An early map showing the cienega and two wells, ca. 1880s. (California State Archives)
Two hollow circles near the center of this detail indicate artesian springs in a 1905 map compiled under the direction of W.C. Mendenhall.
A fanciful illustration from a real estate advertisement for Boulevard Tract, ca. 1880s. (Huntington Library)


In 1876, Ludwig Luis Salvator made note of the "Cienega del Garvanza, a small green swamp with clumps of bunch-grass and at the bottom, Sacate de Matico, which never dries out." Several artesian flows at this location began to be developed soon after the partition of 1870.

Around the turn of the century, the Huggins family lived in this area. A stream "cut deep through the rear of the property, feeding into a lake that sprawled onto what is now El Paso Drive. Here, the placid pool was a favorite spot for Sunday picknickers who paused to water their horses."

Bob Moffitt tells me that his mother-in-law, Esther Kratz, remembered this marshy area as "Skunk Hollow". She described the artesian wells, in the years around 1910, as not simply bubbling out of the ground-- but actually shooting up, spurting into the air.

The proliferation of bottling plants in this area in the 30s would have done much to dry up the Cienega del Garvanza. However, the city's attempts to maintain storm drains on the section of York Boulevard by the Cienega has barely kept pace with the winter rain's persistence in reoccupying this former swamp. The drains beneath the boulevard had to be torn up and renovated "a dozen or so times" throughout the last century.