Tag Archives: California

Cemetery Finds

2-screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-20-58-pmI spend a lot of time in my local cemetery – Hollywood Forever. The cemetery,  among the most interesting in Los Angeles, is the final resting place for all kinds of Hollywood celebrities – from Cecil B. DeMille to Rudolph Valentino to Dee Dee Ramone. But nearly every time I visit, I find the grave of someone who strikes a historical chord – often having some Civil War connection. Just the other day, I encountered this rather dignified looking fellow: one Cornelius Cole. Cole served a single term in the House of Representatives representing the Republican Party from California from 1863 to 1865, and then in the Senate from 1867 to 1873.

After the war he practicscreen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-38-46-pmed law in San Francisco and then Los Angeles where he purchased one of the original Spanish landgrants – he called it Colegrove.

Well…Colegrove is now Hollywood. But at least they named a street after him. So if you are in town and find yourself on Cole Street – you’ll know where it got its name.

With compliments,

Keith

 

Los Angeles in 1912

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.22.59 AMI came across the coolest film clip ever yesterday when I was making the rounds on Facebook – this one from my friends at SoCal Historic Architecture. Head over and follow them if you are a fan of LA history. The clip in question features a few views around Los Angeles in 1912. Quite clearly, some things have not changed a bit: traffic is still terrible, pedestrians still wander out into the middle of the street, and bicyclists still disregard all rules of the road to their own peril.  But some things have changed. For example, we no longer have an alligator farm, and as far as I know, ostriches are in short supply – at least within the city limits. As far a public transportation – the 1912 version was first-rate…today we are slowly reclaiming some of that nascent efficiency.

At any rate, I am certain my Angeleno friends will enjoy this film clip as will anyone who has an interest in early-twentieth century urban history.

With compliments,
Keith

LA Story

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 3.30.38 PMGreetings all – today I have been doing a good deal of reading about my most favorite city and adopted hometown, Los Angeles. This  metropolis, the City of Angeles, emerged, grew, and prospered in the most unlikely of ways. As part of my web-course series, I am in the beginning stages of organizing themes and a narrative that will tackle the history of this great city for a world of viewers…and perhaps offer something instructive for the thousands who move here each month. These few words, penned by writer Morris Markey in 1932, struck me as good a starting place as any:

As I wandered about Los Angeles, looking for the basic meaning of the place, the fundamental source of its wealth and its economic identity, I found myself quite at sea. The Chamber of Commerce people told me about the concentration of fruit, the shipping, the Western branch factories put up by concerns in the East. But none of these things seemed the cause of a city. They seemed rather the effect, rising from an inexplicable accumulation of people – just as the immense dealings in second-hand automobiles and the great turnover of real estate were an effect. It struck me as an odd thing that here, alone of all the cities in America, there was no plausible answer to the question, “Why did a town spring up here and why has it grown so big?”

Big indeed…and incessantly, inexorably  growing. Traffic alone will attest to that. As it were, I have made a three-picture study of LA traffic on Instagram today…just for the visual recognition that the issue seems to have been with us for some time now. At any rate, I believe there is an answer to the riddle of Los Angeles, and I am thus putting together the skeletal framework for the web-course City of Angeles: A History of Los Angeles as I finish production of my American Civil War course. The flesh is on deck…and those of you who are part of the crew will get the first crack at it.

With compliments,

Keith

PS – if you want to get a head start, here are a couple of books worth reading.

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The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850-1930 by Robert M. Fogelson

 

 

 

 

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Southern California: An Island on the Land by Carey McWilliams

The Unchanging Sea

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.47.19 AMI have been looking closely these days at the personal life and filmography of D. W. Griffith – and I’ve come up with some book-worthy ideas (to be revealed at a later date when I iron a few things out). Today I want to highlight Griffith’s culminating effort of his first California Expedition with Biograph in 1910: The Unchanging Sea starring Mary Pickford. Analysis aside for now, I am taken by the scenery. Griffith shot this entire film – all thirteen or so minutes of it – on location in Santa Monica. A century ago this was not the sprawling beach community it is today. But with a little imagination you can almost see the buildings, the pier, the traffic, the crowds…

Okay maybe not but but I will say this: the hillside and beach haven’t changed much at all. Enjoy the film – inspired by Charles Kingley’s poem: The Three Fishers.

With compliments,
Keith

The Americanist Independent

The Artwork of Ben A. Barnes

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.06.29 AMI am so very thrilled to be able to include – on The Americanist Independent website – the exquisite  artwork of California painter and potter Ben A. Barnes.

Mr. Barnes  has been a teacher as well as  a commercial and freelance  artist since the 1950s. His work captures the essence of mid-century style with a particular California touch.

You can view his work by going HERE and clicking the Art and Literature tab. Subscriptions to the AI site are now and will forever be entirely gratis. So please enjoy with my compliments,

Keith