Sometimes, it does take an outsider to truly appreciate the beauty in an area, and that's what happened this past weekend, when Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne did a masterful essay on OC's Harbor Boulevard, from its start in the middle of La Habra nothingness through Sunny Hills, past Disneyland, past Joe's Italian Ice, Spanky's, the vast acreage of auto malls, until it ends unceremoniously in front of Triangle Square in Costa Mesa–we all know the drill.
And I'm not saying it was masterful just because I drove the length of the damn street with him in Coker's 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible (no top down, alas: pinche motor burned).
I had been enjoying Hawthorne's series on major Los Angeles streets–Crenshaw, Sunset, Atlantic–and thus was shocked when he emailed me a while back asking if I could take him on a tour of Harbor. We met at my childhood bank–what's now the Chase building on Harbor and Lincoln Avenue in Anacrime, but for me will always be the Home Savings with the cool murals (designed, of course, by legendary SoCal artist Millard Sheets)–drove south until it ended, hopped on the 55 to the 5 Harbor exit, drove north up to La Habra, then back down to the Home Savings.
And all the while, I ranted about its history. Not all of what I said made it into the story, but I'm glad Hawthorne focused on what was a main theme of my spiel: that Harbor has a different personality through every city, with the best one being Anaheim's history of protests (not just the riots of the summer, but also the KKK's rally in Pearson Park, the Abbie Hoffman Yippie takeover of Disneyland, and the Disneyland hotel worker shutdown of the street a couple of years back) and Garden Grove's laughable history of trying to do something, anything with its stretch the absolute worst.
But, by far, I'm glad that Hawthorne spent an extra amount on the 1936 Citrus War, which started at the Pressel Orchard that used to extend onto Harbor–he even filmed a segment there. And he ended with what we've crowned as the greatest moment in Orange County history: when Disney's fireworks exploded while the city burned–YEAH!
Great job, Hawthorne! Everyone else: read the story (with a buncha online goodies) here.