P80124Los Gatos is named after bobcats. More specifically, it is named after an interchange that was named after bobcats; La Rinconada De Los Gatos. There are a few theories about how and why it was named after bobcats. The most popularly accepted theory involved the remarkably violent demise of everyone involved, leaving no one to document it as accurately is it has been repeated for generations. Don’t question it if you ever hear it. It is quite entertaining. I prefer to think that we do not need an elaborate excuse for naming our town after native wildlife. The bobcats were here. People noticed them. BINGO – La Rinconada De Los Gatos.

Regardless and contrary to what my colleague Brent would tell you, ‘Los Gatos’ does not mean ‘The Ghettos’ in Spanish.

Other towns in California have horticultural names. Some are named for horticultural commodities that were grown there. Others are named for native flora. Some are named after native flora that was harvested as a horticultural commodity!

Apple Valley, Citrus Heights, Greenfield, Lemon Grove, Orange, Orange Cove, Prunedale, Rosemead, Roseville and Wheatland might have been named after what was grown there commercially, although Orange was probably a recycled name from somewhere else. Calabasas is a Spanish name for pumpkins that were grown there. Hesperia is derived from citrus.

Del Rey Oaks, Live Oak, Oakdale, Oakland, Oakley and Thousand Oaks were probably named for the native oaks that grew there naturally. Paso Robles was named El Paso De Los Robles, and Roble is the Spanish name for the valley oak. Encino is the Spanish name for coast live oak, and a few small ones are Encinitas.

La Palma, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Palmdale and Twenty Nine Palms are obviously named for palms, both the native desert palm and exotic palms. Yucca Valley is of course named for the native specie of yucca. Cypress, Hawthorne, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Walnut, Walnut Creek, Willow Glen and Willows should be easy to figure out, although some are not as obvious as they would seem to be.

Redwood City was probably named for the mills that processed redwood lumber there, rather than the trees.; just like Mill Valley. Madera translates into wood; and Corte Madera is a place to cut wood. Palo Alto translates to something like ‘high stick’, but was really derived from a tired old redwood tree with a dead top. Fresno translates into ash tree.

Bell Gardens, Bellflowers, Cloverdale, Elk Grove, Ferndale, Garden Grove, Gardena, Grass Valley, Hawaiian Gardens, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Larkspur, Lawndale, Pacific Grove, Tulelake, Woodland, Woodlake and Woodside are open to interpretation. Then there is Weed. After all, this is California.


12 thoughts on “Kitty City

  1. Do you speak Spanish? The closest I got, was doing Latin at school, which for me was a better option than Maths – at least I passed! South Africa has 11 official languages. The most spoken as home languages are Zulu, Afrikaans and Xhosa, in that order but most people can get by in English. There are now refugees from other countries in Africa, so French and Portuguese speakers have increased. As far as weed here is concerned, there are moves afoot to legalize it. One of the local names for it is dagga and the g’s are guttural.

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    1. I barely speak Mexican Spanish at work. My vocabulary is limited to what is necessary for work, although I am told that I speak it rather well, without much of an accent. I can not pronounce the ‘rr’ (rolling ‘r’) sound. We have no official language, but many of us want English to be declared the official language. We have SO many people who came here from other places, and made the effort to learn American English. Many of us do not want to cater to the few particular ethnic groups who want us to speak their languages. Nor do we want to cater to those who want to smoke marijuana wherever they want to. It became legal at the first of the year, but people smoked it openly long before that. Most of us do not have a problem with people using it, but we do not want it to be done in public. Many of us want nothing to do with it. I find the aroma to be very objectionable. The funny thing is that tobacco is less tolerable, and there are more laws concerning it. Those who want to smoke pot want to outlaw tobacco because it is a carcinogen. I suppose pot compromises logic.

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    1. There is a pair of them; Leo and Leona. One has his or her eyes open. The other has his or eyes closes. It is rumored that Leo has his eyes open, like the one in the picture. This is not the original Leo. The pair is a reproduction of the originals who live at the gate of an old home south of Town.

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    1. There are some that are not so polite. Pescadero means fishing hole, which is sort of okay, but Atascadero means mud-hole. Los Banos means the baths, but some insist it translates into the toilets. Putah Creek is any creek that is a secondary water source where prostitutes can wash. There are a few of them scattered about California. Alameda de las Pulgas is Avenue of the Fleas, referring to a flea market. One of the main street in San Luis Obispo is Chorro Street, which means diarrhea.

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