Pico Boulevard

Los Angeles never had an unlucky 13th Street: by 1855, the street following 12th was known as Pico Street, after local celebrity Pío de Jesus Pico (1801-1894). Born at Mission San Gabriel, Pico – a man of Spanish, Native American, and African heritage – inherited the elite status of his father, a soldier in the Spanish army. Pico enjoyed political power as well: he served as the last governor of Mexican-owned California before the Mexican–American War ended his reign in 1846. While in office, he leased out most of the San Fernando Valley to his brother Andrés, who later bought half the Valley from Eulogio de Celis… only to sell it to Pío himself. (Got all that?) In 1869, Pico sold that same land to Isaac Lankershim so that he could finance a luxury hotel near the old Plaza. Dubbed Pico House, the building still stands. Alas, gambling debts and real estate swindles would leave the aging Pico penniless. His hacienda in Whittier is now a State Historic Park. As for his namesake thoroughfare, Pico Street became Pico Boulevard in 1914. When it was extended out to Santa Monica in 1917, it took over the Westside’s Fremont Avenue – a funny sort of payback, given that John C. Frémont had defeated Andrés Pico in the Mexican–American War.