Ben Hur Avenue

Named in 1949 on the East Whittier Park tract, “Ben Hur” might have been a pun on one of its developers’ surnames: Aaron Ray Benedict (then-mayor of Pasadena). Otherwise, said developers could’ve been fans of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ and/or the 1925 silent film based on it – the more famous Ben-Hur screen adaptation with Charlton Heston wouldn’t come out until 1959 – or simply liked the heroic name. Wallace’s novel, about a fictitious Jewish nobleman who is enslaved by the Romans, races a few chariots, and ultimately becomes a Christian, was a bestseller. Here in Whittier, Ben Hur was also a local gasoline brand from the 1940s to the 1960s, so for all I know that’s what really “fueled” this street name.