Eagle Rock takes its name from this unique rock formation that resembles an eagle in flight.
Photo circa 1900.
It is believed that early day Indians living in the area and coming upon this distinctive sandstone rock formation, very fittingly bestowed the title of the "Eagle Rock," which in actual fact does bear a striking resemblance to the head and wings of an eagle in flight.
In later years, as settlers began arriving in the area, the name was attached to include a large area of land surrounding the rock, mostly in a westerly direction in what is now called Eagle Rock.
The land's elevation varied from 565 to almost 1,000 feet, which provided some spectacular views of the surrounding areas Real estate promoters described it as "The Switzerland of Southern California," at one point, to would be buyers.
The air was clean, and the ground gave up a plentiful supply of pure, clean water. Farming became a part of early day living in the Eagle Rock area, and numerous and extensive truck gardens and orchards flourished within, the products therefrom finding a ready and viable market in nearby Glendale, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. Strawberries were a mainstay of this type of business.
As subdivisions were plotted, divided into lots, and sold, a minor influx of people created a need for some public services. The first school was established in 1884, and had an enrollment of 17 students.
The roads were mostly dirt, with the expectation that later they would be oiled or paved with asphalt.
A land boom after the turn of the century brought many new residents into the area.
Churches and clubs were organized and they knit the social fabric of the community.
Two electric railroads were brought into the area. One, a narrow gauge trolley system, provided passenger service between Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles. The other, initially a narrow gauge system, offered service between Eagle Rock and Glendale, but was later standard gauged to provide adequate freight service to and from the area. This service was established primarily to transport lumber and other building materials to major suppliers, located near the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard, for the eventual use of local housing.
Eagle Rock incorporated itself as a city in 1911, and was annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1923.
Telephone, gas, electric, and U.S. Mail service found their way into the area, all by the mid-teens.
The need for additional room forced Occidental College to move from its Highland Park campus to a more spacious 95 acre rolling hills site situated in Eagle Rock. The grounds and buildings were planned by the noted architect Myron Hunt, and opened (with only three major buildings) in the spring of 1914.
Wanting to make the campus more of a "community" the first of several dormitories was built in 1925. During the twenties, in a surge of construction, an outdoor theater, a student union, library, gymnasium, and a music building, all complimented with generous landscaping, appeared on the campus.
The area's natural attraction, the Eagle Rock and its surrounding recreational land, drew interest from a wide variety of sources. The first Boy Scout Convention was held at the park in 1910, at the urging and support of William Randolph Hearst. Easter sunrise services were conducted each spring, drawing thousands of worshippers who gathered around the Eagle Rock. Major state, national, company, and union events were held at the park.
Eagle Rock High School was opened in 1927, with 690 students, eliminating the need to send students over the knoll to attend Glendale High School.
Eagle Rock resident Staff Sergeant Philip Johnston helped the U.S. Marine Corps develop, in 1942, the Navajo Code. It is said to be unbroken, though used extensively in the South Pacific war zone.
The novelist/writer John Steinbeck once lived in Eagle Rock.