Editor’s note: This monthly feature uncovers Santa Monica’s history by compiling notable city happenings from a century ago. The stories are found in old newspaper archives.
In the event of a foreign attack on the United States from Southern California’s coast, enemy ships would be forced to fight in the waters Santa Monica.
Such were the plans unveiled in testimony to the military committees of Congress a century ago this month.
The enemy would be “forced by the guns of San Pedro and San Diego to land at some open beach like Santa Monica,” reads an archived Los Angeles Times article. “By means of great guns mounted on railroad cars that run along the coast, the enemy’s warships will be forced to stand offshore at a distance of 10,000 yards, sending men ashore in lighters. While the railroad-car batteries hold back the warships our smaller guns and mobile troops will try to destroy the invaders as they come ashore in small boats.”
Booming beach town
Development along Santa Monica’s beaches was heating up 100 years ago this month.
A large bathhouse with 400 dressing rooms was planned on Ocean Front Walk north of the municipal pier, according to a Times article. People at Palisades Park would be able to enter the bathhouse via a bridge to its roof.
Meanwhile, the City of Santa Monica was undertaking a 1.5-mile extension of road infrastructure from Colorado Avenue north to Santa Monica Canyon, according to the article. Ocean Avenue was slated to be paved from Colorado to the canyon.
The $200,000 project ($4.3 million in 2015 money) would “bring the scenic beauties of Santa Monica Canyon much nearer for all autoists,” the article reads.
Fire department shakeup
A reconfiguration of the Santa Monica Fire Department a century ago this month was ordered amid “a lack of harmony and too much friction,” according to a Times brief.
The personnel changes were arranged by police Chief Fred Ferguson, who was also in charge of the fire department.
A fireman at station No. 2 was promoted to captain, the previous captain was demoted to driver and another fireman was indefinitely suspended. In addition, a driver from station No. 2 switched roles with a driver from station No. 1.
‘Table of silence’
A house party for wealthy and well-known deaf women was held in Santa Monica a century ago this month.
Ten women gathered at the home of Mrs. Howard L. Terry on 7th Street and had a contest to see who could tell the funniest story, according to a Times brief.
The host was reportedly a correspondent for The Silent Worker, a national magazine for people with hearing disabilities.
“I don’t believe that people know that many deaf persons in the United States have gained wonderful distinction,” the host’s husband was quoted as saying.
Bond campaign launched
A Santa Monica group 100 years ago this month was lobbying for a bond to pay for the four water plants that were supplying the city.
Led by president Fred Eaton, vice president William Schreider and secretary-treasurer Moe Fogel, the Municipal Ownership League launched its campaign in the aftermath of a December bond measure that failed by just 31 votes, according to a Times brief.
“The organization also is deeply interested in other projects of municipal advancement, such as storm drains,” the brief reads.
Part of Los Angeles?
A century ago this month, Santa Monica officials believed the coastal city would eventually become part of Los Angeles.
That was their thinking as they suggested aligning a local election about water supply with a similar vote being held in the nearby metropolis, according to a Times brief. The discussion came amid debate over whether Santa Monica should access water from Owens River.