los angeles maps, 1898

28 nov 2022

these are poorly-scanned maps from the front of a 1898 Chambere of Commerce propaganda booklet. and it is quite blatantly propaganda by and for the benefit of land developers.

the city of Los Angeles, before roads, 1898. what appear to be roads are rail lines, mostly electric trolleys. the common story that "Los Angeles had a working subway system but removed it because automobiles" is wrong. most if not all of them were private, non-interoperating systems, generally paid for by real estate interests (often based on the East Coast) to encourage people to move eastward from the coast with the express purpose of selling and developing land, and the attendant ongoing profits to be made supporting new populations. it is true that the automobile made the trolleys unnecessary; people could drive themselves out to the hinterlands (like what's now Pasadena, then the "Forestry Area", where i guess you'd go chop down your Christmas tree or something).

at this time places like Yosemite "up north" in the Sierras was already legendary, made so by Ansel Adams and various adventurers who wrote and photographed it's beauty; but getting to Yosemite from Los Angeles was a two-week trip by horse drawn carriage and mule. construction of the road that eventually became Highway 395 (the most consistently beautiful road i've ever driven) didn't begin until 1909. (source: Tales Along El Camino Sierra, David & Gayle Woodruff, 2017)

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