Fred Piegonski, Executive Assistant to the President  
               Los Angeles City College, 855 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029 
                           (323) 953-4000  ext. 2243                            

                      For Immediate Release:  December 6, 2006

For Whom the Bell Tolls

LACC's Mission Bell
            LACCís Mission Bell       (photo by Chuck Ake)

Thereís a Story Behind the Mission Bell on LACCís Campus

Students pass by LA City Collegeís Mission Bell without giving it much notice.

Itís been hanging there quietly for many years in front of  Da Vinci Hall near the collegeís Vermont entrance and it has a story to tell.

Letís jump back a few centuries.

Little did Father Junipero Serra know, 237 years ago, that his campsite would one day be near the present day location of LA City College.

It was in August of 1769 that he and Don Gaspar de Portola set out from Mexico to travel northward along California's coast in search of Monterey's harbor.

The path they traveled was later called El Camino Real, the King's Road or Royal Highway, and this road later connected the early California missions from San Diego to Sonoma.

Some say that El Camino Real passed across what is today the quad of LA City College. Historians have said that the exact location of the "road" is difficult to determine. It was little more than a crude winding trail, certainly not a road that had been surveyed and laid out as our modern roads have been. 

Historians do concede that the Camino Real generally followed what is today Highway 101. And at the turn of the century a historical society actually plotted out a map of the supposed site of the road.  In succeeding years, more than 400 "Mission" bells were erected along this reconstructed site of the Camino, commemorating Father Serra and the early Spanish explorers.

One of these replica Mission bells can be seen on the LACC campus at 855 North Vermont in Hollywood. Located at the northeast corner of Da Vinci Hall, the bell is inscribed with two dates, 1769, the date of Serra's expedition, and 1906, the date the first bells were erected. Near the bell rests a plaque, placed there by City College students in 1966. The inscription notes,
"It is appropriate that Los Angeles City College should be located near the trail traveled by the padres, California's first teachers."

The land which Father Serra traversed in the Los Angeles basin during that first long trek was originally inhabited by the Gabrielino Indians, Hollywood's first residents.  (Many of the local place names ending in "ga" are Indian in origin. Cahuenga,
for example, is derived from the Indian word "cahuengna," meaning little hills.)

For many years the land on which present-day LACC rests was public land, bounded by the larger nearby Ranchos of La Brea and Los Feliz.  In 1870, an enterprising young man named Sullivan homesteaded 160 acres of land, directly south of Santa Monica Blvd.  and bounded by Melrose, Vermont, and Normandie Avenues--the site, in part, of present day LACC.

His farm house (located near, what is today, the college's administration building) faced the King's Highway, noted an early history of the school. In the course of time Sullivan planted eucalyptus trees along El Camino, some of which can still be seen growing today on Heliotrope Blvd, the western border of the campus.

It is fitting that LACC should be located on a road which, in its day, was the gateway for the Southland. For today the college serves a similar function for its newest students, many of them immigrants to California who view the college as their gateway
to a new career and better life.

You are invited to visit LACC to view the college's Mission bell and the site of Southland's historical highway. It may well be
that the college will also provide you with the path to a new career, a road to new accomplishments.


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