Rancho La Brea

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Rancho La Brea
Land grant
The fauna of Rancho La Brea, by John C. Merriam
The fauna of Rancho La Brea, by John C. Merriam
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
 • Total6.93 sq mi (17.96 km2)

Rancho La Brea was a 4,439-acre (17.96 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Los Angeles County, California given in 1828 to Antonio Jose Rocha and Nemisio Dominguez by José Antonio Carrillo, the Alcalde of Los Angeles. Rancho La Brea consisted of one square league of land of what is now Wilshire's Miracle Mile, Hollywood, and parts of West Hollywood;[1][2][3] the grant included the famous La Brea Tar Pits.[4]


The title awarded by the Alcalde in 1828 was confirmed by José María de Echeandía, Governor of Alta California; in 1840, it was reconfirmed by Governor Juan Alvarado.[5]

With the cession of California to the United States after the Mexican–American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored; as required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim was filed by Antonio José Rocha, José Jorge Rocha, and Josefa de la Merced de Jordan with the Public Land Commission in 1852, but was rejected in 1860.[6] As a lawyer and surveyor, Henry Hancock worked for the Rocha family to aid them with their efforts to prove their claim to Rancho La Brea; the Rochas finally won their claim (the grant was recorded as patented to "A. J. Rocha et al." in 1873).[7][8] The grant included the famous La Brea Tar Pits.[4]

As happened to other rancheros, the claimants' legal expenses left them broke. In 1860, Antonio José Rocha's son, José Jorge Rocha, deeded Rancho La Brea to Henry Hancock.[9][10] Hancock paid $20,000 for the Mexican grants (at $2 or $3 per acre) with his profits from the sale of gold he had found in a rich placer mine,[11] he engaged in the commercial development of the tar deposits on Rancho La Brea. He shipped considerable quantities to San Francisco by schooner. After Hancock's death in 1883, it was owned by his wife, Ida Hancock Ross.[12] Most of Rancho La Brea was later subdivided and developed by his surviving son, Captain George Allan Hancock,[13] he owned the Rancho La Brea Oil Company and donated 23 acres (93,000 m2) of Hancock Park to Los Angeles County in 1924 to preserve and exhibit the fossils exhumed from Rancho La Brea.[14] The La Brea Tar Pits within the Park are a now registered National Natural Landmark.

Arthur Gilmore bought some of the Rancho land in the 1890s and started a dairy farm. Drilling for water, he struck oil; this find was named the Salt Lake Oil Field after the company that drilled for him. Arthur's son Earl Gilmore built Gilmore Stadium next to Gilmore Field.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Diseño del Rancho La Brea
  2. ^ 1900 USGS topographic map[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Map of old Spanish and Mexican ranchos in Los Angeles County
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rancho La Brea
  5. ^ Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco
  6. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 287 SD
  7. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886 Archived March 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Record of patent CACAAA 085077
  9. ^ "Rancho La Brea". LA Okay. Retrieved June 19, 2010. On January 6, 1828 Rancho La Brea was granted to Antonio Jose Rocha and Nemisio Dominguez by Jose Antonio Carrillo, the Alcalde of Los Angeles. The grant included a stipulation that the tar pits within the rancho would be open and available to all the citizens of the pueblo for their use; the title was confirmed by Jose Echeandia, who was the Governor of Alta California at the time. Later in 1840, it was reconfirmed by Governor Juan B. Alvarado
  10. ^ Seaman, Florence Josephine (1914) A Brief History of Rancho La Brea, Historical Society of Southern California, Vol IX, pp 253-256
  11. ^ James Miller Guinn (1915). A history of California and an extended history of Los Angeles and environs, Volume 2. Historic Record Co. p. 98.[1]
  12. ^ Guide to the Exhibit of Fossil Animals from Rancho La Brea. Exposition Park. 1915.[2]
  13. ^ Windsor Square – Hancock Park Historical Society Archived April 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ http://www.tarpits.org/our-story/about-the-page
  15. ^ Healey, Paul. "Gilmore Field". www.projectballpark.org/. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  16. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Page Museum. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved August 28, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°04′12″N 118°18′00″W / 34.070°N 118.300°W / 34.070; -118.300