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Neighborhood of Los Angeles

View of Sylmar facing North
Location within Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley

Coordinates: 34°18′28″N 118°26′54″W / 34.30778°N 118.44833°W / 34.30778; -118.44833

Sylmar is a low-density, moderately diverse neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. It has a relatively high percentage of Latino residents. Its attractions include the second-oldest cemetery in the San Fernando Valley and a number of city and county parks or recreation areas.

Known in past years for its profusion of olive orchards, Sylmar can trace its history 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.


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]

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.[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]


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.[6][7][8]

Nearby places

Relation of Sylmar to nearby places, not necessarily contiguous:[6][9]

Pioneer Cemetery

Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument 586, declared November 30, 1993.

Located on a 3.8-acre (15,000-m2) site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street in Sylmar, the Native Daughters of the Golden West, San Fernando Mission Chapter 280 and maintained as a pioneer memorial park.

The late Edith Reber, a long time resident of Sylmar and onetime active member of the

The Andrés Pico Adobe and the Lankershim Reading Room in nearby Mission Hills.

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.


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 65 deaths and over $500 million in damage. The largest death toll occurred at the U.S. Veterans Hospital located at the north end of Sayre Street, with a few deaths at the one-month-old Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.[12][13]

1971 explosion

Four months after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, a methane gas explosion in a water tunnel killed 17 workers in the worst underground disaster 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.[14]

1994 earthquake

The Northridge earthquake, while not centered in Sylmar, caused a large amount of damage and many deaths in Sylmar. This included several fires in local mobile home parks (notably the Oakridge and Tahitian mobile home parks) and the collapse of the interchange of the Golden State Freeway and the Antelope Valley Freeway. This section of the highway is now called 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]

2008 wildfire

A massive wildfire, known as the Sayre Fire,[16] 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: FEMA

Government and infrastructure

Local government

The Los Angeles Fire Department operates Fire Station 91 in Sylmar.[17] The Los Angeles Police Department operates the Mission Community Police Station in Mission Hills, serving Sylmar.[18]

County, state, and federal offices

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Pacoima Health Center in Pacoima, serving Sylmar.[19]

  • The United States Postal Service Sylmar Post Office is located at 13700 Foothill Boulevard.[20]
  • The mountains around Sylmar are protected from fires by the Angeles National Forest. The mountains just above Sylmar are part of the United States Forest Service, Angeles National Forest.


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:[21]


  • Sylmar Senior High School, 13050 Borden Avenue
  • Triumph Charter High School, 14019 Sayre Street
  • Evergreen Continuation School, 13101 Dronfield Avenue
  • Olive Vista Middle School, 14600 Tyler Street
  • Triumph Academy, charter middle school, 14600 Tyler 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.[22] Los Angeles Lutheran was located where Concordia Junior Senior High was later established.[23]
  • 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.[24]

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.[25] The city also operates the Stetson Ranch Park.[26]

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.[27]

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.[28][29] 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.[29]


External links

  • [7] Comments about living in Sylmar
  • [8] Sylmar crime map and statistics
  • [9] Sylmar Hang Gliding Association

Coordinates: 34°18′28″N 118°26′54″W / 34.30778°N 118.44833°W / 34.30778; -118.44833

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