7477 Hillside Drive,
La Jolla, California
Where are the midgets?
I actually get this question a lot, so I finally decided to make an entry for it. No I don't know where the midgets hang out. No I don't know where an entire town populated only with midgets exists. I've heard rumors of one near Downieville, one near Long Beach, and one near La Jolla, but have yet to hear or see any proof.
Where's the story of a Midget Town from? Well it varies. Most of the time it refers to the actors who performed on Wizard of Oz in 1938 going off and forming their own community. Other times, it's towns set up by Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus. Every now and then, it is stories of vicious, angry midgets who are mean little monsters that adhere to cannibalism and white slave trafficking. Yeah, when it comes to midgets, apparently you get all types.
It should be stated though that the 124 midgets that performed in the Wizard of Oz in 1938 were all housed at the Culver Hotel and Adams Hotel in Culver City. Of course, endless rumors of their antics during their stay have been perpetuated.
It should also be pointed out that the La Jolla midget town probably comes from the following source: In the 1950s the newspaper, La Jolla Light, apparently ran a Halloween joke talking about the little munchkins of the hills celebrating the holiday. This led people to go up Mount Soledad looking for the little peoples' houses. There they discovered four bungalows up on the side of the hill that although normal sized, when viewed from above give the appearance of being miniature sized due to their abnormally sized roofs designed to give better shelter from the hot sun. Of course, visitors to the area, upon seeing four midget sized bungalows created all sorts of urban legends ranging from the aformentioned circus performers or Wizard of Oz actors to Chinese smugglers and middle of the night signal light flashes to boats off shore. Those adventuring at night in the area even told tales of evil dwarf sightings. All of it, obviously, not true.
Additional info on these La Jolla homes states that there were originally four (only one supposedly remains) and they were built by architect Cliff May. Their "short stature" is attributed to an optical illusion caused by the hill slope they were built upon. The houses are of normal dimensions for houses built back in the 1930s. The one remaining house can be found on the northwest side of Mount Soledad. Take Torrey Pines Road to 7477 Hillside Drive. There you will be able to see how the road is higher than the floor of the house, which when combined with the roof and the small wall in front of the front door of the house, creates a sort of optical illusion giving the appearance that the house is shorter than it should be.
According to other stories though, there is a gated community of midgets in Long Beach called "Midget Town" somewhere around the Bixby Knolls area. The stories usually involve some kid hitting a baseball over the community's fence, and upon climbing over the fence to retrieve the missing ball, the kid is chased out by angry mean looking midgets. The Long Beach Midget Town has also been linked to somewhere around Long Beach Boulevard and Pine Street. And the stories, of course, link it to the actors in the Wizard of Oz, stating that the actors thought there would be more lucrative Hollywood jobs and wished to set up a community close enough to the area.
Additionally there are rumors of other midget towns outside California, in New Jersey and another outside Washington D.C. Most of the rumors involve stories about these towns being set up by Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus. Although I would like to know if such a town or community exists, I strongly advise against anyone going and visiting or harassing such a community. These are people's homes we are talking about.
There was also a Midget Village exhibit at the California - Pacific Expo in San Diego in 1935 and 1936. Some pictures are located at http://www.sandiegohistory.org/calpac/35expo35.htm.
- valerie L tyler of ashland, 43 on 2020-06-11 said:
- I was raised in Whittier, Ca. In the 1970's a group of girls piled into my vw bug to see if the rumors were true. This was after a night of partying but we did find the street and yes, the doors and windows were for a smaller statured person. As we said back then..What a trip!! The only reason this came to my attention is a friend brought up the Carpenter's who also lived in Downey, Ca.
- Alex of Palm Springs , CA on 2020-04-05 said:
- I have only ever heard this story of a "midgetville" growing up in Palm Springs and in fact have had several friends hike down to the area that was rumored to have the tiny houses over the whole course of high school! I've never been there myself but have driven to access road with friends and it is just under the community where Bob Hope's house was next a a condo community off a street named ridge crest off of HWY 111. It's interesting to see this written up as a well known Cali urban myth considering I've only ever heard of it be a thing in PS and it always made sense to me because of its proximity to LA and it's being considered old Hollywood. I would be interested to see if you could find any information there. I wish I could give you better location but it was so long ago and only by driving there myself would I be able to give the directions to the location. The rumor was the man who purchased the property was tired of all of the constant trespassing and would fire beanbags at anyone caught trying to go beyond the access road. Anyhow love the site!
- EVAMARIE of CLAREMONT, CA on 2020-03-06 said:
- To John of Claremont... There's a spot in North Claremont we used to call Munchkinland... In high school my boyfriend(& eventual husband) would drive us up there at night. I'm pretty sure it was more of an optical illusion...but, sure enough, as you drove on the road you could look down into this little area and the houses looked miniature... It had nothing to do with the size of the inhabitants...merely, it had to do with the illusion of tiny houses... I have yet to re-find it since husband's passing... But it sure brings back some fun memories...
- Jazmin Renner of Panama City, FL on 2018-07-03 said:
- I am familiar with midget town me my sister, cousin, and my best friend from college would always drive around midget town almost every weekends whenever we are in La Jolla area. WoW! I miss those days and I look forward to visit this and other places in California in August.
- John of Claremont, California on 2018-07-01 said:
- Does anyone know of the rumor of midget town to exist in Claremont? Also heard one of the writers from wizard of oz lives in claremont. So there some of that speculations.
- Anonymous on 2018-06-14 said:
- Munchkin Land is on Rivergrove Dr in Downey. It runs along a riverbed and on the other side of the riverbed is Bell Gardens. No short stature people have ever lived there. It was referred to Munchkin Land because most of the homes were smaller than the average home. People have since remodeled and most homes are of average size. No residents ever threw stones or any items at anyone at any time. I know for a fact because I grew up on the street.
- brad of long beach, ca on 2017-10-06 said:
- What I love about all of the things said about the midgets and their neighborhood in Long Beach are not true, is the fact that it is true. Working in the telecommunications industry, I had a call to a residence in an area called Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Ca. This house was located behind a locked gate within that community. After I finished the repair job, as I was leaving, I saw 2 houses on the right side going southbound that were not normal size. Bigger than a doll house but, smaller than a typical house. Though I did not see any midgets, these properties were equipped for people approximately 4 feet tall. So the myth that this is all untrue is not the truth. Something existed there for dwarves or midgets. Can't say it was for the extras in the Wizard of Oz, or all of the other things said, but I saw these properties with my own eyes and it is something I shall never forget. Because it was the strangest street I've ever seen in this world we live in.
- cristina of Albuquerque ...cerritos native , New Mexico on 2017-09-25 said:
- oh snap, yeah the one in downey! but also there is supposed to be one in bixby knolls. it is on youtube. not to ge confused with igors alley
- cristina of albuquerque (cerritos native), nm on 2017-09-25 said:
- I know there used to be a video o you tube with someo e cruisin through the supposed midget neighborhood. its a gated community in long beach. the doors were all small and the houses made for small people. according to many they used to get angry when people would cruise through, but wouldnt you if you were being taunted and gawked at? some of my friends claim to have been chased , im sure if you go through without beibg a db its fine...that is if it really is what peop,e claim it is.
- Jaz of northbay, California on 2016-04-15 said:
- Wow, really wondering what the fascination is with "little people", dwarfism, midgets? I mean I would be scared if people were stalking my home like that. Is it just the freak in us that attract us to the strange, rare, and unique?
Little people sure are hidden where ever they are. I see a little person only once in a bluemoon and there are a lot of people where I live. It's crazy! Are they really that rare? Lol.
- sue of bell gardens, california on 2016-04-05 said:
- Yep, Bell Gardens did have a section that ran parallel to the riverbed on Foster Bridge Road back in the 1970's. This region does border the city of Downey but the neighborhood was in Bell Gardens. The road was not well maintained and contained sections of dirt. Many of the small homes were stucco yellow. The residents were upset at the way the kids would ride their bikes in that neighborhood and tease the people living there. Billy Bardy taught us on his tv show not to call people 'midgets' but to call them "Little People" My brother, had rocks hurled at him and his friends by these residents (rightly so) because the kids were so mean-spirited to these people always harrassing them.
- Brittany of Oxnard, California on 2016-03-11 said:
- I'm from Texas , there in San Marcos was a village of tiny homes and I remember my moms ex taking us to see it..they were beautiful almost Disney like sort of like you went into an enchanting forest...they were indeed small and he told me they were for little people
- Carolyn Robertson of San Clemente, Ca on 2016-02-04 said:
- When I was a child in Antelope Valley we drove way out to the desert to deliver something. We came upon a little shanty town of small houses and there were dwarf families living there. It is etched in my memory although I do not know where this was located.
- Ruselle Cherry of Long Beach, California on 2016-01-01 said:
- In the 80^so when I was a teen, I seen the doors of the small houses, but no midgets. It does exist in it by Knolls. Little people have rights too.
- Anonymous on 2015-11-15 said:
- There was a miget Village in the hiils above Claremont ,calif . You had to go up behind a old theater it was called padua hills i think . On the right side of the road there were 50 or so mailboxes the left side was the drive to get in . I only saw 3 of them up there the houses were built or scaled down in the end the Fires burnt out the last of them in the early 2000s may be by 04 05 and the floods took care of the rest . There were do not enter signs stapled to every tree branch ect ,, It didnt look inviteing but i never had trouble , for those that remember ther was a orange vw bug parked a the entry way through the windows you could see wood blocks on the foot pedals and a old small wooden speed boat in the grass behind it
- Brandon J. L. of Riverside, California on 2015-01-07 said:
- When I was in junior h0igh (2000) I went on a small field trip in summer school, at Arizona Intermediate school, and we walked to this place off of La sierra, up the hill, before lake Mathews and off to the right, down in the ravine, there were these little old houses, some built like shacks, others made from rocks, had to be atleast 20-50 years old, obviously built for little people. I can quote my teacher as saying it was a "Small town built for midgets"
- Blair of Claremont, CA on 2012-12-01 said:
- There is a "MidgetVille" in Claremont on Mt. Baldy. I had heard about it from a friend and finally went there today. There were tiny houses with lights on and smoke coming out of chimneys. There were cars parked in driveways and on the dirt roads but we did not see a single person. There is a sign as you enter the street that reads "THE LORD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES. BUT LORD HELP ANYBODY CAUGHT HELPING THEMSELVES AROUND HERE" I have heard that people who live there throw rocks at people who drive through and disturb them or take pictures.
- matt reeves of long beach, ca on 2012-11-26 said:
- I've lived in Long Beach a long time and heard midget town rumours even longer. If it's there, I don't know anyone that knows where it is.
- Anonymous of downey, california on 2012-11-12 said:
- I've always heard about it but I thought it was a myth until my friend drove us there at 5am, its real!
Rivergrove Dr, Downey, CA 90240
- steve lawrence of dolores, co on 2012-10-01 said:
- the place in downey/bell gardens is real.i grew up near there in the 70s and 80s.it is tucked away in an obscure area not frequented by non locals.friends and i used to cruise it in early 80s.it is very quite and other than some big dogs has no exciting traits.
- Patricia of Pasadena, CA on 2012-06-06 said:
- In the late 1930s/early 1940s there was a large lot in Arcadia, CA. that had homes for little people. They seemed deserted at that time. As a young child, I was fascinated to see them whenever we drove by the area.
- Anthony and Veronica Christensen of Eugene, Oregon on 2012-01-29 said:
- We wish to say, very respectfully,that we love the the Little People! We wish them the very best of equal goodness! (One of our favourite movies is The Terror of Tiny Town---1930's all-midget musical Western!)
- Lisa of Alameda , Ca on 2011-05-14 said:
- Yes, the Little people's homes in Alameda are on Tregloan Ct. (Run parallel to Broadway and right before Tilden Way). They are 2/3 size of regular housing. The difference is not "that" noticeable unless you knew what you were looking at. I've showed my friends these homes for years. They are regular homes, smaller scale, but super cute! (A friends Grandma lived in one)
- ----- of La Verne, California on 2010-11-22 said:
- there are rumors that there is a "midgetville" in Claremont, California.
- Lisa of Oakland, California on 2010-11-09 said:
- There are very tiny houses in Alameda California. I have actually seen them, there are located on a side street you really wouldn't notice by the Park Street bridge. My mother told me they were built to house " little people" whom during the war were hired to work on various planes. Only they could fit into the areas to complete the planes. They are adorable !
- lelia of cudahay, ca on 2010-09-28 said:
- the one in downey is true. along the river bed is a community of small homes and small doors relative to a normal size. the wizard of oz house at the end of the dead end road is actually pretty trippy but cool.
- sharon crockett of bell, ca on 2010-05-31 said:
- There really is a midget town with tiny little houses. Its on the boarder of bell gardens and downey, in fact the street is called foster bridge road. Its tucked away out of view along side the river bed. Its a little community. The door entrances are little. The houses are little, but you can tell taller people are moving in and adding on. That's the truth. Downey calif. Foster bridge road by the river bed.
- Anonymous of Riverside, California on 2010-04-13 said:
- My wife tells me about a "Midgetville" that used to be out in the orange groves here in town. That there used to be houses build specifically for the vetically challenged and that it was populated till about 20 years back. The structures were just demolished within the last 8 years sometime..... wish I had been here sooner to see them.
- Eric Rife of Spring Valley, CA on 2009-12-15 said:
- Up in the hills overlooking La Jolla, there is an area we used to visit they called "Munchkinland" or something like that. Supposedly the homes were built for wealthy dwarves, midgets or the ever popular "actors from the Wizard of Oz." In fact, it was a simple optical illusion, not unlike that associated with the famed "mystery spots" where cars roll "uphill."
- Weird California (2006) by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, Mike Marinacci, p: 46 - 48
- LA Exposed (2002) by Young, Paul, p: 80 - 81
Last Edited: 2015-07-14