Sylmar is a district in the San Fernando Valley region of the City of Los Angeles, California. It is located east of Interstate 5 and north of the city of San Fernando. Sylmar was once the site of the world’s largest olive groves - hence its name, which means “Sea of Trees”, from the Latin word for woods (silva) and the Spanish word for sea (mar).
Some 1500 years before the Spaniards settled, the Sylmar area was inhabited by the Tongva Indians. In 1797, the Spaniards founded Mission San Fernando Rey de España in what is now the nearby community of Mission Hills. Father Iballa, Padre at the Mission from 1820 to 1834, was indirectly responsible for Sylmar’s olives. He recognized the similarity of the climate and soil to those found in Europe where olives had been cultivated for centuries. He sent to Spain for young seedlings and planted them around the mission. Sylmar’s existence is so entwined with that of San Fernando that for many years the two were thought of as one. San Fernando became a city in 1874, leading to the naming of the unincorporated land surrounding San Fernando to Morningside. The area was renamed Sylmar after incorporation into the city of Los Angeles during the building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which passes through the north-west corner. Local stories state that the designer of the old aqueduct, William Mulholland, stood on the foothills near the site of the planned aqueduct and noted that the wind caused the green and silver leaves of the olive farms to look like waves crashing against the mountains.
By 1890, a group of Illinois businessmen bought 2,000 acres (8 km2) east of the railroad tracks on San Fernando Road just south of Roxford Street and planted olives on over 1,100 acres (4.5 km2). Calling themselves the Los Angeles Olive Growers Association, they built a packing plant and sold olives under the Tyler Olives label, later changing to the Sylmar Packing label. Sylmar’s olives became famous throughout the state for sweetness and purity. Chinese pickers were hired to harvest the crops and produced up to 800 US gallons (3,000 L) of olive oil a day. The pickling plant was located on the corner of Roxford and San Fernando Road.
Along with its near perfect climate for growing olives, Sylmar seemed also ideal for the treatment of respiratory problems. The present Olive View-UCLA Medical Center has its root in a tuberculosis sanitarium which opened close to the current site in 1920 and was destroyed by a fire in 1962. A new major medical center facility opened in January 1971 and was destroyed in the Sylmar earthquake the following month. The new Olive View Medical Center was completed and opened in 1987.
Located on a 3.8 acre (15,000 m2) site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street, the Pioneer Cemetery was originally a 10 acre (400,000 m2) site when dedicated in 1892. It was known at the time as the San Fernando Cemetery and also as the Morningside Cemetery and is the second oldest cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. Over 740 outstanding residents were buried there between 1892 and 1941. The cemetery was officially abandoned in 1968. Edith Reber, a long time resident of Sylmar and an active member of the Chamber, for many years ran a volunteer effort to maintain the grounds with the help of local volunteer groups. It is located on what is currently the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street.
Sylmar is generally flat with sloping hills of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north. The average summer temperature is 88°F (31°C), dropping down to 68°F (20°C) in winter the average high is 66°F and low 40°F. Sometimes it will snow in the mountains, but since recents years it has never snowed anywhere lower than the mountains.Yet, It is the one area in the San Fernando Valley that is relatively smog free due to the occasionally strong winds along the foothills. The Valley shares the Los Angeles Basin’s's dry, sunny weather. Although the southwestern edge of the Valley is less than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Valley can be considerably hotter than the Los Angeles Basin during the summer months and cooler during the winter months. The West Valley community of Woodland Hills has set the highest recorded temperature in the City of Los Angeles of 119°F (49°C) in 2006, the coldest recorded temperature was in Canoga Park 18°F (-8°C) in 1989. Also, rainfall accumulations tend to be somewhat higher in the Valley during the rainy season in comparison to the Los Angeles Basin and the coast. The valley has also more chance to snow during winter months than the warmer Los Angeles basin, although snow in San Fernando valley is rare(some Arctic storms have created snow in the San Fernando Valley). The Valley suffers from heavy concentrations of smog, particularly in the summer, because of the mountain ranges surrounding it.
Sylmar is a predominately Latino community. According to the most recent census data, Latinos make up over sixty percent of the population of Sylmar, while whites account for about twenty-two percent of the population. All together, people of Asian and African descent comprise less than ten percent of Sylmar's population.
In 2009, the Los Angeles Times's "Mapping L.A." project supplied these Sylmar neighborhood statistics: population: 69,499; median household income: $65,783.
Stetson Ranch Equestrian Park, located just below the mountains and adjacent to Angeles National Forest, is one of only two equestrian parks located in Los Angeles City. Sylmar is the World Capital of Hang Gliding (http://shga.com/). Hang gliders can be seen soaring in the mountain areas and landing in Sylmar. Several other city and county parks are also located within Sylmar, the biggest being El Cariso County Park. Two golf courses are also located within Sylmar’s boundaries, El Cariso Golf Course and Cascades Golf Course.
A Veterans Administration hospital built in 1926 at the end of Sayre Street was destroyed by the 1971 earthquake and the entire 97 acres (390,000 m2) were dedicated to Los Angeles County in 1977 as Veterans Memorial Park.
The first public park (Sylmar Recreational Center) was formally dedicated in 1964 on the site of the old El Retiro School for Girls at Polk Street and Borden Avenue. Sylmar fell heir to 160 acres (650,000 m2) of land among Hubbard Street at Eldridge Avenue when the state abandoned plans for a regional mental hospital. Eleven acres (45,000 m2) were bought by the Los Angeles Unified School District for a future junior high school and subsequently sold to the Los Angeles Community College District, and Los Angeles Mission College was built. The remaining land is now El Cariso County Park. El Cariso County Park was named to memorialize 12 members of the El Cariso Hotshots, a U.S. Forest Service Interregional Wildland Firefighting Crew, who died on November 1, 1966 while fighting the "Loop Fire" in the San Gabriel Mountains overlooking the park
Near Sylmar is the Sylmar Converter Station, the static inverter plant for the HVDC Pacific DC Intertie power line. The plant was inaugurated in 1970, destroyed in the earthquake of 1971, rebuilt in 1972, and extended in 1985. When the Pacific Intertie was extended in 1989, a second static inverter station called Sylmar-East was built a few kilometers away.
Sylmar is the terminus of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
On November 15, 2008, a massive wildfire, called the Sayre Fire, burned along the foothills of Sylmar destroying over 500 homes.
The United States Postal Service Sylmar Post Office is located at 13700 Foothill Boulevard.
Sylmar is the northernmost neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles. It is accessible from the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5) and the Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210). The southern terminus of the Antelope Valley Freeway (SR 14) is at the northernmost section of Sylmar. Sylmar is roughly bounded by Interstate 5 on the west, the San Gabriel Mountains on the north and east, and the city of San Fernando on the south. Granada Hills lies to the west and Mission Hills is to the southwest of Sylmar. Major thoroughfares include Foothill Boulevard, San Fernando Road, Bradley Avenue, Glenoaks Boulevard, Roxford Street, Polk Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard.