Without question the most distinguishing feature of Southern California in 

the 1880s was "the Boom," most evident in a massive population increase, a 

rapid rise in land values, the founding of numerous towns and increased 

construction activity.  Based upon the region's climate, the Boom was fed by a 

series of fortuitous developments that had occurred in the two decades after 

the Civil War.  

    The cattle industry's drought-induced failure in the 1860s and a similarly 

disastrous experience that destroyed the sheep industry in the 1870s stimulated 

the breakup of the great ranchos into smaller parcels, a process that began 

with the sale of Abel Stearns' vast holdings in the late 1860s.  This meant 

that land became available for family-size farms and orchards in an area that 

previously was held by a relatively few ranchers.

    The opening of the Southern Pacific route from San Francisco gave Southern 

California a rail link to the outside, circuitous though it was, further 

stimulating agriculture.  Coincidentally introduction of the navel orange in 

the mid-1870s and its rapid acceptance by growers made the region the nation's 

premier citrus area.  While that encouraged many to move to Southern 

California, vineyard and orchard blights in the early 1880s created an 

atmosphere in which some landholders were ready to sell their cropland for 

residential town lots when the opportunity arose.

    By the 1880s Southern California's reputation as a haven for "invalids" was 

well known, bringing an additional contingent of travelers to the area.  

Journalist Charles Willard, who arrived in Southern California in 1886 as a 

health seeker, soon to be followed by three of his Chicago doctors, attributed 

the first great influx of population to publication of Charles Nordhoff's 

California for Health, Pleasure, and Residence in 1872.  

    Despite these factors several historians claim that the population of Los 

Angeles actually declined between 1876 and 1880.  At best, the rate of growth 

remained about the same in the early 1880s as it had been in the 1870s.  Even 

the opening of the Southern Pacific's Sunset line to the east in 1883, 

providing a much more direct route, had no major impact on the growth rate.  

But when the Santa Fe's competing route opened in November, 1885, the Boom 

began, stimulated by cut-rate fares.  

                           A) ON THE EVE OF THE BOOM

    Already there were omens of the impending Boom that would transform the 

lifestyle of Southern California.  Henry David Barrows, who had arrived in Los 

Angeles in 1854 and became one of its leading citizens and, along with James M. 

Guinn, one of its lay historians, referred to the rising value of Los Angeles 

city lots in a mid-1885 letter to the Times, written before the Santa Fe line 

had opened.  While his point was a bit of self-flattery, having served on the 

1872 school board whose wisdom he cites in the letter, the statistics speak for 

themselves.  On the other hand, see the 1883 letter by Guinn {in the 

"Education" chapter} in which he chastised the current school board for its 

inability to profit from the sale of land in a similar crisis.

                           {Times, May 2, 1885. p.2}

                Remarkable Increase in the Value of Real Estate.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Perhaps a brief 

         history of the school lot which was sold the other day by the 

         Board of Education, whereby it was made possible to keep the 

         public schools going, may interest the readers of the Times.  

         The Church tract, of which this school lot is a part, has a 

         church history that is not without interest; but I propose to 

         recount here merely the secular or school history of this 

         smaller lot, which has just been sold for the handsome price 

         of $12,000.

              In 1872, when the Central school building on the hill 

         was erected, the act of the Legislature authorizing the 

         issuance of bonds ($20,000) for the purpose, provided that 

         the actual city school trustees at that time (to wit, Wm. H. 

         Workman, M. Kremer and H. D. Barrows) should constitute the 

         building committee, and further, that said Board, in 

         conjunction with the Common Council, should locate said 

         school building, which was done.  Whilst the building was in 

         process of erection the Board became aware that the lot 

         belonging to the church was considerably larger than had been 

         supposed, and might possibly some day be used for other 

         purposes, or graded down, so as to seriously interfere with 

         the school lot.  The writer distinctly recollects strenuously 

         urging the purchase of so much of the church lot as the 

         church trustees would be willing to sell, and especially of 

         all that portion fronting on Temple street above the church 

         building, which was not occupied.  As the church had no use 

         for this latter, and as real estate in Los Angeles was not as 

         valuable then as it is now, a contract was easily effected 

         and the "First Protestant Society of Los Angeles," as the 

         church was then called, sold to the Board of Education 60 

         feet, fronting on Temple street, by 165 feet deep for $200.  

         And thus, by the fortunate act of a former Board, though for 

         a different purpose, the present Board of Education is 

         enabled to bridge over a serious financial difficulty and 

         avert the closing of the schools for an indefinite period.  

         An increase in the value of a lot from $200 to $12,000--6000 

         per cent.--inside of thirteen years is a significant fact in 

         the material history of Los Angeles.

                                         H. D. B.

              April 27, 1885.                            

                      B) THE INFLUX OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS

    Historian Glenn Dumke estimated that as many as 2000 real estate agents 

worked the streets of Los Angeles at the peak of the Boom.  They met immigrants 

at the train stations, badgered them at hotels and harassed them on street 

corners.  As the Boom reached its climax in the fall of 1887 the number of real 

estate agents had multiplied to such an extent that the city council, seeking 

additional revenue, moved to increase the monthly license fees required of 

them.  Two agents offered arguments in opposition.  One of them, T. J. Luccock,  

would soon become an officer in the Clearwater cooperative colony (see chapter 

on Radicals}.

                         {Times, Oct. 27, 1887, p. 4}

                              A Thoughtful View.

         Office of R. H. Innes & Sons,

              Dealers in Real Estate and

                Real Estate Brokers,

                No. 132 1/2 S. Spring Street.

              Los Angeles, Oct. 26.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         am a subscriber for your paper, and a real-estate agent in 

         the city of Los Angeles.  I notice in your paper of today the 


              "Too few plums make too small picking for too many 

         fingers.  A movement is on foot to increase the monthly 

         license of real-estate agents from $5 to $50.  It is supposed 

         that this movement will tend to weed out the lower class of 

         real estate men who are now fiends in our midst."  Will the 

         reasonable men, who desire the future wealth and prosperity 

         of Los Angeles, stop and think once on this subject?  What 

         has made Los Angeles the city that it is?  There is no one 

         who will doubt that the real-estate agents of the town took 

         an active part in it.  Each agent writes back to his friends 

         and relations and persuades them to come.  In fact, I will 

         say, that through the influence of real-estate agents, more 

         than one-half the population of our most beautiful city has 

         been induced to come.  Now, Los Angeles is raising her arm 

         against the so-called "lower class of real estate men."  

         Where is the injustice of these using their pen and influence 

         against Los Angeles?  Should this law pass there will be 500 

         men thrown out of employment.  Suppose each of these should 

         take his pen and paper and write back to the town whence they 

         came, and condemn Los Angeles as a town which is exceedingly 

         partial to the rich and influential men of her town, and 

         turns her back upon every man of moderate means, or no means 

         at all.  There is not a paper in the East which would not be 

         glad to publish this, and imagine the evil effect it would 

         have on the immigration to this town from the East.  

         Secondly, if there are 500 men who are trying to make an 

         honest living in this business thrown out of office and out 

         of work, there will be at least 100 rooms of the town thrown 

         on the market for rent.  Of course this will make less demand 

         for rooms and consequently rent will be cheaper.  Now, when 

         rent is reduced of course the value of real-estate must be 

         reduced too.  The record of all booming towns in the past has 

         plainly shown that when real-estate once begins to fall no 

         man is able to tell when it will stop.  Los Angeles is doing 

         well, yes, very well and why not "let good enough alone."  I 

         hope to be able to meet my license, and really believe it 

         will be individually better for me to have the law passed.  

         But I am an ardent lover of the town of Los Angeles and had 

         rather see her prosper than to see any other city in the 

         United States prosper.  I sincerely hope the men who are 

         indeavoring to pass this law will reflect a moment on these 

         ideas, and am thoroughly satisfied if they will they will 

         abandon this thought altogether.

                                                 R. H. I.

                         {Times, Oct. 30, 1887, p. 3}

                       The Real-Estate License Question.

                                  A New View.

              Los Angeles, Oct. 28.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         notice a letter in The Times in regard to the proposed 

         increase of the real-estate license to $50 per month.  I 

         agree with most of the article referred to, and would like, 

         with your permission, to add a few thoughts.  In the first 

         place, let me inquire the object of the movement.  Is it to 

         force out as many poor men as possible and give the entire 

         business into the hands of the large corporations and the men 

         who have already made immense fortunes, and in some cases by 

         very questionable methods?  If this is the intention the 

         proposed increase would probably accomplish the object.  But 

         would this be the part of wisdom?  Some of these men are the 

         ones who have been forcing so much undesirable property on 

         the market, such as river beds, tide lands, alkali lands and 

         the like, thereby doing their utmost to bring discredit on 

         the boom and disgrace on the real-estate business generally.  

         Many of these large operators, however, doubtless are 

         honorable, upright men, who are willing to pay their share of 

         taxes for the support of the city government.  If this is 

         what is wanted allow me to suggest a plan that will bring a 

         largely-increased revenue to the city, and at the same time 

         do nearly equal justice to all.  It is this:  Let each real-

         estate firm be taxed at a certain rate for every person in 

         the firm or employed by them in any capacity in the business.  

         This would place the burden of taxation very nearly in 

         proportion to the amount of business done.  If a certain firm 

         does business enough to justify the employment of ten men, 

         let it pay ten times as much into the city treasury as the 

         man who is carrying on a small business alone.

                                              T. J. LUCCOCK. 

                         C) THE SEAMY SIDE OF THE BOOM

    The Times' depiction of land salesmen as "fiends in our midst" resulted 

from an increasing number of complaints, beginning early in 1887, regarding 

swindles and misrepresentations perpetrated by developers and real estate 

agents.  Typical was the complaint raised by "Property-owner" regarding the 

claims made by those selling the Urmston tract, located some distance southwest 

of the then center of town.  The following day the Times printed a reply by the 


                         {Times, Jan. 13, 1887, p. 3}

                         AN IMPOSITION ON LAND BUYERS.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 12.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         notice with a great deal of satisfaction your course 

         regarding real estate misrepresentations, and the public will 

         not fail to extend to you a full measure of indorsement for 

         the same.  The only trouble is that, thus far, the parties to 

         these reprehensible dealings have not been singled out and 

         shown up, that the thousands of buyers, many of whom are 

         workingmen and women, might steer clear of them and not be 

         caught in the net of the imposter.  A glaring case in point:  

         In April last, as may be seen by reference to the advertising 

         columns of the city papers, a self-styled land company of 

         this city (of very unsavory San Francisco memory, by the 

         way), gave out by spread-eagle publication that certain 

         important and valuable improvements were to be made upon the 

         "Urmston tract," situate just outside the corporate limits of 

         the city; that, in addition, three street-railroad lines were 

         to run by the tract very soon, using such publication as the 

         means to sell the 378 lots, which, it is unnecessary to add, 

         went off as though on eagles' wings.  The purchasers were 

         induced to buy because of these misrepresentations, and how 

         have the promises been performed?  A few little houses, a 

         short and narrow line of very cheap and badly build cement 

         sidewalks and some bad plank walks, light from the small 

         electric poles semi-occasionally, and that is all!  The chief 

         and all-important condition--the condition without which the 

         property with the remaining promises unfilled could not be 

         valuable--the street railroads--are not there, nor is there 

         even one line where three were promised.  More than this, 

         this grand promiser refused to take any interest in a line 

         down Vermont avenue where the property-owners are endeavoring 

         to raise a fund to secure a road, alleging that he has sold 

         out, etc.  Again he is now, in his usual flamboyant style, 

         deceiving the public by referring to the cable road down 

         Vermont avenue, which does not exist, which is only a 

         possibility, which he has before used to get money from 

         hundreds of wage-workers, and which he has done more than any 

         one else to prevent.  Is this man going to repeat his San 

         Francisco business in Los Angeles?  It looks mighty like it, 

         unless The Times takes its stout club down.  Yours,


                         {Times, Jan. 14, 1887, p. 3}

                               The Urmston Tract.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 13.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The Urmston tract was sold by the Southern California Land 

         Company in April last at $220 per lot, with the guarantee of 

         certain improvements.  Every dollar of these improvements has 

         been made.  Six thousand dollars was expended by contract on 

         houses.  These houses are well built and are first-class.  

         The receipt for the amount stated is in the hands of F. C. 

         Howes, Esq., of the Los Angeles National Bank, the trustee.  

         All of the streets were sidewalked at an expense of $5000 

         more, the money having been paid to the Oregon Lumber 

         Company.  Artificial stone paving, the full front of Adams 

         street was constructed of the best material by Mr. Molitor at 

         an expense the same as the stone pavements on the Childs 

         tract.  The work is first-class.  The streets were all 

         graded, costing nearly $2000, and signboards were placed on 

         the tract at a cost of $1800, and the light is the same as in 

         any part of Los Angeles.  Nearly $17,000 has been expended by 

         this company on this tract.

              In regard to the street railroads, we stated, outside of 

         our agreement, that which was current news at the time, and 

         which we have no question will be veritable facts in the 

         future.  The cable road through Vermont avenue, we have been 

         assured by property-holders there, is a settled matter.  The 

         Urmston lots were satisfactorily distributed.  The greater 

         number have largely increased in value, deeds are being given 

         out daily and payments have been always regularly made.

                         SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAND CO.,

                                           Baker block.

    Reports of fraud began to surface.  In an editorial, "Squelching the 

Humbugs," the Times pronounced that:

            The colony fake, the townsite fraud, and the brood of 

         parasites that always follow in the wake of prosperity, 

         should be incontinently squelched.

            The man who locates a townsite in the heart of a swamp, or 

         sand-wash; in the bed and track of a winter torrent, or, as 

         in the case of the Manchester fake, on the rocky declivity of 

         a bald mountain, and who foists the same upon the people of 

         distant localities as "lovely spots of lovely Los Angeles," 

         is a public enemy.  An enemy to the people he deceives and an 

         enemy to the future welfare of Los Angeles county.  It is the 

         duty of every honest man to expose such schemes and to 

         squelch such schemers....

    Conjuring up the image of the current infestation in the orange groves and 

referring to recent New York Herald articles by Charles Nordhoff that warned 

prospective buyers about the dangers inherent in the California boom, the Times 


            The real-estate scale bugs that are feeding upon our young 

         and vigorous growth can inflict more damage in a single 

         season that can a century of the lies of Nordhoff.

    "Lex" compared these schemes to similar frauds perpetrated elsewhere, and 

drew a conclusion.

                         {Times, Nov. 15, 1887, p. 6}

                        About Fraudulent Land Schemes.

              Los Angeles, Nov. 14.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The comments of fictitious and bogus townsites in this 

         morning's Times are opportune and commendable.  Will you 

         permit me to say that several years ago in New York, and, in 

         fact, all through the East, people were "Florida stricken."  

         There came to New York several firms of Florida land 

         speculators who opened offices and advertised largely various 

         "townsites" at suspiciously low prices.  People are 

         credulous, and many, mostly the poor, bought large quantities 

         of lots.  At last the newspapers commenced an investigation 

         and sent down to Florida a number of correspondents, who 

         failed to find the Utopian townsites at all, or, if found, 

         transpired to be wretched frauds.  Consequently Florida, 

         through the greed of a few speculative cormorants, suffered 

         immensely.  Now, sir, the point is that, unless this thing be 

         stopped, these fraudulent acts will cause a reaction which 

         will be extended and disastrous in its effects.  Yours, etc.


    One particularly galling account related by the Times was the case of Mrs. 

Flora Shepherd, a former Chicago schoolteacher who arrived in Pasadena in Oct., 

1887, and the next day, for $350, purchased land on the summit of Mt. Wilson. 

The agent assured here that her parcel could be reached by a railroad, to be 

built by San Francisco and Pasadena capitalists, that would terminate at a fine 

hotel in the center of the tract.  Her property, it turned out, was only a 

mining claim located at the top of the mountain.  

    The incident reached the courtroom a year later and was reported by the 

Times, calling forth a response from "F. E. R."  Before dismissing this as an 

example of a gullible buyer who should have known better, consider that within 

a decade Prof. Thaddeus Lowe would actually construct a successful incline 

railway and trolley line to nearby Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe, with a 

mountaintop hotel overlooking Pasadena.  It remained a major tourist attraction 

until the 1930s.

                          {Times, Nov. 5, 1888, p. 5}

                             Real-estate Swindles.

              Los Angeles, Oct. 28.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  A 

         day or two ago you gave an account of a swindling operation 

         practiced upon a tenderfoot in a sale of property located on 

         Wilson's Peak.  You apparently regarded this as something new 

         in real-estate trickery.  It was undoubtedly new to that 

         victim, but it is not new to the writer.  Scores upon scores 

         have been victimized to a greater or less extent by that 

         class of swindlers, and whoever heard of one of them being 

         brought to punishment?  We have in Los Angeles a large number 

         of real-estate dealers, a large majority of whom make 

         statements, verbally and in print, that they themselves know 

         are utterly untrue.  They knowingly misrepresent and 

         victimize every one they deal with to the fullest extent of 

         their ability, receiving in every case money under false 

         pretenses and yet call it legitimate business.  We are today 

         sadly feeling the effects of these fraudulent transactions, 

         and as we expect a large influx of tourists the coming 

         winter, many are preparing to practice the same games.  Is it 

         to the credit or profit of Los Angeles to continue such a 

         course.  There will be very little done in the way of real-

         estate sales the coming winter, for the old maxim still has 

         force, "A burnt child avoids the fire."  and the burnt child 

         will not be silent on that subject, and the truth will out to 

         our shame and disgrace, as well as our pecuniary loss.

              I have faith in the future of our beautiful city, but it 

         will not be built up by fraud.  The old maxim, "Honesty is 

         the best policy," will apply to the selling of real estate as 

         well as coffee and sugar.

              Will the honest real-estate dealers (I think there are a 

         few still left) continue to countenance the practices that 

         are such a stench in the nostrils of all right-minded people, 

         whether citizens or strangers?  We shall see.

                                                    F. E. R.

                            D) THE BOOM IN QUESTION

    Just before the Boom peaked in 1887, Charles Nordhoff, whose 1872 volume 

had been credited by Harris Newmark with doing more "than any similar work to 

spread the fame of the Southland throughout the East," published several

letters in the New York Herald critical of the California land frenzy.  That 

drew the editorial wrath of the Times.  Bascom A. Stephens, a Los Angeles  

journalist, rallied to Nordhoff's defense.  "B. D." argued that land in 

Southern California, at least agricultural land in Westminster, was still 

grossly underpriced.  In the central part of the state partisans claimed that 

their land was better for citrus, referring to the region as the N. C. B. - the 

Northern Citrus Belt.  Otis sourly redubbed it the Northern Quinine Belt in one 

of his editorials.  James Guinn, the educator-historian, examined the competing 

claims in some depth and, to no one's surprise, found Southern California land 

to be a better buy.

                          {Times, Nov. 4, 1887, p. 5}

                              Nordhoff Defended.

              Los Angeles, Nov. 2.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         fear that the recent adverse criticisms of the press on 

         Charles Nordhoff are not justifiable.  I have just finished a 

         careful reading of his article on the California boom.  The 

         only clause therein, to which the least objection can be 

         made, is where he hints that a large part of the State is 

         crazy on the land boom, and the injudicious subdivision of 

         fertile acreage into uncultivated town lots, in the undue 

         haste to get rich.  The Northern Citrus Belt has repeatedly 

         charged this section with lunacy, and in turn the upper half 

         of the State has been called Lunar California.  If one-half 

         of the State says the other half is crazy, has Mr. Nordhoff 

         committed the unpardonable sin by intimating that a large 

         part is crazy?  Many here who have to bear the burden of high 

         rents and the extortions of shylock landlords, believe that 

         somebody's heads are turned.  I know The Times itself, as 

         well as other level-headed journals, and the Los Angeles 

         County Pomological Society, have condemned the "town lot 

         craze," as it is familiarly called.  This is the only thing 

         Mr. Nordhoff condemns about the boom.  I can go out on the 

         streets and find a large number, if not a majority, of our 

         real estate agents who hold the same opinion.  Besides, Mr. 

         Nordhoff has large landed interests in California; why should 

         he write the country down?  Even a town {later renamed Ojai - 

         Ed.} has been named in his honor.  It is a foul bird that 

         would soil its own nest.  I have read scores of books and 

         hundreds of articles on California, and so far as my limited 

         knowledge and judgment go, Mr. Nordhoff's writings are par 

         excellence above all others.  I believe no one writer has 

         done more good for California than he.  As to the accuracy of 

         his observations in California, I can testify to their utmost 

         fidelity so far as the major part of them is concerned, for I 

         have traveled over much of the same ground myself, and have 

         always found his descriptions of the resources, climate, 

         scenery, etc., wonderfully truthful.  By the way, how long 

         ago has it been since Maj. Ben C. Truman was the subject of 

         like adverse criticisms?  and who has done more for Los 

         Angeles than he?  Then Mr. Nordhoff, as private secretary of 

         Mr. Bennett, the proprietor of the New York Herald, at a 

         salary of $10,000 per annum, is above the manufacture of such 

         base slanders against the fair land of which he is even now 

         making arrangements to become its adopted son.

                                             B. A. STEPHENS.

                         {Times, Oct. 21, 1887, p. 8}

                                Value of Lands.

              Los Angeles, Oct. 20.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The senseless cry that Los Angeles county is "sowing the wind 

         to reap the whirlwind," by booming her lands and creating 

         artificial values, is both senseless and untrue.  The 

         observer who will coolly overlook the markets, both in realty 

         and its products, will see that fruit, nut and alfalfa lands 

         can be purchased today for one-half their actual value.  The 

         value of land is estimated upon the amount of interest it 

         will return.  "R. S.," in his letter from Westminster in this 

         morning's Times, gives the yield of potato land at $200 per 

         acre, and says, "Why is not the land worth $1000?"  Now, a 

         yield of $80 per acre would make the value of the land $1000, 

         and here we have two and one-half times $80; hence, why is 

         not the value of the land two and one-half times $1000?  Let 

         us call the value double, setting aside $500 per acre for 

         cultivation and incidental expenses.  Then we have potato 

         land giving 8 per cent. interest on $2000 per acre.  In the 

         same article "R. S." shows that $60,000 have been recently 

         invested in these lands, none of which sold for more than 

         $200 per acre.  When one year's crop of potatoes would pay 

         for the purchase, and also in full view of the fact that 

         twenty-six first prizes were awarded to this section in the 

         recent fairs for best oranges, Japanese persimmon, other 

         fruits and vegetables.  These are a few items from a locality 

         which, we are told, a few years ago was considered, as to 

         quality of land, anything but first-class.  We respect the 

         skill that has brought this harvest.  Let us consider orange 

         land, for example.  It is a minimum yield that gives $400 per 

         acre; next there are walnut orchards in Los Nietos that have 

         given a crop worth $1000 per acre, and yet an owner would be 

         considered insane to ask $500 for an acre of orange or walnut 

         land to be so cultivated.  The common verdict is when land 

         sells for $200 an acre it will not pay to raise fruit.  It 

         does pay, and pays well, for the ordinary fruits and 

         vegetables will pay interest and taxes on an average price of 

         $1500 per acre.  But understand me the land will not do all 

         the work.  This is under careful cultivation, with best 

         methods and varieties of seed.  Intelligent care must be 

         given, and nowhere will it bring a larger return than when 

         applied to the soil of this county.

              Ordinary alfalfa land will give seven cuttings a 

         year--each cutting one ton--on the ground.  This will sell 

         for $8 per ton.  Fifty-six dollars per year from ordinary 

         alfalfa land, which is interest and taxes on $700, an acre.  

         There is at El Monte extraordinary alfalfa land, which, 

         without irrigation, gives fourteen tons a year to the acre; 

         at $8 per ton, gives $112 an acre yield, which is interest on 

         $1400 per acre, and this land is held by the owner at the 

         high figure of $500.  I will say, on the other hand, there 

         are men in every locality I mention who will show you that a 

         man grows poorer each year who raises fruit.  There is but 

         one reply.  Look at the condition of the places.  These 

         croakers are one step below the man who hid his talent in a 

         napkin.  They can take good money (greenbacks or notes) and 

         bury it in a napkin, and after a season, dig it up and find 

         the money consumed by decay, when they flaunt the napkin in 

         one's face and say:  "I told you so, money is not even safe 

         in a napkin!"  This country has too many of this sort.  What 

         is needed is men who can look into the future; men who can 

         comprehend the fact that the wealth of a country is what its 

         soil will yield; men who do not fear panics, so long as 

         inflated values are attached to country town lots, and only 


              Let Eastern purchasers bear in mind that the returns we 

         mention are products of the native soil, without artificial 

         fertilization.  Also let buyers remember that the best lands 

         will never be bought for less money than at the present time.  

         Southern California fruit lands will steadily advance.  The 

         best orange and walnut lands, without a tree, are today worth 

         $1000 per acre.

                                                  B. D.

                         {Times, Jan. 13, 1889, p. 3}

                         The Cheap Lands of the N.C.B.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 3.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  The 

         opinion prevails very generally among our eastern visitors, 

         and to some extent among our own people, that the price of 

         land in Southern California is excessively high as compared 

         with the price of land in the northern citrus belt.  The up-

         country newspapers are doing their best to spread this 

         impression, with the hope of drawing immigrants to their 

         section with the promise of cheap lands.  If any one who has 

         been carried away with the idea that the dwellers of the 

         n.c.b. are yearning to give away their fertile acres for a 

         small consideration to the in-coming home seekers will 

         carefully peruse the real-estate advertisements in the San 

         Francisco dailies, he will discover that well-located, 

         improved fruit lands in the n.c.b. are no cheaper than the 

         same kind of lands in Southern California.  He will discover, 

         too, that the guileless real-estate dealer of the north can 

         mark up the price of his acres as high, if not higher, than 

         does the conscience-less boomer of the south.  Take these, 

         culled from advertisements in the San Francisco dailies, as 

         samples of great bargains offered by the real-estate agents 

         of the n.c.b.:

              "Twenty acres in Vaca valley in fruit and vines, 

         $12,000--$7000 cash, balance on time" only $600 per acre.  

         Los Angeles valley can discount that 50 per cent.

              "Fourteen acres 1 1/2 miles from the city limits of 

         Oakland, high ground, fine view, delightful climate--$150 per 

         acre."  We can offer a finer view, a more delightful climate, 

         and 14 acres of hill land one-half mile from the city limits 

         of Los Angeles for $200 per acre.  Los Angeles city has 

         double the population of Oakland.  "$28,000 buys the cheapest 

         fruit farm in Santa Clara county, consisting of 56 acres all 

         in fruits and vines."  

              "Twenty thousand dollars for thirty acres of trees and 

         vines, in Santa Clara valley."  It is true these farms are 

         located within a radius of fifty to one hundred and fifty 

         miles of San Francisco.  It is with these that we should 

         compare the value of our fertile acres and not with wild 

         lands in Shasta or Siskiyou.  Los Angeles offers as good if 

         not a better market than San Francisco for every agricultural 

         product.  Here is what an agent calls a "Napa county 

         bargain."  "Five acres all in bearing fruits, cottage house, 

         barn, etc., $5000."  One thousand dollars per acre and no 

         boom in Napa.  This last is the only one that has water for 

         irrigation.  These are a few samples of the prices asked for 

         well located, improved and unimproved lands in Central 

         California.  They go to show that first quality fruit lands 

         near to a good market are higher priced in that part of the 

         State than in Los Angeles.  It must be borne in mind that 

         these are not orange lands, but deciduous fruit and vine 

         lands, without water rights.  The land seeker can find plenty 

         of cheap land ads, in the San Francisco dailies and in the 

         circulars sent out by n.c.b. real estate dealers.

              Land at "$1 an acre and upward" has an attractive sound 

         to the immigrant, and the alluring bait of cheap lands draws 

         him northward.  The cheap lands of Northern California are 

         mesa or valley lands without water for irrigation, lands on 

         which a grain crop can be grown in a year of abundant 

         rainfall, but in a dry year they are a desert waste.

              Any one who has experienced a dry year in California can 

         appreciate the value of land with irrigating facilities.  At 

         least one-half of our population has come to Southern 

         California within the past five years.  During that time we 

         have had an abundant rainfall every year.  These later 

         arrivals do not know the real value of our irrigable 

         lands--lands that will produce a crop every year.  A few dry 

         years, such as we experienced in the sixties and seventies, 

         would convince our new-comers that the price of irrigable 

         lands is not so badly inflated after all.  The new-comer has 

         very little idea of what it cost the pioneers to develop the 

         water rights that go with our fruit lands.

              Fifty to one hundred and fifty dollars per acre in some 

         cases has been spent to construct ditches, build dams and 

         pipe water on these lands.  The immigrant very often 

         considers himself being imposed upon when he is asked from 

         two to three hundred dollars an acre for first-class fruit 

         land with irrigating facilities.  He compares these prices 

         with the price of land in Kansas and Nebraska and grumbles 

         about inflated values.  He does not take into consideration 

         that from his cheap Kansas lands he gets a crop about one 

         year in three; that he expends three years' labor to secure 

         one full crop, while our irrigable lands produce a crop every 


              Los Angeles furnishes one of the best markets in the 

         United States for anything a farmer can produce.

              Considering their nearness to a good market, their 

         freedom from flood or drouth, from cyclone or blizzard, their 

         richness of soil and variety of production, our irrigable 

         lands are the cheapest lands in the United States.

              The boom has departed this life, and the little white 

         corner stake marks its grave.  The subdivision craze is over 

         and the land buyer no longer figures profits from the number 

         of town lots an acre will produce.

              Real-estate values are determined more by the return 

         that can be obtained on the investment.

              The seeker for cheap land can find plenty in Los Angeles 

         county as cheap as any offered in Northern California.  But 

         if he is seeking it for a home, he will discover in time that 

         a 10 acre farm near a good market, near to schools and 

         churches and in a good neighborhood is a far more profitable 

         possession than a vast domain of the chaparral-covered hills 

         of either Northern or Southern California.

                                             J. M. GUINN.

                             E) THE BUBBLE PRICKED

    Charles Willard, who was both a participant in and historian of the Boom 

of the 'Eighties, claimed that the end of the speculative frenzy occurred in 

the fall of 1887, when banks, and particularly those dominated by Isaias W. 


         refused to accept land as security for loans unless it was 

         located in the very heart of Los Angeles, and then only on 

         the basis of its ancient and established value.

Real estate sales plummeted and bankruptcies increased.  

    Historians of the Boom agree that the greatest problems occurred outside 

Los Angeles city.  In the numerous townsites that sprang up in the hinterland 

prices had escalated wildly and there the worst frauds occurred.  It was also 

in those communities, such as the mountain tract of Manchester and a 

subdivision in the flood plain of the San Gabriel River known as Chicago Park, 

that the crash in values was the greatest.  "A Newcomer" explained the plight 

of one such buyer in this letter, leading the reader to wonder if "Newcomer" 

was really inquiring on behalf of "a friend" or was too embarrassed to admit to 

having been the purchaser. 

                         {Times, Mar. 10, 1889, p. 2}

                             A Nut for the Lawyers.

              Los Angeles, March 5.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  Is 

         it possible for a land company to collect payments on 

         property bought at boom prices, when said company has failed 

         to construct railroad, street-car lines, public buildings, 

         and to make other improvements promised to the purchaser, and 

         so advertised at the time of purchase?  I cite the case of a 

         friend, who bought land at $300 per acre, near a townsite, 

         the map of said townsite showing hotel, schoolhouse, parks, 

         etc., and it was represented to him that these buildings were 

         to be built where located on the map.  The hotel was to be 

         run in fine style, parks were to be laid out and planted as 

         represented, street cars were to run near the property, and 

         other improvements were promised to be completed within a 

         given time.  The sum of $100 per acre was paid down and notes 

         were given for the balance in one and two years.  Now the 

         second payment is due, and as good land, as near town and in 

         as good a location, can be bought for $100 per acre.  Now the 

         query is, can that company collect those notes if the buyer 

         chooses to lose his first payment rather than meet the other 

         two payments?

              The company's plea for non-fulfillment of their promises 

         is "lack of funds."  If that plea holds good in the company's 

         case would it not also apply to the purchaser?  I am an 

         easterner and am not familiar with the custom of giving notes 

         on contracts.

                                                A NEWCOMER.

    One of those caught up in the collapse was Moses L. Wicks, an attorney 

turned real estate dealer, who had been in Los Angeles since the late 1870s.  

Active in charitable work as well as the law and land development, he was 

well-known in the city.  With his holdings overextended in the Boom, Wicks fell 

into financial trouble, as explained by "S. Chivalry."   

                         {Times, Mar. 29, 1889, p. 5}

                    Financial Embarrassments of M. L. Wicks.

                                   A DEFENSE.

              Los Angeles, March 27.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         It is true that M. L. Wicks, the real-estate speculator, is 

         being pressed by some of his creditors, but these people seem 

         to forget that by pulling him down, they are liable to do 

         great damage to a number of dealers who have done much toward 

         building up Southern California.  It has been known for some 

         time past that Mr. Wicks is trying to carry too much land, 

         but it was believed that his creditors would not push him.  

         It is evident, however, that they have become weary, for the 

         other day foreclosure suits were brought on three notes and 

         security mortgages for an insignificant sum, which goes to 

         show that Mr. Wicks is in no position to tide the storm.  The 

         title of the suit is:

              "Fort Bragg, Redwood county, vs. M. L. Wicks, T. W. 

         Brooks, M. G. Rogus, C. M. Wells, Richard Dunnigan and W. F. 

         Heathman.  On July 11, 1888, Wicks gave a promissory note, 

         payable six months after date, for $4,000, and also a 

         mortgage to secure the payment of the note.  The mortgage was 

         on lots in the Schmidt tract.  Plaintiff sets forth that no 

         part of principal or interest has been paid.  The co-

         defendants are made parties to the suit for the reason that 

         they claim to have an interest in the mortgaged lots.  The 

         same complaint sets forth that a second note was given on the 

         23d of July, 1888, for $3,913.05 and also a mortgage.  On 

         March 21, 1888, a third note was given for $3,691.76, secured 

         by mortgage.  The notes went to protest in due time and 

         plaintiffs have brought suit to foreclose and pray that an 

         execution may issue.  The sum, interest and attorney's fees 

         amount to $17,235."

              This is the first suit that has been brought against Mr. 

         Wicks to amount to anything since the boom died, and there 

         are many large speculators who are very much afraid that if 

         Mr. Wicks cannot gather himself up there will be a general 

         crash all along the line.  The plaintiffs in the above suit 

         might have held off a while longer, for it is almost certain 

         that Mr. Wicks, although he is one of the boldest speculators 

         in the State, would be able to come out all right.

                                       S. CHIVALRY.


    Mortgage agents, too, had their problems and drew considerable complaints 

from the land-buying public.  One of them, W. S. Williams, rose in defense of 

his practices after the Times cited him as an example of the "people who have a 

mania for getting money without working for it."  The Times implied that 

Williams charged fees for real estate loans that never materialized and that he 

may have left town.

                         {Times, July 29, 1889, p. 6}

                                "A Small Fake."

              Los Angeles, July 25.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  An 

         article in your paper, under the above heading, reflecting 

         upon my character, demands an answer from me.

              I am authorized to receive applications from those who 

         desire to borrow money, and if their property is of 

         sufficient value and their title good, they can get their 

         money.  In all cases I am required to collect from the 

         intending borrower a fee of $10, to pay the broker's fees.  

         From some of those who desired a loan I collected this amount 

         and paid the same to the broker, and to some I returned the 

         money and from some I received nothing.  Its our positive 

         instructions that their loans will not be considered unless 

         this deposit is made.

              Some loans are now under consideration and the 

         applicants will get their money.  There has been no desire on 

         my part to defraud any one, but on the contrary, I desire to 

         do a legitimate business.  Have loaned large amounts of money 

         and can give the best of references as to my character, etc.

              Boom values have injured money-loaning and lenders are 

         very cautious.  Bankers outside Los Angeles need not accept 

         the values of property made by local brokers, until values 

         have become more fixed; loaning, in a measure, will be 


              I am duly authorized to receive applications and make 


              Frequently I have refused applications from residents of 

         this city, knowing that my principals would not consider the 


              I regret that some persons unknown to me have seen fit 

         to inspire the article referred to, as I desire to assist in 

         building up this city, my adopted home, and if I can in a 

         legitimate way add to your population and induce capitalists 

         to invest their money here, when I think with care it can be 

         loaned safely, I will only be doing a duty which every 

         citizen ought to do, and will aid others who desire to build 

         up this beautiful and growing city.

              In one instance I returned to the applicant his $10, 

         after having paid the broker this amount, as the loan could 

         not be put through as quickly as he desired.  Respectfully 


                                            W. S. WILLIAMS

                             F) THE BOOM ASSESSED

    The city's population stood at 11,183 in 1880, with 64,371 in the five 

southern counties - Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and 

San Diego.  During the Boom decade an estimated 200,000 immigrants arrived in 

the region.  While large numbers of the newcomers left shortly after their 

arrival, most remained to take up residence in the city, in one of the dozens 

of new towns that sprang up during the Boom or on agricultural land.  By 1890 

the city had grown to 50,395, with a total of 201,352 in the counties, though 

historians familiar with that era estimate that at the peak of the Boom in 

1887-88 the city's population reached 80,000, with 250,000 residing in the 

entire area.    

    Near the end of the decade two correspondents offered a summation of what 

the Boom meant to Los Angeles, examining totally different facets of the great 

event.  "W. H. C." wrote in early 1888 when optimists were denying that the 

Boom was over.  "Non Boomer," whose letter was printed on the last day of 1889, 

used the location of the post office as one way to assess the Boom.  In the 

midst of the real estate frenzy the post office had been moved south from its 

North Main location, which was near the heart of the city, to a building on 

Broadway below Sixth, a site that even Harris Newmark considered to be out in 

the country.  He recalled how one wag reportedly offered overnight 

accommodations for those journeying south to get their mail.  Another joked 

that the S.P. and the Santa Fe were fighting for the right of way to the new 

post office site.  In 1893 the post office was removed uptown to Main and 

Winston, given its own building for the first time in forty years and located 

next to other government offices.

                         {Times, Feb. 10, 1888, p. 6}

                            A Poor Man's Experience.

              Los Angeles, Feb. 7.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  It 

         is now three years since I left the State of Ohio and came to 

         Los Angeles.  When I arrived in this city I had just $50 in 

         money and a chest of carpenter's tools.  I think I have done 

         fairly well since that time, as have also many of my 

         acquaintances.  If you have no objection I will relate my own 

         experience, and the experience of some others who are now 

         here.  It may encourage newcomers and help to prove what I 

         fully believe, that Los Angeles is the finest place on the 

         globe for the poor man, and will continue to be for some time 

         to come.  Work in my trade since I first arrived, I scarcely 

         need to say, has been abundant and wages good.  Three months 

         after my arrival I had saved up $175, and had $200 for 

         investment.  Having seen something of "booms" in western 

         cities, I concluded that land must steadily rise in value in 

         Los Angeles and I made the first payment on a lot on a street 

         near Seventh.  Three months longer I continued at work, and 

         then sold my lot for what seemed to me then the enormous 

         profit of $1000.  Alas, had I held it one year I should have 

         made $5000.  I next bought on Hope street, making a small 

         payment on a lot, and here cleared in six weeks $630.  I felt 

         like a capitalist then, and going into partnership with 

         another young man we built two small houses on a lot on Boyle 

         Heights.  This venture in three months netted us $750 apiece.  

         I then put all my available cash into a piece of property on 

         the newly opened Second street, and returned to day labor.  

         In nine months the land which cost me $500 I sold for $2500.  

         I invested again in the same neighborhood, and was lucky 

         enough to make a turn in six weeks which cleared me $1450.  

         Without going into details I may add that by good fortune and 

         reasonable prudence in investing in a little over three years 

         I have increased my original capital of $50 to something over 

         $20,000.  Many others, I am aware, have done better than I 

         have, but I think mine is a fine example of what Southern 

         California can do for a poor man who is not afraid to try.  

         Some will say the opportunity has passed but I am convinced 

         that this cannot be said for several years yet.  Immense 

         interests are now involved in sustaining Southern California, 

         and I predict the coming spring and summer will be the best 

         we ever had.  My role has been to buy the best property my 

         means would admit, and it has proved an excellent one.  Cheap 

         property in price is not always cheap in reality.

              Among my acquaintances, a lady who had only $1000 to 

         commence with, has within the last 18 months, increased her 

         capital to $10,000 by judicious investments.  Two young men 

         from Cleveland, since last May, have each made $2500 by 

         buying and selling on their own account.  A friend of mine 

         from Youngstown, O., who came here in September, 1886, with 

         $700 and now owns six houses which bring a monthly rental of 

         $180--all made by rapid turns in real estate.  Who, in the 

         face of these facts, and the "woods are full of them," can 

         deny that Southern California is the place for a poor man.  

         The Argonauts of 1849 bore all kinds of hardships and few of 

         them did as well as our modern Argonauts of 1886-87.  For the 

         next three years there will be a great many fortunes made 

         here.  There is to be a dense population here and land must 

         steadily become more valuable.  As was the case in 1884, when 

         lots of people went away from here and were fearful to put a 

         dollar in real estate, so it will be this year.  A little 

         later they will wonder "why they didn't see it."  Desirable 

         land in the city of Los Angeles will never be as cheap as it 

         is at present.  In the country buy good acreage property and 

         you will never regret it.  My faith in Southern California 

         has never been greater. It is the only place in North America 

         where life is really worth living.

                                             W. H. C.

                         {Times, Dec. 31, 1889, p. 5}

                            Coming to Their Senses.

              Los Angeles, Dec. 25.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Ever since the boomers folded their tents and departed, the 

         people have gradually been coming to their senses again, and 

         viewing the havoc the wild schemers had made, they naturally 

         are casting about to find the best method to reinstate 

         themselves and put our city on the right road again to 

         success.  It seems that the booming epidemic was no respecter 

         of persons.  Municipalities, corporations and individuals 

         were all alike its victims, and when the baneful scourge had 

         run its course its wrecks were to be seen on every side.  So 

         far as individuals were concerned, the financial mistakes of 

         the weak ones were made to serve the ends of the strong.

              All who pay taxes must help pay for the mistakes of the 

         municipality.  The mistakes of many of our mushroom 

         corporations swamped them and they had not money enough put 

         up to quarrel about.  The mistakes of our big railroad 

         monopoly is of trifling moment to them, for they can 

         reinstate themselves at the expense of the public.

              The above thoughts were suggested by an article in The 

         Times of the 13th inst., in which it is stated that there 

         will be built a grand union depot at the Southern Pacific's 

         old depot on San Fernando street; and that the Wolfskill 

         depot would be moved up there.  Of course the railroad is not 

         suffering only in the great damage it has been to its 

         business, but the mistake of moving our postoffice into the 

         country the whole city suffers.   To sit down and complain or 

         stand up and curse does not help the matter any, but it 

         remains for us as individuals, municipalities and 

         corporations to accept the situation and do as the railroad 

         folks purpose to do, get back to the place they should never 

         have left.  Many a man left a good business or a good 

         situation to go with the boomers.  The railroad folks left 

         their homes to go with the boomers to build a big hotel.  

         Now, under all this excitement and rush of business, the 

         public allowed the boomers to steal their postoffice and 

         carry it into the country.  And right here allow me to 

         predict that our people are not going to sit down quietly and 

         see our postoffice built where it accommodates nobody, 

         comparatively, when it can just as well be built where all 

         our streetcars center and accommodate everybody.  This is a 

         fact too apparent to occupy valuable space in your paper to 

         show why it is so.  The writer, though a taxpayer, and 

         interested as much as the average business man, pleads guilty 

         to letting the theft be committed.  In fact, the scheme 

         looked so chimerical and absurd it was thought the Government 

         would never lend its aid; for there was no precedent for 

         anything of the kind.  Whenever the Government have built 

         postoffices they have built on the old sites.  When the new 

         office was built in New York they did not go out to Central 

         Park because the city had grown miles up Broadway.  In 

         Philadelphia they adhered to the old ground, though the city 

         had built miles of business blocks out Market and Chestnut 

         streets; the same in Baltimore and Detroit.  Chicago, like 

         Los Angeles, grew in all directions from the postoffice, but, 

         unlike Los Angeles, they built their new office on the old 

         site.  Now, the proper place for the postoffice is at the old 

         Courthouse, or raise the Temple block and build the 

         postoffice under it; then we will have a postoffice that will 

         accommodate the people for all time, no matter if the city 

         builds west to the ocean or east to Pasadena.  What is a few 

         thousand dollars compared with the importance of getting our 

         postoffice where it should be.  The same remark applies to a 

         grand union depot, for it accommodates the whole people.  It 

         may not require quite so many hacks to do the business at a 

         union depot, neither will it require our people to pay quite 

         so much street car fare, or wear out so much shoe leather to 

         do their business at the postoffice if located at the proper 


                                               NON BOOMER.