Eichler Tracts Become YouTube Stars

Daniel Moreno with camera
Geographer and modernism fan Daniel Moreno takes advantage of lightweight equipment to walk every street in Orange's Eichler neighborhoods to document and celebrate the treasures there. Images by Daniel Moreno

Maybe you’ll spot him walking slowly past your Eichler home, Gopro camera in hand or attached to a stick, pausing at times in front of houses he admires – or doesn’t – then moving on.

It’s geographer Daniel Moreno on the move, documenting Eichler homes, among other bits of geography, as a hobby, a passion, and perhaps as a way to earn a few bucks to plow back into his hobby and passion.

Daniel, raised in the San Fernando Valley and resident of a modern-storybook ‘Cinderella home’ in Orange County, has been working under the YouTube rubric 'Where’s My Map' for three years, touring, filming, then editing his videos and posting on YouTube, about 200 so far, ranging from a few minutes to about an hour.

He has produced extended video visits to Eichler’s tracts in the city of Orange, which are only a few minutes from his home. These include Fairhills, Fairmeadow, and Fairhaven, both driving and walking. Sometimes he drives rather than walks.

Title image
You'll see a bit of captioning at the start of the videos, but the Eichler tours otherwise depend on the video itself, which produces a slow-moving, meditative effect.

He’s toured other places as well, including the modern Forever Homes in Fullerton, designed by Eichler’s architects Jones & Emmons.

But Eichlers are about his favorites.

“So I'm a child of the ‘60s and somewhat of the '70s, and my interest is just purely nostalgic and having a love of art, a unique architecture. As a child in the '60s, I grew up going to Disneyland and visiting Tomorrowland and seeing all the space-age attractions there.”

“The Eichlers are unique,” he says. “Nothing I have seen looks like an Eichler.”

“And what I have found, in walking the three Eichler neighborhoods in Orange, is that if you visit that neighborhood, you almost feel like you're in a theme park," because of how well preserved they remain.

A Fairhills Eichler
Sometimes the camera lingers in front of an attractive Eichler, providing a touch of quiet emotion as the viewer understands that the filmmaker would love to go up, knock on the door, and visit the home and its proud owners.

“And if you go to a neighborhood like Fullerton Forever Homes. it's obvious that most of the owners don't know they’re living in [modern] homes. So consequently, you know, a few things happen.

"They deteriorate a little bit. The yards aren't kept up. And most importantly, I think they are remodeled in ways that are inconsistent with the Eichlers or the mid-century design.”

Watching Daniel’s videos show how well-preserved and meticulously maintained the Eichlers of Orange remain. They are protected by historical district regulations – and by peer pressure from owners that love them.

But are they too perfect?

Watching the Fairhills tour got one to wondering: Where are the pink flamingoes? The strange quirky doors you see in many Eichler neighborhoods? The basketball hoops? Kids’ toys littering the yard? The piles of free junk offered along the sidewalk to neighbors?

Bicyclist
A bicyclist zooms by, providing a rare bit of action during Daniel's tour of Fairhills.

Where are the people? Residents are almost completely unseen. Even gardeners and roofers are uncommon. Early on the camera looks up to see a copter, which turns out to be one of the livelier bits of action.

The neighborhood is quiet. Daniel supplies no narration, just natural sound. Finally a dog barks, maybe a block away. Finally a guy on a bike speeds past. Speak of action! Soon after we see a couple entering their home from their car.

This is minimalist cinema to the max. Maddening? Meditative?

Daniel’s tour of Fairmeadow, by contrast, shows a pink flamingo at about the first house he passes. Hurrah! A ham radio tower (which Daniel frowns on as an intrusion). Ah, but it is a sign of somebody's hobby. A bird flies by, and soon a butterfly! A basketball hoop. A kid goes by on a bike. Irrigation waters the sidewalk.

Daniel is a professional geographer who works for an engineering and environmental consulting firm “to support mainly things like environmental impact assessments.”

Fairmeadow garden
Seeing Eichler after Eichler after Eichler can be hypnotic, with varied landscaping in front, including this very 21st century version.

Creating the videos “is my form of art,” he says. “I really view it as my creative outlet.” Through editing and music he gives each piece “a tone and a nuance and a mood,” he says.

“A geographer’s interest is all about place. What is this place? What makes it different? Why is it the way it is?”

“I go out and visit beaches. I go visit townships and neighborhoods, I visit historic sites, places of interest.”

Do Eichler owners ever give him a hard time for filing their homes?

“No, they haven't.”

“I have seen other people going out, taking photographs as well. They could be students of architecture, who knows, but they're out there. So I don't think those neighborhoods are necessarily a rare event for people to photograph.”

Daniel hopes people who like his videos subscribe to his channel. So far, he says, “I don’t make a dime” off the project. But with enough subscribers he will earn money from the ads, and that will enable him to improve his equipment – and perhaps travel to Northern California Eichler neighborhoods.

Palo Alto, Lucas Valley, you Eichler owners in Sunnyvale – watch for Daniel Moreno coming your way.

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