The financing of the Golden Gate Bridge by the Bank of America, which bought the district’s bonds, underscores the importance of banking during this period. Thanks to the Bank of America and to the Security Pacific Bank of Southern Cali¬fornia, California enjoyed the ability to raise the capital neces¬sary for the public and private works of this era. As a ... Read More »


Far from retarding such growth, the Great Depression of the 1930s witnessed the continuing creation of a statewide infra¬structure as the state and federal governments sponsored ambi¬tious programs of public works that, in effect, completed California. The dangers of reordering California through public works, however, became painfully apparent on the night of March 12, 1928, when the St. Francis Dam ... Read More »


The Babbitts represented the newly arrived middle classes: the corporation executives, the bankers and lawyers, the doc¬tors, the real estate developers, the automobile dealers such as Earl C. Anthony, whose Packard dealership first brought neon light to Los Angeles in 1922 and sold a way of life to its middle- class clientele along with each shiny new automobile. That middle-class ... Read More »


The majority of these newcomers to Southern California were white people from the Midwest. Nine tenths of Los Ange¬lenos by 1926, for example, were of European descent. On the other hand, the city also supported challenged but persistent Japanese American, Mexican American, and African American communities. Between 1910 and 1924, thanks to an agreement between Japan and the United States, ... Read More »


So strong was this taste for neoclassical order in the Bay Area that the Association for the Improvement and Adornment of San Francisco, formed in 1904 under the presidency of former mayor James Duval Phelan, extended that year a formal invita¬tion to the renowned architect and planner Daniel Hudson Burnham of Chicago—already familiar to San Franciscans as the designer of ... Read More »


In each instance as well, these water projects were part of an even larger upgrading and enhancement of the built environ¬ment. At the same time that the oligarchy of San Francisco was turning its attention to its water future, it was also upgrading the architecture of the city and its environs. Prior to the 1890s, vis¬itors to San Francisco—the novelist ... Read More »


The master publicist of such imagery was William Ellsworth Smythe. At the very time that George Chaffee was organizing the construction of his canal, Smythe was arguing in The Con¬quest of Arid America (1900) that a new civilization was rising in Southern California—Ultimate California, Smythe called it— based on irrigation, the joint-stock company, and the New En¬gland town meeting. As ... Read More »


The first forty years of statehood saw California organize its po¬litical and socioeconomic structures and lay the foundations of its built environment. In its second forty years as a state—the twentieth century, with some activity beginning in the 1890s— the public works infrastructure of California was established. The dams, aqueducts, reservoirs, power plants, industrial sites, bridges, roadways, public buildings, and ... Read More »


Revisionist historian Philip Fradkin sees Ruef as the victim of the entire graft investigation. Of French-Jewish descent, Ruef was, he argues, the Alfred Dreyfus of San Francisco—that is, a Jew persecuted by an anti-Semitic coterie of Progressive re¬formers led by Spreckels and Phelan, who were anxious to find a scapegoat that would give them a pretext to seize power in ... Read More »


ALREADY, SENTIMENT WAS BUILDING for a better governance of this emergent society. The constitution of 1879 had effected some reform, but most observers would agree with the observa¬tion of David Starr Jordan, the founding president of Stanford University, that California continued to require a makeover of its public culture, especially its politics. If California as a society were to be ... Read More »