Downey Historical Chronology         page under construction        backto main

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Downey City   Back to Top

An Overview of the "ownership" of what is now Downey follows a trail thus - - -
    .- Mexican Government
    .- Manuel Nieto
    .- Josefa Cota, widow of Manuel's son Antonio
    .- Lemuel Carpenter
    .- John Downey and J.P. McFarland via a Sheriff's sale
    .- and thence greatly sub-divided

In greater detail - -
 Previously known as La Zanja, Rancho Los Nietos was granted
   by Pedro Fages, Mexican Governor of Alta California, to Manuel Nieto;
        Boundaries: W= Rio Hondo/LosAngeles Rivers
                    E= Santa Ana River
                    N= San Gabriel Mission
                    S= Pacific Ocean
      originally 300,000 acres (Quinn-p.17) but reduced to 167,000 ac to accomodate the Mission.
         [  ]
SanGabriel Mission was located where San Gabriel Blvd. crosses the Rio Hondo (Quinn-pg.16);
 but later moved to Mission Rd. e.of Alhambra.

On the of the San Gabriel=RioHondo so.of Telegraph Rd was the town of
 Jaboneria where Lemuel Carpenter eventually opened a soap factory.

1833 Pedro Fages, Mexican Governor of Alta California, granted sub-division into 6 parts to Nieto's heirs.
  .- Rancho Los Alamitos
  .- Rancho Los Cerritos
  .- Rancho Los Coyotes
  .- Rancho Los Bolsas
  .- Rancho Palo Alto
  .- Rancho Santa Gertrudes granted to Josefa Cota, widow of Manuel's son Antonio.
      Boundaries: W= RioHondo
     (Quinn-pg.18)S= Apx Imperial Blvd. to the San Gabriel River
                  E= line to LaHabra
                  N= Old Mission Trail - apx Whitier Blvd

1843 Lemuel Carpenter bought Rancho Santa Gertrudes from Josefa Cota Nieto for $4000;
        originally apx 24,000 acres but reduced to apx 20,000 acres  (Quinn-p.21)

1847 Gen. Kearny came thru to win Calif for the USA had a skirmish near the no.w. corner
      of Rancho Santa Gertrudes. A plaque commererates the spot on Bluff Rd. near
      the Washington Blvd. bridge over the Rio Hondo.
      Dwight Clarke claims that the spot should be closer to Whittier Blvd.  (Quinn-pg.21)

1850 - Sept 9- California was admitted to the U.S.A. as the 31-st State
1859 - Dec 9- John Downey and J.P. McFarland bought Rancho Santa Gertrudes at a Sheriff's sale
             for $60,000; size was 17,600 acres.
                Thomas Sanchez Colima got 3,696 acres

1860-62 John Gately Downey was Governor of California.
1870s - "Downey City" begins to take shape as UNincorporated area of LA County,
           as the communities of Gallatin and College-Settlement grow together.
1871 -  Masonic Lodge formed
  ?? -  Odd Fellows Lodge formed
1874 -  Apr 15: Southern Pacific Railroad line opened.

1903 -  June: The "Board of Trade" was established, eventually becoming the C of C.
1906 -  An effort to incorporate into a City failed.
          The boundaries stated in the process were remarkably UNsophistacated.
            (Quinn-pg.177 notes "Good Luck")
1908 -  Mar 15: Electricity came on at the High School Auditorium

  ??  - Easy Street renamed to Florence Ave.
  ??  - College Ave. renamed to Paramount Blvd.
  ??  - Crawford Street renamed to Downey Ave.
  ??  - Old River School House Rd. renamed to Old River School Rd.
  ??  - Gallatin School House Rd. renamed to Gallatin Rd.
  ??  - Downey-Norwalk Road bridge across the San Gabriel is discontinued.
  ??  - Downey Sandford Bridge Road (when/wherever was the "Bridge")
  ??  - Somerset Ave. (n-s) renamed Bellflower Blvd.
  ??  - Michigan Ave. renamed Ryerson Ave.
  ??  - Andrews St. renamed Arnett St.
  ??  - Cerritos and Farlow Dr. (n-s) renamed and re-aligned
             as Lakewood Blvd. and Clark Ave.
  ??  - First traffic light installed at Lakewood & Firestone.
  ??  - Anheim-Telegraph Rd renamed Telegraph Rd.
  ??  - Lexington-Gallatin Road (formerly an "L"-shape) renamed
           to Lexington Rd. (e-w) and Brookshire Ave.(n-s)
  ??  - Washburn Crossing Rd. renamed to Washburn Road.
  ??  - Price Rd., San Gabriel Blvd.(tiny piece), and Church St. all
            renamed to Brookshire and extended north and south.
  ??  - Stewart and Gray Road extended east and west through the city.
  ??  - The bridge on Foster Bridge Road was discontinued.
  ??  - The bridge on Foster Bridge Road was RE-opened.
  ??  - Foster Bridge Road renamed to Suva St.
  ??  - Palm St. realigned and renamed Cleta St.
  ??  - Downey Ave. widened
  ??  - Paramount Blvd. cut thru and old part renamed Tweedy Lane

195x - The Santa Freeway (US-101) Opened through to Lakewood Blvd,
          making Lakewood and Firestone the busiest intersection in the USA.
1956 - Dec 17: Downey became an INcorporated City and begins to occupy
        the vacated Downey Elementary School
       1-st Mayor:   James L. Stamps
       1-st Police Chief: Ivan Albert "Robbie" Robinson

  ??  - Downey Ave. partially re-narrowed
  ??  - La Reina St. narrowed
  ??  - La Reina St. partially re-widened
  ??  - New Street (one block) given for development
  ??  - Second Street (one block) given for development
  ??  - Third  Street (one block) given for development
  ??  - Dolan Ave.  (one block) given for development
  ??  - Nance/Pangborn  (1/2 block) given for development

196x - The San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) opened.
1969 - The Downey Community Hospital opened at Brookshire and Davis.

1984 - April: City Hall Corner Stone laid by the Free and Accepted Masons of California

199x - The Century Freeway (I-105) opened.


Downey Schools  Back to Top

Primary Education
 There were 4 Districts, with one school in each district ...
           (as the need warranted, each district added schools)
     Downey     n.w. area
     Gallatin,  n.e. area
     Alameda,   s.e. area
     Old-River, s.w. area
  as the population shifted, some were closed and reopened, some sold to developers.

19?? - Downey Elementary School closed; students relocated mostly to RioHondo
  ?? - Edith Unsworth Elementary Closed and fenced off
  ?? - Roger Casier  Elementary Closed and sold for development
  ?? - Rancho Santa Gertrudes Elementary Closed and sold for development
  ?? - Edith Unsworth Elementary RE-Opened

Secondary Education

1901 - Aug - Los Neitos Valley Union High School opened
1904 - June - First graduation class
1905 - Dec 9 Cornerstone laid for the School
1912-14 inclusive - First yearbook -- "The Summary"
1915-16  - named  Downey Union High School
1920   - yearbook name became "The Volsung"

  ?? - South Jr. High opened
  ?? - North Jr. High opened
1952 - Sept: Burbeck Field dedicated to HIGHLY RESPECTED teacher Perry James "P.J." Burbeck.

  ?? - East  Jr. High opened
1956 - Sept: Warren High School accepted its first class as 10-th graders
1956 - Dec 17: Downey became a City and began to occupy the vacated Downey Elementary School
       Dec 20: Chief Justice Earl Warren dedicated Warren High School.
  ?? - West  Jr. High opened
  ?? - Downey Union High School renamed Downey Senior High School

1959 - Warren graduated it's first class of Seniors
1960 - Sept: Primary and Secondary Districts became Downey Unified School District
         unifying the former Primary Districts of Downey, Gallatin, Alameda, Old-River,
             and the High and Jr-Hi's.

  ?? - Downey Senior High School renamed Downey High School
  ?? - Junior Highs renamed as Middle Schools
1967 - Columbus Continuation High School opened

1995 - Downey High had its first Alumni Directory made by Harris Publishing
1999 - Downey High created its Alumni Hall-Of-Fame and inducted the first members.
20xx - South Middle School renamed to Sussman Middle School,
            in honor of retired Superintendent Ed Sussman.
2013 - East Middle School renamed to Doty Middle School,
            in honor of retired Superintendent Wendy Doty.


Inventory Notes on Downey High Year Books
      that reside at the Downey Historical Society.
  Downey High Year Books  - the "Summary", the "Volsung"
      at the Downey Historical Society as of Sept 2001.
1912-14 inclusive
  15                 last  one to refer to LosNietos Valley U.H.S.
  16                 first one to refer to Downey Union High School
  17               small pattern
  21               small pattern
  23-26              tied format ends
  27-29              binding begins
  30-31 incl
  32                 first to include the Alma Mater
  33-38 inclusive
  39                 last to be called the Summary
  40-49 inclusive  - now called the Volsung
  51-59 incl
  63-69 incl
  70-73 incl
  75-78 incl
  81-89 incl
Missing from the set are 1918, 19, 20, 22, 50, 61, 62, 74, 79, 80
[ On 10/10/01 Hugh took the duplicate 1941-1946 set from the
  Historic Center to Mark Child of the DHS Journalism Dept
  to fill-in their blank spaces ]

The class of 1912 consisted of seven(7) graduates ...
 Ora Berthena Nelson, Walter Albert Walk, Maude Marion Meagher,
 Loyd Parker Squire, Hilma Elevera Cyren, William Joseph Mansfield,
 Elmer Horace Ball

The early Yearbooks contained editorials, nicknames, predictions,
 ambitions, totems, alumni news, stories about the history, activities,
 students, local and national happenings.
Many of the pictures and listing entries were not in alphabetic
 order when the classes were small.
The School opened on 16 Aug 1901.
The relatively smallish 1917 edition is dedicated to
 President Woodrow Wilson with the notation that the funds
 that would have been used to make the traditional book were being
 donated to the Red-Cross.

As an alum of Downey High, the editor apologizes for any slant in that direction.

Please forward corrections or additions of salinet items.