Ramona Boulevard

Several streets in Los Angeles County owe their name to a book: Ramona, the 1884 novel by Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885). The first bestseller set in Southern California, Ramona is ostensibly a romance about an orphaned “halfbreed” woman who falls in love with a Native American man, but it endures as a candid account of the hardships indigenous Californians faced after 1850 statehood, when white capitalists, in collusion with the federal government, took their land and removed them from their homes. Some have compared Ramona to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in its effect of awakening white readers to the plight of a disenfranchised people, yet Jackson’s evocative descriptions of the SoCal landscape would only attract more white settlers to the state. Selling hundreds of thousands of copies and receiving five big-screen adaptations, the novel was such a blockbuster that seemingly every town in California had to have a street named Ramona. In fact Interstate 10 through the San Gabriel Valley was previously known as the Ramona Freeway.