The land that would later become Glassell Park was originally part of Rancho San Rafael, granted in 1784 to Spanish army corporal José María Verdugo. Attorney Andrew Glassell received part of Rancho San Rafael and was a prominent attorney.
Glassell eventually settled in the area with his family, for whom many streets, including Toland Way, Drew, Andrita and Marguarite Streets are named. Glassell’s biggest undertaking was about 30 miles south, though. He and a colleague named Alfred Chapman founded the town of Orange, California — Glassell Street in Orange’s downtown is named for him.
The development of Glassell Park began in the early 20th Century, as subdivisions between Verdugo and San Fernando Roads began to be sold in 1907. The theme park-like graveyard that’s Forest Lawn Cemetery was established in neighboring Glendale in 1906. During the Great Depression, however, it expanded into Glassell Park when the Glassell family sold 62 acres of their land. Acacia, Babyland, Commemoration, The Court of Freedom, The Forest Lawn Labyrinth, The Great Mausoleum, The Haven of Peace, Lullabyland, Rest Haven, Victory, and other areas of Forest Lawn are all located within Glassell Park.
Believe it or not, the first big attraction of note in Glassell Park was the three hectare Los Angeles Pigeon Farm, built on the banks of the Los Angeles River. Although today frequently disparaged as “rats with wings,” the Pigeon Ranch (as it was also known) soon became one of Los Angeles’s premier tourist attractions. The growing neighborhood was served by a line of the Los Angeles Railway, which traveled in the median of Eagle Rock Boulevard towards Eagle Rock.
In 1923 Southern Pacific established their Taylor Yard rail yard in Glassell Park to relieve pressure on Downtown’s busy River Station and Midway yards.
The area has long been an important baking district in Los Angeles, (once known as the ‘breadbasket’ of Los Angeles) going back at least to the 1870s, when many German-American bakers operated out of Lincoln Heights and other Eastside neighborhoods, and thanks to the locational advantage of flour deliveries by rail. Today there are still several bakeries and related factories operating (or still standing, at least) clustered around Glassell Park. The beautiful Dutch Colonial Revival Van de Kamp Bakery was designed by J. Edward Hopkins. It was built in 1930 but closed in 1990 and is now home to the LACCD Van de Kamp — International Education and Workforce Development Innovation Center.
There is also Action Cookies, Auntie Dee’s Pan De Manila, Bender Baking Co, France Bakery, Mardy’s Munchies, Sweet Tooth Bakery, Tortilleria La California, and Triple Star Bakery.