THE ARCHIVES – Much like the incoming Expo Light Rail is in 2014, the newly constructed roads were the subtext to many news stories 100 years ago.
The Pico-to-the-Sea project (AKA Pico Boulevard) was still a year and a half away from completion in August of 1914 but home prices were already shooting up.
“New Street Work and Public Utilities Being Installed,” one Los Angeles Times headline read. “Property Values Enhancing.”
Towns on the Westside were “undergoing a happy mutation,” the article said. They were “caught in that tide of prosperity and development which is rapidly sweeping westward from Los Angeles.”
The United States did not join until 1917 but when World War I broke out in late July of 1914, the reverberations were felt in Santa Monica.
Mayor Dudley had to postpone his family trip to Paris but this was only a minor inconvenience when placed next to the tribulations of Park Superintendent Leon de Staute.
City officials believed that de Staute, who was touring Brussels with his wife at the war’s commencement, was drafted into an army – the article fails to identify which one.
He “may have fought in some of the recent battles,” the article said. De Staute was identified as an expert nurseryman and designer of gardens.
World War I may have been years away for the United States but the water wars were in full swing. In August of 1914, City Council asked the State Railroad Commission to appraise the properties of the four water companies operating in Santa Monica.
“Many prominent local people say that Santa Monica must soon either establish its own municipal water plant,” read one L.A. Times article, “or let the Owens River water flow in the local mains.”
August of 1914 did little to dispel the notion that, in its infancy, the Bay City was a never-ending cycle of dark or slapstick deaths and injuries:
A police officer crashed his motorcycle trying to pass a horse and wagon on a dangerous curve.
Joe Rivers faced jail time for three times exceeding 40 miles per hour on Seventh Street.
An ice man lost two toes, and stood to lose his lower leg, after getting it caught up in an ice machine.
While walking next to the newly completed Higgins apartment hotel, Julio Martinez was struck by a falling brick. No one was working on the hotel at the time and the incident stumped police. The blow fractured Martinez’s skull and “doctors (held) out little hope for the injured man’s life.”
A 13-year-old girl, skating Downtown, collided with a motorcycle.
A man on a bicycle, en route to a favorite fishing spot, crashed his bike and lay, as of the then-press time, “at the point of death.”
Two fisherman found a floating body off the coast. Of course, the man’s left forearm was tattooed with a revolver, two crossed cutlasses, and a mermaid. “Just about his thumb” was an anchor tattoo, for good measure.
Mrs. Moses Hostetter, a 60-year-old nurse, died of heart failure at the exact instant that she delivered Mrs. G.W. Osborne’s baby boy into the world. It was, the Los Angeles Times said, “as if fate decreed that when a life came into this world, a life must be paid in return.”