 5th Avenue and Huntington Drive and a 261 unit building at Station Square. These big projects have been in the works for a few years now, and we are excited to finally see the results. Now, there's only one enduring mystery to solve - what does MODA mean? Is it an acronym for Monrovia Offers Definite Awesomeness? Is it a reference to Depeche Mode? Your guess is as good as ours. Actually, considering our guesses above, your guess is probably better than ours.

9. Monrovia Celebrates a Once-in-a-Century Event - As we ZIP up this year, we fondly reflect upon Monrovia ZIP day (9/10/16), which was an event 100 years in the making. Monrovians celebrated this special day as we do many big moments in town, with a big ol' party in Library Park. We had such a good time that we can't wait for the next Monrovia ZIP day party! See you all on September 10, 2116!  One question, will the Post Office still be around?

8. The Stars Come Out - You know how your out-of-state friends and family always ask if you've met anyone famous? Well, now you can add your very own hometown to the fame list! Monrovia hosted quite a few filming productions in 2016. Car commercials, student films, and even a music video captured our beautiful downtown, historic homes, and gorgeous open space. Television shows including CSI Cyber, Maron, and American Crime all chose Monrovia as the backdrop for an episode or two. And the movie The House with Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell spent a few days filming in Old Town. Look out, Hollywood, Monrovia's giving you a run for your money - we already have our own hillside sign!

7. Shopping Center Gets a New Lease on Life... and Several New Leases - Picture this... a Home Goods, a TJ Maxx, and an ALDI right here in Monrovia. That's right, those big names will soon appear at the shopping center at 725 East Huntington Drive! Additionally, the center itself will have a new look and a new name...goodbye "Huntington Shamrock Shopping Center", hello "Monrovia Landing." We think the new name is perfect - Monrovia once again landed at the top of our list of great San Gabriel Valley cities.


6. The Depot Embarks on a New Journey - 2016 was huge for one of our very special historic buildings! Not only did the Santa Fe Depot at Station Square receive local historic landmark status, but it was also approved to be the site of a new restaurant and will undergo an extensive rehabilitation to restore its former splendor. It's wonderful to see this historic train station start a journey of its own!

5. The New Building Code is Approved - The adoption of the tri-annual California Building Code update is a massive achievement for our Building Division. That's no joke! In fact, the new code is so unfunny that our Building Division Manager decided to retire! We thank him for his years of dedicated service - he will be missed!

4. Neighborhood Services Wins National Recognition - We just have to brag about the amazing work our Neighborhood Services team does! And 2016 was the year that the rest of the nation noticed how our little city inspires community, revitalizes neighborhoods, and encourages civic participation. In fact, our very own Monrovia Area Partnership (MAP) program won three awards at the 2016 Neighborhoods USA annual conference. We claimed 1st place for our MAP Neighborhood Newsletter, and 2nd place for both our Care for your Neighbor Program and MAP Youth Leadership Academy! Neighborhood Services really knows how clean up - in every sense!

3. Public Art Abounds - The Art in Public Places program was just like butter this year - it was really on a roll! Get it? Butter on a roll? But, really, this year, Monrovia became even more beautiful through this program. Mechanical boxes were given a fresh coat, a new kinetic art piece was placed in front of City Hall, and a three piece bronze sculpture found a home in front of the Krikorian Theater. And did you see the awesome new book mural in the Library? But it doesn't stop there - 2017 promises to be another big year for #artinmonrovia (which just happens to be our Instagram handle)!

2. Monrovia Enters a "Golden" Era - Ok, Ok, we can't take full credit for this one. This multi-decade project was the product of every City Department, elected official, and concerned resident's work. In March, the METRO Goldline extension opened, along with Monrovia Station Square! People around here were VERY excited to ride the rails and take advantage of free trips that day. Trains were so packed with people, that we now understand how clowns feel getting in and out of those little cars.

1. New Demolition Review and Neighborhood Compatibility Ordinances Take Effect - We talked about compatibility so much this year, you'd think we ran an online dating service! But, all of that chatter resulted in two new ordinances that will serve to preserve historic architecture and ensure that new development fits with the existing character of our Monrovia neighborhoods.

Well, what can we say? It's all in a year's work. We are looking forward to continuing to serve this amazing city in 2017 and beyond. Until then, Happy Holidays from the entire Community Development team!

Friday, November 4, 2016

"Film Holiday for Monrovia"

When last we heard about the Monrovia Feature Film Company(MFFC), a call had gone out to Monrovians that aspired to become actors.  All of the excitement of the movie industry continued to be front page news…..

On September 20, 1915 the newspaper headlines pronounce that the “Movie Company Begins Operations” and appeals to Monrovians to take part—especially if they own saddle horses and carriages, as these will be necessary for their historic drama.  The MFFC had set up temporary offices at 428 S. Myrtle (only a few buildings down from the current Krikorian theatre and the building is still there).

Hoping to whip up even more interest—and probably funding—the MFFC plans a “boost” on September 22.  This will involve a parade of Monrovians marching up Myrtle from Lime to White Oak (Foothill).   The MFFC will be filming this spectacle so that they can promote the wonderful town of Monrovia to other film companies.  The parade was followed by lunch at the Monrovia Country Club which offered another opportunity to film the residents.  On September 27, the reel and a half of coverage was screened at a Monrovia Theater so that residents  can see the picture quality and the following day’s headline proclaims “Monrovia Impressive on Screen”.  (Some things never change!)

The month of October 1915 brings more excitement as the MFFC releases more details about the filming schedule.   A major scene in Argonauts will be the burning of San Francisco, so much work is being done to build a miniature replica of an early San Francisco set.  While the MFFC has mentioned big plans for their studio and soundstage buildings, they explain that they are waiting to build so that they can focus on the making of the Argonauts film. 

Details of the planned studio buildings can be found in an announcement in the Building and Engineering News of January 26, 1916.  Local architect Frank O. Eager (architect of numerous landmark homes in Monrovia) had been hired to build a Motion Picture Studio with 1 and 2 story buildings of frame and steel.  The movie picture stage will be 500 feet by 100 feet, there will be multiple administration buildings, a zoo, a swimming pool 75 by 200 feet, garages, a lake and indoor studio of glaze and steel with up-to date equipment planned for all buildings.  Total cost of all construction is $200,000 but the first buildings to be built are estimated at $25,000.

The Town of Monrovia is so enthralled with its new film company that a civic holiday is slated for October 23, 1915 so that all of Monrovia can watch them film the burning of San Francisco and then there will be a band concert and picnic lunch in the park.  There will also be a ceremonial ground breaking at the site of the new studio.  According to headlines, 3000 Monrovians attended.  (Note: The 1910 population of Monrovia was 3576, in 1920 it had grown to 5480—there may be some exaggeration in the headlines’ numbers, but it appears that a whole lot of Monrovians were there.)  The first spadeful of dirt at the top of Gold Hill is turned by Mrs. C.T Renaker (note: She and her first husband A.P Seymour built Historic Landmark # 41)

The MFFC has been busy filming other scenes before this major spectacle.  They used a historic home in Duarte to stand in for the home of the Don, filming also took place behind the Pacific Electric depot and they filmed some ocean scenes in San Pedro.  The civic holiday even makes page 3 of the Los Angeles Times announcing “Film Holiday for Monrovia”.  A quote from the article states that “Monrovia is the latest Southern California city to join the ranks of the picture-producing centers of the West and she intends to let others know she is in the game to the finish. “  The film’s director, Henry Kabierske, will be situated a mile away from the action but will be using a military field telephone to direct, possibly making him the first person to use this long distance technology in the film industry.

On November 1, the Monrovia Daily News reports two interesting bits of news: the Argonauts will be completed in five weeks and there are currently 71 Monrovia stockholders in the MFFC.  It is easy to surmise that Mrs. C.T. Renaker was one of them and her connection to the film company will continue. 

Early Monrovians must have been enthralled by all of excitement the film company produced—parades, a civic holiday and a front row seat to the new film making industry.  Doesn’t it seem likely that there would be some photos sitting in family albums of all of this activity?  Surely the Monrovia Legacy project would appreciate seeing these.


There is a lot of momentum growing for the completion of the film by mid-December, but an unforeseen event will cause some major delays…..find out in the next installment what happens to the production.

"Film Holiday for Monrovia"

When last we heard about the Monrovia Feature Film Company(MFFC), a call had gone out to Monrovians that aspired to become actors.  All of the excitement of the movie industry continued to be front page news…..

On September 20, 1915 the newspaper headlines pronounce that the “Movie Company Begins Operations” and appeals to Monrovians to take part—especially if they own saddle horses and carriages, as these will be necessary for their historic drama.  The MFFC had set up temporary offices at 428 S. Myrtle (only a few buildings down from the current Krikorian theatre).

Hoping to whip up even more interest—and probably funding—the MFFC plans a “boost” on September 22.  This will involve a parade of Monrovians marching up Myrtle from Lime to White Oak (Foothill).   The MFFC will be filming this spectacle so that they can promote the wonderful town of Monrovia to other film companies.  The parade was followed by lunch at the Monrovia Country Club which offered another opportunity to film the residents.  On September 27, the reel and a half of coverage was screened at a Monrovia Theater so that residents  can see the picture quality and the following day’s headline proclaims “Monrovia Impressive on Screen”.  (Some things never change!)

The month of October 1915 brings more excitement as the MFFC releases more details about the filming schedule.   A major scene in Argonauts will be the burning of San Francisco, so much work is being done to build a miniature replica of an early San Francisco set.  While the MFFC has mentioned big plans for their studio and soundstage buildings, they explain that they are waiting to build so that they can focus on the making of the Argonauts film. 

Details of the planned studio buildings can be found in an announcement in the Building and Engineering News of January 26, 1916.  Local architect Frank O. Eager (architect of numerous landmark homes in Monrovia) had been hired to build a Motion Picture Studio with 1 and 2 story buildings of frame and steel.  The movie picture stage will be 500 feet by 100 feet, there will be multiple administration buildings, a zoo, a swimming pool 75 by 200 feet, garages, a lake and indoor studio of glaze and steel with up-to date equipment planned for all buildings.  Total cost of all construction is $200,000 but the first buildings to be built are estimated at $25,000.

The Town of Monrovia is so enthralled with its new film company that a civic holiday is slated for October 23, 1915 so that all of Monrovia can watch them film the burning of San Francisco and then there will be a band concert and picnic lunch in the park.  There will also be a ceremonial ground breaking at the site of the new studio.  According to headlines, 3000 Monrovians attended.  (Note: The 1910 population of Monrovia was 3576, in 1920 it had grown to 5480—there may be some exaggeration in the headlines’ numbers, but it appears that a whole lot of Monrovians were there.)  The first spadeful of dirt at the top of Gold Hill is turned by Mrs. C.T Renaker (note: She and her first husband A.P Seymour built Historic Landmark # 41)

The MFFC has been busy filming other scenes before this major spectacle.  They used a historic home in Duarte to stand in for the home of the Don, filming also took place behind the Pacific Electric depot and they filmed some ocean scenes in San Pedro.  The civic holiday even makes page 3 of the Los Angeles Times announcing “Film Holiday for Monrovia”.  A quote from the article states that “Monrovia is the latest Southern California city to join the ranks of the picture-producing centers of the West and she intends to let others know she is in the game to the finish. “  The film’s director, Henry Kabierske, will be situated a mile away from the action but will be using a military field telephone to direct, possibly making him the first person to use this long distance technology in the film industry.

On November 1, the Monrovia Daily News reports two interesting bits of news: the Argonauts will be completed in five weeks and there are currently 71 Monrovia stockholders in the MFFC.  It is easy to surmise that Mrs. C.T. Renaker was one of them and her connection to the film company will continue. 

Early Monrovians must have been enthralled by all of excitement the film company produced—parades, a civic holiday and a front row seat to the new film making industry.  Doesn’t it seem likely that there would be some photos sitting in family albums of all of this activity?  Surely the Monrovia Legacy project would appreciate seeing these.


There is a lot of momentum growing for the completion of the film by mid-December, but an unforeseen event will cause some major delays…..find out in the next installment what happens to the production.

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Progress in Plenty"

If you've just joined us, we're celebrating the installation of our newest piece of public art - "Action!" which commemorates Monrovia's long standing connection to the motion picture industry.  Looking to catch up?  You're just in time...we'll bring you up up to speed here.  

Otherwise, keep reading...

The year is 1918 and you may remember that one of the founders of the Monrovia Feature Film Company (MFFC) had just died unexpectedly...

[cue the creepy organ music]

But unlike the other shenanigans associated with this venture, Guest Blogger Penny (AKA GBP) was unable to dig up any dirt related to his untimely demise. Don't despair, there is plenty of other sorted details ahead...including a murder. 

So without further ado, here's the next installment which moves on to our other esteemed MFFC officers, Edward Grafton and Rufus McClung Francisco.

Edward Grafton owned a publishing company that put out the magazine Out West which McGroarty had edited.  He was very involved in choosing the key people in the MFFC, as well as involving himself with the choice of actors.  He also must have had his hand in the till...uh, we mean he probably provided treasurer duties, as will be seen in a later lawsuit.

And finally, we come to Rufus McClung Francisco who had a colorful background in all types of entertainment.  Where he really excelled, however, was in self-promotion.  Born in Tennessee, he made his way west and settled in Sacramento where he managed a theater before becoming the operator of a notorious speakeasy on the Sacramento River called Oak Hall.  Oak Hall at the time of his management was owned by an infamous madame named Cherry de St. Maurice (who was murdered during a robbery while she was under trial for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and other alcohol related charges.

Francisco also claimed to own a semi-professional baseball team called the Sacramento Bees.   He was the financial administrator for the MFFC and was often quoted in the Monrovia Daily News about the amazing success of the photoplays and exorbitant amounts being paid on sets, actors and publicity.

Another key figure in the Monrovia Feature Film Company was Winfield Hogaboom.  He was the scenario writer—today known as the scriptwriter.  His name graced the cover of the Monrovia Daily News frequently in 1915-1916 as he appeared to take on the role of spokesperson for the MFFC.  

The newspaper built up the possibility of Monrovia becoming the world film capital with a headline on September 7, 1915 that touted  “Motion Picture Men Want Gold Hill Tract” and an accompanying article stating that following on the heels of the Monrovia Feature Film Company, two other bids for the Gold Hill Land had been made by film companies.   While the newspaper editor felt it was important to keep these companies’ identities a secret, they did hint that one of the bids was from one of the largest film producing companies in the world, which would imply Carl Laemmle’s Universal Studio-- which had just opened its new 230 acre studio on a farm just over the Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood.   Unlike other studios, he opened this new studio to tourists.

On September 9 – not even a week after the first mention of the new film company- a headline asked the burning question “Do You Want to Be an Actor?” and implored Monrovians to become board members of the fledgling company.  Definitely a more direct appeal for Monrovians to open their wallets and subscribe as owners of the company.

“The very air is charged with optimism.”  According to Rufus M. Francisco, the financial agent for the MFFC, the energy caused by the film studio has caused vacant buildings to be rented.  (This is only one week after the initial announcement of the film making venture appeared in the paper!)  He announced that Monrovians  will control and manage the MFFC and urged them to come register at the studio offices to become actors in their first film Argonauts of California - 1849.

On September 11, headlines promised “Progress in Plenty” and stated that hundreds have applied for actor positions.  The film company also warned Monrovians not to overcharge on rents when the onslaught of film workers descend upon the city.

Well...not quite the cliffhanger we were looking for, but history is what it is...However, what inquiring minds will want to know is if the onslaught of movie people will take over our charming little burg?  And which Monrovians are destined to become the next Charles Chaplin or Mabel Normand?  Stay tuned...

Oh, and speaking of the silent screen comedienne Mabel Normand, she died of tuberculosis while being treated at the Pottenger Sanatorium in Monrovia.  No connection to this tale, but another Monrovia link to the early days of Hollywood. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah!

When we were first informed that Monrovia’s very own ZIP Day is right around the corner on September 10, 2016.  Our reaction was “What is ZIP day?”  

9-10-16...Oh, then we got excited...really excited.  Really, no really...


ZIP Day is a once in a lifetime celebration of our zip code—9.10.16.   Since zip codes didn’t exist until 1963, there was no ZIP day in 1916—and with the rapid changes occurring in the way people communicate, there is no promise that zip codes will still exist in 2116. 

So let's start with the basics...how did zip codes come into use?   Many people have seen antique letters or postcards simply addressed to Joe Smith, Monrovia, Calif. 


This harkened to a simpler time when residents had to visit the post office to pick up their mail, which had likely been sorted alphabetically by name.  In 1911, Monrovia considered having free mail delivery—meaning a postal worker would deliver the mail to each residence.   This meant that mail would needed to be sorted by address, so street names and house numbers began to appear on envelopes.   Letters were still the main method of communication, so imagine the volume that needed to be sorted daily.

In 1944, with World War II increasing the number of letters sent while the work force to sort the mail was diminished, a postal inspector named Robert Moon thought up a new system which would speed up sorting.  He promoted a numerical system in which the first three digits identified the geographic area and the Sectional Center Facility (SCF) that would receive all the mail for a specific geographic area and then the last two digits would specify a particular city in that geographic region.   The post office named this system the Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP)  It took almost twenty years for the US Postal Service to roll out zip codes—zip codes were officially introduced on 7/1/1963 and at the same time the Post Office encouraged standardized two letter abbreviations for states.

The post office used many different ways to make people aware of zip code use.  They introduced a cartoon character named Mr. Zip who was featured in commercials, cartoons, on merchandise such as stickers and lunch boxes, and appeared on stamp cancellations. The Post Office believed that if they could get children to be interested in Mr. Zip, they, in turn, would encourage their parents to use zip codes.  In 1966, the week of October 10 was officially declared “Zip Code Week” with some communities holding parades to celebrate.   Celebrities such as Ethel Merman appeared on commercials singing “Zip–a–dee–do-dah”.    In reaction to Cold War paranoia, some citizens protested the use of zip codes as dehumanizing, but the popularity of Mr. Zip outweighed these worries.  By 1970 zip codes were used on 86% of the mail and by 1979 they were on 97% of all mail. 

In 1983, the US Post Office promoted a new Zip+4 program, though they have never made it mandatory. 

Zip Codes are made up of three components: geographic region, Sectional Center Facility (SCF), and the town, city or community.  Numbers were distributed from East to West.  Zip Codes beginning with zero are generally in New England and New Jersey.  The lowest zip code is 00501 for the IRS in Holtsville, NY.   The highest zip code is 99950 for Ketchikan, Alaska. 

So here's what those numbers in Monrovia’s zip code stand for:
  • 9- California (also HI, AK, OR, WA and Pacific territories)
  • (9)10—Santa Clarita is Monrovia’s SCF (Sectional Center Facility)
  • (910)16 – Monrovia
  • (910)17- Monrovia’s PO boxes

So, here's one last piece of Monrovia zip code trivia: did you know that our zip code is an ambigram?  That is, it’s the same number if you turn it upside down!  Not many zip codes can make that claim to fame.



So checkout this page to celebrate this once in a lifetime event.