Cawston Street

Edwin Cawston (1866-1920) was once the Southland’s biggest name in ostriches. A young world traveler from Surrey, England, Cawston was fascinated by the giant birds and came to Los Angeles in 1886 to see if the climate was right to raise them here. It was, so in early 1887 he shipped 52 ostriches from Durban, South Africa to Galveston, TX, then put the survivors on a train to L.A. (It wasn’t the region’s first ostrich farm: there were predecessors in Anaheim, Santa Fe Springs, and Griffith Park.) After a year at a park at Washington and Main, Cawston set up a proper farm in Norwalk, where he bred his ostriches for feathers – high-fashion items at the time. That facility would later relocate to Hemet, but Cawston’s signature ostrich farm opened here in South Pasadena in 1896 and became a world-famous tourist attraction; Cawston Avenue was named in 1902 on a tract the birdman owned half a mile east. Edwin Cawston married Mary Routh in 1889. She died five years later, so he married her sister Frances in 1895. Frances then passed in 1899 and Cawston wed his third and final wife Edith Doran in 1901. They decided to raise their kids in England, so in 1911 Cawston sold off both his land and his birds, which numbered 1,200 by that point. The ostrich farm kept Cawston’s name and remained a South Pas landmark until closing in 1935.