Rives Avenue

Judge James Christopher Rives (1864-1923) was born in Atlanta during the Civil War but lived in Downey nearly all his life. Rives’s father, a Confederate soldier turned physician, took the family away from war-torn Georgia and in 1869 they settled in what would become the town of Downey. Possibly as a result of PTSD, Dr. Rives suffered from alcoholism and took his own life in 1880, forcing James to drop out of school and support his family. He entered the printing business and even published his own newspaper, the Downey Review, for two years before finishing his law studies and passing the bar in 1888. The following year, he married Mary Lee Crowell (1862-1945); they would go on to have four kids. Rives was elected District Attorney of Los Angeles County in 1898 and served for four years. In 1906, he was elected to L.A. County Superior Court, and was so respected as probate court judge that some suggested he run for governor. Alas, Rives effectively worked himself to death. The 1912 Rives Mansion still stands at Paramount and 3rd on what was once the Riveses’ 75 acre ranch. Rives Avenue was named by 1915.