Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Griffith Park Aerodrome
(include Rodger Young Village)
Griffith Park Aerodrome
1927 (University of California Calisphere)
Griffith Park Aerodrome was located south
of the LA River from Grand Central Air Terminal. According to
K.O. Eckland, in 1912 Van Griffith donated 100 acres of land
alongside what is now Griffith Park Drive with the request it
be used to "do something to further aviation."
Once hangars were built, aviation pioneers
like Glenn Martin & Silas Cristoffersen seized the opportunity
to operate from such an ideal location. Martin's first fight
school opened its doors that year & the name was unofficially
changed. The Griffith Park property was eventually handed over
to State for use by the National Guard Air Service's 40th Air
Corps Division (115th Observation Squadron), who established
a base & laid 2 runways: 3,600' northwest/southeast &
2,975' oil & gravel north/south strips.
The 115th Observation Squadron was initially
equipped with the Curtiss JN-4H Jenny. The 115th was commanded
by Maj. C.C. Moseley, who was also one of the founders of Western
Air Lines and the Cal-Aero Technical Institute flying schools.
Griffith Park consisted of a grass field with a hangar along
the west side.
In September 1927, the 115th Observation
Squadron held its summer camp at its home base, Griffith Park
Will Adams recalled, "I grew up on
Glendale & was 10 years old in 1927. My stomping ground was
the National Guard airport. Times were different then & it
was safe for a 10-year-old to wander all over the place. I spent
a lot of time at the National Guard Airport watching them fly
in & out. A 10-year-old kid hanging around didn't seem to
bother them, and I had almost free run of the airport. I clearly
remember a movie scene they were shooting one time. I think it
was for Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels."
A 1936 Commerce Department listing of
airports & landing fields described Griffith Park as being
a military airfield with a single north/south oiled runway (1,965'
x 192'), and a single hangar with "40th Division Air Corps"
on the roof. Training missions were flown from Griffith Park
until 1939, at which time the city Planning Commission charged
that a military airport violated conditions of the original land
By 1942, the 115th Observation Squadron
had been mobilized and sent toe Sherwood Field near Paso Robles
and the Griffith Park Aerodrome was evidently closed. There is
photographic evidence that the California State Guard's 7th Observation
Squadron operated from the field.
Source: Abandoned and Little-Known
Family life at the
Rodger Young Villiage, circa 1948 (University of California Calisphere)
Rodger Young Village was a public housing
project, established to provide temporary housing for veterans
returning to the Southern California area following the end of
World War II. The village was named for Rodger Wilton Young,
an American infantryman in the U.S. Army during World War II.
He was killed on the island of New Georgia while helping his
platoon withdraw under enemy fire. For his actions, he posthumously
received the United States' highest military decoration, the
Medal of Honor.
Built on the site of Griffith Park Aerodrome,
in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, the Village consisted of 750 Quonset
huts, temporary buildings made of corrugated steel, which were
intended to house 1,500 families. At peak residence, over 5,000
persons lived there.
Built in approximately two months (and
over the objections of the Griffith family, who had donated the
park to the city), the Village was dedicated on 27 April 1946
and closed in the mid-1950s. The Quonset camp met a desperate
need for living space. Thousands of Californians had left the
area for military duty. When these men and women returned from
the war, they found that housing had been taken by the thousands
who had come to work in plants producing war matériel.
As the veterans were discharged from the
service, they found themselves with no place to live. Rodger
Young Village, named for Private Rodger Wilton Young, was one
of several such projects under the control of the Los Angeles
City Housing Authority. Veterans and their families were able
to rent living space at reasonable rates, while waiting for the
post-war housing "boom" to counter the post-war housing
"crunch." Other veterans' housing projects used military
barracks and trailers, as did a settlement in Burbank which provided
travel trailers to house some of the Japanese and Japanese Americans
who had been taken from their Southern California homes and sent
to internment camps in other parts of the country.
Nearly all residents were young families
with children (including many war brides). Each family had one
half of a Quonset hut, built on concrete slab floors. Their living
space consisted of two bedrooms, a bath, kitchen with icebox
(not a refrigerator), and den. The few unmarried residents, and
some married couples without children, had a bedroom to themselves
but shared the remaining family area.
"RYV," as it was known, had
a market, hardware store, milk and diaper delivery, drug store,
theater and other amenities commonly found in small towns, and
children enjoyed the adjacent Griffith Park and climbing the
tower which still held the airport beacon. The Helms Bakery trucks
and Fuller Brush salesmen made the rounds, as they did in the
other neighborhoods in the area. Residents planted lawns and
gardens, and were encouraged to make their surroundings as homelike
Few families had telephones, relying instead
on phone booths located about 100 feet apart. When a phone call
would come, whoever was closest at the moment would answer, while
the neighborhood children would run to see who the call was for,
then pass the word to that person.
Rodger Young Village was, for a time,
the most diverse community in Southern California, as veterans
of all races and all branches of the military lived there. This
caused problems in some nearby restaurants, which were practicing
de facto racial segregation, as next-hut neighbors went to dine
together. The influence of RYV residents helped end these
practices in a number of establishments.
Rodger Young Village
on the site of the former Giffith Park Aerodrome.
Griffith Park Aerodrome and the Rodger Young Village Today
After Rodger Young Village was razed sometime
between 1952 and 1954, the Aerodrome was not reopened; instead,
the Griffith Park Zoo (now the Los Angeles Zoo) relocated, taking
over most of the land which had been occupied by RYV. The remaining
portion is now covered by the interchange linking Interstate
Highway 5 (the Golden State Freeway) to State Route 134 (the
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