About 1903, Charles E. Donnatin, former Pacific Electric Railway superintendent, apparently said something about the young woman across the street at the Stewart home, Savoy Street and Buena Vista (now 1301 N. Broadway).
The womanâ€™s mother was furious and soon a 5-gallon oil can appeared in the Stewartâ€™s yard saying â€œC.E.D. has beenâ€ with the implication that Donnatin had been â€œcannedâ€ from his job.
Denials and increasingly angry words were exchanged between the Stewarts and the Donnatins, and more items appeared in the Stewartsâ€™ yard. An awning across the porch was painted with an attack on Donnatin and pieces of old billboards were set up on the lawn. Two tall poles were planted in the yard and on the line strung between them the Stewarts hung a series of 5-gallon oil cans painted with slogans about Donnatin. The cans became an irresistible target for neighborhood boys armed with rocks and the entire yard was eventually filled with trash, The Times says.
The feud ended up in court in 1905 as Donnatin accused the Stewarts of disturbing the peace, but the case was dismissed and the lawn display remained.
And then, everything was gone. â€œAs day dawned yesterday on a little cottage over on Buena Vista Street, life flickered from the body of aged Mrs. James Stewart and with the going out of her breath evidences of a neighborhood feud as suddenly disappeared,â€ The Times says.
Donnatin died in 1933 at the age of 84. He had come to Los Angeles as a master car builder for the Southern Pacific. He was founder and president of the Southern California Building and Loan Assn.
One thing you can say about Angelenos: We love to talk about traffic. The only thing we love more is to commission studies and draft plans to deal with the problem, and then ignore them.
â€œWith the wonderful growth of Los Angeles as a great city has come to it many problems to be solved. The Owens River and the system of storm drains underway are the solutions of two important ones,â€ The Times says.
A traffic jam in 1907
â€œBut now the city is face to face with another important problem, that of the congestion of its streets in the business section, especially by the electric car traffic, which at certain times of the day causes blockades, loss of time to thousands, loss of business to merchants and discomfort to the public.â€
Now this is painful reading:
â€œThis problem of transportation will grow in importance every year during which it is neglected. Swift as has been the extension and shifting of lines of the great electric railway system in and about Los Angeles, the city has grown with still greater rapidity.â€
The elevated train proposed for Los Angeles and never built.
The Times says Henry Huntington plans to build an experimental elevated line from the Pacific Electric Building south on Tennessee with the idea of eventually linking to the beach cities.
â€œTo ride on such a railway, above the smells and dust of the streets, will some day be a delight to the citizens of Los Angeles, if ideas now if the mind of the great railroad builder are carried out.â€
Sixty years ago, we again failed to address the problem of transportation, from the blogâ€™s archives for September 1947:
Someday an inquisitive person studying the history of transportation and urban planning will tell the world exactly what became of Los Angelesâ€™ 1947 blueprint for dealing with transit problems. In the meantime, weâ€™ll have to settle for the knowledge that at least they made a valiant effort. They certainly knew what was coming-without much argument, you could call them futurists.
A committee sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce spent 19 months studying transportation issues and warned that someday Los Angeles would have a population of 5 million (the 2000 population of Los Angeles County was 9,519,338, with 3,694,820 for the city of L.A.).
â€œHigh-speed rail transit arteries plus a system of downtown subways alone can save Los Angeles from disintegration into a hodge-podge of unconnected municipalities,â€ The Times said in quoting the projectâ€™s advocates.
â€œCrux of this preliminary proposal lies in the immediate revamping of express highway projects (today we call them freeways) to include â€˜center stripâ€™ tracks capable of whisking trains at 35 to 50 mph.
â€œThese cars, pouring millions of commuters daily into metropolitan Los Angeles, would unload at special downtown stations whence passengers would be shuttled to local destinations by subways tentatively scheduled under Broadway and Spring Street.
â€œThe master plan envisions center strip tracks on the Hollywood, Santa Monica, Olympic, Inglewood, Harbor and East Bypass Freeways.â€
The Times notes: â€œEventually the master plan would integrate all forms of mass transportation, including operation of rubber-tired vehicles on certain expressways not immediately requiring trains.â€
A quick search through Proquest isnâ€™t helpful in determining the projectâ€™s fate. William Jeffers, the former Union Pacific railroad president who was to be a consultant on the project, is quoted in 1948 calling for approval of a rapid transit district.
Of course there was a competing proposal. The 1948 Babcock plan, named for consulting engineer Henry A. Babcock, who envisioned a 650-mile subway system at a cost of $1,100,000,000 ($10,410,604,566.50 USD 2005). While there were arguments between the two factions, in the end, neither plan was adopted, as any Los Angeles driver knows.
The original story reveals some obvious clues as to why: The Inglewood, Olympic and East Bypass Freeways arenâ€™t familiar names these days. One could paper the dining room with Times maps of various freeway routes that were never built. (In simple terms, the Santa Monica Freeway was originally envisioned much farther north. To the south, the Olympic Freeway was to go from the Harbor Freeway to Venice and the Inglewood Freeway was to go from the Harbor Freeway to Sepulveda).
And there are other stories in the same issue that offer more hints: A huge petition drive led by Ted Meltzer, publisher of the South Side Journal, against building the Harbor Freeway between Broadway and Figueroa. â€œHomeowners in an area bounded by 23rd Street and Imperial Boulevard claim that several thousand homes in the built-up area would be destroyed and ask that the project be either abandoned or postponed,â€ The Times said. And an adjoining story reports on a seven-month investigation of graft and conspiracy in acquiring property for the Hollywood Freeway.
But it is gratifying when wondering what became of the 1947 plan to remember that the new Gold Line tracks run between lanes of the Foothill Freeway. Some things just take time.
Bonus factoid: The Harbor Freeway was realigned to spare the Auto Club headquarters on South Figueroa and USCâ€™s Fraternity Row.
Mayor Arthur C. Harper addressed the crowd for a moment, reminiscing about a teacher who used to tell his pupils that someday, long after he was gone, people would get around Los Angeles in self-propelled vehicles.
And with that, Harper threw the switch, illuminating 10,000 electric lights at Morleyâ€™s Skating Rink on Grand between 9th and 10th Streets and beginning the insanity, formally unveiling the automobile in the first car show not only in Los Angeles, but on the West Coast.
More than 3,000 people poured through the exhibits in the first three hours of the show, which featured 97 gas-powered autos and two electric cars, as well as all manner of accessories such as odometers, speedometers, dashboard clocks and gas lamps. There was a personal appearance by Barney Oldfield with his famous â€œGreen Dragonâ€ racecar.
Not all of the exhibitors arrived in time for the opening night. The railroad car carrying the shipment of Pope-Toledos caught fire near Barstow and the Ford was delayed, although Henry Ford did attend the show, The Times says.
Great preparations had been made to display the vehicles: 9th and 10th Streets, as yet unpaved, were muddy from recent storms, but Grand was cleared of mud and a wooden causeway was built to the entrance. The Times notes that a canopy had been erected for people arriving in carriages.
The autosâ€™ technical innovations were breathtaking: â€œAt the space of the White garage a constant crowd looked over the Christman, a car built for the hardest kind of place, the desert,â€ The Times says. â€œThe car is built for carrying passengers over no roads at all, for jumping off rocks and climbing over gullies and generally being abused.
â€œThe Christman is a large, heavy, rugged-looking machine, with broad tread, large wheels and a body fitted with three seats, like an old-fashioned buckboard. Its frame is built like a railroad car, with truss rod underneath. In front is the motor, a Brennan double-opposed rated at 40 horsepower. This size is used in the car on exhibition, but the next ones turned out with have a 60 horsepower motor, capable of taking them anywhere.
â€œA peculiar system of individual clutch transmission is used, which has been changed a little since the first car was made. Formerly the car had no reverse and when Christman wanted to turn the machine around in the narrow streets of Goldfield he rushed at the curb, hit and bounced back and then continued the operation until he had bounced himself around.
â€œThis operation seemed to have no deleterious effect on the car, but it was thought better to have a reverse as the method was rather strenuous on the passengers.â€
There were many questions and after a few days, salesmen became exhausted from explaining why a car engine needs pistons and why a manufacturer canâ€™t leave off the differential to save weight. The show was extended because of its popularity, and was forced to close in part because most of the exhibition cars had been sold.
If anyone asked about mass transit, pollution or traffic, the comments were not recorded. No, the first thing people did when they got hold of their cars was to see how fast they could go.
Jan. 13, 1907 Los Angeles The Times takes a light, humorous look at the destructive wanderings of Eaton Wash: a docile stream, if not entirely dry, most of the year, turned into a churning monster by heavy rains. â€œThe little river that makes so much trouble lives somewhere in the fastness of Eatonâ€™s Canyon during the summer months,â€ The Times says. â€œIn the rainy season it always comes prowling out for a wild outing. â€œNot having a respectable bed like other rivers, it comes bursting down from the mountains and goes wherever anyone will let it go. â€œWhen the rains began this year, it stole trustfully-undiscouraged by its previous disappointments-down from the mountains. â€œIt sneaked on a pleasant-looking ranch in the valley. And the farmer found it there-as it covered about half his ranch-and rushed out with shovels and teams and turned it back on someone elseâ€™s ranch. â€œAnd the ranchman who owns this second ranch on which it was driven came out in a rage and shook his fist, bellowing: â€˜Here, come and take back your old river. It canâ€™t stay on my place.â€™ And he said other things.â€ The engineers of the Southern Pacific railroad built a massive culvert to protect the tracks from washing out. But another neighbor, Annie Adams, hired men to turn the fences on her 36-acre ranch into a barrier. â€œThe only way for the river to get on Miss Adamsâ€™ ranch was to jump the fence,â€ The Times says. â€œAnyone familiar with the eccentricities [of the river] can guess readily enough what happened then,â€ The Times says. â€œThat fine and elegant new culvert of the railroad company lasted about a minute.â€ More men and teams of horses built a barrier of sandbags to stop the river. â€œIt went. It rippled forlornly down the side of the high embanked track trying to find a hole through the sandbag dike-but nothing doing. â€œThen it came to a long, hard, fascinating looking strip of road leading through the middle of the little town of Savannah. It turned down this road with a little gurgle of joy,â€ The Times says. â€œAnd the things that it did to that county road is enough to make the county supervisors weep in anguish. â€œIt was a beautiful oiled road-smooth and flat and even. The river gouged out chuckholes as deep as a well. It made ruts in which you could drydock a ship. It ruined several hundred dollarsâ€™ worth of highway in less time than it takes to write it.â€ Lawsuits followed and a committee was appointed to pick a course for the river. But none of the ranchers wanted the river on his property. â€œIn the end, the court will undoubtedly select a straight, direct route, with the proper angle and fall and slope from the canyon to the river, and order a right of way condemned-let it cross whose ranch it may,â€ The Times says.
Bonus factoid: The story uses the phrase “No. 23 skiddoo,” which I’ve always associated with the 1920s. Apparently the anonymous writer was ahead of his time.
Police battling the current crime wave say they have arrested two men who staged daring holdups on the Ascot Park and Eastlake streetcars, robbing the motormen and conductors as the cars reached the ends of their routes. These holdups had so infuriated local officials that Chief Kern armed bicycle officers with shotguns and ordered mounted policemen to resume patrolling the city.
In each case, robbers waited at the end of a streetcar route, when the trolley was empty except for the motorman and conductor, overpowered the men and robbed them. The bandits only took money or guns.
Mrs. Amanda Cook (she is also identified as Jennie and Mary) came to Los Angeles from Boston in 1906 with two of her children in search of her husband, Frederick, a union plasterer and bricklayer. She advertised in the newspapers without success and finally took a job as a cook at the Juvenile Detention Home.
Persuaded by her cousin to seek a divorce, she hired attorney George W. MacKnight, who sought out her errant husband and began divorce proceedings.
One day, after being threatened with divorce, Frederick appeared at the juvenile home and upon seeing his wife, said:
Half a block from his home at 1131 Westlake, John P. Shumway Jr. was badly injured when the carriage he was driving collided with the 11th Street trolley.Shumway was thrown about 20 feet, striking the pavement head-first, and the horse ran for the stable, pulling what was left of the smashed carriage, witnesses said.
Shumway was carried to his home, where his father, Dr. John P. Shumway, treated him for a concussion, bruises and cuts. A year later, the family filed a personal injury suit against the Los Angeles Railway, seeking $10,355 ($204,938.83), although The Times failed to report the outcome of the trial.
Whether Shumway was a troublesome sort before is unclear, but his problems continued. In 1909, he was arrested for passing a forged check for $25 at the Pioneer bar on North Main Street. He claimed that he was given the check for work he had performed and was freed when he promised to repay the money.
A few months later, he was fined $60 for cruelty to a horse. Witnesses said Shumway overloaded a three-horse truck in South Pasadena and
John J. Mooney, 23, a Southern Pacific machinist who recently arrived from Butte, Mont., was aboard the West 2nd Street car on his way to be initiated in the Modern Woodmen of America when the brakes failed, sending the car into the southbound Spring Street trolley, killing him and injuring seven other passengers.
The intersection is known as a danger point because of the steep hill on 2nd Street, according to The Times, which noted that another fatal accident occurred there Dec. 24, 1905. Officials say the 2nd Street car stopped at Broadway, then proceeded toward Spring when the brakes failed. The motorman of the Spring Street car accelerated to avoid the oncoming trolley but couldn