Search results for Ralph Cornell


Photos by Seth Babb

A continuation of trips to the landscapes of Ralph Cornell takes us to Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach. Rancho Los Cerritos is already an interesting site due to its deep historical significance in Southern California; the changes that Rancho Los Cerritos has gone through are representative of the development of the region as a whole. What seems like a somewhat typical older Southern California residential landscape contains layers of history and subtle design, a surprisingly distinguishing site representing the work of Cornell throughout Southern California that illustrates his ability to elevate the landscape into an experience worthy of a historic site.


All photos by Seth Babb

All photos by Seth Babb

1922-planRalph Cornell was an early Los Angeles landscape architect and plantsman who left a large mark on Southern California’s landscape. I believe he will be the topic of a number of articles in the foreseeable future. But before we get into who he was, let us begin with one of his projects that has endured and is still here today.

Washington Park was an empty lot and natural stream basin that was turned into a sunken garden by Ralph Cornell and horticulturalist Theodore Payne in 1922. The park is characterized by its grade changes which give the landscape a unique enclosed nature that separates the park from the surrounding area.

Expanded in the 1940s under the WPA, Washington Park was redesigned in 2003 with updated amenities, while retaining the historic nature of the park and its surrounding area. The update included the planting to a largely California native palette with the help of the Theodore Payne Foundation.







The update was completed in 2006, and the planting has fared well in some areas, but not so well in others (most noticeably in the native California plant demonstration garden). But Washington Park remains well used, and an experience you won’t find in the other Pasadena parks designed by Ralph Cornell.

Commune with Nature
Learn about Natural Agriculture and how to grow food in pure untreated soil. This is a great chance to commune with nature and revitalize your spirit at Shumei’s Natural Agriculture Garden in Hollywood! Natural Agriculture is a philosophy and a way of life based on a deep respect and regard for Nature. It encompasses the way we eat, cook, and think about food. In addition to the sustainable farming of crops, Natural Agriculture puts us in touch with the wisdom of nature so that we can work in harmony with our world.
When: Saturday, September 30th, 2017; 9:30 AM – 12PM
Where: Shumei Hollywood Center
7406 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Plant Form and ID Workshop with Nick Jensen & Sandra Namoff
A basic botany course for home gardeners and landscape pros. Learn the fundamentals of plant form (morphology) and the characteristics used to identify the most species-rich plant families in California, including the sunflowers (Asteraceae), peas (Fabaceae), buckwheats (Polygonaceae), and monkeyflowers (Phrymaceae). Limit: 10.
When: Saturday, September 30th, 2017, 9:00 AM – 1PM
Where: Theodore Payne Foundation
10459 Tuxford St.
Sun Valley , CA 91352

La Tuna Canyon Regeneration: Sustainable Slopes with Joshua Link
FREE LECTURE SERIES for those affected by the La Tuna Fire and those who serve that community.
Landscape architect Joshua Link will address ways to protect slopes in advance of and after a wild fire in his talk: Sustainable Slopes. The presentation offers the fundamentals of gardening on uneven ground using native plants and light-on-the-land construction methods for stabilization and erosion control — and including up-to-date, practical information for residents of fire-prone or recently burned areas.
When: Saturday, September 30th, 2017, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM PDT
Where: Theodore Payne Foundation
10459 Tuxford St
Sun Valley, CA 91352

Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico
Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985 is a groundbreaking exhibition and accompanying book about design dialogues between California and Mexico. Its four main themes—Spanish Colonial Inspiration, Pre-Hispanic Revivals, Folk Art and Craft Traditions, and Modernism—explore how modern and anti-modern design movements defined both locales throughout the twentieth century. Half of the show’s more than 250 objects represent architecture, conveyed through drawings, photographs, and films to illuminate the unique sense of place that characterized California’s and Mexico’s buildings. The other major focus is design: furniture, ceramics, metalwork, graphic design, and murals.
When: Thru April 1st, 2018
Where: LACMA

Historical Society of Southern California Tour of Rancho Los Cerritos with a Garden Lunch
The house tour of the historic Monterey-style adobe will be a one-hour walking tour which includes work areas like the mayordomo’s room and blacksmith shop as well as living spaces like the parlor, library, and master bedroom. The garden tour includes the vibrant gardens that grace the property today including trees that date back to the mid-19th century, as well as lush landscaping designed in the early 1930s by notable landscape architect Ralph Cornell. Then we will have lunch in the grounds. The tour will include the house, the gardens, and unique opportunity to have lunch on the grounds in a private garden.
When: Saturday, September 30th, 2017, 10:00 am-1:00 pm
Where: Rancho Los Cerritos, Historic Site
4600 Virginia Road
Long Beach, CA 90807

Plaza University trolley car of the Los Angeles Railway Company, showing two conductors posed in front, ca.1900-1910. Photo: Public Domain

Plaza University trolley car of the Los Angeles Railway Company, showing two conductors posed in front, ca.1900-1910. Photo: Public Domain

Photo by Seth Babb

Photo by Seth Babb

This week we’re taking a detour from the works of Ralph Cornell for a quick post about some unearthed light rail tracks I’ve long admired. A few years ago, while Vermont Avenue was being re-paved, I came upon the tracks of a long gone rail line that once ran across Vermont Ave until the late 1950s. It wasn’t anything grandiose or marked historical, but it’s appearance speaks to the many layers still there underneath every city.

Cities change over time, and identifying these layers is important to help us see the failures of the past. But these remnants also help to lay out future possibilities by providing an understanding of the present and the requirements of a city as it evolves. The Vermont rails and the counties wide system are now defunct pieces of Los Angeles history, but as Bruce Springsteen once wrote, “But maybe everything that dies someday comes back,” – an idea reflecting the possibility that our city’s past can be reborn as something relevant today.

Junction at Main Street, Spring Street, and 9th Street, Los Angeles, ca.1917. Photo: Public Domain

Junction at Main Street, Spring Street, and 9th Street, Los Angeles, ca.1917. Photo: Public Domain