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Why you should have bought land in the San Fernando Valley in 1910


The story of the growth of greater Los Angeles, especially the San Fernando Valley, has been blurred by the fiction surrounding it. Of course, everyone knows that it was just a bunch of evil rich guys who conspired to get even richer. It makes a wonderful story, especially if it includes mysterious happenings, and detectives. And the reality of it isn't really all that interesting, but I like it, and maybe you will, too. I'll try to keep it interesting.

In 1910, when that ad was published in the LA Herald, no one in their right mind would have been interested in buying land in the San Fernando Valley. It was bone dry, dusty and windy. The places that you wanted to be were over by what is now downtown Los Angeles, even Hollywood, or Santa Monica. Even Calabasas. And the reason for that is that these places at least had half a chance of having a decent water supply. Not so much in the valley. But there were people with big plans, and it went way beyond just bringing water to the San Fernando Valley.

As hard as it is for us to imagine the San Fernando Valley empty and being nothing but a big dust bowl, people back then would have had difficulty imagining why anyone would want to invest in land there. Their first thought would have been farms, and then of course farmers would ask "What about water?" Just wishing for rain wasn't enough there. Investors needed to see a reliable supply of water, which wasn't there in 1910.

Los Angeles has always been a place where the rich get richer. Powerful people pull strings, and things happen. And whether you think of these people as "visionaries" or "con men" is really up to you. Speaking for myself, I wouldn't have risked a penny, but people did, and became incredibly rich because of it.

And it's all about what happened in 1913. That's when the Owens Valley Aqueduct was completed. It brought water, through pipes, all of the way from the Owns Valley, over 200 miles away. It was quite an engineering feat, designed by William Mulholland, and when the water was released in 1913, after his speech "There it is, take it", suddenly the valley was a very good investment.

And at that point a lot of people wished that they had invested in 1910, when land there was dirt cheap.

The entire ad at the Library of Congress site is here https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042462/1910-05-29/ed-1/seq-11.pdf

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