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Sylmar, Los Angeles

Neighborhood of Los Angeles
View of Sylmar facing North
View of Sylmar facing North
Sylmar, as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
Sylmar, as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
Sylmar is located in San Fernando Valley
Location within Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley

Sylmar is a moderately diverse neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California.

Historically, known for its profusion of olive orchards, Sylmar can trace its past to the 18th century and the founding of the San Fernando Mission. In 1890, olive production was begun in a systematic manner. The Sylmar climate was also considered healthy, and so a sanitarium was established, the first in a series of hospitals in the neighborhood.

There are fourteen public and eight private schools within Sylmar.


  • Population 1
  • History 2
  • Topography and climate 3
  • Geography 4
  • Power and water 5
  • Disasters 6
    • 1971 earthquake 6.1
    • 1971 explosion 6.2
    • 1994 earthquake 6.3
    • 2008 wildfire 6.4
  • Government and infrastructure 7
    • Local government 7.1
    • County, state, and federal offices 7.2
  • Education 8
    • Schools 8.1
      • Public 8.1.1
      • Private 8.1.2
    • Public libraries 8.2
  • Parks and recreation 9
  • Culture 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


In 2009, the Sylmar Chamber of Commerce estimated that the population was approximately 90,000 residents. This a substantial increase over the 2000 U.S. census counted 69,499 residents in the 12.46-square-mile Sylmar neighborhood—or 5,579 people per square mile, among the lowest population densities for the city. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 79,614. In 2000 the median age for residents was 28, considered young for city and county neighborhoods.[1]

Immediately adjacent to Lake View terrace, The neighborhood was considered "moderately diverse" ethnically within Los Angeles, with a relatively high percentage of Latinos. The breakdown was Latinos, 69.8%; whites, 20.7%; blacks, 4.1; Asians, 3.4%, and others, 2.0%. Mexico (71.7%) and El Salvador (8.4%%) were the most common places of birth for the 36.7% of the residents who were born abroad—an average figure for Los Angeles.[1]

The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $65,783, considered average for the city. Renters occupied 29.2% of the housing stock, and house- or apartment-owners held 70.8%. The average household size of 3.6 people was considered high for Los Angeles. The percentage of married women (55.5%) was among the county's highest. There were 3,607 veterans, or 7.7% of the population, average for the city of Los Angeles and the county.[1]


Some 1,500 years before the Spaniards settled, the Sylmar area was inhabited by the Tataviam Native Americans. 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 seedlings and planted them around the mission.

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 (a fanciful creation supposed to mean "sea of trees," the elements being Latin silva, "forest," and mar, "sea") 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.[2]

By 1890, a group of Illinois businessmen had purchased 2,000 acres (8 km2) east of the railroad tracks on San Fernando Road just south of Roxford Street and planted olives on more than 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 noted throughout the state for sweetness and purity. Chinese pickers were hired to harvest the crops, and up to 800 U.S. gallons (3,000 L) of olive oil a day were produced. The pickling plant was located on the corner of Roxford and San Fernando Road.[3]

Sylmar was once the site of the world's largest olive groves.[4]

Along with its near-perfect climate for olives, Sylmar seemed ideal for the treatment of respiratory problems. The present Olive View-UCLA Medical Center has its origins in a tuberculosis sanitarium which opened near the current site in 1920 and was destroyed by 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 opened in 1987.

Around 2000, some local residents proposed a plan to rename the northwest portion of the district as Rancho Cascades.[5]

Topography and climate

Sylmar is generally flat with steep hills of the San Gabriel Mountains to the northeast.

The Valley shares the Los Angeles Basin's dry, sunny weather, with only 17 inches (430 mm) annual precipitation on average. Snow in the San Fernando Valley is extremely rare, though the neighboring Angeles National Forest is capped with snow every winter.

Although Sylmar is only 20 miles (32 km) from the Pacific Ocean, the Valley can be considerably hotter than the Los Angeles Basin during the summer months and cooler during the winter months. The average high temperature in summer is 95 °F (35 °C), dropping down to 68 °F (20 °C). In winter, the average high is 66 °F (19 °C) and average low is 40 °F (4 °C).[6]


Sylmar touches the unincorporated Tujunga Canyons on the north, Lopez and Kagel canyons on the east, the city of San Fernando on the southeast, Mission Hills on the south, and Granada Hills on the southwest and west.[7][8][9][10]

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 miles away.[11]

Sylmar is the terminus of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system.


1971 earthquake

At 6:01 a.m. on February 9, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit the Sylmar area on a thrust fault located below the neighborhood. Known as the San Fernando earthquake or the Sylmar earthquake, it caused 58 deaths and over $500 million in damage. The largest death toll occurred at the U.S. Veterans Hospital; a few deaths occurred at the nearby Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.[12][1]

1971 explosion

Four months after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, a methane gas explosion in a water tunnel killed 17 workers in one of the worst underground disasters in California history. Entrances to the now-abandoned tunnel can be seen in Sylmar today. This construction accident bankrupted a large construction company, a division of Lockheed, and led to changes which gave OSHA the power to impose fines and shut down hazardous job sites.[13]

1994 earthquake

The Northridge earthquake was given the name "Northridge" though the epicenter was located in the community of Reseda. The National Geophysical Data Center placed the hypocenter's geographical coordinates at and at a depth of 11.4 miles (18.3 km).[14] This event caused a large amount of damage and in Sylmar which included several fires in local mobile home parks (notably the Oakridge and Tahitian mobile home parks) and the collapse of sections of the southbound State Route 14 to northbound I-5. It also caused the south 14 to south I-5 overpass to collapse onto the main I-5 freeway and the southbound I-5 truck bypass. The interchange of the Golden State Freeway and the Antelope Valley Freeway is now named the Clarence Wayne Dean Memorial Interchange after an LAPD officer who was killed after driving off the end of the collapsed freeway shortly after the earthquake.[15] This earthquake was also notable in that it was the first earthquake that had its hypocenter located directly under a US city since the Long Beach earthquake of 1933.[16]

2008 wildfire

The remains of the Oakridge mobile home park in Sylmar. 480 of the park's 600 mobile homes were burned in the fire. The homes in the background that did not sustain fire damage became uninhabitable due to the lack of utilities.

A massive wildfire, known as the Sayre Fire,[17] started on November 13, 2008, and burned along the foothills of Sylmar destroying almost 500 residences, most of them in the Oakridge mobile home park. It ravaged over 11,000 acres (45 km2). Additional articles: CNN, FEMA

Government and infrastructure

Local government

The Los Angeles Fire Department operates Fire Station 91 in Sylmar.[18] The Los Angeles Police Department operates the Mission Community Police Station in Mission Hills, serving Sylmar.[19]

County, state, and federal offices

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Pacoima Health Center in Pacoima, serving Sylmar.[20]


Eleven percent of Sylmar residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree by 2000, a low percentage for the city and the county.[1]


Schools within the Sylmar boundaries are:[22]


  • Los Angeles Mission College, 13356 Eldrige Avenue
  • Sylmar Senior High School, 13050 Borden Avenue
  • PUC Triumph Charter High School, 13361 Glenoaks Blvd.
  • Evergreen Continuation School, 13101 Dronfield Avenue
  • Olive Vista Middle School, 14600 Tyler Street
  • PUC Triumph Academy, charter middle school, 13361 Glenoaks Blvd.
  • PUC Lakeview Charter High School, 13361 Glenoaks Blvd.
  • PUC Community Charter Elementary School, 14019 Sayre Street
  • Hubbard Street Elementary School, 13325 Hubbard Street
  • Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, 16350 Filbert Street
  • Herrick Avenue Elementary School, 13350 Herrick Avenue
  • Sylmar Elementary School, 13291 Phillippi Avenue
  • Harding Street Elementary School, 13060 Harding Street
  • El Dorado Avenue Elementary School, 12749 El Dorado Avenue
  • Dyer Street Elementary School, 14500 Dyer Street
  • Osceola Street Elementary School, 14940 Osceola Street
  • Vista del Valle Dual Language Academy, 12441 Bromont Avenue


  • First Lutheran High School, 13361 Glenoaks Boulevard
  • Concordia Junior-Senior High School, 13570 Eldridge Avenue. The school was formed by the merger of Los Angeles Lutheran High School and First Lutheran San Fernando. As of 2011 it had 260 students, making it the largest of the campuses of the system.[23] Los Angeles Lutheran was located where Concordia Junior Senior High was later established.[24]
  • St. Anne's Academy, 13982 Tucker Avenue
  • Our Lady of Victory School, K-12, 14024 Bridle Ridge Road
  • Sunland Christian School, K-12, 13216 Leach Street
  • Poverello of Assisi Preschool, 13367 Borden Avenue
  • Park Montessori Children's Center, 13130 Herrick Avenue
  • St. Didacus Elementary School, 14325 Astoria Street

Public libraries

Los Angeles Public Library operates the Sylmar Branch Library located on the corner of Polk St. and Glenoaks Blvd.[25]

Parks and recreation

The City of Los Angeles Sylmar Recreation Center, which also functions as a Los Angeles Police Department stop-in center, includes auditoriums, a lighted baseball diamond, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children's play area, a community room, an indoor gymnasium without weights, picnic tables, an unlighted soccer field, and lighted tennis courts.[26] The city also operates the Stetson Ranch Park.[27]

Los Angeles County operates the 79-acre (32 ha) El Cariso Community Regional Park, which was dedicated to a group of firefighters who died in the Loop Fire in 1966. The park has a lighted ball diamond, a basketball court, tennis courts, children's play areas, a community building, horseshoe pits, an indoor kitchen, picnic areas for large groups, picnic tables and shelters, and a swimming pool.[28]

In addition the county operates the 96.5-acre (39.1 ha) Veterans Memorial Park in an area adjacent to and outside of the Los Angeles City limits.[29][30] The site of the park was the site of a veterans hospital that was built in the 1940s. The Sylmar earthquake in 1971 severely damaged the building. In 1972, the U.S. government transferred the land to Los Angeles County. The former hospital was demolished and new park facilities were developed. The park was dedicated in 1979. The park has barbecue braziers, group camping areas, a community building, a disc golf course, picnic areas, a picnic pavilion, and toilets.[30]


Sylmar is home to the Nethercutt Collection, a museum best known for its collection of classic automobiles. The Nethercutt also houses collections of mechanical musical instruments, including orchestrions, player pianos and music boxes, and antique furniture.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d [2] "Sylmar" Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  2. ^ Grenier, Judson A., ed. A Guide to Historic Places in Los Angeles County. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 1978.
  3. ^ Baltimore, J. Mayne (1911). World's Largest Olive Orchard. Davenport, IA, USA: Technical World Magazine. p. 4. 
  4. ^ Sunset Magazine, August 1907: "A Sea of Trees, The Story of Sylmar, The Largest Olive Orchard In The World", by Bertha H. Smith.
  5. ^ Rick, Orlov (November 30, 2000), "Compromise Urged in Clash Over Renaming Sylmar Area", The Daily News of Los Angeles, Supporters and opponents of the plan to rename the community's northwest area Rancho Cascades were told by Bernson that he believed they could work out a compromise in the next month. 
  6. ^ "". 
  7. ^ [3] Colored map, Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ [4] "Northwest County," Mapping L.A, Los Angeles Times
  9. ^ [5] "Angeles Forest," Mapping L.A, Los Angeles Times
  10. ^ The Thomas Guide, pages 481 and 483 (2004)
  11. ^ Council, 2001-11 (2001). Pacific Intertie: The California Connection on the Electron Superhighway (PDF). Internet: Northwest Power Planning Council. p. 9. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ New York:Everest House (1978)The Sylmar Tunnel Disaster,Janette Zavattero,
  14. ^ National Geophysical Data Center [6]“JANUARY 17 1994 NORTHRIDGE EARTHQUAKE”
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Significant Earthquakes and Faults, Northridge Earthquake". Southern California Earthquake Data Center. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  17. ^ [7]
  18. ^ "[8]." Los Angeles Fire Department. Retrieved on February 23, 2014.
  19. ^ "Mission Community Police Station." Los Angeles Police Department. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  20. ^ "Pacoima Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  21. ^ "Post Office Location - SYLMAR." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  22. ^ [9] "Porter Ranch: Schools," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  23. ^ Lin, C.J. "Valley private school options dwindling." August 17, 2011. Retrieved on August 31, 2011.
  24. ^ "Home." Los Angeles Lutheran High School. February 1, 2011. Retrieved on September 1, 2011. "13570 Eldridge Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342"
  25. ^ "Sylmar Branch Library." Los Angeles Public Library. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  26. ^ "Sylmar Recreation Center." City of Los Angeles. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  27. ^ "Stetson Ranch Park." City of Los Angeles. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  28. ^ "El Cariso Community Regional Park." Los Angeles County. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  29. ^ "Annexation and Detachment Map." City of Los Angeles. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  30. ^ a b "Veterans Memorial Parks." Los Angeles County. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  31. ^ The Nethercutt Collection website. Retrieved June 15, 2015.

External links

  • Living in Sylmar — comments.
  • Sylmar crime map and statistics
  • Sylmar Hang Gliding Association

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