SINCE THE beginnings of Los Angeles’ history, L.A. was said to be the American Mediterranean, the new Latin shore, a paradise. However, it would have been a tough sell for the original L.A. boosters to advertise Los Angeles as the new Mediterranean paradise with the lack of palm trees, even with the consistently 'perfect' and warm weather.
Although nearly every street in Los Angeles is lined with palm trees, only one species of palm tree, the Washingtonia filifera, is native to California. All other types of palm trees that can be seen lining the L.A. streets are imported, and even the Washingtonia filifera is not native to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles didn’t become a palm tree guarded city until the turn of the twentieth century, with most of the palm tree planting taking place in the 1930’s. On Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena palm trees were planted every hundred feet, and was almost renamed "Street of a Thousand Palms." In Venice, two hundred Washingtonia Robusta palms, or Mexican fan palms, were planted along Washington Boulevard.
In 1931, thousands of palm trees were planted in Los Angeles by the forestry division, which also helped the unemployed find work. The planting project cost $100,000, put around 400 unemployed men to work, and 40,000 palm trees were planted alongside 150 miles of city boulevards spaced forty to fifty feet apart, and many still line the streets of L.A. today.
The iconic palm trees in Los Angeles serve no purpose other than to confirm the original L.A. booster’s claim that L.A. is in fact the new Latin shore and to provide a picturesque paradise of a city. They provide no shade from the constant L.A. sun and provide and no fruit. The imported palm trees serve as a mask for Los Angeles to wear to hide her reality and promote fantasy that can be seen on nearly every street of Los Angeles.
-Photo Credit: SuperStock