Faces Behind the Places in LA | Los Angeles Public Library
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Faces Behind the Places in LA

Glen Creason, Librarian III, History & Genealogy Department,

Driving, biking or even walking! around LA we see many place names that we have come to take for granted. Many of these place names were inspired by Angelenos who helped create them. These are just a number of the faces behind the places.

Abbot kinney

Abbot Kinney:entrepreneur, philanthropist and developer who built Venice of California...Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Aline Barnsdall

Aline Barnsdall: philanthropist with a passion for the arts, donated park to city in 1927. Barnsdall Park

andrew boyle

Andrew Boyle: early settler of land east of the LA river and namesake of Boyle Heights, chosen by his son-in-law William H. Workman


Arcadia Bandini: also known by Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker: of the famed beautiful Bandini sisters who became a thrice-married and widowed wealthy landowner. Arcadia street name not Arcadia town name.

Phineas Banning

Phineas Banning: "father of the Port of Los Angeles" and first man to build a railroad in Los Angeles. Banning High School and several streets in his name.

Biddy Mason

Biddy Mason: former nurse/midwife who was the first African-American to own property in Los Angeles. Very successful real estate magnate and great philanthropist who has a park named for her in downtown. Biddy Mason Park

Daniel Freeman

Daniel Freeman: First president of the California club and real estate tycoon who built hospital that bears his name in Inglewood. Daniel Freeman Hospital

David Burbank

David Burbank: early dentist, sheep-rancher, wheat farmer and patron of the arts who has the city of Burbank named in his honor.

Edward Doheny

Edward Lawrence Doheny: true oil tycoon who discovered petroleum in Los Angeles. Names of USC Library and several toney streets in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Doheny Library

Eulogio deCelis

Eulogio DeCelis:early newspaper editor, city councilman and landowner in the San Fernando Valley. Celis street in San Fernando.

Felipe DeNeve

Felipe DeNeve: Spanish governor and man responsible for founding of Los Angeles. Also has a branch library named for him. Felipe DeNeve Library

Frederick T. Woodman

Frederick T. Woodman: mayor and president of Board of Harbor Commissioners but not the man Woodman avenue in Sherman Oaks is named for...


John Tracy Gaffey: driving force in getting the harbor in San Pedro and the street everyone drives on when navigating the port city...Gaffey Street

Gaylord Wilshire

Henry Gaylord Wilshire: real estate investor and advocate of socialism bought eight square blocks west of Westlake park and the rest is history...Wilshire boulevard

Grifith J. Grifith

Griffith J. Griffith: industrialist and philanthropist whose story is way too long to detail here. See Griffith Park.

harry chandler

Harry Chandler: Publisher of the Los Angeles Times, real estate developer, father of Norman Chandler and inspiration for Chandler blvd.

Henry Huntington

Henry Huntington: railroad magnate, real estate tycoon and collector of fine art and rare books...founder of the Huntington Library and namesake of Huntington drive...

Isaac Van Nuys

Isaac Newton Van Nuys: land developer, banker, agriculturist and founder of Van Nuys...

John Downey

John Downey: Seventh governor of California and inspiration for Downey California...

John C. Fremont

John C. Fremont:explorer, military governor of California, first U.S. Senator from California. Fremont High School, etc. etc. etc.

John Strother Griffin

John Strother Griffin: sometimes called "the father of East Los Angeles," oilman, real estate investor, banker and physician. Griffin Avenue

Juan Alvarado

Juan Alvarado: governor of Alta California, historian. Alvarado street.

Lucky Baldwin

Lucky Baldwin: Investor, real-estate magnate, horse breeder, mine owner, banker.  Baldwin Park, Baldwin Avenue, the Los Angeles County Arboretum.  

Horace Bell

Major Horace Bell: early lawman, lawyer and historian. Bell Canyon but not Bell, California.

Moses Sherman

Moses Sherman: real estate developer, helped connect San Fernando Valley with streetcar systems. Sherman Way, Sherman Oaks, Sherman (later West Hollywood). 

Pio Pico

Pio Pico: last governor of Alta California under Mexican rule. Wealthy landowner who opened first hotel in LA. Pico boulevard 

JB Lankershim

J.B. Lankershim: part of father and son combination who helped develop San Fernando valley. First president of the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Lankershim boulevard

Prudent Beaudry

Prudent Beaudry: real estate investor, councilman, mayor and developer of Bunker Hill. Beaudry street. 

Sybil Brand

Sybil Brand: philanthropist, civic leader, political activist. Sybil Brand Institute.

Rufus VonKleinschmidt

Rufus VonKleinschmidt: president of USC...Rufus Von Kleinschmidt Library

Fred Eaton

Fred Eaton: pioneer, engineer, surveyor, councilman, mayor and instrumental in bringing LA Aqueduct to fruition.  Eaton Steet

Leo Carillo

Leo Carillo: descendant of Spanish founders, early television star, conservationist. Leo Carillo State Park

William H. Workman

William H. Workman: businessman, banker, developer of Boyle Heights, parks commissioner, two time mayor.  Workman Road.

William Mulholland

William Mulholland: self-taught engineer, zanjero, Water superintendant, builder of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Fountain.

Edward O.C. Ord

Edward O.C. Ord: decorated military hero and creator of the first surveyed map of Los Angeles. Ord street.