University Hills sign at Lansdowne Avenue near Eastern
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The campus of California State University, Los Angeles occupies nearly 200 acres (0.8 km²) on a hilltop site that affords views of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, the San Gabriel Valley to the east, metropolitan Los Angeles to the west, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island to the south.
It is the former site of one of California's 36 original adobes, built in 1776 by Franciscan missionaries, and destroyed by a fire in 1908. The area was part of the 1831 Mexican land grant of Rancho Rosa Castilla, given to Juan Ballesteros by Alta California Governor Manuel Victoria. It was named for the abundant amount of native Wood roses (Rosa californica) along the creek.
In 1852, after statehood, the title passed to Jean-Baptiste Batz and his wife, Catalina. He was a Basque immigrant rancher from northern Spain. In 1882, after both died, the land was divided among six of their children.
For most of its history, University Hills was a neighborhood within El Sereno, which was developed more than a century ago with the expansion of the Pacific Electric Railway Red Car lines. In the latter 20th century it grew differently from El Sereno and other Eastside communities in residential qualities and socioeconomic conditions. In response, the local homeowners association lobbied for renaming the community in the 1990s. In 2004 it was designated University Hills. The increase in Southern California real estate values in the early 2000s attracted professionals looking for alternative neighborhoods to more distant suburbs and the Westside.
The mid-2010s recovery from the 2009 Great Recession and its subsequent depressed real estate values has returned University Hills to a desirable community for new homeowners. Gentrification is changing the historically predominant Latino enclave.
The Los Angeles Derby Dolls, formerly based at "The Doll Factory" on Temple Street in Historic Filipinotown, relocated in 2015 to "The Dollosseum" on Alhambra Avenue near Valley Boulevard in El Sereno, near University Hills and CSULA.
In addition, many neighborhood residents send their kids to nearby Catholic schools .