This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

The connection between Sherman Oaks, California, and Phoenix, Arizona


As someone who is interested in Phoenix history, and has lived in the San Fernando Valley, I am particularly fascinated by connections between Phoenix and Los Angeles. My favorite connection is a man named Moses Sherman.

If you're familiar with Sherman Oaks, California, the Sherman Oaks Galleria, or if you've ever driven down Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley, or know about the the Big Red Cars in Los Angeles, yes, that's all Moses Sherman. He was quite the entrepreneur, both in Los Angeles and in Phoenix. In Phoenix, he built the trolley car line. Yes, this was all in the late 1800s through the early 20th Century.

Westlake Park, Los Angeles. Now called MacArthur Park

In addition to building trolley car lines, he built destinations, by making artificial lakes. In Los Angeles, he built a lake just west of downtown which he called, appropriately enough, Westlake Park. The community there is still called Westlake, although the park itself was renamed MacArthur Park, after General MacArthur.

East Lake Park, Phoenix, 16th Street and Jefferson. The lake is gone, but the park is still there

In Phoenix, he built a destination for his trolley cars several miles east of downtown Phoenix, at 16th Street and Jefferson, called (you guessed it) East Lake Park. There he created an artificial lake (long gone by now) and various amusements, including an indoor swimming pool (called a Natatorium in those days).

1902 ad for East Lake Park, Phoenix


Moses Sherman
The photo of him above is from 1932, and since he was involved with creating the Arizona Canal in 1885, he must have been the youngest man in the group. More about the men who built the Arizona Canal here.

The history of Phoenix and Los Angeles in the 19th and early 20th Century is very much tied together. A secure source of water came to Los Angeles in 1913 with the completion of the Owens Valley Aqueduct, and in Phoenix in 1911 with the completion of the Roosevelt Dam. Moses Sherman, and men like him, gambled on that, and won.


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