Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Los Angeles County: Whittier

Copyright 2004 by Jim Lancaster.
Photos by the author.

Notice:The images - photographs, drawings, maps and track diagrams - presented in this web site are the property of the respective contributors and may not be used for any purpose without permission. For more information see Photo Credits and Restrictions.

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Whittier (UP, SP, PE)

Whittier is east of Los Angeles and was served by branches of the Southern Pacific, Pacific Electric and Union Pacific. The SP arrived in Whittier in 1887, followed by the PE in 1903-04 and the UP around 1917. Passenger service on the PE was discontinued in 1938 and in 1942 the SP branch to Whittier was torn up, at which time the SP began using the PE tracks. By the end of the 20th century all rail service to Whittier had been abandoned.

The Whittier Citrus Association packing house is located at the corner of Penn Street and Whittier Boulevard (Map). It is the last remnant of the once-flourishing citrus industry in Whittier. Built in 1902 and enlarged in 1904 it became one of the largest packing plants in the State of California and included a main packing house, lemon curing plant and an office building. By 1906 650 carloads of oranges and 250 carloads of lemons were shipped annually by rail. The development of the Whittier Citrus Association and packing house was one of the main economic bases of the area for many years. The main structure is now occupied by King Richard's Antique Mall (Drawing).

The first rail service to the Whittier Citrus Association was provided by the SP on the west side of the packing house, along what is now Whittier Blvd. The UP line ran just east of the packing house and the spur served the south side (1948 Map).

In its last configuration the packing house was actually a complex of seven buildings. For reference, the individual buildings are numbered in this aerial view (Aerial Photo).

This old photo hangs inside the office of King Richard's Antique Mall. It was taken from the NW and shows the west side of the Whiitier Citrus Association packing house.


The viewing angle is similar to that in drawing of King Richard's Antique Mall. The loading dock was served by an extension of the SP's Whittier Branch which came in from the left and terminated not far beyond the right side of the photo. Using the numbers in the aerial view, building 1 is on the left, 2 in the center, and 3 at the far right.

Today, this side of the packing house is easily seen from Whittier Blvd.


James Lancaster Photo
In this January 2004 view from the SW, building 1 is on the far left, 2 in the center, and 3 at near right. Here is a closer look at building #1 (Photo-JL) and a photo from inside the building showing the trusses supporting the roof (Photo-JL).

The packing house was built on the side of a gentle hill that sloped down toward the SP track (and Whittier Blvd). As a result buildings 1-3 had floors at two levels. The two floors of buildings 2 and 3 are clearly visible in the photo above. The lower level floors are below street level. Here's a photo of a storage area on the lower level of building 2 (Photo-JL). The two floors of building 1 were lower than the corresponding floors of buildings 2 and 3 requiring stairs to connect buildings 1 and 2. Currently (January 2004) the upper level of building 2 is not open to the public. The occupants of building 3 are separate from King Richard's Antique Mall.

The next photo shows the side side of building 3 that was served by the UP spur (Photo-JL). The UP track came in from the rear so must have been elevated relative to the level of Whittier Blvd.

The next photos show the rear of buildings 3 and 2 from the SE (Photo-JL) and building 4 and the rear of buildings 2 and 3 from the NE (Photo-JL) . This broader view also shows the NE corner of building 5, now a meditation center, and a remnant of the UP track crossing Penn St. (Photo-JL).

These photos show building 4, now home to a furniture repair business and an iron works (Photo-JL), and a view looking into the shadows with building 2 on the left and buildings 4 and 6 on the right (Photo-JL). The tall structure attached to building 2 was a cooling tower. Building 6 is shown on 1925 and 1948 Sanborn maps as a "sweat house."

The last photo was taken from the SW corner of the building 6 and shows building 7 on the left, now a cafe, and building 1 in the back (Photo-JL). This completes the walkaround of the Whittier Citrus Association.

Behind the former Whittier Citrus Association packing house, on the east side of the former UP right-of-way, is an interesting complex of buildings with several dust/particle collectors that add interest to model buildings. The 1948 Sanborn map shows this brick building as a Venetian blind manufacturer (Photo-JL). The other two photos show structures that appear to be a pallet company or some other type of woodworking facility (Photo-JL) (Photo-JL). Overhead ducts connect the three structures.

If you have any additional information about the Whittier Citrus Association packing house or the Venetion blind factory, please feel free to contact me at ljames1@ix.netcom.com.


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