“The Cut” digs into the geology and history of Echo Park & Silver Lake

It was a year ago that Rory Mitchell wrote a story for The Eastsider exploring the history of the crumbling sandstone cliffs that line Sunset Boulevard on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake.  Mitchell has now followed up the story with the video montage above titled “The Cut” – the name given to the canyon carved to make way for what eventually became Sunset Boulevard. Mitchell provided more details about The Cut in a post on the web site of The Echo Park Historical Society*:

“The Cut” refers to the sandstone cliffs along Sunset Boulevard between Waterloo St. and Coronado St that have marked the western boundary of Echo Park since 1887, when engineers for the Ostrich Farm Railway blasted a path through the hills northwest of downtown to deliver customers to the new Ostrich Farm in Griffith Park.

The video tells the story of a landowner – the grandfather of Gen. George S. Patton – who filed a lawsuit over The Cut that went through his property and opposed the city over the proposed route of Sunset Boulevard.  He eventually relented and completion of The Cut and Sunset Boulevard opened up the area to more intense real estate development.

* The Eastsider is a board member of the Echo Park Historical Society


  1. It’s actually Gen. Patton’s father, not his grandfather, who owned the land and initially blocked the railway’s construction.

    • Sorry, I wrote before watching the clip, but they’ve still got it wrong. GH Smith was Gen. Patton’s first cousin, once removed.

    • General Patton’s father did co-own the land, however, he was not GH Smith’s cousin, but GH Smith’s cousin’s son. GH Smith’s cousin, GS Patton the 1st, was killed in the Civil War. After the war, GH Smith moved to Los Angeles, married his cousin’s widow Susan Glassel Patton, and raised her children, including George S Patton II, as his own.

      George S Patton the III would become General Patton, making GH Smith his step-grandfather, technically, however, as his biological grandfather had died many years previous to his birth, GH Smith would be the only Grandfather he would know.

      Additionally, the man who blocked Sunset Boulevard (and who sued the railroad AFTER it was completed, he had actually encouraged the building of the railraod in the first place, he was just unhappy with how it turned out.) was George H Smith, who by that time was a Judge in San Francisco, not his step-son George S Patton the 2nd.

      p 23 of “Patton: A Genius for War” describes the relationship between GH Smith and his stepson, George S Patton II, and step-grandson General Patton.

      Additionally, p.7 of the finding aid to General Patton’s papers in the Library of Congress refers to George H Smith as Patton’s step-grandfather.

      Finally, I read about your recent discovery at the LAPL map gallery of Gen. Patton’s association with Silver Lake with some delight, if confusion, as I remembered you had commented on the initial story on the cliffs a year ago, and figured you must have read the link to supplemental material that went into the connection between GH Smith and General Patton in greater detail.

      • Thanks for the insight, Rory. I gladly stand corrected. Indeed I had not made the connection from the Eastsider’s first story on The Cut to my recent discovery of Patton’s Silver Lake connection. After the first story I suffered an immediate fixation on the Ostrich Farm Railroad. A subsequent search in vain for any logo/memorabilia connected with the railway distracted me from diving into the supplemental info and learning who the players were.

  2. “The Cut” — Sounds like a good name for a Silver Lake bar – or bath house.

  3. Yeah. Murals!

  4. simply fabulous. keep it coming, mr. mitchell!

  5. Awesome! I’ve often wondered about this part of Sunset, and didn’t realize it was called “The Cut.” I’m moving from NYC to LA this summer, and will add this to my list of things I already love about my new hometown.

  6. Will — I remember! You photoshopped a great logo for them. Those 19th century marriage/family protocols were pretty convoluted back then, and the fact that people only had 2 names to choose from apparently doesn’t help any.

    To All —

    Thanks for watching everybody! Your kind comments are much appreciated.

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