The L.A. City Council voted unanimously last Friday to officially name a neighborhood in Northridge "Sherwood Forest." It's a little trapezoid just southeast of Cal State Northridge, bounded by Nordhoff on the north, Balboa on the east, the Southern Pacific railroad tracks on the south, and Lindley on the west.
John Rabe met up with Northridge-native Kevin Roderick, creator of LA Observed and author of "The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb," at Louise and Nordhoff in the so-called Sherwood Forest to talk about the new designation ... and, on one of the hottest days of the year, to try frying an egg on the sidewalk.
On why the area was dubbed "Sherwood Forest:"
"A lot of subdivisions in the Valley had catchy names in the 1920s and '30s. They were just trying to bring some attention to them. This was a subdivision of large estates, ranchettes, an acre, a couple of acres of land with tall trees. The main street, Parthenia, was lined with cedar trees, and somebody just came up with the name and I guess it stuck. I grew up here and never heard the name, we never heard anything referred to as Sherwood Forest when I was living here, but later on the realtors adopted it as a name and now it's caught on."
On why the name works for this particular area:
"You go around some of these streets, Louise, Sunburst, Amestoy and Osborne. You'll see very green, lush yards with trees that have been here 40, 50 years. You go down Parthenia and you've got properties, a couple of acres, with really nice landscaping that's just lush. On a hot day like this it's a good place in the Valley to be."
On the famous names who have called Sherwood Forest home:
"We're looking into the backyard of what used to be the home of character actor Jim Davis, when I was growing up he used to be the local celebrity. A whole new generation of fans discovered him when he became Jock Ewing on the "Dallas" TV show … Richard Pryor was living on Parthenia here in 1980 when he accidentally lit his face on fire and went running down the street. A famous Hollywood animator, Abe Levitow. There have been athletes, TV actors… Walter Brennan was a 3-time Oscar winner, and he had a big chunk of land over on Parthenia. When we were growing up "The Real McCoys" was on TV at the time so he was famous for, again, a TV audience after his movie career started to slow down a little bit. That property has been subdivided into a couple of dozen homes by now."
On why names and places are so important in Los Angeles:
"I think that's the way to tell the story of Los Angeles … the names you see on the streets, especially in older parts of town, the streets are named for historical figures. And out here in the Valley, community names are important. [Residents] never say they live in Los Angeles, they might say they live in the Valley, or they might get really specific and say they live in Northridge, and the people in this neighborhood do refer to themselves as living in Sherwood Forest."
On what these names do for a community:
"Community pride is what it is and identity. Carve out your place in the larger city of Los Angeles, and you'll see it all over town, there's a lot of new blue signs popping up around town with community names that outsiders probably haven't ever heard before. I'm sure unless you've been looking for a house in this part of the Valley you've never heard of Sherwood Forest before."
The not-so-great sidewalk fried-egg experiment
As the picture in the slideshow above demonstrates, frying an egg on an 120-degree frying pan and sidewalk in Sherwood Forest didn't quite work out.
Roderick documented the whole thing on his site, you can see more pictures there.
Needless to say, the whole experiment was a failure. The egg barely changed color, both in the frying pan and directly on the sidewalk.
So what gives, is frying an egg in the sidewalk an urban legend? Have you ever successfully fried an egg on the sidewalk? Tell us your tips in the comments.