What all of us know today as the mild, scenic and beautiful beach locale of southern California was not that way in the Los Angeles car accident attorney sixteen and seventeen hundreds. The area was desolate, remote and to most people unattractive. Just traveling to get there wasn’t easy either.The Spanish of course offered incentives to settlers such as land grants and livestock. It wasn’t easy but eventually they found twelve families to settle in the pueblo. As many people know, one of the major undertakings of the Spanish in colonial Alta California as well as in what is now the states of New Mexico and Arizona was the establishment of missions. The first one was built in San Diego by Fray Junipero Serra in 1629 and eventually reached a total of twenty-one stretching north to Sonoma California just a short distance north of San Francisco Bay. The missions were established to Christianize the native population and to convert them into subjects of the King of Spain.
The history of California and the American southwest included the Spanish being eventually driven out by the Mexican Revolution during the early 1820’s and then the Mexican’s driven out at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848. After that the United States took control of the southwest and California with statehood of California enacted in 1850.
The Area Grows Rapidly
Probably the most significant engine of growth for the Los Angeles area came with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876. Prior to that the largest transportation line serving the area was the old Butterfield Stage Line. To give you an idea of population trends in the early days, the Los Angeles area had about 1,600 people in 1850 at the time of statehood. About 4,400 in 1860, 5,700 in 1870 and close to 12,000 in 1880. After that period, growth rose very rapidly. In 1890 the population in the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area was something like 70,000. Certainly the railroad’s arrival in 1876 influenced much of the growth. There is a lot of interesting history about how the area was advertised in conjunction with the Southern Pacific to lure settlers to Los Angeles. There is history written that states that the rapid growth of Los Angeles was nothing short of a land speculation campaign promoted by the city fathers. Promoted was the sunshine, mild climate and available land for agriculture. For people back in the midwest tired of brutal winters and looking for a fresh start, Los Angeles most likely sounded pretty good. On top of that you could travel there on the relatively comfortable and fast Southern Pacific Railroad. What most likely wasn’t promoted was the scarcity of water. Regardless, as the population statistics show, the area grew by leaps and bounds. By the year 1900 there were about 130,000 people residing in the region. Los Angeles saw a doubling of it’s population in about ten short years.
Struggles and Scandals in the Growing City
I found two stories of early 20th century Los Angeles particularly interesting. The first had to do with the bombing of the old Los Angeles Times building in 1910. I first came across this incident ew years ago when reading the book “American Lightning” by author Howard Blum. The book is a great read and I highly recommend it. It offers an excellent perspective of what was important in early 1900’s L.A. The bombing of the L.A. Times was the result of labor strife. From about the 1870’s onward, labor strikes and the resulting violence sprang up over much of America. In some of these cases federal troops were ordered in to try and restore peace. Some would go on to accuse the military of acting as strikebreakers. The Pullman rail car company strike in 1890’s Chicago is a good example. Mine workers strikes also occurred in several places at the turn of the century and beyond such as the bloody conflict in Ludlow Colorado between strikers and the Colorado militia. Although far removed from the midwest, Los Angeles was not immune to the labor unrest.
The Los Angeles Times bombing and resultant fire caused the deaths of twenty-one newspaper workers and injured about one-hundred others. Several colorful characters of the time became involved with the subsequent investigation and criminal trial. One in particular was William J. Burns who was hired by the city to find the guilty party or parties. Burns was the founder of the famous William J. Burns International Detective Agency. Burns and his people worked the case relentlessly. Eventually they traced the bombing to the work of two men associated with the International Association of Bridge and Structural Ironworkers headquartered in Indianapolis. Indicted and returned to Los Angeles were the brothers John and James McNamara. The case eventually became a symbol for the union versus industry struggle of the times