Late 19th century American cities suffered severe growing pains resulting 

from rapid industrialization.  Beset by irrepressible population growth and a 

subsequent demand for improved services, local governments strained to meet the 

problems of trash, sewage, public health and related needs.  Partly in response 

to their chaotic efforts to provide satisfactory services a reform movement, 

culminating in the Progressive era, emerged in the 1880s.

    Los Angeles differed from other cities of similar size in that its rapid 

growth in the 'eighties was more related to the climate and agriculture than to 

industrialization, which, as noted in the chapter on business, was less 

advanced than elsewhere.  Yet the city's population increase was so swift that 

it faced problems comparable to cities that were considerably larger and that 

had a more diverse manufacturing base.  Chicago, often cited as an example of a 

mushrooming city, tripled its population from 1860 to 1870.  But Los Angeles 

increased nearly fivefold from 1880 to 1890, and some estimates claim the 

population had risen nearly 700% when at its peak in 1887-88.  Among American 

cities larger than 40,000 in 1890, only Seattle and Omaha had grown at a faster 

rate during the previous decade.  While Los Angeles would later gain population 

partly through annexations, the growth in the 1880s was made without expansion 

of its boundaries.  

    Already criticized for inadequately providing services at the beginning of 

the decade when the census recorded a modest population of 11,183, Los Angeles  

was woefully incapable of meeting those demands for the 50,395 officially 

counted a decade later, or the much larger number during the Boom.

    That was reflected in letters to the Times, which became a major conduit 

for criticism of city government's failure to provide adequately for the 

burgeoning population's needs.  Chief among the grievances, even before the 

Boom that developed in mid-decade, was the wretched condition of streets, roads 

and related structures such as bridges, sidewalks and street lights.  The mud 

and dust so bitterly complained of by letter writers were inherent in the 

city's soil and climate and were problems before the 1880s.  But these 

correspondents note that human activity associated with that decade - 

congestion caused by population growth and construction activity - combined 

with natural conditions to make the problem intolerable.  

    Throughout the 1880s letter writers, many of them acknowledging that they 

were recent arrivals in the city, decried traffic congestion, unpaved streets, 

roadways blocked by piles of building supplies, inadequate street lighting, the 

lack of sidewalks or of clutter on those that did exist, the need for bridges 

across the river and for roads to neighboring cities.  Despite the efforts of 

Mayor William H. Workman {1887-88} to upgrade the infrastructure, the letters 

indicate that much still needed to be done by decade's end.

                               A) HITCHING POSTS

    Mayor Workman's son Boyle, whose account of life in Los Angeles as a boy in 

the years immediately after the Civil War is rivaled only by Susan Bixby's 

remembrance of a girlhood on the lands of Rancho Los Cerritos, recalled that in 

the 1870s "everywhere were hitching rails and hitching posts" for tying up 

mounts and wagon teams in the downtown section of the city.      

    "Parking" became a problem as farmers brought their produce and livestock 

to market at the commercial center of Southern California and/or purchased 

supplies.  Wagons, horses and merchandise competed for space along the 

congested thoroughfares, and the inadequacy of the hitching posts and rails 

that a boy of ten observed everywhere was a major complaint of those whose 

business brought them to the city.  Census statistics indicate the extent of 

the dilemma.  The census of 1880 recorded 8,654 horses in the county.  By 1890 

the number had grown to 17,230.

    Unattended teams, technically prohibited by city ordinances, were both a 

source of irritation and a constant danger.  In brief paragraphs newspapers 

frequently reported accidents, some quite serious, involving horses that had 

been frightened by trains, streetcars or construction activity.  The letters 

column viewed this problem both from the perspective of farmers irritated by 

the lack of hitching posts and from the position of residents who feared their 

lives were endangered by irresponsible wagoneers.  

    Cruising motorists in search of a downtown parking place a century later 

would recognize their counterparts as described by "Rusticus" in 1882.  The 

letter evokes a vision of hitching posts, topped by coin-activated meters, 

strung along the city's major commercial streets.  Street railway conductor W. 

A. Dunn, writing over four years later, found little improvement.  

                          {Times, Nov. 4, 1882, p. 4}

                                HITCHING POSTS.

         To the Editor:

              It is, I believe, against the law to leave a horse, or 

         horses, unhitched upon the streets of Los Angeles.  Such a 

         law or ordinance is very good as far as it goes, but would be 

         better if it provided for the establishment of sufficient and 

         suitable hitching posts along said streets.  It will not do 

         to say that teams should not be allowed to stand along the 

         principal streets.  Los Angeles is a market town, and depends 

         almost entirely upon the country and suburban people for its 

         trade, and these people come to town in vehicles, which 

         vehicles must be hitched in some convenient place while the 

         business that brought these people to town is being 


              The present facilities for hitching horses are limited 

         almost entirely to awning posts in front of certain stores.  

         These are not always strong enough to be safe, and are not 

         equally distributed along the streets;  hence we see, very 

         often, twenty or thirty teams tied so closely together in one 

         portion of a street as nearly to obstruct travel; while 

         adjoining, where there are no hitching or awning posts, there 

         may be a space of half a block without a team.

              Several hundred good strong posts should be placed at 

         suitable intervals, along the curbs, on the half dozen 

         principal streets, and then there would be no more bunches of 

         wagons throughout the town, and it would not be necessary for 

         a farmer to travel about the streets for half an hour 

         awaiting an opportunity to swoop down upon the first vacant 

         post that offers;  and which may be two blocks from the 

         locality in which he wishes to trade.  The storekeepers and 

         property owners should provide proper hitching facilities, as 

         it ought to be to their interest to make it as convenient as 

         possible for the people who come to patronize them.

              The law says, hitch! but many posts say "Do not hitch 

         here."  There is a "hitch" somewhere.            


                          {Times, May 21, 1887, p. 3}

                              An Hourly Nuisance.

              Los Angeles, May 18.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         desire to call the attention of the city authorities through 

         your columns to what appears to me to be a very serious and 

         dangerous nuisance.  I allude to the common practice of 

         leaving teams unhitched on our streets.  This practice, I 

         understand, is prohibited by the law, but, under the present 

         administration, it seems to be a dead letter.  Scarcely a day 

         passes that we do not have two or three runaways on our 

         principal streets, and life and property are in constant 

         danger.  Several persons during the past six months have been 

         seriously injured by runaways, and many vehicles wrecked.  

         The pedestrians and those driving on Main and Spring streets 

         of our city are in daily danger of being killed or maimed for 

         life by the terrible carelessness permitted.  Yesterday, in 

         driving from First to Tenth street on Spring, I counted 

         twenty three unhitched teams, and the same day I saw three 

         runaways.  This state of things is becoming intolerable, and 

         should receive immediate attention from the city authorities.  

         A few arrests and sharp fines would stop this dangerous 

         nuisance, and relieve travelers from much apprehension.  In 

         leading eastern cities where I have resided unhitched teams 

         are never permitted, and offenders are punished with fines 

         ranging from $15 to $100.  Probably nothing more will be done 

         here until some shocking accident occurs, and then there will 

         be a spasmodic attempt to enforce the law.  Perhaps Mayor 

         Workman, who has shown a lively disposition to improve local 

         matters, will take this in hand and see the law enforced.

                                               W. A. DUNN.

                                 B) SIDEWALKS

    On his arrival in Los Angeles in 1853 Harris Newmark found no formal 

sidewalks in the city.  He later wrote that mud was from six inches to two feet 

deep in winter, with dust that thick in summer.  

    Sarah Bixby remembered the effect rain had on the unpaved soil:

              With its first wetting it became very slippery on top of 

         a hard base, but as more water fell and it was kneaded by 

         feet and wheels, it became first like well-chewed gum and 

         then a black porridge.  I have seen signs that warned against 

         drowning in the bog in the business center of town.  An  

         inverted pair of boots sticking out of a pile of mud in front 

         of the old Court House once suggested that a citizen had gone 

         in head first and disappeared.

    Boyle Workman recalled "uncertain stretches of boards" passing for 

sidewalks, though John Temple had placed some bricks, covered with asphalt, in 

front of his property as early as 1860.  Unfortunately the heat of summer 

melted the asphalt, creating problems of its own.  Board sidewalks became more 

common in the 1870s, and in 1880 the first cement sidewalk was put down on Main 

Street.  The Temple Block, located between Main and Spring, also sported a 

cement sidewalk.

    Most sidewalks in 1880, where they did exist, consisted of gravel, which, 

according to the Times, got so mixed with the soil after a long rain that it 

was impossible to tell one from the other.  On Aug. 14, 1883, a Times article, 

possibly written by Eliza Otis, reported that there was no continuity in the 

material with which sidewalks were built: 

              You walk along for awhile on the board walk, then you 

         pitch off onto one of smooth stone, and just as you begin to 

         exclaim how delightful it all is, down you go to a graveled 

         one that frets you with its sharp stones, on which you cut 

         your shoes and stub your toes till you break out into 

         impatient exclamations that wouldn't look well in your 

         columns a bit....  Give us new sidewalks!

    It was not just the lack of sidewalks or objections to the material with 

which they were made that bothered visitors or residents.  Foremost among their 

complaints were the obstructions encountered on the sidewalks in the business 

section as a result of construction or because merchants simply stored their 

goods on the walkways.  {Milo S. Baker, writing as a manufacturer in the 

chapter on business, seemingly justified the businessman's right to block 

sidewalks.}  The May 6, 1882, letter by "Pedestrian" is written from the 

standpoint of a woman, but the letter on July 29, also signed "Pedestrian," is 


                          {Times, May 6, 1882, p. 2}


                A Perambulator Sees the Sights About the City.

              Editor Times:  Although I suppose it will result in my 

         being called a "communist" or a "growler," and that I shall 

         be accused of not appreciating the incalculable benefits 

         accruing to our city through the expenditure of labor and 

         money here by our capitalists, I might wish to enter a 

         protest against the frequent outrages against the rights of 

         pedestrians which have become so numerous upon our 

         thoroughfares that the wonder grows upon me that our 

         sidewalks are allowed for even the space of a block to remain 

         unobstructed and navigable!  We have, at present, a number of 

         strangers in our midst, who come from Eastern cities, where 

         the obstruction of a sidewalk is properly punishable by a 

         fine, and is held by the courts to be (except for a short 

         time under exceptional circumstances) inexcusable.  Now 

         follow the course of one of our visitors who ventures outside 

         of her hotel, and attempts to obtain a view of our business 

         thoroughfares.  She leaves the Cosmopolitan; possibly she may 

         get up Main street opposite the Pico House and not find her 

         progress impeded by anything more than a carriage or two 

         arranged for display on the sidewalk.  There she crosses the 

         street, comes down on the other side, threads her way through 

         a collection of second-hand furniture, crosses Arcadia 

         street, raises her eyes to admire the magnificent proportions 

         of Baker Block, and tumbles into a pile of orange boxes 

         stacked up four deep from the curb!  Recovering her 

         equilibrium she continues her course down Main street, picks 

         her way carefully among some empty dry goods boxes and is 

         soon compelled to turn out into the middle of the street and 

         become sandwiched between a passing streetcar and sundry 

         piles of lumber, a bed of mortar and a wall of bricks.  She 

         turns up Main again at the corner of First street, hoping to 

         get to the hotel, three blocks away, during the hour that 

         still remains before dinner time.  But progress on that side 

         is almost impeded by the display wagons of an enterprising 

         merchant, and she is turned into the street after passing 

         those obstructions by another collection of building 

         material.  If she is not run over by a passing team she 

         proceeds slowly and sadly upon her way, having to crawl under 

         the scaffolding which a painter has erected over the sidewalk 

         for his own convenience while at work, and with sundry other 

         adventures and "hair breadth escapes," she returns to her 

         hotel to express in vigorous language her contempt for a 

         place which attempts to put on the airs of a full-fledged 

         city and yet allows its inhabitants to be compelled to walk 

         in the middle of the street for the accommodation of a 

         privileged few!  That it is necessary to obstruct the 

         sidewalks in the manner alluded to and to the extent 

         practiced is absolutely untrue, and the practice would be 

         tolerated in no town of metropolitan pretensions outside of 

         the free and easy west.  I am not sanguine enough to think 

         that merely calling attention to this nuisance will result in 

         its abatement, but cheerfully hope that it will be remedied 

         to a certain extent.   


              Los Angeles, May 4, 1882.

                         {Times, July 29, 1882, p. 3}


           A Six Footer's Protest Against the Traps for the Unwary.


          Complains of Builders Unnecessarily Blockading the Streets 

                            with Building Material.

              Editor Times:--As soon as the scaffolding in front of 

         the new building on Main street, above First (which had 

         monopolized, unnecessarily, the sidewalk for the past three 

         months,) is removed, we see the same reckless disregard for 

         the convenience and safety of the pedestrian public exhibited 

         by the builders at work upon the new building on the other 

         side of Main street.  It is not sufficient indulgence in the 

         rights of builders, apparently, that the workmen's 

         scaffolding should extend half over the sidewalk, which has 

         its other half covered with house bricks and other material, 

         but in the last case alluded to the superfluous ends of four 

         or five boards reach out over the thoroughfare, very nicely 

         arranged to catch the head of any passerby whose height may 

         exceed five feet and six inches!  That such a man-trap should 

         remain projecting over a public thoroughfare after night is 

         inexcusable and disgraceful.  It has not caught any one yet, 

         perhaps, but it has only been set a few nights, and returns 

         are not all in.  It may be necessary that the same builder 

         should have over the sidewalk two inclined planes for workmen 

         to pass up and down upon, carrying brick and mortar, under 

         which passers-by are compelled to dodge; but if these planks 

         are not left in position over nights and Sundays through pure 

         laziness and carelessness on the part of the workmen, I shall 

         be surprised, as it will be contrary to precedent.

              Opposite both the new buildings on Main street, that are 

         alluded to above, are piles of lumber, mortar, brick, etc., 

         which might just as well be confined to half the space they 

         occupy, if they must be in the street, and now that one of 

         the buildings is completed, no necessity any longer exists 

         for blockading the street with it.  And there are at present 

         indications that an asphaltum sidewalk is to be laid there 

         immediately.  This will necessarily compel pedestrians to 

         turn into the street, which being unnecessarily blockaded all 

         the way out to the car track will force them to cross or pick 

         their way among vehicles and lately sprinkled muddy streets 

         until, after much vexatious navigation they regain the 

         sidewalk again.

              The evils I have alluded to appear to have become 

         chronic.  They are bad enough for our citizens to endure and 

         bring upon the city government the contempt of all visitors. 

              Let our beautifully uniformed policemen see that they 

         are remedied; then we shall conclude that we are maintaining 

         the police force for some other purposes than mere ornament.


         Los Angeles, July 27th.

    The 1883 Times article attributed to Eliza Otis, quoted above, began as though 

it were an editorial but soon changed format to give the impression that it was 

a bit of advice offered by a resident to the editor.  "Re Vera's" reply a few 

days later attributed the views to "Pedestrian," though neither that name nor 

any other appeared in the original article.  A careful reading of "Re Vera's" 

letter will note that it reads like a reply to not only the Aug. 14, 1883, 

article but to the July 29, 1882, letter by "Pedestrian."  Inasmuch as "Re 

Vera" merely used the previous article as a vehicle to heap further criticism 

on sidewalk obstructionists and on municipal authorities, readers might 

speculate that the above letters and the article were all written by the same 


                         {Times, Aug. 17, 1883, p. 4}

                          Pedestrians--Our Sidewalks.

              To the Editor of the Times --Sir:  We rise to explain 

         and apologize for the bruised toes and hard, naughty words of 

         our "Pedestrian" in a private talk to the editor of the 

         Times.  We Los Angelenos feel perfectly satisfied when we are 

         graciously permitted to stumble along over the ups and downs 

         on the sidewalks and stand erect.  But this thing of ducking 

         one's head, and crawling under a pine timber every few 

         minutes, or of crossing the streets twice to go one block and 

         then get one's new breeches spattered up with lime mortar and 

         endanger his life in the crossing from fast-driving 

         teamsters; and then, when he gets across, to find the 

         sidewalk entirely blocked up, and is compelled to take to the 

         middle of the street, and keep one eye in the back of his 

         head to watch for breakers behind--with his heart in his 

         mouth, thinking of the dear ones at home--possibly seen for 

         the last time--expecting every minute some fast bronco to 

         plant his fore feet square on top of his back.  And then if 

         he gets out safely and looks down at his spoiled pants, and 

         thinks of a certain lecture he will get from that "dear 

         loved-one at home,"--we say when all this happens to a 

         fellow, he--well--we soon get used to it.  'Tis nothing in a 

         growing town like Los Angeles.  You see?

              Why! bless your soul, "Pedestrian," I guess you are a 

         stranger in these parts.  You forget we have no City Council 

         or police?  The town simply runs itself.  Now if we had a 

         City Council to manage this thing for us, we might have 

         another street-car track on Main street.  We ought to have 

         three or four.  No room for teams?  Oh! let the teams stay 

         outside the city limits--no business here!

              You say by having no police or City Council to bother, 

         the builders can then take up all the street with their 

         rubbish and let the stores "shut up shop" and teams and 

         things go to some other street.  And if one is afraid of the 

         brickbats showering down on his head from three-story 

         buildings, he must either wear a stiff plug hat or carry a 


              You see, stranger, if you lived in a town of progress 

         you would soon get used to all this.   

                                            RE VERA.

    Los Angeles at the peak of the Boom decade was still without adequate 

sidewalks.  While most complaints focused on problems in the town's commercial 

section, "Observer" raised the issue of residential sidewalks.  The editor's 

response suggests that Otis was not an activist on the sidewalk issue.

                         {Times, Feb. 10, 1887, p. 6}

                               As to Sidewalks.

              Los Angeles, Feb. 9.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  The 

         far-famed city of Los Angeles under a cloud!  Lo! now the 

         cloud openeth and the downpour of welcome rain makes 

         thousands of hearts beat hopefully for those "corner lots" 

         unsold; but who has thought of the invalids who are here to 

         revel in sunshine? and yet any attempt to do so finds them 

         fastened in the mud, one rubber left behind, or fished out to 

         be carried in hand, vainly endeavoring to drag the other out 

         softly from the pasty deep.  A sorry picture for a city of 

         50,000 boasting its possibilities for outnumbering any city 

         in the world!  With all thy boasted glory, "one thing thou 

         lackest."  Where are the city fathers that in all these years 

         of promise no step has been taken for extended residence 

         sidewalks?  Who ever saw a city of such magnitude with so 

         little thought of real beauty or even comfort for 

         pedestrians?  Cannot the ladies of Los Angeles come to the 

         front with a "mutual improvement society" in aid of the city 

         fathers who are overburdened with cares in other directions?  

         It is needful that some one should make a move in this 

         direction to save the reputation of our eminently prosperous 

         city.  Who shall it be?  I wait a response.


              ["Observer" should not "cuss" the city fathers for it.  

         It is the citizens who have to lay their own sidewalks.--Ed.]

    This 1888 letter from "A Long Suffering Pedestrian" raises the possibility 

that the "Pedestrian" of 1882 was no longer able to contain herself and felt 

forced to complain again.  

                         {Times, Jan. 25, 1888, p. 3}

                               A Public Nuisance.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 21.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The public, and especially the feminine public, is getting 

         tired of clambering around the new Phillips block, on Spring 

         street, in the mud.  If memory serve the writer, it is nearly 

         a year since the excavation for that building was begun.  At 

         any rate, she has a lively recollection of sloshing around it 

         during the big rain of last February.  The Angelenos are 

         certainly a very patient people, to endure so long so 

         pronounced and unnecessary a nuisance.  In passing, one 

         frequently hears the bitter complaints of strangers, obliged 

         for a few weeks only to endure the discomfort and danger from 

         passing teams.  What a Griselda-like patience, then, must be 

         put to the credit of the ladies of Los Angeles, who, in dust 

         and mud, have made the detour for 12 months!  The fact that 

         the infliction is unnecessary was made plain during the 

         recent Placer-county exhibit, when, to accommodate himself 

         and for compensation, the owner of the building managed to 

         have the sidewalk passable as long as it suited his 

         convenience to do so.  It occurs to one bedraggled female 

         that it is about time that the public had the use of this 

         portion of the sidewalk, and that the practice obtaining in 

         other cities, of condemning unnecessary obstruction of public 

         thoroughfares, be observed in this.

                               A LONG-SUFFERING PEDESTRIAN.

    By early 1888, with the Boom waning, "A Transient" evaluated the role that 

poor sidewalks played in sabotaging the city's prosperity.  "Transient" noted 

that the problem was widespread, citing several specific areas.  Sonoratown, an 

area inhabited largely by Latinos, was what Anglos called that portion of the 

city north of the Plaza.  The editorial reply, which again indicated a general 

apathy on the part of Otis regarding the urgency of the problem, elicited a 

response from "Recent Citizen," whose criticism of the editor's opinion brought 

a modest change in the editorial position.  This letter was one of the very few 

printed without a heading.

                          {Times, Feb. 2, 1888, p. 5}
                              Again the Streets.

              Los Angeles, Feb. 1.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Being a stranger in California, and, consequently, ignorant 

         of her laws and customs, I would like to inquire as to the 

         legal powers and duties of a town or city council in this 

         State.  I know that in the East it has charge of the streets 

         and sidewalks, and one of its duties is to keep them in such 

         condition that a pedestrian can go from one point to any 

         other point without danger of being swamped in a sea of mud.  

         If such is one of the duties of the Council here, that duty 

         is most shamefully, if not criminally, disregarded.  On 

         Second street, from Fort to the top of the hill, and as much 

         farther as one can see, the only way for a person on foot to 

         cross after a rain is to wade through a bed of clay mortar 

         about as sticky as exists on this continent; and the only way 

         of getting up and down the street without wading mud is to 

         walk in the gutter on the south side.  Much the same 

         condition of things prevails on Temple street.  In fact, it 

         seems to prevail nearly all over the city.  An errand called 

         me out through Sonoratown this morning, and the entire lack 

         of anything resembling either sidewalk or crossing made the 

         trip one long to be remembered.  It is folly for Los Angeles 

         to flatter herself that people generally prefer unfathomable 

         nastiness to clean snow and ice.  Many visitors have left the 

         city because of its expensive discomforts, and if something 

         be not done in the way of remedy the advertisements "To Let" 

         will become much more numerous than they are now. 

                                               A TRANSIENT.

              [The City Council has power to remedy these evils, and 

         has, we believe, resolved to do so; but the work of reform 

         takes time.--Ed.]

                          {Times, Feb. 5, 1888, p. 3}

              Los Angeles, Feb. 4--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         noticed the letter in your paper of today signed "Transient," 

         and your response below.  I agree that it takes time to pave 

         and put the streets in condition in a rapidly growing town, 

         but it would take little time for the Council to prohibit the 

         obstruction of sidewalks by builders.  Why should hundreds be 

         turned out in the streets or clamber over piles of brick, 

         mortar and lumber to accommodate one man?  Use the street, 

         but keep a decent and safe passage for pedestrians.  Such 

         wholesale monopoly of public comfort and rights is an 

         outrage, and yet, to my knowledge, it has gone on in this 

         town for 10 mortal months.  What is the remedy?  Let the 

         Council enforce an open passage in front of buildings, or let 

         the town rise up en masse and compel individuals to respect 

         the public at large.

                                           RECENT CITIZEN.

              [Our correspondent is entirely right.  The Council 

         should act in this matter.--Ed. Times.]

    Several correspondents suggested that the police were partly at fault for 

permitting sidewalk obstructions to continue.  "Citizen," reflecting a general 

discontent with the police department in a decade which saw sixteen chiefs or 

acting chiefs come and go within nine years, went further by referring to 

"boodle," the then-current term for payoffs to civil authorities.  

    "Citizen's" passing reference to "corner loafers" had been the theme of an 

earlier letter by "Looker-On," whose concern was not just piles of merchandise 

and construction timbers but another form of obstruction blocking passage on 

the sidewalks.  Stung by criticism that the police had done little to abate the 

nuisance of loafers who blocked sidewalks, the city fathers, two weeks after 

"Looker-On's" letter ran in the Times, enacted a new anti-loitering ordinance 

that carried a penalty of sixty days in jail and/or a $50 fine. The council 

demanded that the police enforce the ordinance.  When one officer unknowingly 

forced a city councilman to "move on," the irate council member filed a 

complaint with the police commission.  

                         {Times, Feb. 15, 1888, p. 6}

                               Police Valentine.

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

         Again, where are the police?  Is there, or not, a city 

         ordinance forbidding merchants and others to obstruct the 

         sidewalks with their goods?  Here we have a growing city, so 

         rapidly increasing its population that the pressure in the 

         principal streets, too narrow to begin with, has become the 

         subject of general regret and complaint; and, although it 

         would greatly help to mitigate this evil, nothing, as usual, 

         seems to be done by the police to carry out the duties they 

         were, in this connection, appointed to perform, and are paid 

         by the long-suffering public to execute.  Is there boodle in 

         even this, or are our protectors still so busy big-boodling 

         with gamblers and prostitutes, or discussing personal 

         politics with each other, that to find one of them patrolling 

         the streets is like looking for a needle in the proverbial 

         bundle of hay?  If we want to refresh our eyes with a sight 

         of one of these gentlemen, in the verity of flesh, we have to 

         go to the corner of one of the streets, where he is 

         stationed, with an ornamental voice and cane, for the purpose 

         of slowing down the too previous driver.

              I could give instances of outrageous obstruction of the 

         sidewalks, right in the busiest portions of the city center, 

         but, among so many law-breakers, to particularize would be 

         invidious.  At least, the nuisance could be minimized, by 

         insisting that the obstructions be arranged and packed as 

         near the line of the curb as possible, instead of being 

         straddled anyhow all over the sidewalk, just as if the owner 

         wished to demonstrate his contempt for the public, and his 

         determination to add insult to injury; and, while about it, 

         why should not the police put in some of their spare 

         time--that is, when fully through with their private 

         affairs--in abating the corner loafer and crossing 

         obstructionists, moving them out of the way, and they might 

         even do something toward suppressing the unearthly shriek of 

         the newsboy, who is forever darting between our feet and 

         doing his shrillest to split our heads.   If this city is not 

         all boodledum and boodledee, some small efforts for our 

         comfort and convenience will possibly be made by our patrons, 

         the police, about the time the millennium starts in.


                         {Times, Jan. 12, 1887, p. 6}

                           A PRETTY STATE OF THINGS.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 11.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  An 

         item in this morning's Times fixes one's attention.  It is 

         that a Councilman should have declared, by resisting an 

         officer in the proper fulfillment of his duties and preparing 

         subsequent charges against him, that the very ordinance which 

         he and his confreres promulgated shall not be observed.  To 

         strangers this is highly ludicrous; to citizens a cause for 

         indignant protest.  Of the many downright nuisances of the 

         city none exceed the street loungers upon our corners, 

         especially a certain few too well-known to need mention.  It 

         is simply intolerable.  One has the greatest difficulty in 

         elbowing his way through the heterogeneous aggregation, while 

         to single ladies whose misfortune it may be to be out after 6 

         p.m. it is downright shameful.  Of all street ordinances to 

         be enforced in a crowded city, none are of more importance 

         than the clearing of the sidewalks for pedestrians.  Their 

         rights are preeminent.  Let us hope that the police will 

         continue to clear these several corners and run in 

         obstructors whether holding the infinite exalted position of 

         a city father or otherwise.  Yours,  


    Luther Ingersoll, in his 1889 Illustrated History of Los Angeles County, 

applauded the city's sidewalks of artificial stone, "beautifully and 

substantially laid."  Ingersoll, of course, was trying to sell books.

                             C) STREET CONDITIONS

    The same mug-book historian who lauded the city's sidewalks also had kind 

words for its streets, calling Los Angeles "one of the most perfectly paved 

cities in the United States."  That view was not the one found in the letters 

column throughout most of the 1880s.  When the Times began publication in 1881 

all city streets were dirt and were a constant source of complaint because of 

their condition.  Shortly after Samuel Mathes took over the editorship of the 

paper in January, 1882, he ran a feature article under the sub-title "The 

Streets Not Exactly What they Should Be."  In it a fictitious Eastern visitor 

cited numerous grievances including unpronounceable street names, an illogical 

street numbering system, the incoherent lay-out of the city's streets, horsecar 

tracks that were seemingly laid in a manner designed to tear wheels off 

carriages and other assorted evils.

    Had the city's development continued in the fashion of the 1870s there 

would undoubtedly have been grumbling, but several factors related specifically 

to the 1880s exacerbated the problem.  These included the sudden, dramatic 

increase in population in mid-decade, the installation of cable railways and 

electric car tracks on public streets, and a real estate frenzy in the hills 

southwest of the Plaza, near present-day downtown, that resulted in deep 

roadcuts for new - but unpaved - streets.

    The Times printed a steady stream of grievances, with increasing frequency 

toward the end of the decade, about the poor condition of specific streets, 

primarily the major business thoroughfares.  In summer, correspondents 

complained of dust on unsprinkled streets.  In winter, they damned the mud.  

They often made their point through humor, as in this excerpt from "S. B.'s"  

lengthy poem entitled "Los Angeles Mud, A Plea for a Pavement."

         Like thousands of others I came to invest

         In the real estate of this beautiful west;

         To view its fair gardens and get a foretaste

         Of the Eden up there in the land of the blest.

         It's a good thing to hold, if you're wise and discreet,

         But I don't care to carry so much on my feet,

         For as black and as foul as the Stygian flood,

         Is a street--or a stream--of Los Angeles mud.    

    Equally amusing was Ralph Hoyt's satirical defense of the city's mud.  

Hoyt, a former resident of Illinois, was one of the more frequent letter-

writers of the 1880s.

                         {Times, Jan. 13, 1888, p. 2}

                            The Usefulness of Mud.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 10.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Much grumbling is heard on account of the muddy condition of 

         our unpaved streets.  But evidently the people who find fault 

         with our unequaled mud are incapable of appreciating a good 

         thing when they see it and are bespattered with it.  Our mud 

         is a blessing in disguise.  It affords our people something 

         soft to light on whenever they chance to fall.  It is a 

         scientific fact that injury from falling is caused by the 

         sudden stopping of a descending body, rather than by the fall 

         itself; and the harder the substance fallen upon the more 

         severe the injury.  But today we read that a prominent 

         citizen who was thrown from his buggy, on First street, 

         escaped uninjured because he came down on the soft, soothing 

         mud.  Such a fall must be almost a luxury.  Had the street 

         been paved and free from mud, that man would probably have 

         been more or less killed.

              Behold the wisdom of our city fathers!  They realize 

         that the great necessity of our streets is mud.  Hence, they 

         keep the supply equal to the demand.  Let us hope that there 

         will be no more grumbling about our blessed street mud.  It 

         is a beneficent municipal arrangement, which can be 

         appreciated only by those who fall into its soft embrace.

                                          RALPH HOYT.

    Editor Mathes' criticism of the placement of horsecar tracks - slightly 

above the level of the street so that crossing them was not only unpleasant but 

a threat to buggy wheels - was magnified later in the decade when the city's 

streets were in almost constant turmoil as companies began laying tracks and 

conduit for cablecars and constructing lines for electric streetcar systems.  

However, when tracks were placed at street level for the more comfortable 

crossing that Mathes desired, mud from winter's rains often brought streetcar 

traffic to a halt or made cable cars inoperable when the cable slot filled with 


                         {Times, Mar. 27, 1886, p. 2}

               Complaints of a Torn-up Traveler on Temple Street.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I would suggest that 

         the Superintendent of Streets secure a strong vehicle, a safe 

         horse or horses, have his life insured, bid adieu to his 

         family and friends, screw up his courage to the sticking 

         point and go straight out Temple street.  I make this 

         suggestion with every wish for his safe return, but feeling 

         that it were better, in any event, that one life should be 

         sacrificed than that the lives of the many who are compelled, 

         or entitled to use the Temple street thoroughfare (?) should 

         longer be placed in jeopardy.

              The Cable Company have unnecessarily obstructed this 

         street in many ways.  The rights of the public have not had 

         the slightest consideration.

              Respectfully yours,         


                         {Times, Oct. 29, 1887, p. 6}

                               He Wants to Know.

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

         am no correspondent, but have been a subscriber and reader of 

         The Times for the past four years, and this is my first time 

         to make any comments or kick.  The subject in question is in 

         regard to the very lenient manner in which our city papers 

         pass over and smooth up without comments the actions and 

         workings of one of the grandest legal farces in existence, 

         and that is our street car lines.  For the past twelve or 

         fifteen months the various lines have been laying, relaying 

         and changing tracks and beds, and otherwise obstructing the 

         streets, to the very great inconvenience of all other 

         traffic, and causing very unsatisfactory transit to the 

         patrons of the roads.

              The roads in constructing and building these lines leave 

         the streets in an almost impassable condition.  It would be 

         as pleasant, and equally as safe, to drive over a Texas hog-

         wallow prairie as it would over portions of Olive street.

              What the people want to know is, whether the street car 

         companies own and control the streets as well as the city and 

         newspaper fraternity.  Let us hear.     

                                          M. SHIELDS.

    Even when the city council took efforts to improve the streets, one 

correspondent doubted the councilmen's motives.

                         {Times, Jan. 24, 1886, p. 4}

                              That Street Roller.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Will you allow a 

         taxpayer through your columns to ask our City Council if the 

         need for a street roller was so pressing that they did not 

         have time to submit a plan and get the price from more than 

         one man for the same, or were they afraid to do so for fear 

         the job would go out of the family.       

                                           A TAXPAYER.

    As late as 1886 the city had no paved streets.  In 1887 Mayor Workman 

undertook an aggressive campaign to upgrade the streets.  Starting with Main, 

from First to the Plaza, the city put down cobblestone pavement that reduced 

the complaints about dust but produced a bumpy ride.  Shortly thereafter 

pavement was placed on Broadway (Fort), Spring, First, Second and Third.  

Granite blocks would eventually replace the cobblestones to create a smoother 

surface, but they too were rough and were later covered with asphalt.  

    Still residents complained, noting the snail-like pace of grading and 


                         {Times, Jan. 28, 1888, p. 6}

                             Street Improvements.

              Los Angeles, Jan 26.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  It 

         is the bad custom in Los Angeles for street contractors or 

         graders to keep the streets to be improved, after commencing 

         work upon them, in the worst possible condition for the 

         longest possible time.  In all other cities such work is 

         required to be accomplished as speedily as possible, and with 

         the least practicable inconvenience to the public.  

         Elsewhere, and everywhere but Los Angeles, the passable 

         condition of the streets, while in process of improvement, is 

         interrupted as little as may be; but here the reverse is 

         certainly the rule.  A Los Angeles street contractor seems to 

         take special delight in inconveniencing the public as much as 

         possible.  As soon as a contract is let, and long before the 

         contractor is ready to proceed with his work, the street is 

         destroyed for use by being excavated or plowed up, and is 

         then left in that condition for days, week and months.  It 

         would only require a little care, in most cases, to make a 

         street passable while in the process of repair, but it is the 

         special delight of Los Angeles street contractors and their 

         workmen to keep the streets under their charge as rough and 

         dangerous as it is possible to make them.  This is so well 

         understood by the public that fewer accidents occur than 

         might be expected, but accidents from this cause are by no 

         means infrequent.

              It would seem to a stranger that in a city as large as 

         Los Angeles it ought to be somebody's duty to look after this 

         matter.  The city has a Mayor, a Superintendent of Streets, 

         an Engineer, a Chief of Police and several Councilmen; but if 

         the street contractor has not his own way, without let or 

         hindrance from any one, the writer of this is much mistaken.

              If the contractor is not bound by his contract to regard 

         the public welfare and convenience he ought to be, and if he 

         is so bound in his contract that feature of the contract is 

         not at all enforced.  Los Angeles, as a community, loses 

         much--much more than she is aware by this bad practice.


                          {Times, Jan. 8, 1888, p. 2}

                                Street Paving.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 6.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Your paper has kept the subject of street paving well in 

         motion since the letting of the contract to pave, some six 

         months ago.  Mr. Shearer, with his rock paving, has 

         accomplished the wonderful feat of paving one whole block 

         already, and his opponents, the Bituminous Lime-rock Paving 

         Company, have done about six blocks.

              At the present rate, these two companies will have Main 

         street, from Ninth to Marchessault street, and Spring, from 

         Temple to Ninth, about done by 1908.  Meantime we have to 

         content ourselves with the most filthy streets of any city of 

         its size in the Union.  Temple, Fort, Los Angeles, First, 

         Upper Main, New High streets, with all intersecting streets, 

         and many others, need paving as well as Main and Spring 

         streets.  What shall it be?  Mud and dust forever?  There is 

         work right here for a dozen more contractors the size of the 

         present ones.


                      D) STREET LIGHTS, NUMBERS AND NAMES

    Prior to American occupation of California a pueblo regulation required 

owners of homes with two or more rooms located on the principal streets of Los 

Angeles to hang lighted lanterns at their front doors from twilight to 8 p.m. 

in winter and until 9 p.m. in summer, with fines for failure to comply.  This 

reliance on private citizens to provide light for public streets continued 

until 1865, when the city contracted with a private gas company to supply light 

at intersections on Main Street.  Until that year, Workman writes, pedestrians 

carried lanterns or used candles to find their way.  In 1869 gas lamps appeared 

on Fort, Los Angeles, Aliso and Alameda Streets.  Even notorious Nigger Alley, 

soon to be the scene of the infamous anti-Chinese massacre, was lit with gas.  

Spring Street received its first gas lamp in 1870.

    Charles Howland, who would later lose his fortune in an ill-fated effort to 

operate the first electric trolley system in Los Angeles, opened the Los 

Angeles Electric Co. in 1882 and erected seven masts, each 150 feet high, at 

major intersections on which lights were placed: Main at Commercial, Downey {N. 

Broadway} at Truman {Ave. 22}, First and Hill, First and Vine {Central}, First 

and Boyle, Fourth and Grand, and Sixth and Main.  On New Year's Eve, 1882, the 

system was turned on and Los Angeles had electric lights.

    Luther Ingersoll, of course, praised the system, which contained 72 lamps 

equal to over 200,000 candlepower.  Others were not so laudatory.  Young lovers 

at the newly opened state normal college found the lights intrusive.  Horace 

Bell, editor of the Porcupine, the weekly gadfly that kept Los Angeles astir in 

the 1880s and 1890s, insisted that the company turned off the lights when the 

moon was out.  Even Ingersoll conceded that the generator shut down service to 

merchants at 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10:30 on Saturdays.  Correspondent "Cit," 

however, chose to look on the bright side.    

                         {Times, Sept. 11, 1888, p. 6}

                  The Blinding Glare of the Electric Lights.

              Los Angeles, Sept. 8.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  If 

         there is anything worthy of the greatest admiration it is the 

         excellent good temper and sweet going nature of our City 

         Fathers in reference to our electric street lights.  They are 

         just lovely--I mean, the tempers and natures.

              Why should a little variation, to the extent of one or 

         two hundred per cent. of our contract with the company for 

         furnishing lights, be permitted to ruffle any one's temper, 

         especially when the poor company can get all the pay the city 

         agrees to give it, and also sell the light to the stores or 

         any "other man?"  And then the glare of a great, bright 

         flaring light might injure the eyes of the street-car mules 

         and those of some other people.  Moreover, a mild, soft 

         glimmer, with now and then a flicker, is more interesting 

         these soft, dark, summer nights, and exerts a beneficial 

         influence upon the average citizen, by reminding him that 

         eternal vigilance is a good thing to have on hand at all 

         times, and is often the price of a safe arrival at the place 

         he is "making for."  And another thing--it reminds him of 

         that excellent proverb, so often thoughtlessly overridden and 

         disregarded by the most of us, namely, to "go slow."

              I have heard some people complain of our electric lights 

         and say they look about like small bathroom kerosene lamps 

         stuck up on poles; but as for me, I always look at the bright 

         side of a thing (when I can see it), and often sit and gaze 

         with wonderment and calculation as to how many millions of 

         the pretty little lights as they twinkle in the sky it would 

         require to make a 20,000-candle-power blaze.

              And the flicker is very nice.  Take your stand some time 

         on the street and pick out your favorite light if you have 

         never tried it.  However, a seat at your window or a stand on 

         your porch is better if you can see it that far, as then you 

         can watch it with impunity and won't be uneasy as to whether 

         school keeps or not--the light, I mean--and watch it.  A 

         little while you see it, and then again a little while and 

         you shall not see it, and then, as the deep shadows of 

         darkest night suddenly gather themselves around you, a 

         profound sensation of the awful, to say nothing of the 

         beautiful, strikes you, and you wonder at the effect and 

         question in your inmost soul how much more profitable it must 

         be and how much more obligatory it must be, too, for an 

         electric light company to furnish light to a high-up tony 

         lager-beer saloon than a great city.

              And then (if you are safe at home) you mentally ask 

         yourself the question, "who shall say?" and meekly retire, 

         with the consciousness that you will continue to be a good 

         citizen and promptly pay your taxes of all kinds, especially 

         "city," that you may proudly go forth from a great 

         metropolis, which is known among the elect, and so 

         progressive as to have her system of electric light.


    In that purported interview with an Eastern visitor that Editor Mathes 

published early in 1882 the critic complained about the confusion caused by the 

illogical numbering system.  There had been no street numbers when Harris 

Newmark arrived in 1853, but as the city grew over the years homes and 

commercial buildings were numbered in a hit and miss fashion.  Mathes' visitor 


              It is almost impossible to find a number and when you do 

         it is a block or two from where it ought to be.  I noticed 

         "forty" over a door on one of the principal streets the other 

         day, and the very next door had one hundred and thirty.  On 

         the opposite side of the street they were running from eighty 

         to two hundred.  I never saw anything like it before.

    In response to growing criticism, the city council adopted an ordinance 

regarding street numbers.  Before the plan could be implemented in 1883, 

"Citizen" lodged a complaint with the Times.  Otis, by then the editor, ran an 

editorial the day that "Citizen's" letter was published, endorsing his 

criticism and urging the council to amend its faulty ordinance.   Even though 

the council revised the ordinance along the lines suggested by "Citizen" and 

Otis, a letter from "Order" later that year indicates that residents were slow 

to comply with the new numbering system.

                          {Times, May 12, 1883, p. 4}

                 Numbering the Streets--The Council Criticised.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  In all eastern cities 

         that adopted the modern method of numbering their houses and 

         business places, one can find a given number with little or 

         no difficulty.  How important, then, becomes the question of 

         some established rule on the subject when a new city is to be 

         numbered, or a new rule is to be adopted.

              This becomes doubly so when we consider that the new 

         method or rule is to be permanent--that no error in the 

         system should be allowed to creep in to control our action 

         for all time, or be a perpetual source of complaint and 

         regret in the long future before us.

              The present system adopted by the Council for Los 

         Angeles is erroneous and unlike any other adopted by any city 

         at the present day.  The true rule is to commence at First 

         street south with 100, at Second street with 200, Third 

         street 300, and so on.  The present method commences at 

         Second street with 100, Third street 200 and Fourth street 

         300.  By the correct rule a party looking for 420 Spring 

         street would first go to Fourth street and be within 20 doors 

         of the number sought.  By the present method adopted by the 

         Council, a stranger or citizen attempting to find 420 above 

         Fourth street, according to the rule established in other 

         cities, would be blundering along rousing people in the 

         vicinity where the number ought to be--to find he was over a 

         block out of the way.  Is there no relief from this blunder, 

         an ever-recurring source of irritation?


                         {Times, Sept. 23, 1883, p. 3}

                               Miserable Botch.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  The new numbering of 

         our buildings was ordered with a view to facilitate the 

         discovery of the house you were looking for.  As matters now 

         stand, even old residents are at a loss to find their old 

         friends through these new numbers.  The various series of 

         numbers and changes in the name of one continuous street have 

         a tendency to mislead strangers and breed all sorts of 

         confusion in our city delivery, as well as the new route boys 

         of Wells Fargo, paper carrier, telegraph messenger, and 

         letter carrier of city delivery.  For instance, along Spring, 

         the old number 54 stands out in figures bold, while the new 

         number underneath in figures two inches high says 20.  Old 

         No. 32 in gold letters a foot long on the transom is 

         corrected underneath by the diminutive No. 48.  No. 30 by 50, 

         and so on.  How is a stranger to know which is which?  How is 

         he or she, when going down Main street looking for 120, to 

         know the difference between North, South or Upper Main?

              There is enough confusion in our city plat by the X 

         roads happy-go-lucky management in laying out the town 

         without this additional confusion, which can be obviated by 

         changing North and South Spring to simply Spring street, and 

         changing North, South and Upper Main street to simply Main, 

         and making the numbers on these streets to read as they do in 

         other American cities.  In the meantime it would be important 

         to have the old numbers taken off so as not to mislead.  All 

         efforts of late seem to have a greater tendency to mislead 

         than to "point out the way."


    Mathes' Eastern visitor had also complained about the hard-to-pronounce 

Spanish names for the city's streets, urging the use of "good old American 

names."   By the time of his visit most of the original Spanish names had been 

replaced in everyday usage by Anglicized versions.  Even the Anglicized names, 

in many cases, had been discarded: Eternity became Buena Vista {which later 

became No. Broadway}, Grasshopper was changed to Pearl {later to Figueroa}, and 

Faith became Flower.  Others would be changed during the decade: Charity to 

Grand {1886}, Fort to Broadway {1889}. 

    Even many "good old American names" that were placed on streets during the 

subdivision boom of the 1880s would not long survive.  Horace Bell complained 

bitterly when Georgia Bell Street, named for his wife, was changed to Nevada.  

The council gave in and renamed it Georgia Street. 

    A century later one former street name would reappear on city maps when 

"Chavez" again became the name of a major thoroughfare.  However, it would 

honor Cesar Chavez instead of early Los Angeles resident Julian Chavez.  The 

new "Chavez" supplanted the historic name of Brooklyn Avenue, not N. Main and 

Albion Streets, which had been imposed on the old Chavez Street.  {On some maps 

a half-block long, dead-end remnant of the old Chavez still exists.  Long 

abandoned, it serves as a parking lot just west of the river.  In addition, the 

earlier Chavez was commemorated in later years by Chavez Ravine Drive and 


    Disturbed by the removal of historic names, editors Maurice and Marco 

Newmark added a note at the end of the appendix to the 1930 third edition of 

their father's memoir:

              Neither business exigency nor utilitarianism constitutes 

         a sound reason for replacing good old pioneer names of 

         streets and towns with others less historical and 


    The debate regarding the change in street names reached the letters column 

of the Times in 1886.  At issue was a proposed name change for High Street, 

located a few blocks north of the Plaza, to honor Don Antonio Cuyas, then a 

professor of languages and the original operator of the Pico House.  Cuyas, a 

native of Spain who arrived in Los Angeles in 1869, lived on Castellar Street, 

a half block south of High.  An alternate proposal would have honored James 

Walters, proprietor of the International Hotel.  The name change seemed 

justified because of the confusion caused by the name of a nearby street, New 

High, which actually crossed High Street.  The debate that erupted when the 

council rejected "Cuyas" as the new name for High recalled the plea of Mathes' 

fictional Eastern visitor for the use of "good old American names."

                         {Times, Sept. 9, 1886, p. 2}

                                "Cuyas" Avenue.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  A petition was 

         presented on the 30th of August to the Honorable Council of 

         this city, the object being to change the name of High street 

         to Cuyas avenue (the gentleman of that name has a fine 

         property on that street), as much confusion of localities 

         existed owing to the similarity of the names "High" and "New 

         High."  Said petition was signed by the property-holders of 

         High street and by many merchants and influential citizens.  

         It was not granted, but referred to the Board of Public Works 

         "to find a name more easily pronounceable by a Saxon tongue."  

         Ridiculous objection! and what a reflection on the 

         capabilities of the "Saxon" race!  It is a great shame that 

         the Council should permit such a delusion to influence an 

         important decision, and it is one that will certainly find 

         little favor among intelligent people!  In all of the most 

         populous foreign cities, many streets and establishments are 

         called by English names, much more difficult of pronunciation 

         and retention by memory to the natives than that of our 

         fellow citizen--Cuyas.  It is only reasonable to suppose that 

         our Honorable Council will take into consideration these 

         observations, giving at the same time just attention to the 

         expressed wishes of the signers of said petition.

                                        ONE OF THE SIGNERS.

         Los Angeles, Sept. 8, 1886.

                         {Times, Sept. 9, 1886, p. 2}

                             "Cuyas" Avenue Again.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  At a regular meeting 

         of the City Council on Monday, 30th August, a petition was 

         presented to that honorable body for the changing of High 

         street to Cuyas avenue, for obvious and sufficient reasons.  

         This name was denied, and the Board of Public Works 

         instructed to find one "more easily pronounceable by a Saxon 

         tongue."  Could anything be more absurdly unreasonable, while 

         such names as the following properly exist for some of our 

         city streets:  Marchessault, Chavez, Figueroa, Vignes, 

         Sabichi, Castellar, and so many more difficult to pronounce 

         than "Cuyas" that I dare not ask for your valuable space for 

         their mention.  Further comment is unnecessary, as any person 

         of ordinary intelligence can readily perceive the emptiness 

         of so lame an objection.                 

                                         AN OBSERVER.

              Los Angeles, Sept. 8.

                         {Times, Oct. 24, 1886, p. 5}

                                  A Protest.

              Los Angeles, Oct. 23.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         wish to enter my protest against the present policy of the 

         City Council in changing the name of the streets.  It 

         destroys their historical identity, besides producing 

         confusion.  Now, what is Walters that High street should have 

         its name changed for him?  I think it was even better that 

         Grasshopper and Eternity streets should have been allowed to 

         retain their old names, although they were odd.  If city 

         officials wish to have their names handed down to posterity 

         on monumental thoroughfares, let them do as Messrs. Knox, 

         Macy, Kurtz, Ducommun, Griffin, Moran and others have done, 

         lay out new tracts and donate the city the streets.  But stop 

         changing the present names of the streets.   


    While the Board of Public Works recommended that Cuyas become the new name 

for High Street, a councilman's objection sent the issue back to the board for 

further discussion.  Shortly thereafter the council renamed the street Walters.  

The honor, however, was fleeting.  Amid numerous street name changes in 1890 

that ignored such pleas as "Conservator's" to let the old names remain, the 

council renamed the street again, to Ord, in memory of Lt. Edward Ord, who had 

drawn the official pueblo map in 1849.

    At the end of the decade, as it became apparent that even the collapse of 

the real estate boom would not stem the growth of the city, "Progressionist" 

suggested another reason for changing old established street names.  The 

editorial reply by Otis contrasts sharply with the apparent support that Mathes 

had given to the Eastern visitor's suggestion that the city's street names be 


                         {Times, June 23, 1889, p. 10}

                               Names of Streets.

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

         Permit me to suggest, through your columns, that as our 

         splendid city slowly but surely assumes her metropolitan 

         garb, it might be well to pay some attention to the names of 

         our business thoroughfares.  A change in the name of "Main" 

         street is now almost essential.  It is a provincialism of the 

         rankest kind, and, to keep pace with the progress of the city 

         in other things, it should be dropped, and a newer title 

         adopted that would be at once euphonious and of more 

         commercial significance.  Or, some distinguished man, or 

         family, in our midst, whose identity is closely woven in the 

         history of Los Angeles, might be endowed with the new honor 

         of having the handsome highway named for him or them.  Call 

         it "State," "Market," "Fremont," "Bond" or "Sansome," 

         anything but "Main," or "Chestnut."  It is a change that will 

         cost but a few paltry dollars, and will relieve us of the 

         odium of "commonplace" that attaches to mining camps, hamlets 

         and {illegible} everywhere in the United States.  {Illegible}

         will be popular, not only with the residents and owners along 

         its line, but with every citizen who believes in "our day" 

         manners and methods of doing (and calling) things.


              [We do not think our correspondent's points are well 

         taken, or that any sufficient reasons exist for changing 

         old-established street names.--Ed. Times.]

                       E) BRIDGING THE LOS ANGELES RIVER

    Fording the Los Angeles River during most of the year was not a major 

undertaking.  Under normal conditions, with the river barely a trickle, buggies 

and wagons crossed the nearly dry streambed at several locations.  The 

principal ford was at the foot of Aliso Street, once the major route to San 

Bernardino, with an alternate at what is now Macy but was then called Aliso 

Road.  {Readers should be as careful as 19th century travelers in 

distinguishing between the two routes.}

    When the river flooded, however, the city was cut off from the east by a 

raging torrent that on some occasions prevented residents from crossing the 

river for several days, or weeks.  During the great flood of Dec., 1859, which 

made the fords impassable, residents demanded a solution to the problem of 

river crossing during the rainy season.  The first bridge, for foot traffic 

only, was erected on order of the city council in 1861 in response to those 

complaints.  That bridge, destroyed by floods later in the 1860s, was replaced 

by a "permanent" covered bridge designed to accommodate vehicles.  It was built 

by the contracting firm of William Perry and Wallace Woodworth at the foot of 

Aliso Road {Macy Street} in 1870.   

    The Aliso Road bridge was the only one crossing the river in Dec., 1881, 

when the Times began publication.  Shortly afterward the Downey Avenue bridge 

was built and in the next fifteen years wooden spans were erected at First, 

Seventh, Ninth, Main and Aliso Streets.  

    To connect East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights with the central city was a 

major impetus to bridge building.  Farmers and businessmen east of the river 

were concerned about the economic consequences of an interruption in their 

trade with the city during floods.  Newmark attributed construction of the 1861 

footbridge to the personal lobbying of Elijah Moulton, an East Los Angeles 

dairyman.  Dr. John S. Griffin and William Workman, land developers east of the 

river, were successful in getting the state legislature to appropriate $20,000 

for the 1870 covered bridge.  

    Throughout the 1880s advocates for additional spans carried their arguments 

to the public through the letters column in the Times.  Travel to the northeast 

into what was then labeled East Los Angeles {situated along what would now be 

No. Broadway but then was called Downey Avenue} was hindered by railroad 

activity at River Station, the Southern Pacific depot on San Fernando Street, 

to which the railroad had moved late in the 1870s.  

    To solve that problem, one group lobbied for a "high bridge" on Buena Vista 

{No. Broadway} that would carry traffic over the switching engines and freight 

cars and then across the river.  A second group attacked that proposal and 

opted for extending Main Street into East Los Angeles via a bridge over the 

river.  The letter by "Common-Sense," though it is dated later than the two 

letters that follow, is placed first because it clearly delineates the nature 

of the debate.

                         {Times, Jan. 24, 1886, p. 4}

                        For the Buena Vista High Bridge

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  The question of 

         questions with the people of East Los Angeles relates to 

         bridges.  It is conceded that the era of village ideas and 

         make-shift structures is past.  Whatever may be built in 

         future must be constructed to last and to survive the 

         severest storms.  The present Downey avenue bridge is a 

         miserable contrivance, and many think that the proposition of 

         Hellman and Spence to pay a proportion of the expense of an 

         iron substitute wide enough to accommodate their respective 

         railroad tracks should be accepted by the City Council.  And 

         it should be, provided there was money enough available to 

         build all the bridges needed.  But there is not.  The city 

         can afford to build at present but one bridge.  Now, where 

         should that be located, with a view of doing the greatest 

         good to the greatest number?  The universal answer to the 

         question would be Downey avenue, were it not for the access 

         to it from the city.  But until there is some other 

         connection than San Fernando street, it is idle to talk of a 

         new bridge at Downey avenue affording any greater relief to 

         the East Side than the present one.  It matters not whether a 

         bridge be of iron, stone or wood, large or small, high or 

         low, wide or narrow, the vital objection still remains that 

         San Fernando street is practically surrendered to railroad 

         tracks, and that it is not only unsafe, but positively 

         dangerous to drive a horse (except possibly a wooden animal) 

         on that street.  It is a fact undeniable that the main 

         objection to East Los Angeles is this cursed approach to it.  

         If a husband wants to become a widower he advises his wife to 

         drive past the depot.  Otherwise he does not.  Nature has 

         made East Los Angeles the most desirable part of the city, 

         and yet property there is at a comparatively low ebb, simply 

         because we lack the one essential of an unobstructed 

         thoroughfare to our beautiful suburb.  That thoroughfare is 

         Buena Vista street.  With an elevated bridge at that point, 

         and connecting with Hoff street, we would have a beautiful 

         street free from all railroad tracks or other obstructions 

         upon which any horse might be driven with safety by lady or 

         gentleman.  Inasmuch as we can have but one bridge at 

         present, let it be therefore placed at Buena Vista street.  

         Let it be an elevated one, with solid foundations, so that no 

         flood, no matter how severe, can wash it away.  The present 

         Downey avenue bridge can be restored to its original 

         condition at slight expense.  Let that be done, and when some 

         arrangement can be made to connect it with Chavez street, and 

         thence to Main, then, but not till then, should there be an 

         iron structure substituted.  To build one now at that point 

         would be to make the path to danger on San Fernando street 

         easier; it would be a veritable temptation to suicide; it 

         would not enhance the value of East Los Angeles property one 

         cent; whereas, a bridge at Buena Vista street would nullify 

         the stock argument of real estate agents against the place, 

         namely the danger incident to passing the depot.  The poorest 

         kind of a bridge on Buena Vista street would command ten 

         times more traffic than the most substantial and commodious 

         iron structure on Downey avenue.  This is unquestionable.  

         Yours truly,


                          {Times, Jan 12, 1886, p. 4}

                     Is East Los Angeles Losing her Grip?

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  We say it is a 

         question,--and the principle reason is lack of a proper 

         avenue and street-car accommodations with the city proper.  

         Our citizens already complain that property is not in as good 

         demand on this side as on the west side and hills north of 

         the city, while our distance is less and the location more 

         favorable.  We notice but few strangers on our pleasant side 

         streets, this winter, looking for homes--and why?  A ride on 

         our horse cars, and a trip past the depot is enough.  The 

         same car takes them back again, and we see them no more.  

         Some say they would not drive past that depot every day if we 

         would give them a house and lot on this side.  Now, would the 

         proposed bridge on this side help us?  We say no--it would be 

         worse than the depot route, with its ever restless switch 

         engine.  The proposed bridge, of itself, would be so high as 

         to be dangerous, considering the fact that two railroads 

         would pass under it so near their depots, that besides the 

         regular trains the switch engines of both roads would pass 

         under it many times a day.  Just imagine the combination--a 

         high bridge for teams, a puffing, ringing locomotive with 

         long train of cars passing under it, a nervous driver and 

         frightened horses on the bridge--that would be worse than our 

         present troubles.  I don't think we want it; and then if 

         having passed the bridge safely, think of passing through a 

         most disreputable part of town before we reach Main street.  

         Besides, we would have to travel on a half circle an extra 

         quarter of a mile or more which we would not have to do if 

         the proper course was taken, which is unquestionably by 

         opening Main street, through Bath street, in a direct line 

         across Alameda street, past the back of Naud's warehouse 

         through the Blue Gum grove, so as to strike Chaves street 

         nicely, which is all right till you reach the river, then 

         give us a good bridge, wide enough for a load of loose hay 

         and top buggy to pass each other; and then fill up the 

         bottomless mud-hole on Chaves street, near Water street, and 

         we will be fixed, with the nearest, cheapest and safest road 

         it is possible to give us, and this is not all the advantages 

         of this route.  With Main street open and the electric 

         railroad running on Los Angeles street, we could, with proper 

         effort, get the company to extend their line through to East 

         Los Angeles; and as they would have to pass through Chinatown 

         to get here, I think that would be the last straw on that 

         camel's back, and Chinatown would disappear.  I favor the 

         proposed electric road because it will, with its several 

         branches, take passengers to any part of the city for one 

         fare.  As the other roads are now managed passengers 

         frequently have to pay two fares to get where they want to 

         go.  Main street can be opened now at less expense than at 

         any future time.  In justice to the East Side it should be 

         done at once, and as we contributed our share towards that 

         dray load of tax money, we feel that a part of it cannot be 

         put to a better use than by giving us a direct and safe means 

         of communication with the city proper.  If our city fathers 

         will take a bird's eye view of the country from the top of 

         the Pico House (the roof is safe, being almost flat, with a 

         wall two or three feet high all around it) they will see how 

         few objections there are in the way of opening Main street, 

         and no doubt be surprised to see how much it will curve to 

         the south by the time it will reach Chaves street, on this 

         side of the river.  I hope these few lines will arouse our 

         good people to action; and I would suggest that a public 

         meeting be called to discuss this most important question; 

         and as State societies are the style just now, can't we take 

         a hint from them and form an East Los Angeles Society, for 

         the good of all residing on the

                                         EAST SIDE.

              City Surveyor Eaton informs the Times that the 

         preliminary proceedings for extending Main street through 

         Bath, across Alameda, and thence to the river, have been 

         taken, and that, in two or three months, the street will 

         probably be opened.  The project was first broached several 

         years ago, and has been quietly working out its destiny 

         since.--Ed. Times.

                         {Times, Jan. 13, 1886, p. 2}

                         The High-Bridge Controversy.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  In your issue of Jan. 

         12 we noticed in an article over the signature of "East 

         Side," one true statement, i.e., that the reason East Los 

         Angeles was losing its grip was the want of a proper avenue 

         and street-car accommodations.  But when he attacks the 

         proposed high bridge on Buena Vista street he displays his 

         personal prejudice, or ignorance when he states that a switch 

         engine running under the high bridge would frighten horses, 


              He forgets that there is little, if any, cause for 

         switching north of Buena Vista street, but that there is a 

         switch engine running almost incessantly along Alameda street 

         at the proposed crossing of Main street extension, switching 

         cars to the lumber yards, mills, Naud's warehouse and the 

         railroad team track.  And, besides, said Main street has to 

         cross two other railroad tracks, besides running quite a 

         distance along side of the railroad team track back of Naud's 

         warehouse.  He should know that the most dangerous place for 

         a nervous horse is on a street where a train or switch engine 

         is liable to come suddenly in sight and pass directly in 

         front of the team when there is no opportunity to turn and 

         get out of the way, as is often the case in our city streets 

         where they are crossed by railroads.

              "East Side" caps the climax when he expects the city to 

         take its public money to open out and improve Chavez street 

         or Main street extension.  He certainly ought to know that 

         the city cannot do that, but it must be done by the property 

         owners along the line of said street.  Let "East Side" and 

         his associate property owners on Chavez street exert some of 

         the enterprise that is being shown in the Second-street 

         extension, and they would have no trouble in having their 

         street opened out through to East Los Angeles.

              Do not understand me to be objecting to their having a 

         bridge, for I do not.

              On the contrary, I think they should have one as soon as 

         the property-owners on said street put it in such a condition 

         that it will accommodate the traveling public.

              If "East Side" is in the least interested in East Los 

         Angeles, he should not be making objections to the high 

         bridge on Buena Vista street, as Buena Vista street is the 

         broadest, best drained and most beautiful driveway in or out 

         of Los Angeles.  And the disreputable part he speaks of was 

         removed from Buena Vista street last spring.  It is now one 

         of the most quiet streets in the city.

                             ONE WHO DRIVES A NERVOUS HORSE.

    The superstructure of a bridge enticed merchants and craftsmen anxious to 

advertise their wares.  Motorists commuting to work in the city via freeway 

over a century later will feel a kinship with "Traveler" and will recognize a 

problem often cited by radio traffic reporters who decry the use of freeway 

overpasses for advertising.

                         {Times, June 13, 1885, p. 2}

                              Trespassing Signs.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Is there not a city 

         ordinance prohibiting the placing of signs upon the bridges?  

         I notice that two rival sewing-machine men have hung huge 

         painted signs across the First street bridge, and there seems 

         no reason why other traders may not do the same thing if this 

         is permitted.  Not to mention the insecurity of such a 

         practice, it seems that there should be some city official 

         whose duty would call him to remove the nuisances without an 

         hour's delay.


                                F) COUNTY ROADS

    Roads connecting the city with other portions of the county remained a 

point of complaint throughout the 1880s.  Harris Newmark noted that they were 

in wretched condition "for decades" after his arrival in 1853, luring Phineas 

Banning, in 1860, into an unsuccessful effort to utilize a "steam-wagon" to 

haul freight from San Pedro to Los Angeles.  "Fiat Lux" offered a critical 

overview of county roads in 1882.  Morgan Blandford, writing under the 

pseudonym "Granite," indicated that they had not improved much by 1889.

                         {Times, Sept. 30, 1882, p. 4}
                             Give Us Better Roads.

         To the Editor of The Times:

              The development of Los Angeles is such as to justify a 

         countryman calling attention to its approaches, which are 

         such as nature made them, man having thus far done nothing 

         towards their improvement.  This is doubtless owing in a 

         great measure to the fact that the great common carriers of 

         the State have laid down quite a number of lines of railroad 

         in the county, and that vast quantities of produce go over 

         them to the city instead of over the dirt roads.  That 'tis 

         so is well; were the approaches to the city improved, 'twere 


              I remember reading the report of the grand jury which 

         was organized about the first of the year, and it contained a 

         passage which ought to have awakened the Board of Supervisors 

         to a realizing sense of their duty--but it didn't.  The roads 

         of the county are in about the same condition they were at 

         the time the report was made.

              It strikes me that 'tis the interest of every municipal 

         corporation to see that its approaches are as good as they 

         can be made, and to insist, as far as it can, upon county 

         roads being kept in good order, for the reason that the 

         highways are an advertisement of the energy and intelligence 

         of the people occupying the town and the country.  

         Agriculture being the basis of all wealth, whatever tends to 

         prevent the transportation of produce militates against the 

         town people as well as against the producer.  This taken in 

         connection with Los Angeles means that, thanks to railroads, 

         much produce which would be hauled into town is necessarily 

         shipped by the producer from a more accessible local station 

         to the point of consumption, which is to the advantage of 

         country merchants as against those of the city.  Of course, 

         if the latter can stand it, the former have no ground for 


              While upon this subject, it would be as well to direct 

         attention to the abominable condition of the ravines east of 

         the new burial grounds, which fall within the city limits, as 

         also to the exceedingly bad state of the road therein, to the 

         crossing of the dry bed of the arroyo which one has to pass 

         to reach the plains of the Laguna rancho.  Then again the 

         crossing of the river at the Aliso street ford needs widening 

         on the west side.

              There is no more picturesque ride than that which takes 

         one out of the city by way of the French Hospital and the 

         Jewish burial ground, passing over the hills into the 

         Reservoir canyon, and thence across other hills to the river 

         and the Feliz rancho.  Yet no sane man would travel it of a 

         dark night with his family, unless compelled by stern 

         necessity, in which case he'd wish he had his life insured as 

         well as his conveyance.

              The road to Cahuenga Pass is dangerous after night 

         beyond the reservoir; that to the Mission, whether by 

         Johnston's rancho or along the railroad, is not in a 

         condition to brag of to strangers; that to Pasadena, via the 

         Arroyo Seco, must be traveled to be appreciated.

              The incoming of people from the East and from other 

         portions of this State will cause the present Board of 

         Supervisors to be succeeded by another of seven members.  

         Their respective districts will be smaller than those of the 

         present incumbents, and it is to be hoped that they will 

         consequently be able to do something in the matter of looking 

         after the county roads.  Meanwhile, and no one should forget 

         it, the city of Los Angeles is a loser by the condition of 

         the approaches to the main body of the city, which she can 

         remedy, as is her duty to do, since these approaches lie 

         within her own boundaries, and she cannot reasonably call 

         upon the Board of Supervisors to do her duty. 

              It may not be amiss to add that the city has an engineer 

         who is a man of ability and who needs but the order and the 

         wherewith to do the work required--furthermore, she not only 

         has coin wherewith to hire labor, but she has a convict force 

         which she uses on public work.  She, therefore, cannot plead 

         inability.  To the average tax-payer, living in Los Angeles, 

         it would perhaps be a source of some satisfaction to see 

         something done in that direction, and, speaking for myself, 

         the county people, who can't go to town by rail, would be 

         exceedingly well pleased to see it.

                                              FIAT LUX.

                         {Times, Dec. 24, 1888, p. 2}

                                  Bad Roads.

              Alhambra, Dec. 22.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  In 

         your paper yesterday you had an editorial on the necessity of 

         making known to eastern people the desirability of this 

         section of country, both from an agricultural and residential 

         point of view.

              You also advocated strongly the making of boulevards to 

         Pasadena and Santa Monica.  These would be, doubtless, of 

         great service to the people of Los Angeles and her visitors.

              There is another thing that would be of much greater 

         benefit; that is to put all the roads leading into Los 

         Angeles into a proper state for driving over them, and show 

         to our visitors that we have faith enough in our country to 

         build good roads.  At present some of the roads that are used 

         the most are in such a miserable state that when our visitors 

         drive out to see our beautiful green hills and lovely valleys 

         they have to drive over roads that would be a disgrace to a 

         back country in the Mississippi Valley.  In no State of the 

         Union can there be found better road-making material than in 

         this.  How is it that we have to wade through sticky adobe a 

         foot thick, and jolt our vehicles to pieces crossing 

         "chuckholes" and ruts?  Our Supervisors should wake up to the 

         fact that something must be done at once to rectify this 

         evil.  Persuade them to repair the roads with something 

         better than dirt.  Yours truly,


    Horace Bell editorialized in the Porcupine against "street jumpers," who 

enclosed public rights-of-way to increase the size of their adjacent property.  

Bell claimed that Pearl Street (Figueroa) was jumped three times from 1868 to 

1883, and on each occasion the city had to pay to regain the street.  He cited 

similar problems with street jumpers on Pico and was convinced that the costly 

nuisance occurred on other streets.  Thus the issue raised by "Rusticus" and 

"Reform" - encroachment on county roads by adjacent property owners - was not 

an empty complaint.  Modern day commuters will appreciate "Reform's" 

anticipation of a traffic jam in Cahuenga Pass.

                          {Times, June 2, 1888, p. 3}

                               Obstructing Roads.

              Los Angeles, May 29.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  It 

         is a common practice in Los Angeles county for persons to 

         close up public highways that happen to run across or 

         adjoining their lands.  The oldest roads in the county have 

         thus been fenced up without the least regard to the interest 

         or convenience of the public.  Is this the practice in all 

         the counties of the State?  This practice seems to be in 

         contravention of law, but it is, as far as I know, uniformly 

         acquiesced in by the authorities of this county.  The Supreme 

         Court (65 California Report, page 250) has declared the law 

         upon the subject, but no one heeds it apparently.


                         {Times, Jan. 30, 1887, p. 6}

                                   Our Roads

              Los Angeles, Jan. 29.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The one thing lacking in Los Angeles county is good and 

         convenient roads.  Formerly the roads ran everywhere, and 

         without reference to the ownership of lands.  Large Mexican 

         or Spanish grants covered most of the county, and people were 

         at liberty to drive over them in any direction, the owners 

         regarding such liberty on the part of the public as a matter 

         of course.  But of late years these large grants have been 

         more or less divided up into small farms and vineyards, and 

         in many instances the old highways have been either broken up 

         entirely, or so diverted as to work great inconvenience to 

         the public.  It is hardly worth while to refer to examples to 

         illustrate the case, but a conspicuous instance is that of 

         the great Pass road, leading from the city of Los Angeles up 

         the coast, to Ventura and Santa Barbara.  It has been a 

         conspicuous highway, and much frequented for at least 100 

         years.  Before the railroad was built it was the principal 

         stage route leading out of the city, and it was always the 

         line of outlet of the San Fernando Valley.  It is a route 

         over which armies have marched and on which battles have been 

         fought, and yet this great thoroughfare leading from the 

         chief city of Southern California to the north through the 

         Cahuenga Pass has been fenced up by Tom, Dick and Harry.  It 

         has been turned out of its course at numerous points, and the 

         U. S. mail coaches and all the travel are obliged to pass for 

         a considerable distance through a lane not more than 16 feet 

         in width between the fences.  Should a U. S. mail stage 

         filled with passengers happen to meet a load of hay in this 

         lane, a thing not at all improbable, it is a problem how they 

         could get through.  Several stages a day go through this lane 

         and there is no other way to reach the Cahuenga Pass.

              It is by law made the duty of the Supervisors of a 

         county to see that the public are accommodated with roads, 

         and to keep them in order.  That is usually done in other 

         counties, but the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles county 

         seem not to regard themselves as burdened with any such duty.  

         The amount of money raised in Los Angles county for roads 

         during the past 25 or 30 years is enormous, and yet very 

         little benefit has resulted to the people from it.  A very 

         large share of the money raised to improve our roads has been 

         paid out on orders of the Boards of Supervisors to the very 

         persons who have obstructed or destroyed the roads.  These 

         payments have been made ostensibly for purchasing rights of 

         way.  It seems to be quite a common practice in this county 

         for a citizen to close up a highway and then demand pay from 

         the county treasury for opening it again,  In that way funds 

         in large amounts, which were intended by the tax-payers to 

         improve the roads, have been squandered, and as a result our 

         roads are in a most wretched condition.

              Our Boards of Supervisors do not seem to comprehend the 

         fact that public thoroughfares and rights of way are incident 

         to civilization.  No citizen can move from his own door 

         without treading upon the land of somebody else; and his 

         land, if in the line of some thoroughfare, should be subject 

         to a like use by others.  All that he yields is more than 

         returned to him in benefits.  The farmer who is asked to give 

         up a little strip of his land for a road could not reach a 

         market with his products if other people did not do likewise 

         and afford him the right of way to the city.  The advantage 

         of conceding roads is mutual, but our authorities are 

         constantly paying people for the right of way, and so there 

         is no money left to improve the condition of our highways.

              Every man who owns land must have a road to and from it.  

         His land would be valueless without such convenience, and it 

         is a rule almost without exception that roads add to the 

         value of lands.  Not one man in 20 is damaged at all by the 

         laying out of a road, and yet our authorities will persist in 

         paying out the public funds for rights of way to every one 

         who has the audacity or dishonesty to demand compensation for 

         the benefit conferred upon him.

              How a Board of Supervisors can reconcile such a 

         disposition of the people's money with their sense of duty is 

         something of a mystery.  It is, to be sure, in accord with a 

         long-continued Los Angeles county custom, but no other excuse 

         can possibly be found for it.  This custom has already cost 

         Los Angeles county a vast amount of money directly paid out, 

         and has besides, damaged the county in the way of bad roads 

         to the extent of millions.  This practice will have to be 

         abandoned if we are ever to have decent roads in this county, 

         and the sooner the better.  He who owns land uses roads over 

         the land of others, and ought to concede the right of way 

         wherever the public convenience requires it, without the 

         payment of money to him from the county road funds.  As the 

         thing now runs, no sooner do people pay over money to improve 

         the roads than it is gobbled by some other citizen for the 

         right of way over his land.  In this theft he is aided, of 

         course, by the Board of Supervisors, and, as a result, our 

         roads remain year after year in the same wretched condition.

              There is a pretense--a shallow pretense--of 

         scrupulousness about this business of taking private property 

         for public use; but if there were half as much scrupulousness 

         about taking public money for private use, we should have a 

         reformation and better roads in a very short time.  As it is, 

         the taxpayers get no benefit to speak of from the very large 

         sums they pay yearly for this improvement of the highways.

              The law is believed to be in good form now to provide us 

         with proper roads, but if a change in the law were needed, 

         our newly-elected Legislature could easily effect it.


    As the decade neared its end the Times editorialized in support of "two 

grand boulevards," one connecting the city with Santa Monica and the other with 

Pasadena.  Otis envisioned broad, paved, tree-lined highways that would welcome 

visitors and be worth millions to Los Angeles.  National Boulevard was to be 

the avenue to Santa Monica, and despite the opposition of one land owner 

"Caminos Buenos" was optimistic about its completion.  

                         {Times, April 23, 1889, p. 5}
                             The National Boulevard.

              Los Angeles, April 18.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The National boulevard, which has received so generous 

         support from the public-spirited men of Los Angeles and Santa 

         Monica is approaching completion at the westerly end.

              Grading has been completed from Santa Monica to The 

         Palms, a distance of over five miles.  The graders are now at 

         work between The Palms and Ballona Station.

              All the property-owners along the line have proved 

         themselves public-spirited and given liberally, with one or 

         two exceptions.  There is only one piece of property between 

         Santa Monica and Los Angeles that has not the right of way 

         granted over the entire length for the boulevard.  This is a 

         100-acre piece between The Palms and Ballona Station.  In 

         crossing this piece the amount of land taken would be about 

         three acres.  The boulevard runs through it so as not to cut 

         it to disadvantage, and as at present there is no public road 

         to it, the boulevard will greatly add to its value.  When 

         appealed to in behalf of public enterprise, and as the only 

         man demanding pay for right of way (with exceptions of 

         damages and costs of moving a dwelling house in one 

         place), and when, rather than incur the delay of condemnation 

         suits, $800 was offered the owner, John Wolfskill, demanded 

         $2000 for his little three acres of unimproved land--worth 

         not over $100 per acre--saying: "It won't benefit any one but 

         Los Angeles, and I don't want it there no how."

              It is to be hoped that Mr. Wolfskill will reconsider the 

         matter, and not place himself in the way of what is one of 

         the most attractive public improvement that has been 

         undertaken in Southern California.  The Board of Supervisors 

         have ordered the District Attorney to enter suit to condemn 

         the right of way through it, but even much better it would 

         appear for Mr. Wolfskill with his ample fortune to help 

         rather than retard a public enterprise of this kind.

              The grading will be followed by rolling with a 10-ton 

         roller and when both grading and rolling are completed it is 

         proposed to solicit the further influence of the Mayor, 

         Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade to call a public 

         meeting or to appoint committees as may be thought best to 

         raise sufficient funds to sprinkle the boulevard its entire 

         length and to have it kept in thorough repair.  The present 

         Board of Supervisors are making a most satisfactory record in 

         having the money appropriated for road purposes, build 

         highways that can be found after the money has been expended.  

         Heretofore there have been no good carriage drives out of the 

         city, and few in any part of the county, and with our many 

         attractions within easy access and a pleasant day's drive, it 

         is gratifying to see a prospect of a needed change in this 


                                             CAMINOS BUENOS

    While work progressed on National Boulevard, the Pasadena-Los Angeles road 

was described in the Pasadena column of the Times in late 1889 as "an outrage 

to any civilized community."  Pasadena resident Horatio N. Rust, commenting on 

the route, echoed "Reform's" concern about private citizens blocking major 

highways when he noted that speculators had closed the Arroyo Seco route.  "The 

Vagrant" offered an alternate approach to Pasadena for travelers from Los 


                         {Times, Nov. 18, 1889, p. 7}

                             Highway Improvement.

              Pasadena, Nov. 17.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  Above 

         is the title of an article in today's issue, which is 

         entitled to more than a passing notice.  Col. Pope's 

         arguments apply with full force to the immediate district.  

              Speculation has brought railroads, and while we have to 

         look to them to do all things for us, we have failed to 

         secure even a decent wagon-road from Los Angeles to Pasadena.  

         While we have talked of boulevards, etc., we have allowed 

         speculators to entirely close the old wagon-road through the 

         Arroyo Seco and oblige us to use his frail toll bridge for 

         many months.  Now we are told that the Supervisors have 

         condemned the bridge as unsafe, which I suppose means that 

         they consider it unsafe, and if we use it we do it at our 

         risk.  We have all condemned the Supervisors for allowing the 

         old road to be closed, and all this does not give us a decent 


              Our local authorities allow dangerous washouts in public 

         streets to remain unguarded for many months, incurring great 

         risk of life.

              The tax-gatherer seems to be our most faithful public 

         servant now.  The pressure of dull times counsels delay in 

         all public improvements, and unless an effort is made another 

         road-making season will go by unimproved.  The railroads will 

         be enriched by our neglect, and the stranger who is so 

         unfortunate as to attempt to drive from Los Angeles to 

         Pasadena may politely compliment our beautiful country to us, 

         but will surely curse our bad roads to everybody else.  Let 

         us, therefore, concentrate all our efforts and secure this 

         winter a good wagon road from Los Angeles to Pasadena.  Our 

         liverymen can afford to give some time to push this through.  

         We have first-class material for a fine roadbed always at 

         hand and enough labor.  We can meet the cash expenses.  Let 

         us do it at once.  My own belief is that most of our roadwork 

         should be done by our criminals.  That in no way can criminal 

         labor be so well utilized without coming in competition with 

         any honest man's labor as by macadamizing our county roads.  

         I would also oblige every tramp to break stone before he 

         broke bread, for idleness and crime should not eat the 

         product of honest men's labor.  Enforce this policy and we 

         would have fewer criminals and better roads.  No one thing 

         makes a more lasting impression upon the traveler's mind that 

         a pleasant ride over a smooth roadbed.

              The very narrow wagon tires which we use are a heavy and 

         unnecessary tax upon our roads, often destroying in a few 

         days a good roadbed, when if the same wagon carried a five or 

         six-inch tire it would improve the roadbed and be easier for 

         the team.  While the narrow tire costs the builder a trifle 

         less, it costs the consumer and the public a great deal more. 

              Our Supervisors would do well to consider the propriety 

         of the county regulating the width of tire on all heavy 

         wagons, as has been done to great advantage in many other 


                                                 H. N. RUST.

                          {Times, Dec. 3, 1889, p. 5}

                   The Road from Pasadena Through Garvanza.

              Garvanza, Dec. 2.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  Seeing 

         a good deal of Pasadena news in your paper, I think I will 

         tell you something of the road from Pasadena through Garvanza 

         to Los Angeles, as some of your readers may not know that by 

         turning to the right at the brick block in Garvanza you can 

         follow Mountain avenue past the new Church of the Angels, and 

         either turn to the left through a cut in the mountains, over 

         the dam at the head of Mirror Lake, opposite the San Rafael 

         winery, and across the arroyo to the bottom of California 

         street, Pasadena; or from the church one can keep straight on 

         and through the tunnel along the side of the lake to the same 

         dam and road.  I understand that the Garvanza bridge has been 

         condemned, and that any one crossing does so at his own risk.  

         If it is unsafe an accident would probably be a bad one.  The 

         road is not good, either, so some may like to travel by the 

         new one I have told you of, and which runs through part of 

         the San Rafael ranch.  We are in hopes that the other 

         boulevard will go through the north part of the ranch 

         shortly, and this will open another road where it is wanted 

         badly.  As to the Garvanza bridge, if, as I said, it is 

         unsafe, why is it not made secure, so that in the dim future, 

              "With weeping and with laughter

                 Still is the story told,

              How well Horatius kept the bridge

                 In the brave days of old."


                                    THE VAGRANT

    Although Pasadena was apparently in line for a better road to Los Angeles, 

Morgan Blandford was concerned that the rest of the San Gabriel Valley would be 

overlooked {a view held by many east valley residents a century later.}  The 

East Side Park he referred to became Lincoln Park.

                          {Times, May 22, 1889, p. 5}

                         A Loud Call for Better Roads.

              Alhambra, May 18.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         notice in your paper of the 17th inst. that His Honor the 

         Mayor, several of the City Council and other gentlemen, 

         interested in the well being of the city and the surrounding 

         country visited the East Side Park and discussed what was 

         best to be done to add to its beauties and attractions.

              I wonder if any of them "took a sly glance," even, at 

         the horrible roads on each side of it from the point where 

         the Southern Pacific crosses the Mission road to the city 

         limits, and over which the inhabitants of the San Gabriel 

         Valley have to pound and jolt every time they drive into Los 

         Angeles.  A park surrounded by a mere trail, or what is very 

         little better, is certainly not attractive.  The Supervisors, 

         City Council, and others are deeply interested in 

         constructing boulevards to Santa Monica and Pasadena for the 

         benefit of those who live in those cities, and for the 

         pleasure of prospective visitors, which is quite right and 

         proper; but would it not be as well to do something for the 

         citizens of Alhambra, San Gabriel, etc., etc., who have to 

         drive over bad roads whenever they visit Los Angeles on 

         business, which they have to do frequently.  The county 

         authorities have done something to make the outside roads 

         better since I wrote you last under the nom de plume of 

         "Granite."  Now let the city people fall into line, attend to 

         their end, and make a road that one can drive over with 

         pleasure, without being liable to snap a spring or being 

         jolted out of one's buggy.

              We know they can do it, for the road from the covered 

         bridge to the point above mentioned is a credit to any city.  

         Why not extend it?  Yours respectfully.

                                   MORGAN D. BLANDFORD.