Locally-born-and-bred Emily Hedlund gave her Phoenix classmates plenty of reason to come visit Arcadia, California
Editor’s Note: The following article is actually an informative speech written by local resident Emily Hedlund, who is currently a student in Phoenix, Arizona. Her teacher gave it an “A,” and we can see why. Her grandparents, Bob and Sue Herron, who have lived in The Village for 35 years, were just so proud they wanted to share it with all of us!
Good morning, everyone! My name is Emily Hedlund and today I am going to explain how California isn’t just about the ocean and LA, and I am also going to share with you why the city I was born in still remains my favorite city to this day. By the end of my speech, you will all have a better understanding why this one city in particular outweighs all the rest, and how my great-grandpa helped make my stomping ground the great place it is to this very day.
How many of you are familiar with the meaning of the word “Arcadia”? Well, it just happens to mean “a region or scene of simple pleasure and quiet.” Most of you have probably been to California for one reason or another, or you all know someone who lives there, but until you visit the city of Arcadia, you won’t know what I am talking about.
On August 13, 1903, the city of Arcadia, California, was incorporated. By the turn of the 20th century, Arcadia had a population nearing roughly 500 and an economy that was thriving based on entertainment, sporting, hospitality, and gambling opportunities. During World War I, Arcadia was home to the U.S. Army’s Ross Field Balloon School in what is now Los Angeles County Park. Here observers were trained to watch enemy activity from hot air balloons. Arcadia is also home to the beautiful Santa Anita Racetrack, which was opened soon after the legalization of thoroughbred horse racing in December of 1934. During World War II, Santa Anita Racetrack became the site of the Santa Anita Assembly Center for the Japanese, where Japanese Americans were interned under President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. At one point, it was the largest Japanese-American assembly center in the United States. Despite the decisions that were made during that one time in our history, Arcadia is known for being one of the ten most Asian resident-populated cities in L.A. County, according to the 2000 census.
Arcadia actually has a sister city in Newcastle, Australia, as designed by Sister Cities International. Consequently, on Colorado Boulevard there is a Newcastle Park, and there is an Arcadia Park in Newcastle, Australia!
Arcadia is also home of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, a rich historical site that includes Native American, Rancho period, and late 19th century treasures. It is also very likely that you will come across a peacock while at the Arboretum, and just as likely while wandering the neighborhoods of Arcadia. This explains why Arcadia’s official bird is…the peacock. Dozens of movies and television programs have had scenes filmed at the Arboretum beginning in 1936, and including portions of two Jurassic Park films; Objective, Burma!; and last year, Katy Perry’s music video for “Roar” was mostly filmed there.
It is always a treat to walk the streets of my grandparent’s neighborhood (they reside in Arcadia to this day), because no two houses look the same. Each house and road was uniquely structured not to resemble the other, like a lot of other cities in California. My great-grandfather, Egil Hopen, was to thank for that. Being the intellectual civil engineer, he was one of the best at his job, and he had a vision to design roads that wouldn’t just be your typical grid-like format. Instead, he designed roads out of a riverbed-so that explains all the twists and turns throughout one of the neighborhoods in Arcadia known as The Village, which is where I spent most of my early childhood! The downward slope of the roads contributes to the drainage system, which prevents flooding from ever happening. Other than the occasional earthquake, Arcadia’s weather is almost perfect. Being only half an hour from the ocean, there is usually quite a bit of moisture in the clouds, which then provides mist throughout the air. That’s why most of the city is flourished in green. Arcadia was once home to Jet Li and Genie, the feral child. The bassist Michael Anthony of the band Van Halen actually graduated from Arcadia High School in 1972.
Today, I discussed the many wonders of Arcadia and even gave you background information of one of my favorite cities. If you ever get a chance to visit, you won’t even know you are in California because it offers the small-town feel with a hint of the big-city vibe, due to its many attractions and charms. Thank you for listening to my speech!