Rampart Village Area History

Located just south of El Camino Real, part of the old road to La Reyna de Los Angeles, half of this Neighborhood Council was part of the original Spanish land grant of four leagues of land set on the quarter compass grid the other half was public land from 1784 - 1849. Rampart Village bridges and has been associated with: North Rampart Heights (Historic Filipinotown), Westlake (MacArthur Park), Rampart Heights (Wilshire Center), the Miracle Mile and Colegrove (Koreatown), Prospect Park (East Hollywood), Dayton Heights (Virgil Village), Ivanhoe (Silver Lake), Echo Park (Edendale) and through our fire station, Fire Station # 6, Angelino Heights; it has been referred to by many as being between Downtown and Hancock Park but does anyone remember the Orange Heights Subdivision circa 1887? 

The Rampart Village area has many historically important locations that we might overlook on our daily commute through the neighborhoods of our fair city. The Pueblo de Los Angeles was incorporated on April 4, 1850. This area was the outskirts of city limits, known as the “west end” with its 13’ degree orientation change at Hoover St. where boosters, developers and sub-dividers like former mayor Prudent Beaudry that invested in the future by creating utilities and a way for people to get to his consortiums properties that eventually became the best transportation system in the world from the turn of the 19th century to the 1930’s.

The most successful independent cable car line in the city, the Temple Street Cable Railway 1886-1898, ran from downtown to the suburbs terminating in Dayton Heights at one of our many five point trolley junctions. Later many, Los Angeles Railway (LARY) and Pacific Electric (PE), lines converged near Beverly and Virgil and made the Vermont-Bimini corridor the entertainment and recreation destination of Los Angeles until the Bimini Baths closed in 1951 after being desegregated.

Although the few remaining trolley-coach routes and narrow-gauge streetcar routes of the former Los Angeles Railway "Yellow Cars" were removed in early 1963. This area now known as Rampart Village was a major transfer point to get to other parts of the city before the freeway cut through our community razing historically important landmarks along our northern boundary and adding to the decline of public transportation; the instillation of the Hollywood Freeway section of US 101 that stretched from the San Fernando Valley to Downtown that opened on April 16, 1954, at a cost of $55 million, divided our neighborhoods all along what was once known as Old Temple Road.

According to legend, Sunset Park, now known as LaFayette Park was where incredible vistas of the setting sun could be viewed at the edge of the city. The park’s swampy land (part of the Ballona Creek Watershed) was donated by the benevolent philanthropist, Clara Ruth Alward "Clarissa" Whitney Shatto, who also donated the land for the Felipe de Neve Library, First Congregational Church, Precious Blood Catholic Church, in addition to the park-way that is a City Park that runs down Occidental Blvd from 6th St. to Beverly Blvd, with its signature rounders, are all located within the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council boundaries. 

Clara Shatto’s husband, George Rufus Shatto, served the city through an appointment to the Board of Police Commissioners and was a real estate mogul and prominent capitalist of Los Angeles; he learned early on that he had a knack for real estate trade and many of his investments involved land in our neighborhood council’s area. In 1887 George purchased Santa Catalina Island from the James Lick Estate as a part-cash, part-financed arrangement of $200,000 and together the Shatto’s founded Avalon, a name suggested by Shatto’s sister-in-law Etta Whitney. Shatto surveyed the land and the bay and laid out the tiny hamlet’s new street grid (most of which survives to this day, including most street names), he constructed the wharf and the, eighty room, Hotel Metropole as a winter resort but lost the entire island due to debt and foreclosure in the early 1890s.

George and Clarissa Shatto were major benefactors to parks, public works and much of what is known today as Rampart Village. Their opulent mansion built in 1892, was at the corner of Bixell St. and 1213 Orange St. (Wilshire Blvd) on Westlake’s Crown Hill, that later become the site of the Good Samaritan Hospital, and then was moved in the 1920’s to Shatto Place, that runs from 4th St. to 7th St., and was named for George who was killed in a railroad accident on the Southern Pacific, above Newhall, at Ravenna. On June 3, 1893, he was buried at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery on West Washington Blvd.

Clara survived her husband for almost half a century and went on to build a financial empire. She was a self-declared capitalist and died at the age of 89 on March 10, 1942. Her philanthropy was unequaled in Los Angeles; she left the bulk of her estate to the church and her most remembered gift is the Shatto Chapel that is still a favorite wedding venue to this day. She also endowed the Walter O and Clara R Shatto Scholarship in astronomy at Pomona College in remembrance of her only child; Walter Ohl Shatto, born and died at age 8 months in 1881; and the school where her nephew Walter Ticknor Whitney was a professor of Astro-Physics and Astronomy.

Anything in Los Angeles with the Shatto name is due to Clarissa and her husband George; they are both buried inside the Shatto mausoleum here in Los Angeles. Rampart Village Neighborhood Council salutes them as our Founding Stakeholders for without their savvy visionary dealings and their boundless generosity we could not have come to this point in History. There are many more stories to tell of past victories and tragedies of saints and despots that have lived here in what is now know as Rampart Village. Los Angeles is a great collaboration and the Rampart Village area has been at the center of much of LA’s now hidden history. It is our goal to better inform all stakeholders of our heritage and share a good story about a place in this amazing city that we have come to care about and love.

Now we may have lost places like the Roof Garden dance hall on Beverly Blvd, the hot-spring bathhouse the Bimini Plunge, the movie palaces the Belmont Theater and the Rampart Theater, the dancing hotspot El Patio, the birthplace of swing music the Palomar Ballroom, and the top-shelf speakeasy the infamous 41 Club, but what we have gained in our modern era is substantial and unique to our Los Angeles community. Some of our history might be troubling to our modern sensibilities but we have to embrace all our history, the good and the bad, and share our experiences and impressions of this place. So this section belongs to you the Stakeholder to expand and develop further.


This Area History was compiled and written by Local Historian David Rockello