Sylmar, Los Angeles

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Sylmar is Latin for "Sea of Trees"
—  Neighborhood of Los Angeles  —
View of Sylmar facing North
Sylmar, Los Angeles is located in San Fernando Valley
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
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
CityLos Angeles
Time zonePST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST)PDT (UTC-7)
  (Redirected from Sylmar, Los Angeles, California)
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Sylmar is Latin for "Sea of Trees"
—  Neighborhood of Los Angeles  —
View of Sylmar facing North
Sylmar, Los Angeles is located in San Fernando Valley
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
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
CityLos Angeles
Time zonePST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST)PDT (UTC-7)

Sylmar is a district in the San Fernando Valley region of the City of Los Angeles, California. The northernmost neighborhood in the city, Sylmar is located east of Interstate 5 and north of the city of San Fernando. Sylmar was once the site of the world's second largest olive groves[citation needed].



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 (which is Latin for "Sea of Trees") 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.[1]

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

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.

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. (Search: Sylmar Tunnel Disaster) (Book, and articles)

Around 2000, some local residents proposed a plan to rename the northwest portion of the district as Rancho Cascades.[3]

Topography and climate

Sylmar is generally flat with steep hills of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north and 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).

The smog levels in Sylmar are generally lower than the rest of the San Fernando Valley due to the occasional winds along the foothills. The Valley occasionally suffers from concentrations of smog in the summer due to urban pollution, little precipitation, and surrounding mountain ranges.


The 2008 population of Sylmar is estimated at 79,614. With its over 12.4 square miles (32 km2), Sylmar averages only 5,587 people per square mile, among the lowest densities in the city of Los Angeles.

Like Los Angeles, Sylmar is a diverse community. According to the most recent census data, Latinos make up approximately seventy percent of the population, while whites account for about twenty-one percent. Blacks and Asians account for 4.1% and 3.4% respectively.

Sylmar has more home ownership relative to typical Los Angeles communities, with over 70% of residences occupied by owner.

Pioneer Cemetery

California State Historic Landmark 753, registered 22 December 1960 and Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument 586, declared 11/30/93.

Located on a 3.8-acre (15,000-m2) site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street in Sylmar, the Pioneer Cemetery was originally a 40-acre (400,000-m2) site when dedicated in 1874. It was known at the time as Morningside Cemetery (later as San Fernando Cemetery) and also is the second oldest cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. More than 600 local people were buried there between 1889 and 1939, including five Civil War veterans and nearly 300 infants. After the cemetery was determined to be legally abandoned in 1959, it was acquired by 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 Sylmar Chamber of Commerce, ran a volunteer effort to maintain the grounds with the help of local volunteer groups for many years.[4]

The San Fernando Valley Historical Society is now the owner and guardian of the cemetery (October 1, 2002). They open the cemetery for public tours from 9 a.m. to Noon on the third Saturday of every month, rain or shine. The Society is also the caretaker of 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 kilometers away [5] .

Sylmar is the terminus of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.



At 6:01 a.m. on February 9, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit the Sylmar area on a thrust fault located below the town. 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-year old Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.[6] [7]


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.[8]

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,[9] 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

A new Oakridge Community Center opened with an official ribbon cutting on Friday, July 23, 2010.

Government and infrastructure

Local government

The Los Angeles Fire Department operates Fire Station 91 in Sylmar.[10] The Los Angeles Police Department operates the Mission Community Police Station in Mission Hills, serving Sylmar.[11]

County, state, and federal representation

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Pacoima Health Center in Pacoima, serving Sylmar.[12]


Sylmar is the northernmost neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles. It is accessible from the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5) and the Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210). The southern terminus of the Antelope Valley Freeway (SR 14) is at the northernmost section of Sylmar. Sylmar is roughly bounded by Interstate 5 on the west, the San Gabriel Mountains on the north and east, and the city of San Fernando on the south. Granada Hills lies to the west and Mission Hills is to the southwest of Sylmar. Major thoroughfares include Foothill Boulevard, San Fernando Road, Glenoaks Boulevard, Roxford Street, Polk Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard.


Public schools

Sylmar is served by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

LAUSD Schools that serve Sylmar include:

PUC Schools operates charter schools. It has Triumph Charter Academy and Triumph Charter High School.[14][15]

Private schools

Colleges and universities

Public libraries

Los Angeles Public Library operates the Sylmar Branch Library located on the corner of Polk St. and Glenoaks Blvd.[20]

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.[21] The city also operates the Stetson Ranch Park.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24][25] 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 disk golf course, picnic areas, a picnic pavilion, and toilets.[25]

Hang gliding

Pilots have been flying hang gliders in the mountains above Sylmar since 1969. The first U.S. National Hang Gliding Championships were held here in 1973. The Flight Park is located just outside of Los Angeles and enjoys around 300 days of flying a year. Sylmar Hang Gliding Association


  1. ^ Grenier, Judson A., ed. A Guide to Historic Places in Los Angeles County. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 1978.
  2. ^ Baltimore, J. Mayne (1911). World's Largest Olive Orchard. Davenport, IA, USA: Technical World Magazine. pp. 4.
  3. ^ 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."
  4. ^ Grenier, Judson A., ed. A Guide to Historic Places in Los Angeles County
  5. ^ Council, 2001-11 (2001). Pacic Intertie: The California Connection on the Electron Superhighway. Internet: Northwest Power Planning Council. pp. 9.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Fire Station 91." Los Angeles Fire Department. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  11. ^ "Mission Community Police Station." Los Angeles Police Department. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  12. ^ "Pacoima Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  13. ^ "Post Office Location - SYLMAR." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  14. ^ "Triumph Charter Academy." PUC Schools. Retrieved on November 27, 2011.
  15. ^ "Triumph Charter High School." PUC Schools. Retrieved on November 27, 2011. "Triumph Charter High School 14019 Sayre Street Sylmar, CA 91342-4265"
  16. ^ Home page. The Concordia Schools. Retrieved on September 1, 2011. "13570 Eldridge Ave, Sylmar, CA 91342"
  17. ^ "Home." Concordia Junior Senior High School. Retrieved on September 1, 2011. "13570 Eldridge Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342"
  18. ^ Lin, C.J. "Valley private school options dwindling." August 17, 2011. Retrieved on August 31, 2011.
  19. ^ "Home." Los Angeles Lutheran High School. February 1, 2011. Retrieved on September 1, 2011. "13570 Eldridge Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342"
  20. ^ "Sylmar Branch Library." Los Angeles Public Library. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  21. ^ "Sylmar Recreation Center." City of Los Angeles. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  22. ^ "Stetson Ranch Park." City of Los Angeles. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  23. ^ "El Cariso Community Regional Park." Los Angeles County. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  24. ^ "Annexation and Detachment Map." City of Los Angeles. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  25. ^ a b "Veterans Memorial Parks." Los Angeles County. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.

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