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History of Muir Middle


John Muir Then and Now

John Muir Middle School Then & Now



John Muir Middle School was built in 1922 as a junior high named for the great American conservationist John Muir. It was located in the heart of Los Angeles among what was then middle-class suburban tract housing.


Muir survived the Long Beach Earthquake which left 120 people dead and caused $41 million in damage.


The Harbor (110)Freeway was built near to Muir and gradually pushed south, opening to Olympic Boulevard on March 23, 1954[21] and Washington Boulevard on May 14, 1954.[22] On March 27, 1956, the highway was extended to 42nd Street,[23] and on April 24, 1957 it reached temporary[24] ramps at 88th Place.[25] Further extensions were made to Century Boulevard on July 31, 1958, allowing easy access to downtown Los Angeles. Consequently, this led to the disappearance of the Yellow (F) Car Line that traveled down Vermont Avenue.

1941 - 1944

During this short period, California’s population tripled. Many of the new residents were blacks fleeing the harsh discrimination then common in the American South. In Southern California, they found a temperate climate and decent-paying jobs in war-time aircraft manufacturing plants.

post - WWII 

Following the end of World War II, local jobs dried up and the area subsequently went into decline. By the late 50s and early 60s, the neighborhood surrounding Muir was populated largely by low-income blacks. 


The high jobless rate in the inner city created simmering tensions which finally exploded in the summer of 1965. On August 11th, a routine traffic stop in South Central L.A.sparked a large-scale riot that lasted for six days. The 1965 Watts Riots left 34 dead, over a thousand people injured, and nearly 4,000 arrested. Hundreds of buildings were also destroyed, but Muir was spared.  (From  former student Elliot Levinson class of 53) "My best friend from our first day in kindergarten at Budlong until we were in the 10th grade at Washington Hi was Ronnie Ludlow. A great guy and unfortunately the first L.A. county sheriff that was killed during the riots. He was the only one from the hood."



In 1991, the Sylmar Earthquake caused extensive damage in the San Fernando Valley. In 1994, the Northridge Earthquake hit the region, leaving 57 dead. Although Muir was not affected by the phenomena, since earthquakes remain an important part of Southern California life, students at Muir regularly practice earthquake drills today.


In September of 1994, the school was reconfigured and renamed as John Muir Middle School.

John Muir on a Lake

John Muir Biography

Environmental Activist, Journalist (1838–1914)


“"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter."”

—John Muir


John Muir was born April 21, 1838, in Dunbar, Scotland. As early as 1876, he urged the federal government to adopt a forest conservation policy through articles published in popular periodicals. In 1892 he founded the Sierra Club. He served as its first president, a position he held until his death in 1914. He was largely responsible for the establishment of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.

Background and Inventions

Born on April 21, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland, John Muir immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 11 years old. Settling in Wisconsin, Muir contended with a rigid, punishing father who made his son memorize the Bible and maintain a demanding schedule. Yet the boy had a major inclination for learning and creativity, coming up with an array of inventions such as a horse feeder, a table saw, a wooden thermometer and a device that pushed the youngster out of bed in the early morning.

After showing his inventions at the state Fair, Muir attended the University of Wisconsin during the early 1860s. Leaving school in 1863, he took up studying botany and exploring the natural world via foot while taking on jobs to support himself. But in 1867, while working at a factory, he was involved in an accident in which he was blinded for a time. Upon regaining his sight, he fully embraced his devotion to nature and walked from Indiana to Florida, creating detailed sketches of the terrain. He eventually sailed to Cuba, New York and Panama, ultimately making his way to San Francisco. From there he continued his walking explorations.

Esteemed Ecologist and Writer 

After first visiting California’s Yosemite Valley in 1868 and taking on work as a shepherd, Muir landed a mill job working with James Mason Hutchings, though the two would later have a falling out. Muir began having his ecology-oriented articles published via newspapers in the early 1870s, with his first printed essay appearing in the New York Tribune. After acute observations, he offered groundbreaking theories about Yosemite’s geological structures being formed by glacial activity, countering previous scientific assertions. 

National Parks Champion

Muir became known for his articles that praised the natural world, speaking in poetic, spiritual terms about his affection for the ecology and humanity’s earth connection, garnering a large and varied readership. He also published a grouping of essays pushing for the establishment of Yosemite National Park, which was created in 1890. Muir became a major figure in the creation of parks for the Grand Canyon and Sequoia regions as well.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."

Muir co-founded the Sierra Club in 1892, acting as president of the environmental-advocacy organization for more than two decades. In the new century he continued to make history with his 1903 three-night camping trip with Theodore Roosevelt, which helped shape the U.S. president’s own conservationist policies. Muir was also a world-traveler who at age 73 took an extended trip to the Amazon, studying its fauna and topography and being swept away by the region’s beauty. A host of honors and accolades were bestowed upon him during his life.

Death and Legacy

John Muir died on December 24, 1914 in Los Angeles, California from pneumonia. His legacy lived on not only in the establishment of parks and his environmental activism but in the scores upon scores of articles he penned. He was the author of several books as well, including The Mountains of California (1894), Our National Parks (1901), Stickeen: The Story of a Dog (1909) and My First Summer in the Sierra (1911).