The Legend of Midgetville

image For Christmas I received a great book, Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman. Immediately I flipped through it to find anything about San Diego, and soon came across the legend of Midgetville.

Midgetville refers to the legend of a town consisting of scaled-down houses built for little people. Midgetville is said to exist in various places throughout America. As Moran and Sceurman note, the most credible rumor locates such a town in Jefferson Township, New Jersey, on the former estate of circus mogul Alfred T. Ringling. There really is a collection of small-sized houses there that could conceivably have once been home to a colony of midgets. However, another very persistent legend locates a Midgetville in San Diego.

Moran and Sceurman don't go into much detail about the San Diego Midgetville, but I realized that I had heard this legend before (my wife had also heard it). This is how it goes: back in the 1930s a group of little people who had made a lot of money in Hollywood appearing in movies such as The Wizard of Oz supposedly came down to San Diego and built a collection of miniature houses on Mt. Soledad where they could live in comfort together. But of course, nobody seems to know exactly where on Mt. Soledad this group of small houses was or is, though everybody has heard of a "friend of a friend" who once accidentally found the houses (though this FOAF can never remember how to get back there).

Determined to find the houses, I did a google search and came across an article from 2003 written by Kenneth Smith for the Daily Aztec detailing his own efforts to track down San Diego's fabled 'Munchkin Houses'. After many false starts, he finally discovered that they were most probably "a group of four cottages on Hillside Drive in La Jolla... built by famed architect Cliff May." Although no midgets or little people were ever known to live in these houses, Smith says that, "The houses do indeed have smallish features, accentuated by an optical illusion. The steep road that passes them makes them seem even smaller than they actually are." Unfortunately only one of the four cottages remains standing, but Smith provides directions to find it: "take Hillside Drive from Torrey Pines Road. The house will be on your left-hand side. Look for the crazy midget handwriting." He also mentions that if you peek through the window (the house is unoccupied) you'll see "cobblestone-like tiled floors and a little round fireplace."

Of course, I had to see this for myself, even if no colony of Wizard-of-Oz midgets had ever lived there. So on New Year's Day I convinced my wife to accompany me on a search for the Munchkin House. The results were mixed. It was no problem finding Hillside Drive, but as it turns out Hillside Drive is fairly long. We were driving up and down it (as a line of cars formed behind us) wondering 'exactly which house on the left did he mean.' None of the houses leaps out at you and screams 'Munchkin House.' But finally we settled on one house that we figured must be it: Seventy-Four Seventy-Seven Hillside Drive. It had small windows and a small door. Plus, the address written beside the door looked a bit like 'crazy midget handwriting' (though I think Smith was joking about this). Ignoring the 'No Trespassing' sign (even though part of the legend of Midgetville is that the midgets who live there fiercely defend their land from the Bigs), I peeked through the window and saw the cobblestone-like tiled floors and a little round fireplace. So I think I found the Munchkin House, though I'm not 100% sure. It's certainly not anything that would catch your attention if you weren't specifically looking for it since it's really not that small, which made the trip a bit disappointing. But the weird thing is, I've already forgotten how to get back there.


Posted on Sun Jan 02, 2005


I am 56 years old and grew up in Westchester (a small bedroom community very close to Culver City where they filmed Wizard of Oz). My parents and grandparents grew up here. I lived in Long Beach for 27 years. This community was built originally for the privacy for some of the cast from Wizard of Oz. I had friends that have seen this little community but everyone said that the people that live there are EXTREMELY PRIVATE. They are not freaks..and get irate at anyone who attempts to invade there privacy. I respect that. If you want to see a little village, go to Disneyland. Leave these people alone. They simply live in a place with easy conveniences to accommodate their size. Thats it. You wouldn't want someone treating you that way would you?
Posted by Nancy Brown  in  Long Beach/Los Angeles  on  Sat Dec 19, 2009  at  09:13 PM
i live in Ontario California and there is definitely a little persons colony in the padua hills area of Claremont. get off the 210 fwy on baseline go east, make a right on padua/Monte vista, you will be going toward the mountains. take the road all the way to the top of the hill to the padua theater, park in that parking lot, there is a dirt road next to the theater that goes behind the really big houses toward the mountains and it is posted with "dead end, private property" walk that road, when it comes to a fork, stay on the paved part (the gravel leads up a hill to nothing, but it could also be a good vantage point to see the village) as you follow the paved road it curves around a hill to the right and then descends down into a ravine. in the ravine is the town, there are spotlights everywhere and a lady guarding the property, if she sees you she will chase you off the property in her white van.
trespassing is illegal so beware!
Posted by kyle  in  ontario, ca  on  Mon Dec 21, 2009  at  11:49 PM
The midget community in Claremont at the top of Padua Ave is, from what ive heard and briefly seen, real.

My experience: Park at the theater, walk past the cones and the sign that says No Trespassing. The road goes up a hill and slightly curves down and right and from the top, you can see a house with a bunch of lights. If you walk quietly down the hill (mind you i did this at night) you will come to the first spot light. Go around it by climbing up the hill on the right. Soon after youll come to a little white shack with a yellow gate on the other side of the road (like the ones that block entrance into schools, some parks, etc). Theres spotlight #2. On the right there will be a white fence at the top of a hill, climb up to it and walk along it around the light, and you will get to a dark part of the road. Once we got there we could hear veryyy faint whispering and movement in the bushes/trees (like leaves cracking, sticks breaking, etc). It wasnt an animal because there would be a few distinct crackling noises then it would stop. Then about 30 seconds later there would be another 3-7 noises and it would stop. Eventually my friends and i heard dogs barking and a flashlight farther up the road that was coming towards us, so we booked it back to the car.

Others: My bestfriends brother (who is pretty much my brother) and his friend have gone up there before as well. Except, they didnt know about the spot lights. They set off the first one, kinda got confused/surprised for a few secs, then ran and hid. Nothing happened. Then they set off the second one and straight away booked it into the trees. After that, they stayed off the road. From what he says, as they were walking as quietly as possible through the trees, they could see and hear small rocks falling around them. Like someone was throwing rocks at them from up in the trees. Sketch. Eventually they got too freaked out and just booked it back to their car.

Where it is (sorry, i know its a huge url):

Point 2 is where there are the 3 orange cones and the no trespassing sign are. Have fun, dont get caught. haha
Posted by Cam  in  Rancho Cucamonga  on  Wed Dec 23, 2009  at  01:38 AM
midgetville in claremont is there and just as described by everyone else. after 3 nights of driving around following a friend who had been there before and couldnt remember how to get there, we finally found it. the cones are in the way, the lights do come on, and the dogs do bark. but everything is there just as described. completely worth the gas and time to find it though. if anyone had the documentaries i would love a copy. thanks.
Posted by mimi :)  in  riverside CA  on  Tue Dec 29, 2009  at  04:41 AM
oh! and the surrounding neighbors are strange as hell. we casually asked someone if our friends house we were looking for (theres no cell service so its pretty believable) could be up past the cones and both of the people we asked told us there is only a few houses u there and they are "nothing special" and we cannot go up there under any circumstances. it really seemed as if they knew exactly what was up there and they were protecting them from others knowing about it. bizarre. and the fact that we went through the surrounding neighborhood about 7 pm and all the lights were off in all except 2 of the houses. in this entire time, we saw only the 2 people whom we asked and one other SUV that as soon as he saw us turned around and went back about 10 houses to park in a driveway, strange ass people up there.
Posted by mimi :)  in  riverside CA  on  Tue Dec 29, 2009  at  04:47 AM
Everything about the midgetville in Claremont, CA is true. I still get the chills when I drive around that corner and see all the little mailboxes (about 20 of them) 2 feet from the ground. What I don't get tho is if midgets don't live there anymore why is there a guard? People keep claiming the don't live there anymore so why the secrecy? They really think 2 orange cones are going to keep people out? Last time I was there a mailman drove up and started filling the mailboxes with mail!! I was like HOLY SHIT THEY'RE REALLY HERE!!! but I've been there countless of times and have never actually seen a midget. :( Please 2010 all I want is to see the midgets!!!
Posted by Brent  in  Rancho Cucamonga CA  on  Sat Jan 02, 2010  at  02:15 AM
Where is Midgetville in Downey CA Located??? Can I get a real address and directions.
Posted by Val  in  Downey  on  Sat Jan 02, 2010  at  04:54 PM
WHERE IS THIS PLACE?!!! I GOTTA KNOW. PLEASEE!!!!!!! No more fake stories:| thanks fer yer time. xox gossip girl.
Posted by Gossip Girl  in  Saturn  on  Sat Jan 02, 2010  at  04:57 PM
I remember back in the late 80s when I visited the midget village somewhere in San Diego. Some friends took me there. Since they were driving I don't recall how to get there. I remember getting out of the car and came upon a few homes with the rooftop as tall as 5-6 feet. I looked through some windows and there was a midget in the house. He yelled at us and told us to leave since we were invading his privacy. We ran and ran and ran.
Posted by Tristan  in  Orange County, CA  on  Fri Jan 22, 2010  at  05:01 PM
Great discussion... I came here by a google search because of a story a friend told me around 1974 in Huntington Beach Ca. We used to go driving around the oil field roads at the top of Edwards Hill. It was cool because there was nothing out there and there were old shacks and houses and roads that led nowhere. We were out there and a friend pointed out into the open fields as if to say "over there a ways" was this old house that was full of midgets and that everything was sized to there comfort. It was supposed to be big like a victorian but run down and signs posted to keep out. He said that if you went out there some night and actually found the house, they would all come after you with hammers... at the time that sounded odd but my friends used to tell us about this house that was supposed to be owned by a witch that lived in the town of westminster. This was at the same time... They said that her house was completely covered by bushes all the way to the street. That she was very old, dressed like a gypsy, and wore combat boots. This sounded just like another one of those storys except that one night they took me there. They dropped me off, drove down the street 2 blocks and waited for me to walk past her house. And I did... and there was this yard with nothing but bushes and as i walked by I tried looking through the bushes in the dark (of course they take me there at night). I'm looking through the dark trying to see a house and BANG... out of some hiding place jumps this crazy looking old woman shouting something in romanian swinging a stick at me... of course as I got close to me friends car they started driving away... Years later she passed away and the city went in and cut back the bushes and went into the house to clean things up. They actually had a sheriff there to keep an eye on the place because the rumor was that she had all of this money hidden under the floors etc. but they never found anything of value there. So that story sounded like a lot of bull and it was true so maybe there really was a midget ville someplace.
Posted by john North  in  portland oregon  on  Mon Jan 25, 2010  at  06:17 PM
I grew up in the California Heights neighborhood in Long Beach, and first saw the small homes when I was in my teens in the 1960's. At that time, we could drive around the neighborhood (located not far from Hof's Hut at 4521 Long Beach Blvd.) on and we never saw any little people. The scale of the houses seems to be 3/4, so they are just the slightest bit distorted or miniature. Now, we can only peer through the gates, and the houses remain beautifully maintained.
Posted by The Good Fairy  in  Los Angeles, CA  on  Tue Jan 26, 2010  at  10:04 AM
I live in Riverside CA, near La Sierra and when I was 16 or 17 me, my friend, and my cousin went to see midgetville on la sierra and we recorded it. That was 10 years ago, and now it no longer exist because it was torn down by the city (I think because too many teenagers would go down there to drink) the buildings were mostly already torn down just from wear and tear over the years but you could see alot, they even had what looked like a horse stable for little horses, and there was a little handprint in the cement with a date and a name. So midgetville in riverside, ca did exist its just not there anymore. Its was right after dufferen on the right side at the bottom of a small hill.
Posted by Amy  in  Riverside  on  Wed Feb 10, 2010  at  10:27 PM
Of course you can't forget Midget City in Coney Island, Brooklyn NY. Apparently in 1904 a midget city was set up with its own theater and midget firehouse. Ahh, the wonders of Brooklyn!
I'm a magician in New York and always looking for the odd story. The Museum of Hoaxes is not only a great site, I loved the book too.
I heard that toward the end of the run, the midgets were encourage to display some lewd acts.
Posted by Brian  in  New York  on  Tue Mar 23, 2010  at  09:36 AM
Sure nuff on the "Midget Town" of Fort Worth off Hidden Road. In the early 70s I was taken there at night by my older brothers to scare the heck out of me and my little brother. We parked and walked through woods until we could see tiny homes with lights on by the moonlight. When we tried to get closer for a better look we were confronted by a person with a gun - not a midget. After all, we were on private property at night. All heck broke loose and we scrambled but my little brother got caught by the guy so my oldest brother went back. Long story short, we got into a ton of trouble. It's been 40 years and I still stay away from there.
Posted by Chris Amos  on  Fri Apr 09, 2010  at  01:04 PM
ok were is this midget town in long beach ive been dying to see it
if anyone has like the location or a street by it please tell
also i live in montclair only a couple min away from clairmont and they say there is a midget town there too can anyone help me find that place
Posted by isai montes  in  montclair  on  Thu Apr 15, 2010  at  10:01 PM
"Midget Village" in Fort Worth, which is at the end of Hidden Road, was built by the original owners of the property for their children's was never home to any little people. All of the buildings have been torn down except for the chapel and the stables. You can barely see it from Hidden Road and you can't get any closer because the road that leads to it is blocked by a gate with a keypad. It is the back entrance to two properties, one being owned by a Bass brother (though he does not own the land on which Midget Village once stood). You could jump the gate but you'd be stopped pretty quickly by private security. They patrol up and down Hidden Road and surrounding private streets all day.
Posted by Anonymous  on  Mon May 03, 2010  at  12:10 AM
aerial view of what is left of Midgetville Fort Worth. Church, Stables and small house.
Posted by anonymous II  on  Tue May 04, 2010  at  09:01 PM
We also got chased out a few times but usually due to being inconsiderate of the people living there. We were just kids.
Posted by handyman manchester  in  usa  on  Mon May 10, 2010  at  12:33 PM
>>We also got chased out a few times but usually due to being inconsiderate of the people living there. We were just kids.

Yes. We should have minded our manners as well. I have seen posts here that the Fort Worth village was made for kids or did not exist at all, but we who have seen or spoke with the occupants back then know it was very real.

Looking at the Bing bird's eye view photo I see the chapel is still there and you can see spaces where other houses used to be.
Posted by Christopher Amos  in  Fort Worth  on  Tue May 11, 2010  at  10:49 AM
the midget land is real ..anyone who grew up in longbeach knows tryin to find information about the pigman i think he was by joe rogers he used to live in the sewers late 80's middle 90's any one with information please email me .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by slim  in  Lbc  on  Tue May 18, 2010  at  12:23 AM
I know it's been a long while since this was being discussed.. but I'm still wanting more information on Midget Village in Fort Worth. I'm trying to come up with an angle for a blog article. I'm curious to hear who built it and why. My mother seems to remember hearing something about it being built by some people in some sort of rehabilitation facility or something... as a form of therapy. Anyone hear anything like this?
Posted by Amy Townsend  in  Hurst, TX  on  Mon Jun 07, 2010  at  12:45 PM
Hey I live in riverside California near the old site of Midgetville. I went there many times and I personally took many different people there to see it. Unfortunatly it is gone now. It was destroyed around 2002 or so. I dont have any pictures of the place and if you do i would really appreciate getting some pics sent to me. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by valerie weathersby  in  Riverside, Ca  on  Sun Jul 11, 2010  at  02:30 AM
We drove up Padua way in Claremont California and saw the rode to the right that said "Dead End, Private Property", it is blocked with cones. We didn't go up any further, but looked on google earth. You are able to see the village from this website. The pictures are not to clear, but you can see the little homes.
Posted by Monica  in  Rancho Cucamonga  on  Mon Sep 06, 2010  at  09:05 PM
there is a Midgetville in Claremont. many of my friends have gone up there and have said if you get too close to this regular house in the entrance this lady will start chasing you with a gun telling you the story of the Midgets. i have tried to go up there but did not quite work. many have told me many things but i have to go up there and see for myself.
Posted by RC  in  Upland  on  Thu Sep 09, 2010  at  11:22 PM
The one in Long Beach is on N.Country drive there a sign that says no trespassing it's Devin Lane then a steep road I'll post crossin street, went as a teenager but recently went back bc of Halloween decor..
Posted by Ronny  in  Ontario  on  Sun Oct 31, 2010  at  05:53 AM
just got back from the one in Clairmont California, it was burnt down a few years ago but i guess they rebuilt, we didnt go in far enough to thee the houses but there is a guard shack blocking the entrance, i have friends that say that the lady is real and she shoots on site for trespassing, if you go to google maps and type in Migit City, Ca a landmark will pop up and if you go to the street view, which the name of the street is "W Fork Palmer Mtwy" it only goes as far as the guard shack...which is where we stopped and went around the top dirtroad called "Padua Ave" and saw a bunch of occupied houses, but it was too dark to tell if they were small of not. Take the 210 fwy to Baseline Exit, then take Padua Ave all the way north to a theater, thats where we parked. then we walked up Via Padova to either Padua Ave or the W Fork Ppalmer Mtwy. Good luck.
Posted by Annonomys  in  Rancho Cucamonga  on  Mon Nov 08, 2010  at  01:18 AM
I grew up on Mount Soledad.. we knew about the legend and used to look for the street when we were high drivin around but never found anything special. I do know where those bridges are though around Hidden Valley Road.. pretty sure it's just one or 2 bridges if I remember correctly.
Posted by dre  on  Mon Nov 29, 2010  at  10:21 PM
The Downey MidgetVille/Munchkin town can be reached by Suva St. From Paramount Blvd, turn W. on Suva. When you go over the bridge, you'll see a church and 3 forks. The right fork takes you to Treasure Island Park, the left fork just keeps going but the center fork which runs along the right side of the church will take you directly to MidgetVille. As the street starts to curve over another river bed, don't follow the curve. Just go straight. The way out is through the normal homes next to Treasure Island....Actually, the midget houses our pretty much normal scale. It's just the streets and yards that are small.
Posted by P. Nolin  in  Downey, CA.  on  Thu Feb 17, 2011  at  10:29 PM
I just google earthed,and there it was, La Linda just west of Long Beach Boulevard. So sad it's gated now. In the late 1960's, we'd drive around and gawk. We might have seen one little person, but that was no indication it was a village. The houses seem smaller, but the street is very narrow. Beautifully kept homes.
Posted by The Good Fairy  in  Los Angeles  on  Thu Feb 17, 2011  at  10:52 PM
Grew up in North Long Beach during the 1950s. There are many smallish homes (cottages), but no midget-sized homes. You people have over active imaginations.
Posted by Joe  on  Sat Feb 11, 2012  at  12:13 PM
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