Speaking of the Weather


Feb. 22, 1907
Los Angeles

Here’s how The Times weather stories read a century ago:

“For all the daylight hours yesterday, the rain drizzled down, much of the time like a heavy Scotch mist, but toward nightfall the storm deepened and the rain began to fall in earnest. For two hours in the early part of the night there was a constant downpour that soon set the gutters running full and brought about the usual results to the streets near the hill district.

“The wash from the highways intersecting the hills poured down onto the streets of the business section and deposits of sand and gravel caused much inconvenience to electric cars. At several of the intersections on Broadway and Hill streets, men were stationed with shovels to keep the tracks passable for cars.

“The rain disarranged schedules for several of the car lines and much trouble was experienced on both the Belt line and the Brooklyn Avenue line to get the cars around the numerous curves overwashed with gravel.â€Â

“No special damage was done by the storm in Garvanza, although the streets were cut up in some cases. At Highland Park, a swift current flowed down Pasadena Avenue, cutting that street badly in several places.

“Right in the midst of yesterday’s rain, a water pipe on Broadway in front of the Ville de Paris broke and when workmen made excavations to mend the pipe, the water got beyond control and shot up into the air on a level with the fourth story of the building. Hundreds of pedestrians stopped in the rain to watch the great fountain play and it added much to the waters rushing down the street.â€Â

Normally, I don’t like to merely copy what ran in The Times, but sometimes it’s impossible to rewrite the stories and preserve the original flavor.

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Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

Feb. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

The Eastside gets a new Baptist Church and 2nd Street and St. Louis.

Like Tom and Huck

A large pond 7 feet deep at Normandie and San Marino left by the runoff of recent rainstorms proved too tempting to the boys of the Forrester tract and so they launched a raft to play.

The raft tipped, The Times says, sending 8-year-old Clarence Rhodes of 1004 S. Jasmine tumbling into the water. Hearing the boys’ cries for help, M. Allen rushed from his home at 922 Normandie, plunged into the water and rescued Clarence.

After nearly half an hour’s work, the boy was resuscitated, The Times says.

Abandoned Boy

“His mother dead and deserted by his father, Charlie McDaniel, 6 years of age, has been wandering about the city, picking up a living as best he could, and sleeping in dry goods boxes and nooks and corners,â€Â The Times says. “The boy was found early yesterday morning by a patrolman and he is now in the Detention Home.

“In telling his pitiful story at the Central Station, the boy said that his mother died a few months ago and that his father had gone away with some woman. The police will make an effort to locate the father.â€Â

Last Stop

Mrs. A.C. Newton of 2707 Central Ave. is not expected to live after fracturing her skull when she leaped from a speeding streetcar because it passed her stop.

“According to witnesses, Mrs. Newton asked to be allowed to leave the car at 29th Street. When she saw the coach was running past the street, she jumped. The car crew carried her into a house nearby,â€Â The Times says.

“Several passengers on the car said that it was No. 419. They state that the conductor paid no attention to Mrs. Newton’s signals.â€Â

Note: I was amazed to learn just how many people were injured in 1907 by jumping from streetcars that failed to stop. Without checking further, I would say someone was hurt about once a week.

Bonus fact: The local tourism industry is furious because the state Senate passed the bill banning horses with docked tails. Businesses note that wealthy visitors from the East often bring their teams to Los Angeles at great expense and if their fancy horses are prohibited, wealthy tourists will avoid the Southland in favor of Florida.

Lmharnisch.com
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Why Doesn’t L.A. Do Something About Traffic?

Jan. 27, 1907
Los Angeles

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.

“With 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€Â The Times says.

A traffic jam in 1907

“But 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€Â

Now this is painful reading:

“This 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€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.

“To 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€Â

Sixty years ago, we again failed to address the problem of transportation, from the blog’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 Angeles’ 1947 blueprint for dealing with transit problems. In the meantime, we’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.).

“High-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€Â The Times said in quoting the project’s advocates.

“Crux of this preliminary proposal lies in the immediate revamping of express highway projects (today we call them freeways) to include ‘center strip’ tracks capable of whisking trains at 35 to 50 mph.

“These 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.

“The master plan envisions center strip tracks on the Hollywood, Santa Monica, Olympic, Inglewood, Harbor and East Bypass Freeways.â€Â

The Times notes: “Eventually the master plan would integrate all forms of mass transportation, including operation of rubber-tired vehicles on certain expressways not immediately requiring trains.â€Â

A quick search through Proquest isn’t helpful in determining the project’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 aren’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. “Homeowners 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€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 USC’s Fraternity Row.

Lmharnisch.com
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Highwaymen Captured


Nov. 20, 1907
Los Angeles

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.

Officials say that S.A. Kursting and Frank O

Fatal Fury

Nov. 16, 1907
Los Angeles

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:

A Bad Way With Horses


Nov.12, 1907
Los Angeles

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

Danger Point


Oct. 31, 1907
Los Angeles

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