Like every city in the United States, the history of Sierra Madre begins with the Native Americans. This was home to the Tongva Indians. This area was not at all the major hub of population it is today in those times. When the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, the entire LA area was home to only about 500 people in total. The population expanded quite a bit in the ensuing 200 or so years and, when the Spanish came to settle this land in the late 18th century, there were 5,000 Native Americans who called this area home.
Modern Sierra Madre history starts in the late 1800s. The city was originally approximately 1,000 acres in total, and was purchased by Nathanial Carter. The land was quickly built on, and by 1886 the city had a cemetery, a school and its own waterworks. The city would get its first town hall the very next year, and the building of a library that same year gave the burgeoning city the last of the major resources that constitute a viable city. The city was not incorporated as of yet, however, and was still primarily known as a resort area. In 1894, the city’s world-record wisteria vine was planted, and continues to grow to this day.
The early 20th century and late 19th centuries were the boom times for this city’s inns. The rich enjoyed visiting the beautiful canyons and foothills around the area and, to accommodate them, there was a bustling business in upscale hotels. The Sierra Madre Villa was among the stateliest at the time. One of the most famous destinations at this time was Lizzie’s Trail Inn, and it is standing to this day, maintained by the city itself due to its historical significance.
Sierra Madre, CA history parallels that of its surrounding communities in the 20th century. It wasn’t long before railroads were offering service from this community to LA and before roads began to make their way to this city en mass, eventually becoming the complex network of freeways that characterize Los Angeles County today. The community was formally incorporated in 1907 and, since that time, has continued to evolve. Today, there are still inns to be found in the area, and the Sierra Madre Canyon still has a bit of the region’s wild heritage to offer to those who venture down its winding roads.