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.
Santa Monica’s efforts to have a self-sufficient water supply started long ago.
Voters a hundred years ago this month approved a bond for the City’s purchase of four water plants, according to a Los Angeles Times brief.
“The decision of the voters today ends a long fight that has been waged here for and against the passage of the bonds,” the brief reads.
Nearly 2,500 of the roughly 3,600 votes cast supported the bond of $712,500, which would help the city acquire the plants. That’s about $15.6 million in 2016 currency, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The fight over the purchase of the water plants, which began nearly a year ago, has been waged with considerable vehemence,” the brief reads, “and local businessmen declare that the fact that city has decided to buy the plants will now give this city a chance to obtain an adequate supply of water and then turn its attention in other directions.”
The vote came a few weeks after city planning expert Charles Cheney spoke in favor of Santa Monica controlling its own water sources in an address at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, according to a Times brief.
“He said that an abundant supply of cheap water is one of the greatest assets of a city and that Santa Monica must have that in order to progress as it should,” the brief reads.
Search strategy bombs
Lifeguards were given a bomb they could ignite to illuminate the ocean water as they searched for possible drowning victims. What could go wrong?
The supposedly fool-proof bomb exploded prematurely near the municipal pier 100 years ago this month, seriously injuring a supervisor and a lifeguard.
“The bomb was placed on a pedestal and was to be lighted with a match,” a Times brief reads. “It then was supposed to shoot up in the air and light up the surface of the water to give the location of any possible drowning person.”
T.W. Sheffield, the supervisor, was burned on the side of his face, hands and body. H.E. Moore, the lifeguard, was burned on the arms.
The intersection of Colorado Avenue and 2nd Street has been busy in recent months as officials have constructed the Colorado Esplanade in preparation for the Expo Line’s extension.
And it appears the intersection has a history of commotion.
A century ago this month it was the site of a wreck in which a car carrying five people turned upside-down, according to a Times brief. The driver, Oshur Israel, and his four passengers were thrown from the vehicle. A cause for the crash was not reported.
Esther Angell was taken to the hospital with what was believed to be a fractured skull, according to the brief. Israel sustained severe internal injuries.
Public or private?
City Council passed an ordinance 100 years ago this month that gave the public works department the power to bid on city construction and maintenance projects traditionally done by private companies.
“So far as known this is the first time that a city in California will have a bid on such work, handing in a sealed bid just the same as a private contractor,” a Times brief reads.
One of the first projects in question was the paving of 40 alleys at the expense of property owners, according to the brief. The endeavor was expected to cost more than $10,000 (more than $219,000 in 2016 currency, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Incident on Alta
The scion of a wealthy Minneapolis grain merchant was “hovering between life and death” following a possible suicide attempt in Santa Monica a hundred years ago this month, according to a Times brief.
W.E. Andrews, 28, was believed to have shot himself twice at a house in the 100 block of Alta Avenue. His father, A.C. Andrews, had sent him to the coastal city four years earlier to be cared for by a servant and others.
A doctor from Minnesota who had been asked to look after him said the younger Andrews was suffering from “extreme nervousness,” according to the brief.
Female pioneer dies
A woman believed to be one of the first female doctors in U.S. history died in Santa Monica a century ago this month.
Sarah Howe Morris, who earned her medical degree from Boston University in 1869, had a residence in the 200 block of Pico Boulevard in the final stages of her life, according to a Times brief.
An orphan as a young child, Morris attended night school while working in Massachusetts cotton mills to support her family. She moved to Boston after her first husband’s death to become a doctor.
Morris was a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott, according to the brief.