Behind the Names

Ever wonder where your street name originated? Or the local park? The following behind the name histories are from a 1999 issue of the Palisades Perspective, Caren and John Greenwood’s website Sunny San Pedro, and the San Pedro Bay Historical Society. Thank you to Madeleine, Caren, John, and the San Pedro Bay Historical Society for researching this information.

Jump to a name:
Alma Street
Averill Avenue
Bandini Street
Cabrillo Avenue
Carolina Street
Dana Middle School
Fort MacArthur
Gaffey Street
Hamilton Street
Jackstadt Street
Kerckhoff Avenue
Leland Street
Meyler Street
Patton Street
Point Fermin Park
San Pedro Bay
Silvius Street
Stephen M. White Drive
Walker Street
Weymouth Avenue & Place
White Point
Wilder Addition

Alma Street
Named after George Peck’s daughter. George Peck was the man many refer to as the builder of San Pedro. George H. Peck, the famous philanthropist and benefactor, arrived in San Pedro in 1882 as a conductor on the Southern Pacific Railroad. He liked what he saw, quit his job and entered the real estate business. He became a subdivider, home builder, lumberman and contractor and he started the Bank of San Pedro (later to become United California Bank) in 1888. Within a short time he had enormous holdings. A few of the tracts he laid out were Point Fermin, Harbor View, Catalina View and South Shores. He also owned the land which is Point Fermin Park.

Averill Avenue
Named after the family that owned the Averill Weymouth Company, early land developers in San Pedro. They developed the Vista del Oro section of town, approximately 1,000 acres they purchased from Rudecinda Sepulveda de Dodson. The family was from Maine and included the three Averill brothers Horace, Herbert, and Dr. George plus George’s brother-in-law, Harry L. Weymouth.

Bandini Street
Arcadia Bandini was from the old prestigious California family and was married to John T. Gaffey (see Gaffey Street). Together they lived in a sprawling Spanish-style hacienda at the corner of Third and Bandini Streets. The home was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the modern YMCA.

Cabrillo Avenue
The avenue and beach are named for Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who sailed into San Pedro Bay in October of 1542, on a voyage of exploration for the Viceroy of New Spain. Cabrillo was Portuguese, but working in the service of Spain. There is no evidence to prove conclusively that Cabrillo or any of his men actually set foot on shore.

Carolina Street
The street was named for one of the daughters of Ramon Sepulveda.

Dana Middle School
The school was named for Richard Henry Dana, author of Two Years Before the Mast.

Fort MacArthur
Not named in 1914 after General Douglas MacArthur but for his father, Lt. General Arthur MacArthur, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient.

Gaffey Street
John T. Gaffey was an ardent San Pedro booster, California Senator Stephen M. White’s campaign manager, real estate developer and financier.

Hamilton Street
The street and Hamilton Tract were named for John D. Hamilton. He was secretary of the Harbor Boat Building company. Mr. Hamilton was born in Chicago on October 30, 1899. He attended San Pedro High School and was a member of the Elks. He never married.

Jackstadt Street
This street first appeared in the city directory in 1925. At the time there was only one home, 3720, which was shown as unoccupied until 1928 when Miss Edith Patterson and U.S. Navy Captain and Mrs. E. Edgar Stone (her name was Allie) appeared to be the residents. The house and several adjacent lots were owned by William A. Jackstadt. His wife’s name was Jesse and they lived at 3603 Almeria. Mr. Jackstadt had come to San Pedro in 1924 and his profession was salesman. Records show that by 1926 he had gone into the real estate business. City directories indicate that William and Jesse never actually lived on Jackstadt Street.

Kerckhoff Avenue
William G. Kerckhoff was a lumber dealer, banker and ship builder during the early days of San Pedro.  He was a partner of George Peck in some of his development ventures.  He helped to found the Pacific Light and Power Company, the forerunner to the Southern California Gas Company.

Leland Street
Named after George Peck’s son. Records show Peck’s daughter Rena had a park and a street named for her. Santa Rena Street was renamed Walker and Rena Park is located at Summerland Ave. and N. Leland Ave. Daughter Alma had a street named after her (see Alma Street) but son William never had anything named for him. Peck Avenue and Peck Park are both named after George H. Peck.

Meyler Street
Named for one of the two men who engineered the San Pedro Bay breakwater, a project started in 1899 and completed in 1911. His name was Capt. James J. Meyler. His colleague was Capt. Amos A. Fries (Fries Avenue in Wilmington). Both men worked for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Patton Avenue
The street is named for George S. Patton, II, the father of the World War II hero, General George S. “Blood and Guts” Patton, III. George S. Patton, II served as district attorney of Los Angeles County.

Point Fermin Park
Named in 1793 by British explorer George Vancouver as a thank you to Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen for the hospitality he showed Vancouver and his crew at the mission in Carmel.

San Pedro Bay
Named by Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino, who anchored there on Saint Peter’s Day, November 26, 1602. Rancho San Pedro’s name was derived from the Bay of San Pedro on which it was bordered.

Silvius Street
Silvius Street first appeared in the San Pedro/Wilmington city directory in 1926. There was one house on the street, 1343. No one appeared to live in the house until 1928. The man who lived there then was Allen Albt. The home was designed by a young Los Angeles architect named Paul T. Silvius. It was not clear if Mr. Silvius owned the lot and named the street after himself or if Mr. Albt named the street, or even if someone downtown just used the name of the architect of record.

Stephen M. White Drive
Stephen M. White was the first U. S. Senator born in California.  He was an attorney in Los Angeles who was elected County District Attorney and State Senator before entering the U. S. Senate in 1893.  He was a strong supporter of the effort to build a Los Angeles harbor in San Pedro, where it was free from the influence of the Southern Pacific Railroad.  While he was ultimately successful in his efforts to secure a federal subsidy to build a San Pedro harbor, the effort sapped his frail health and he died in 1901 before the harbor was completed.

Walker Street
Rear Admiral John G. Walker was chairman of the commission, known as the Walker Board, that investigated the feasibility of constructing a federal breakwater in either Santa Monica or San Pedro. In 1897, the Walker Board submitted the report nominating San Pedro as the best location.

Weymouth Avenue & Place
H. L. Weymouth developed the Vista del Oro area with his brother-in-law Herbert O. Averill. See also Averill Avenue.

White Point
This area of land, which juts out into the sea to form a point more than 100 feet above sea level, has been called both “White Point” and “White’s Point”. The origin of the name is disputed. One version is that it was named for a sailor named White, who jumped ship and swam to shore at this spot, thus “White’s Point”. Another version is that sailors used the cliff face as a landmark, because it’s Altamira shale appears white, and that they named it “White Point”. A third opinion is that it was named after Senator Stephen White, who led the political fight for development of the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. The area was officially termed “White Point” in lease agreements signed around the turn of the century by the owner, Roman Sepulveda. The San Pedro Bay Historical Society favors “White Point”, based on this authenticated documentation.

Wilder Addition
Wilder Addition, also referred to as Wilders Annex, of Point Fermin Park, was named after the Charles T. Wilder family which donated the 6.9 acres south of Paseo del Mar to the City of Los Angeles in lieu of back taxes owed on the property.

More historical information about the San Pedro coastal area can be found on our History Page.

9 thoughts on “Behind the Names

  1. I lived at 410 Arcadia Dr. during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It was known as the Gaffey Estate or “glass house” because of all the french doors and windows. We were told it was built for Gaffey’s daughter and her husband and was just across the canyon from the Gaffey Mansion. In the small canyon between the two homes was their own private chapel. I was very sad to see the house torn down to make room for a housing project.

    • Janet – your description of the two houses with the chapel sounds fascinating. I have been chasing a comment I saw on the web a couple of years ago about a small chapel or guest house that was a remnant of one of the early San Pedro families. Is any part of this still standing? Also, please contact me about your TOOM name – any chance your family is from Pella, Iowa? Please let me know!

  2. The park that was named for George Peck’s daughter, Rena, is located at the NE corner of W. Summerland Ave. and N. Leland Ave. Its official address is 510 Leland Ave., San Pedro, CA 90732. It’s referred to as a pocket park, which means that it has no staff assigned to it.

  3. … Why do places with history such as the one in Janets historical update get torn down.??? So much history.. Im sure that housing project could have been altered to preserve the reality on how our “San Pedro” was created.. I was born here in 1968, To have seen even the little things like that, well all I can say is Im proud to be part of San Pedro and I like to brag about us too

  4. i life in a old white apts might of been a massion that they cut up into apts. who lived there n is there any pictures …was it a massion when first built.. corner of Hamilton and 3rd st. can anyone help please

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