Wyatt Riot

Wyatt Earp has always fascinated me. While I don’t reverently subscribe to his legend because I’m just naturally skeptical of such things — coupled with the facts that he did more than his fair share of bad stuff across his life — he nonetheless epitomizes the Old West and holds a deserved place in its lore that I am not at all here at which to take potshots.

It was a few years back that I was surprised to learn that Earp lived out his last years in Los Angeles. I love discovering stuff like that. Specifically he and his wife Josephine lived in a modest residence, reportedly at 4002 W. 17th Street, where he died in 1929, in what’s come to be known as the mid-city neighborhood of Arlington Heights. I was saddened but not shocked to discover upon a visit that the home is long gone, lost to a 1960s expansion of Mt. Vernon Junior High, itself ultimately demolished, rebuilt and renamed after the famed defender of O.J. Simpson, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.

Recently my friends at Esotouric posted on social media about one of Los Angeles’ most notorious murderers: Edward Hickman. In 1927 he kidnapped and murdered 12-year-old Marion Parker (read all about it here). I had either not known or forgotten that the school where Hickman took Parker from was Mt. Vernon Junior High, but upon learning its location at 4066 W. 17th Street it dawned on me that was the same block as Earp’s residence, and it not only led me and my wild imagination to consider that Earp might’ve seen Hickman arriving alone and/or leaving with the young girl, but it sent me to the internet on a quest to find some sort of visual as to where his house was in relation to the school.

Sure enough I found this aerial of the school, reportedly taken in 1929 (click image to embiggen):

1929 aerial photograph centered on Mt. Vernon Junior High on W. 17th Street in Los Angeles.

The school fronts on the south side of the 4000 block of West 17th Street, which dead ends at the left side of the frame, meaning Earp’s house could very well be a part of the image.

For comparison, here’s a Google Earth image of the same location today:

Interestingly, the north side of the street between the dead end on the left and Bronson Avenue on the right is for the most part unchanged, allowing me to do a search for the address of the farthest left house on the north side of the street, which I found to be 4001 West 17th Street.

Meaning Earp’s home at 4002 would be pretty much directly across the street in that bungalow court:

Helping to confirm that was the result of a search that produced a photo of what’s purported to be the front of Earp’s house:

It’s not super dooper rock solid, but it’s also not at all out of the realm of possibility to find the similarities in the shape of the bungalows at a distance and the shape of the facade and presume to be looking at the front of where Earp both hung his hat and passed into the great beyond in 1929.

The fancy, though, of him sitting on his porch on that fateful day two years earlier and chancing to watch Hickman approach the school and leave with his victim is pretty much just all in my mind.

Last but not least, here’s a small gallery of photos of Earp that the internet also delivered as a result of my searchings, all said to have been taken at the house, circa 1923: