Wednesday, March 4, 2015

All-Female Bands of the 1970s -- Happy Women's History Month!

I wrote a post on all-female bands from the 1910s-1950s, and a post covering all-female bands of the 1960s -- here's my attempt at a conclusive A-Z (and other alphabets) of all-female bands of the 1970s. Details are often sketchy or non-existent and as always corrections and contributions are appreciated!



Die Ätztussis were an anarcho-punk band from the Kreuzberg section of West Berlin, active at least as early as 1979 when they played the Antifaschistischen Festival. The members were Cordula (vocals), Kiki(bass), Menusch (guitar), and Petra (drums).


'B' Girls in 1977 (image source: Rodney Bowes)

Cynthia RossLucasta Rochas, Marcy Saddy, and Rhonda Ross formed 'B' Girls in Toronto in 1977. Although they recorded a handful of demos, they only released one single, "Fun At The Beach," on BOMP!in 1979. Roaches was replaced by Xenia Holiday before they broke up in 1981 or ’82. A collection of their recordings were released as Who Says Girls Can't Rock in 1997.


BeBe K’Roche were formed in Berkeley by Jake LampertPamela "Tiik" PolletPeggy Mitchell, andVirginia Rubino in 1973. They released one single, “Hoodoo’d,” and an eponymous LP in 1976 on Los Angeles’s Olivia Records. 


Berkeley Women's Music Collective in 1973 (image source: Queer Music Heritage)

Berkeley Women's Music Collective were comprised of Debbie LempkeJake LampertNancy HendersonNancy Vogl, and Susann Shanbaum. Lampert later went on to play in the all-female BeBe K’Roche. Henderson left the band to become a physical education instructor before they recorded Berkeley Women's Music Collective (1976) and Tryin' To Survive (1978).


Bitch were from the Chicago area and were comprised of Donna Agresti (drums), Donna Kirkendall(bass), Gerre Edinger (guitar), Lorrie Kountz (guitar), and Nancy Davis (vocals). They were  active from the late 1970s until at least 1981.


The Blowdriers were an all-female punk band from the San Francisco Bay area who recorded the song, “Berkeley Farms” which was included on the 1993 compilation Killed By Death #13

Two Tone ska group The Bodysnatchers formed in London in 1979 and were comprised of Miranda Joyce (alto saxophone), Nicky Summers (bass), Penny Leyton (keyboards), Rhoda Dakar (vocals),Sarah-Jane Owen (lead guitar), and Stella Barker (rhythm guitar). In 1980 they released “Let's Do Rock Steady."

Debbie Trethaway (drums), Jane Boston (harmonica), Jen Green (rhythm guitar), Jude Winter (electric piano), Rose Yates (bass), Susy Taylor (vocals), and Tasha Fairbanks (saxophone) formed Devil’s Dykesin Brighton in 1977. The band changed their name to Bright Girls in 1980 and their song “Hidden From History” was included on the compilation Vaultage 80: A Vinyl Chapter (1980). They stopped performing in 1990.
The Bristol Women’s Music Collective formed around 1978. They were the subject of the short documentary, In Our Own Time (1981), produced by Women in Moving Pictures (WIMPS).

Neue Deutsche Welle group Carambolage were formed in 1979 by Angie OlbrichBritta NeanderElfie-Esther Steitz, and Janett Lemmen. They released an eponymous album in 1980 and Eilzustellung-Exprèsin 1982. 

The Castrators were an all-female punk band with Angela RisnerTessa Pollit (guitar) — who went on to join The Slits as bassist — and Budgie, who apparently was NOT the Budgie of The Slits. They were profiled by News of The World in 1977 for a piece on female punks. 



The Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band teamed with The New Haven Woman's Liberation Rock Band and released Mountain Moving Day on Rounder in 1972. Their side included the songs “Secretary,”“Ain't Gonna Marry,” “Papa (Don't Lay That Shit on Me),” and “Mountain Moving Day.” 


Clapperclaw were a London-based theatrical group comprised of Caroline JohnRae LevyRix Pyke, and one other member. They active from around 1978 who performed feminist, socialist satirical music hall on instruments ranging from accordion, banjo, clarinet, guitar, mandolin, pianos, recorders, spoons, triangle, and whistles.


Clito were an Italian punk band formed around 1978 in Milan. They were comprised of Elettra Sax(saxophone), Klara Lux (drums), Norma Loid (guitar), Olivia Gintonic (bass), and Ruby Scass (vocals). Their songs “Giangol” and “Se La Vita E' Faticosa” were later included on the compilation Italian Recordscalled The Singles 7'' Collection (1980-1984) (2013).

The Curse

The Curse were formed in Toronto in 1977. The band was comprised of Dr. Bourque (bass, backing vocals), Mickey Skin (vocals), Patzy Poizon (drums, backing vocals), and Trixie Danger (guitar, backing vocals). They released the single “Shoeshine Boy” b/w “The Killer Bees” in 1978.

The Deadly NightshadeThe Deadly Nightshade (image source: The Deadly Nightshade)


The Deadly Nightshade formed in Northampton in 1972 and were comprised of Anne Bowen (rhythm guitar), Helen Hooke (lead guitar, fiddle), and Pamela Robin Brandt (bass). They released two records, The Deadly Nightshade (1975) and F&W (1976).

The Dinettes

The Dinettes formed in San Diego as The Cockpits in 1978 who, after a couple of line-up changes, coalesced around Cindy Brisco (drums), Doriot Negrette (vocals), Irene Liberatore-Dolan (drums), Joyce Rooks (guitar, vocals), Lisa Aston Emerson (guitar), and Sue Ferguson (keyboards) as The Dinettes. They released “Poison” b/w “T.V.” in 1979.


Dolly Mixture
 were formed in 1978 by Debsey Wykes (bass, piano, vocals), Hester Smith (drums, vocals), and Rachel Bor (guitar, cello, vocals) in Cambridge. After releasing three singles in three years they released the limited edition Demonstration Tapes in 1983. Wykes and Smith went on to form Coming Up Roses and Bor performed with Fruit Machine. Wykes later performed with Saint Etienne and later, Birdie.


Electra(image source: The Women's Liberation Music Archive)

Electra were formed in Suffolk in 1979 by Celia Tordoff (congas) Gill Alexander (bass), Lizzie Scott(piano, bass, guitar, vocals), Lizzy Smith (guitar, lead vocals), Margi Stevenson (vocals, percussion),Nicolette Vine (vocals), and Rachel Perry (piano, bass, guitar). In 1986, Smith, Stevenson, Perry, andPaddy Tanton (vocals) formed The Lizzy Smith Band, which continued until 1993.

No information available!


The Feminist Improvising Group (Image source: The Women's Liberation Music Archive)

The Feminist Improvising Group (FIG) formed in 1977. Their ranks included Angèle Veltmeijer (flute, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone), Annemarie Roelofs (trombone, violin), Cathy Williams (keyboards),Corinne Liensol (trumpet), Françoise Dupety (alto saxophone, guitar), Frankie Armstrong (vocals),Georgie Born (cello, bass guitar), Irène Schweizer (piano, drums), Lindsay Cooper (bassoon, oboe, soprano saxophone), Maggie Nicols (vocals), and Sally Potter (vocals, alto saxophone). They released an eponymous album in 1979 before disbanding in 1982.



The Flatbackers formed in the UK in 1978 and were Julie Usher (lead guitar, vocals), Lucy Dray (bass, vocals), and Lyn Monk (drums, percussion, backing vocals). They released three singles, “Pumping Iron,”“Buzzz Going Round,” and “Serenade Of Love” in 1980 and 1981. They disbanded in 1981.


Die Flying Lesbians were formed in Germany in 1974 and included Cäcilia Rentmeister (piano, synthesizer, harmonica, vocals), Christel Wachowski (guitar, percussion), Danielle de Baat (guitar, bass, vocals), Gigi (Christa) Lansch (percussion), and Monika Jaeckel (drums, percussion). They released a self-titled album in 1975.


Galaxy were a heavy psych/space rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida by Frenzi Fabbri (guitar),Miss Gunner Powell (drums), Pepper Leonardi (bass), and Space Mama Geiger (keyboards). They released Day Without the Sun in 1976.


Girls were a Japanese five-piece comprised of Gill, Lena, Llia, Rita, and Sadie. They released the albums,Noraneko (野良猫) (1977), Punky Kiss (1977), and Girls (1978).


Girlschool are a British Heavy Metal band which formed in 1978. Their roots go back toWandsworth where in 1975 Dinah 'Enid' Williams (bass, vocals), Kim McAuliffe (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Tina Gayle (drums) formed Painted Lady. In 1978, McAuliffe, Williams, Denise Dufort (drums), andKelly Johnson (lead guitar) changed their name to Girlschool and released their first single, “Take It All Away.” They still perform to this day, with McAuliffe, Williams, Dufort, and Jackie Chambers (lead guitar, backing vocals).

The Go-gos, 1979, David Ferguson.
The Go-Go's, 1979 (image source: David Ferguson)

The Go-Go’s were formed in Los Angeles in 1978 by Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Elissa Bello (drums), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), and Margot Olavarria (bass). Although initially punk, they found fame as a pop band in the 1980s. Wiedlin released several solo albums, as did Carlisle and Gina Shock, who early on replaced drummer Bello.


Isis formed in New York City in 1973. Their ranks included Barbara Cobb (bass), Carol MacDonald (vocals, guitar), Ellen Seeling (trumpet), Edith Dankowitz (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Faith Fusillo (guitar), Ginger Bianco (drums, percussion), Jeanie Fineberg (saxophone, flute, piccolo), Lauren Draper (trumpet, vocals),Lolly Bienenfield (trombone, vocals), Lynx (saxophone, guitar), Margo Lewis (keyboards), Nydia "Liberty" Mata (percussion), Renate Ferrer (guitar), Suzi Ghezzi (guitar), Stella Bass (bass, vocals), and Vivian Stoll(drums, vibraphone). They released three albums, Isis (1974), Ain't No Backin' Up Now (1975), andBreaking Through (1977).

Jam Today
Jam Today (image source: The Women's Liberation Music Archive)
Jam Today were formed in 1976 in Peckham, UK. Over the course of several line-ups their ranks includedAlison Rayner (bass), Angele Veltmeijer (saxophone, flute), Barbara Stretch (vocals), Corinne Liensol,Deirdre Cartright (guitar), Diana Wood (vocals, alto saxophone), Fran RaynerFrankie Green (drums),Jackie Crew (drums), Joey (vocals), Josefina Cupido (percussion, vocals), Josie Mitten (keyboards, vocals), Julia Dawkins (saxophone, flute), Laka Daisical (vocals, keyboards), Nicki Francis (saxophone, flute), Sarah Greaves Baker (trumpet), Terry Hunt (guitar), and Vicky Aspinall (violin). They (when the band was comprised of Crew, Dawkins, Hunt, Rayner, and Stretch) only got around to releasing one EP,Stereotyping, in 1981.

Kandeggina Gang, which included Jo Squillo, was a punk band which formed in Milan in 1979. They released one single, “Sono captive” b/w “Orrore” before disbanding in 1981.

The Klitz formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1978 and were comprised of Amy Gassner (bass), Gail Elise Clifton (vocals), Lesa Aldridge (guitar), and Marcia Clifton (drums). They recorded “Couldn't Be Bothered,” “Two Chords,” “Hard Up,” and a cover of Alex Chilton’s “Hook or Crook” before disbanding.

Klymaxx were a Los Angeles funk band who formed in 1979. The members were Bernadette Cooper(drums, vocals), Cheryl Cooley (guitar, vocals), Joyce "Fenderella" Irby (bass, vocals), Lorena Porter Shelby (vocals), Lynn Malsby (keyboards), and Robbin Grider (synthesizers, guitar). Their first big hit was 1984’s Meeting In The Ladies Room.
Lavender Jane
Lavender Jane (image source: Alix Dobkin)

Lavender Jane were comprised of Alix Dobkin, Kay Gardner, and Patches Attom. They releasedLavender Jane Loves Women in 1975. Dobkin went on to form Alix Dobkin Featuring the Lesbian Power Authority who released Living With Lesbians in 1976 and she released the solo, Alix, in 1980. Gardner released several solo albums before dying in 2002.

The London Women’s Liberation Rock Band (image source: Women's Liberation Music Archive)

The London Women’s Liberation Rock Band were formed in 1972 by Alaine (guitar), Angele Veltmeijer(vocals and flute), Eleanor Thorneycroft (bass guitar), Frankie Green (drums), and Hazel Twort (vocals, keyboard).


Maiden Voyage were Hetsilla Sharkey (flute, saxophone, keyboards), Leslie LaRonga (drums), Missy Wolcott (bass, keyboards, banjo), Nancy Pollock (guitar, trumpet, trombone), and Terry Sausville(keyboards, flute, trumpet). They released In New York in 1974.


The Mascaras were an obscure punk group who existed around 1977, when they Tony Wilson’s So It Goes.


水玉消防団 formed in Tokyo in 1979. Members included 天鼓 (guitar, vocals), カムラ (bass), 可夜 (piano, electric piano, organ), まなこ (guitar), and 宮本 (drums). They released Otome no Inori wa Da Da Da (1981) and 満天に赤い花びら (1985) before disbanding in 1988.


Mo-dettes formed in London in 1979 — originally as The Bomberettes. They included Jane Crockford(bass), June Kingston (drums, vocals), Kate Korus (guitar), and Ramona Carlier (vocals). The one album wonders released the optimistically-titles The Story So Far in 1980. Melissa Ritter replaced Korus in 1981 and Sue Slack replaced Carlier in 1982, shortly before they disbanded.


Mother Superior were a progressive rock band who formed in London in 1974. Their line-up includedAudrey Swinburne (lead guitar, lead vocals), Jackie Badger (bass, vocals), Jackie Crew (drums, vocals), and Lesley Sly (keyboards, lead vocals). They released Lady Madonna in 1975 and disbanded in 1977.


Mother Trucker formed in Hounslow, UK around 1974 and were comprised of Billie Simpkins (lead vocals), Freddie Barnes (drums), Jackie Ellender (bass guitar), Leslie Rice-Paddington (guitar), Ronnie McBurney (vocals) and were signed to Ember Records. They released a self-titled album in 1975.


Necessary Evil were a British punk band formed around 1979 who existed until 1980.


Neo Boys formed in Portland in 1978. The members were Jennifer Labianco (guitar), K.T. Kincaid(vocals), Kim Kincaid (bass), and Pat Baum (drums). Labianco was replaced by Meg Hentges. They released “Neo Boys” in 1980 and the Crumbling Myths EP in 1982. A compilation, Sooner Or Later, was released in 2013.


The New Haven Women's Liberation Rock Band appeared on the split 1972 LP Mountain Moving Day with The Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band. The New Haven Woman's Liberation Rock Band’s side contained the songs “Abortion Song,” “Sister Witch,” “Prison Song,” “So Fine,” and “Shotgun.” 


The Nixe formed in 1978, in Utrecht, Netherlands. Their line-up was comprised of Ilva Poortvliet (vocals),Marian De Beurs (guitar), Nikki Meijerink (bass), and Simone Luken (drums). They appeared on Utreg-Punx in 1980 and and released The Nixe EP in 1981. They broke up in 1984 but a self-titled compilation was released in 2008.


Nōh Mercy were a post-punk duo of Esmerelda (vocals, keyboards) and Tony Hotel (drums), who formed in San Francisco in 1977. They disbanded in 1980. A self-titled compilation was released in 2012.


The Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band formed in 1973 and were comprised of Angela Cooper(vocals), Angie Libman (drums), Carol Riddell (keyboards), Frances Bernstein (guitar), Jane Power(rhythm guitar), Jenny Clegg (bass), and Luchia Fitzgerald (vocals).

Östro 430

Östro 430 were a Neue Deutsche Welle group who formed in Düsseldorf in 1979. The original line-up included Martina Weith (vocals, saxophone), Bettina Flörchinger (keyboards), Monika Kellermann (bass), and Marita Welling (drums). Later members included Olivia Casali (bass), Gisela Hottenroth (bass), Birgit Köster (drums), and Ralf Küpping (guitar). In 1981 they released the Durch dick & dünn EP, in 1983 they released Weiber wie wir, and they disbanded in 1984.


Ova formed as The Lupin Sisters in 1976 and were Jana Runnalls (vocals, guitar, clarinet, drums, percussion, kazoo) and Rosemary Schonfeld (vocals, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer, cabasa, drum programming, marímbula, log drum). They released Out of Bounds (1982) and Possibilities (1984).

Peaches, also known as The Vamps, were an Australian trio formed in Sydney in 1975 by Margaret Britt(bass,vocals). In 1978 they released a recording of Willie Harry Wilson’s “Substitute.”

Pulsallama were a no wave band which included members Andé Whyland, Ann Magnuson, April Palmieri, Dany Johnson, Jean Caffeine, Kimberly Davis, Lori Montana, Min Thometz, Stace Elkin, andWendy Wild. They released “The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body” b/w “Ungawa Pt.II (Way Out Guiana)” (1982) and “Oui-Oui (A Canadian In Paris)” b/w “Pulsallama on the Rag” (1983). Magnuson went onto form Bongwater.


Quality Street were a London band formed around 1979 whose members were Angele Veltmeye(saxophone), Maggie Nicols (vocals), Sally Beautista (guitar), and Vicky Scrivene(vocals).

The Raincoats

The Raincoats are a British post-punk group formed in 1977 and still active. The original line-up was Ana Da Silva (guitar), Gina Birch (bass), Paloma “Palmolive” Romero (drums), and Vicky Aspinall (guitar, violin). Palmolive was soon replaced by Ingrid Weiss. After releasing three albums, the band broke-up in 1984 but reformed a decade later after their albums were reissued in 1993 with liner notes by Kim Gordonand Kurt Cobain. In the new line-up, Aspinall and Weiss were replaced by Anne Wood and Heather Dunn.

The Roches were a vocal, folk-rock trio formed in Park Ridge, New Jersey by Maggie and Terre Roche. After singing back-up for Paul Simon on There Goes Rhymin' Simon, they released their only album as a duo, Seductive Reasoning, in 1975. Afterward they were joined by younger sister Suzy Roche.


The Runaways were formed in 9175 by Joan Jett (guitar, vocals), Michael Steele (bass), and Sandy West(drums). Steele left to join The Bangles and was replaced by many bassists, including Peggy Foster, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Laurie McAllister, and Lita Ford (who also played guitar). Cherie Currie joined as lead vocalist in 1975 and, after departing in 1977, was replaced in that role by Jett. They played their last show in 1978 and broke up in 1979.


The Slits were a punk band formed in London in 1976 by members who’d formerly been in The Castrators and The Flowers of Romance. The original line-up was Ari Up (Ariane Forster), Palmolive (Paloma Romero), Kate Korus, and Suzy Gutsy. There were line-up changes and The Slits weren’t always all-female (e.g. Budgie) but they primarily presented themselves as an all-female group. They released Cut (1979) andReturn of the Giant Slits (1981) before disbanding in 1982. They reformed in 2005 and released Trapped Animal (2009), the year before Forster died.


 were a punk duo comprised of Judy Nylon and Patti Palladin. They formed in London in 1976 but the two bandmates were both American. After several singles and a collaboration with Brian Eno, they released a self-titled album — their only — in 1983.


Spoilsports were Angele Veltmeijer (saxophone), Barbara Stretch (vocals), Carole Nelson (keyboards),Ruth Bitelli (bass), and Sheelagh Way (drums), who formed in 1978. They released one single, “You Gotta Shout” b/w “Love And Romance” in 1980, after which they broke-up.


The Stepney Sisters formed in York in 1974. The members were Benni Lees (bass, guitar), Caroline Gilfillan (vocals, drums), Nony Ardill (guitar), Ruthie Smith (vocals, saxophone), Sharon “Shaz” Nassauer (keyboards), and Susy Hogarth (drums). They disbanded in 1976. Their song, “Sisters” was included on the compilation Music & Liberation: A Compilation of Music From the Women's Liberation Movement (2012).


Tour de Force were a British new wave quartet who were formed in the late 1970s by Bernice Cartwright(bass), Carol Stocker (vocals), Deirdre Cartwright (vocals, guitar), and Val Lloyd (drums, vocals). They released three singles, “Night Beat” b/w “Tour De Force,” “Beat the Clock” b/w “Undecided,” and“School Rules” b/w “We Don't Talk” in 1980 and ’81.


Usch (also known as Enola Gay) were a Swedish punk band formed in Stockholm in 1978. The original members were Hans Edström (guitar, vocals), Irene Liljeblad (bass, vocals), Jojje Jerngrip (guitar), Kicko(vocals), and Nike Markelius (drums, vocals) and they released Usch EP. In 1980, John Essing (guitar) and Toril Vigerust (guitar, vocals) played in the band and the following year the band released the single“Hatlåten” before disbanding.


UT (image source: UT/Music)

UT were a New York no wave band formed in 1978 by Jacqui Ham (vocals, bass), Nina Canal (vocals, guitar), and Sally Young (vocals, drums). They released three albums, Conviction (1986), In Gut’s House(1987), and Griller (1989). They were on hiatus from 1991 till 2010, when they returned to live performance.


The Welders

The Welders were a punk group formed in 1975 in St. Louis, Missouri. The original members wereCaroline Fujimoto (bass), Kelly "Rusty" Draper (guitar), Jane Fujimoto (drums, keyboards), Julie (guitar), and Stephanie von Drasek (vocals). Julie left in 1977 and von Drasek in ’78 — their replacements wereColleen (vocals) and Lyla (drums), who remained until the band broke up in 1980 or ’81. Four of their songs,“P-E-R-V-E-R-T,” “Debutantes In Bondage,” “S-O-S Now,” and “Baby Don't Go” were released by Rerun Records in 2010.


Wicked Lady were a Dutch band who released three singles “Underneath the Neon Tonight” b/w“Manolito,” “Girls Love Girls” b/w “Daddy’s Little Rich Girl” and “Plastic Queen” b/w “Play the Game”in 1978, 1979, and 1981, respectively.


Y Pants

Y Pants were a one album wonder comprised of Barbara Ess (bass, ukelele, drum, vocals), Gail Vachon(keyboards, ukelele, vocals), and Virginia Piersol (drums, vocals), who formed in New York City in 1979. They released the Y Pants EP in 1980 and Beat It Down in 1982 before disbanding the same year.



Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Greater Streets — Exploring Yosemite Drive

Los Angeles has more streets than any other city in the US, 12,000 kilometers of roadway the surface of which covers about 15% of that of the entire cityscape. New bicycle lanes, reconfigured road diets, pedestrian advocacy, the rediscovery of public stairways, open streets events, and government programs like Great Streets have gone a long way in transforming the way Angelenos engage with one of our largest public assets. However, it's my belief that in nearly all things, what makes something great comes from the ground up and the streets are no exception.
Yosemite Drive street sign/bird house
Yosemite Drive street sign/bird house
It probably wasn’t the first time that I drove or rode along Yosemite Drive but I have one amber-filtered memory of cruising along its gently meandering path one twilight and noting its charm; none of which owed anything to the presence of sidewalk jugglers, overpriced food trucks, or yarn-bombed lampposts. Yosemite's charms come from its graceful curves, the rustling leaves of the mature trees which line it, and the rolling hills which rising up steeply behind the small houses along its edges.
Shade trees
Steep hills
My first thought was that Yosemite Drive might've been developed along an old rail line since this is often the case with attractive, meandering, tree-lined roads but none of Los Angeles Railway’s yellow cars ever made their way through Yosemite Valley. They understandably forsook Yosemite Drive for Eagle Rock’s major streets: ColoradoEagle Rock, and Figueroa — all of which are tellingly much wider than Yosemite. My next guess was that perhaps a river once ran along the bottom of this tiny valley and that turned out to be the case.
Yosemite Drive (3)
Much of this area was formerly covered with strawberry fields which replaced the sprawling pastures of the Verdugo family’s vast Rancho San Rafael. Although here too there were strawberries, a stream and a stately riparian woodland filled most of the valley floor between the Eagle Rock and York valleys. Yosemite Drive began life as Sycamore Avenue, a road which followed the course of Eagle Rock Creek, a stream which flowed from near the intersection of La Loma Road and Figueroa Street down valley to a confluence just east of Eagle Rock Boulevard, which then flowed into a wetland at a lower elevation.
The Eagle Rock Water Company was established in 1906 and they built a pump house at the corner of Maywood Avenue and Sycamore. Eagle Rock incorporated in 1911 with a population of about 600. That same year, Fred and Edith Ekhart  (operators of  the Gates Strawberry Ranch) built their home along Sycamore Avenue. Edith went on to found the Eagle Rock’s Friendly Club which later morphed into the Women’s Twentieth Century Club. The Eagle Rock Water Company was purchased in 1917 by the City of Eagle Rock. That year part of neighboring town of Annandale was annexed by Pasadena. The un-annexed portion of Annandale and the town of Eagle Rock were both annexed by Los Angeles in 1923 which resulted in renaming of numerous streets and Sycamore Avenue thus became Yosemite Drive.
In November of 1933, about 3,000 hectares of the Pickens Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains went up in the smoke of a forest fire. On 31 December, 18.6 centimeters of rain fell on the denuded foothills which resulted in disastrous flooding which in turn lead to the death of about 100 people (45 of the missing were never accounted for). Woody Guthrie commemorated the calamity with his composition "The New Year's Flood." Eagle Rock Creek’s fate was to be tamed and entombed in a 2.5 meter storm drain which was lowered beneath Yosemite Drive.
Yosemite Drive (2)
Yosemite Drive is only about three kilometers long — not a major street by anyone’s measure, but because it runs between heavily traveled Figueroa Street and Eagle Rock Boulevard it’s unfortunately treated by too many motorists as some sort of freeway interchange. For such a small street, it’s especially disconcerting as cars speed by, rocking the cars parked along the road, and occasionally killing people as they try to shave a few seconds off of their commute. As many people died in the New Year's Flood die every year as the result of motorists running over pedestrians and along this stretch, whilst crossing a crosswalk, then-seven-year-old Alexander Sanna was struck by then-22-year-old Duc Quy Trinh who after colliding with the child, stopped and dislodged his body from the car, and then sped off -- only to turn himself in when guilt got the better of him. For his crimes of felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
I decided to start my walk at the Figueroa end of Yosemite and then walked west. At least one home was built in 1907 but most along Yosemite were built in the 1920s. Fewer were built during a second wave of development in the late 1940s. There are also a few larger developments which dramatically illustrate fairly different approaches to multi-family living.
The Garden Apartments style Yosemite Gardens (1951)
The Garden Apartments style Yosemite Gardens (1951)
Dingbat on steroids Yosemite Manor (1986)
Dingbat on steroids Yosemite Manor (1986)
LEED certified Rock Row (2010 -- built by my next door neighbors the Kevin and Hardy Wronske)
LEED certified Rock Row (2010 -- built by my next door neighbors the Kevin and Hardy Wronske)
Rockdale Elementary
Rockdale Elementary School was established in 1886 in the Annandale School District. In 1928, an attractive red brick schoolhouse was constructed. The San Fernando Earthquake in 1971 rendered the school unsafe and after its demolition, the current school was built.
The cheery, tiled planters at Happyland's main intersection
The cheery, tiled planters at Happyland's main intersection
The land along Yosemite Drive was subdivided into several small tracts including the BlackmerC.S. JamesDouglasFloristan HeightsGatesHamilton PlaceJ.Q. AdamsMarble HeightsMyers and Kulli Sycamore GlenMyers and Kulli’s Oak Grove, and Pottawattamie Park tracts but my favorite is the ridiculously named Silverwood’s Happyland subdivision, developed in the 1920s. The Silverwood in question was a Los Angeles clothier named Francis B. Silverwood who also wrote the lyrics for “I Love You California” in 1913.
Bilo Market
Bilo Market
R.O.C.K. Teen Center
R.O.C.K. Teen Center
The Eagles lodge
The Eagles lodge
Primarily residential, Happyland is noteworthy for its mix of period colonial revival architecture styles and its small commercial center at the intersection of Yosemite Drive and Townsend which is still home to a small cluster of businesses including Bilo Market (building constructed by PC Blackmer in 1925), R.O.C.K. Teen Center (and coffee house), and a Fraternal Order of the Eagles lodge (which was having Wild Game BBQ Night).
Community Church of Eagle Rock
Community Church of Eagle Rock
The Community Church of Eagle Rock (or Eagle Rock Community Church) was dedicated in 1927. In 1936 it became the Eagle Rock Community Covenant Church. Today it’s known as Iglesia Del Pacto Evangélico.
Eagle Rock High School
Eagle Rock High School
The original schoolhouse of Eagle Rock High School was built in 1927 to serve a student population of just 690. Most of the buildings today seem to have been built in the late 1960s or early '70s. The discarded Kool-Aid pouches and juice boxes looked rather more recent.
Yosemite Recreation Center
Yosemite Recreation Center
The grounds of Yosemite Recreation Center include two auditoriums, a playground, handball courts, an indoor gym, an outdoor gym, tennis courts, and outdoor pool, and basketball courts -- the lagger of which seemed to be getting the most use.
Delrosa Walk
Delrosa Walk is a short walkway connecting Yosemite Drive to Addison Way, a street which runs parallel a block to the south. Although so inconspicuous that I at first passed it without notice, once I successfully located it I was somewhat surprised to see this minor pedestrian artery being used by two women.
Delrosa Walk
Delrosa Walk
Distributing Station No. 30
Distributing Station No. 30
The art deco Distributing Station No. 30 was built in 1936 at the intersection that had originally been home to Eagle Rock Water Company’s pump.
Shopping Center
Although I prefer the quiet intersection of Yosemite and Townsend, the main commercial hub of the street is its intersection with Eagle Rock Boulevard. Nearby is Abby’s DinerEagle Rock Barber Shop, the Eagle Rock Church of the Nazarene, the Eagle Rock Music Studio, Ballroom BlitzNew Century GlassTattoo LoveTransport Skate Shop, and a nameless shopping center that’s home to Pot Thai CafeMediterranean TriangleCabo Joe’s Mexican GrillFresh Donut HouseVideo Hut, and several chain restaurants and shops, and the former Yosemite Theatre.
On 3 May, 1929, the Kenneth A. Gordon-designed, 900-seat, Yosemite Theatre opened at 4884 Eagle Rock Boulevard. It featured a couple of nights of vaudeville performances before the screening of its first film, The Younger Generation. In 1937 its name was changed to the New Eagle Theatre and, no longer new even in name, it simply became the Eagle Theatre in 1940. From 1976 till 1979 it screened porn as part of the Pussycat chain. It became a budget independent theater in 1983 and closed permanently in 2001 to, like many former theaters, become a church -- in this case, the Cenacle of Faith.
Plenty of parking and little traffic,
Plenty of parking and little traffic so just park wherever
Looking east down Yosemite Drive
Looking east down Yosemite Drive
The western end of Yosemite
The western end of Yosemite
West of Eagle Rock Boulevard, Yosemite Drive begins its steep ascent into the hills. The sidewalks eventually vanish but so does most of the traffic, so walking in the street feels less dangerous. The views from this hill are pretty impressive and off in the distance I could make out the shadow and shape of the titular Eagle Rock.
Fair Park Avenue cul-de-sac and the Eagle Rock in the distance
Fair Park Avenue cul-de-sac and the Eagle Rock in the distance
 Located just below the western end of Yosemite Drive is Fair Park Avenue, a short street and cul-de-sac with about nine lots and for some reason, no houses.
Swanson House (1921)
Swanson House (1921)
On the other side of Yosemite Drive is Addison Way, which I visited to check out the historic Swanson House, located as it is at 2373 Addison Way. It was built by the owner of the Eagle Rock Lumber Company, Emil Swanson, and naturally is a log cabin.
Ford Rule
If you don't have the time or ability to walk, Yosemite Drive is well-served by buses, including  Metro’s 288183, and 180/181 lines as well as the LADOT's DASH Highland Park/Eagle Rock line. There are things that you will miss, however, from a bus or car; the smell of orange blossoms, the song of the robin, the jungle-like container gardens, the mentions of ZZ Top and Ford Motor Company along the sidewalks. To quote Ferris Bueller, who ironically was complaining about not having a car, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Thanks to Jane Tsong (of Myriad Small Things), Will Campbell at Blogging LAEric H. Warren and Frank F. Parrello’s Pioneers of Eagle RockWalk Eagle RockLA Creek Freak, and Eric H. Warren’s Eagle Rock.
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.