Tuesday, July 15, 2008

70 Years of Hillside Development


Photo: Smith, 1938. Construction of 2647 Corralitas. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

As the remaining vacant lots on the hills surrounding the Red Car Property are being built today, it's useful to review the history of development in the neighborhood from one backyard atop Corralitas Drive. Special thanks to the Smith family for sharing their photos.

The Smiths built their home on Corralitas in 1938 and still own property on Corralitas to this day. Fortunately, their photographs recorded the growth of the neighborhood from their backyard over the years. In 1938, homes were concentrated near the Red Car Stop at India St. and the Silver Lake Ave. public staircase, visible in the background of the above photo. There were also a number of homes on Riverside Place - just below the Red Car Trolley tracks and out of frame above.


Photo: Smith, April 1950. Snow in Silver Lake. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The 1950 snowstorm photo above indicates the typical development pattern surrounding the Red Car Trolley Lines. Homes closest to the tracks (Riverside Place) tended were 400 sq. ft. houses on 800 sq. ft. lots. As you moved further from the tracks, the lots and homes got larger.

The bottom left corner of the above photo reveals the "walk street" portion of Riverside Place. When the Red Car tracks were pulled out in 1955, the neighbors voted to give up 10' of their front yards so the City would pave a street to their homes that were previously Red Car Trolley dependent. Also above, Lake View and Silver Ridge are largely unbuilt.


Photo: Smith, 1971. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In 1971, the view from the Smith's backyard had not changed remarkably. If you look closely at all three photos above, you can see the erosion on the upslope side of Lake View that made development challenging. The Red Car tracks are gone and the Red Car Property is just a dirt roadway.

Early 1980's

Photo: Smith, early 1980's. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In the early 1980's, grading for the difficult section of Lake View and Silver Ridge began. Both sides of Lake View were under construction for most of the 1980's. The above and following photos reveal the standard of hillside development typical of the era; lots of cutting into the hillside and construction of retaining walls.

Early 1980's

Photo: Smith, early 1980's. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Photo: Smith, January 1985. (Click on photo to enlarge).


Photo: Edwardson, July 15, 2008. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Seventy years later, there are very few vacant hillside lots left in the neighborhood. Only in the past few years did the owners of the long narrow house on Silver Ridge plant their slope between Silver Ridge and Lake View. Previously, it was unchanged from the 1985 photo above.