Collis Avenue

This street was born in 1902 as Huntington Avenue – not in honor of Henry E. Huntington, who was just then relocating to the Southland, but of his late uncle Collis Potter Huntington (1821-1900); it was renamed Collis Avenue in 1913 as people were presumably confusing it with Huntington Drive. Anyway, Collis P. Huntington was one of the “Big Four” industrialists, along with Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker, who financed the Central Pacific Railroad (part of the first transcontinental railroad) and then the Southern Pacific, which he ran until his death. Born into a poor Connecticut farming family, Huntington operated a general store in Oneonta, NY until 1849, when he took his business to Sacramento to profit off Gold Rush miners. And profit he did – even more so when he got into railroads in 1861. A cutthroat “robber baron” known for bribing politicians and betraying his partners, Huntington never lived in L.A., but his big SoCal venture was to make Santa Monica the port of Los Angeles. Surprise: it didn’t work out. This street was named by William Henry Carlson (1864-1937) on his Pasadena Villa tract. 1890s newspapers had Carlson, then mayor of San Diego and a wannabe railroad tycoon, palling around with Huntington – but it’s not clear if the two were indeed friends or if Carlson was merely a sycophant.