Mount Washington is a neighborhood in the San Rafael Hills of Northeast Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1909, it is a historic area with one high-achieving elementary school within it. It includes the Southwest Museum, the world headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship, and Eldred Street, one of the three steepest streets in Los Angeles.
The district is generally considered the most affluent area of the East Side. The “beauty and the quirky nature of Mount Washington” has inspired songs. In recent years, many homebuyers have become attracted to the area as a relatively affordable alternative to the Westside.
San Rafael Hills
The San Rafael Hills define the valley area of Pasadena and San Marino, and retain a large aquifer on the hills’ north side, from the San Gabriel Valley.
They were the homeland, with settlements, of the Tongva Native American people for over 8,000 years before the Spanish invasion and colonization of the late 18th century. They are named after the Rancho San Rafael, an 1874 Spanish land grant beyond the hills to the west. The rancho was later acquired by Henry E. Huntington for his residence, gardens, and library, and real estate development.
The Southwest Museum of the American Indian is a museum, library, and archive located in the Mt. Washington area . It is part of the Autry National Center. Its collections deal mainly with Native Americans.
Major collections include rooms devoted to 1) American Indians of the Great Plains, 2) American Indians of California, and 3) American Indians of the Northwest Coast.
Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is a worldwide spiritual non-profit religious organization for the preservation and worldwide dissemination of writings and teachings, including Kriya Yoga.
Elvis Presley reportedly visited the Self-Realization Fellowship in the late 1960s, commenting to the founder, a monk who had left an acting career to devote his life to the fellowship, “Man, you made the right choice. People don’t know my life or that I sometimes cry myself to sleep because I don’t know God.”
Eldred and Baxter Streets
Eldred Street was constructed in 1912. On clear days, it offers a commanding view of Highland Park against a backdrop of Mt. Wilson and Mt. Baldy to the east.
Baxter Street was laid out in 1884. Parts of it are paved with grooved concrete designed to improve traction in rainy weather.
They don’t make streets like these anymore in Los Angeles; 32% grades that climbs a ridge east of the Silver Lake Reservoir, crosses over the top of the hill and immediately drops off on the other side.
Unsuspecting motorists gasp when they reach the crest and discover the roadway in front of them has dropped out of sight and there is nothing but empty space in front of their car’s hood.