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Los Angeles, California letters

previous: Sacramento Sept. 7, 1886

1888   1890   1896  
EJP's Los Angeles Google Map
Mary Glen's planned transcontinental train trip

Historical Tourism Los Angeles
I'm grateful to college friend Miriam Cantor and family for introducing me to Los Angeles, particularly to 19th century Los Angeles.  My first visit included a trip to the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden http://www.huntington.org/   Founded in 1910 it's a little late for EJ Phillips but Pasadena was charming and older than I'd expected. On another trip we went to the original Los Angeles Farmer's Market http://www.farmersmarketla.com/index.shtml  On every trip we've gone to the Hollywood Farmers' Market for tamales http://www.farmernet.com/events/one-cfm?venue_id=587   The Hotel Nadeau, said to be the first four story building in Los Angeles, now the site of the Los Angeles Times building, southwest corner of Spring St. and First St. In the old Spanish days, this site was a flat stretch of ground which Angelenos would make use of on the occasion of a community fandango http://www.csulb.edu/~odinthor/socal3.html   Brent C. Dickerson, A Visit to Old Los Angeles, Spring Street Part 1

But the most relevant existing site is connected with San Francisco Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia CA is about 17 miles east of Los Angeles and across from the Santa Anita Race Track . http://www.arboretum.org/index.php/ was the home of EJ "Lucky" Baldwin, owner of the Baldwin Hotel and Theatre in San Francisco .  See EJ Phillips' descriptions of driving a horse with Mrs. Baldwin in 1890.

History http://www.arboretum.org/index.php/explore/our_history/ Elias Jackson (“Lucky”) Baldwin, homespun Yankee capitalist, in 1875 paid a fantastic $200,000 ($25 an acre) for Rancho Santa Anita.
Historic Structures http://www.arboretum.org/index.php/explore/historic_structures/  Queen Anne cottage built for the fourth Mrs. Baldwin in 1885, Santa Anita Depot [reconstructed to 1890 appearance]; Coach Barn c 1879 Baldwin's stylish "Tally Ho" carriage, purchased at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, is today on display in the enlarged west room and Hugo Reid Adobe house.
Lucky Baldwin, Southern California Historical Society http://socalhistory.org/biographies/e-j-lucky-baldwin.html
"Lucky" Baldwin

photo and short bio Lucky Baldwin: Sheep grazing Santa Anita Ranch 1890 http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/search/controller/view/chs-m6430.html    More on Los Angeles Streetcars  Railroads in Los Angeles at the end of this webpage.

Los Angeles Cal
Monday 17th Septr 1888 
Nadeau Hotel 

My dear Son 

Yesterday morning when we left San Francisco the weather was delightfully cool and our journey was pleasant up to 3 PM when we got into hot weather and dust, and we have had it hot ever since.  

The journey was very uninteresting  - a repetition of the Prairie from Omaha to California.  We passed through as great deal of the Alkali [desert] too, this morning. 

The town looks quite lively, being dressed in flags and arches.  The Odd Fellows are having a picnic here this week.  I believe they are coming from all parts of the U.S. Do not know whether it is a convention or a conclave, but I have as above called it a picnic. 

This seems to be quite a thriving City.  Has horse cars, cable cars, and all the modern improvements in lighting.  But it is a long journey to get here.  Hotel very good. 

Have not yet seen the theatre.  I do anticipate having rehearsals this week, so will be able to tell you more about the place in my next letter.  No more at present, but love and Kisses from your loving Mother 

The Hotel Nadeau had opened in 1886 built by French Canadian Remi Nadeau http://www.explorehistoricalif.com/nov2006.html

H.W. Chase
Chase & Maynes...Proprietors 
Jos. Schreiber, Jr., Manager 
Los Angeles, Cal.  
Septr 19th, 1888

My dear Son. 

On the 7th Hattie went to see the folks and had to stay all night as a storm came up, but she got home on Saturday morning the 8th.  She took John upstairs and put him in bed with his Aunts.  After they had romped with him awhile she heard Nellie exclaim, "Oh how I wish your Uncle Albert could see you.  He would think you so sweet".  And Hattie continues, "I wish he could see him before I put him in short dresses". 

Think I like  Los Angeles better than any of the other places of  California that I have visited.  No fog and no high winds.  The days are warm, but the nights are lovely and cool.  Your friend Barker lives at Santa Barbara, doesn't he? That is on another road.  We did not pass it.  It is more towards the Seashore. 

The theatre here is very pretty, as far as the Auditorium goes, but the dressing rooms are very uncomfortable.  Direct your letters to Theatre.  A.M. Palmer, Co.  At Denver, "Tabor Opera House". Love and Kisses from your loving  Mother  

next: Salt Lake 1888   previous: San Francisco 1890

Hotel Nadeau
Practically fire-proof 
Bonsall & Schreiber 
Los Angeles,  Ca    August 12th 1890

My dear daughter Neppie. 

I hope by the time this reaches you that you will have Hattie with you and will be enjoying each others' society as I would like to do.

[Hattie] wrote that John [Dolman] had received my photographs which I sent to the office in Phila - by his receiving those I hope Albert has his also.  And that you both enjoyed looking at the shadow of your Mother.  Do you think she has grown stouter?

"Nickel in the slot" machines gave three weights for her in about ten days - 165 lbs - 171 lbs and 172 1/2 lbs.  I think the first is nearest to the proper weight.  However as everybody tells me I am looking well, I suppose I may have gained something in weight while in San F'co but I think I shall lose some of it travelling back to Denver

The dressing rooms at theatre were very hot last night, but that was due to the gas and want of proper ventilation.  Our house was crowded and everything passed off nicely. 

We leave here again on Sunday Morning, at last turning our faces homewards.  Travel Thursday night to Salt Lake for two nights.  Thence to Denver for two weeks.  

After reaching Denver the hardest part of our travelling will be over.  Shall receive letters in a shorter time and begin to think I am within walking distance of home.  Mr. [EM] Holland who was so very ill is better, and is again playing his parts.  We were very much afraid we were going to lose him. [He died in 1913 aged 85.]                

I hope you have your sewing pretty well accomplished for October, and that your dear Mama is not worrying very much over the event.  I trust her trip did her a great deal of good.  It would at least convince her that there are many less desirable places to live than  Middletown, N.Y.

I shall long to hear of Hattie's safe arrival in M[iddle]'town.  It is quite a long trip to take with no one to help her with Jack, but I hope a cool wave to take her there, and am sure she will have a good time when she gets there.

I sincerely hope Jack will be a good boy and not give much trouble.  Hattie write that they are dreadfully sunburnt, that her hands look like a mulattos.  Love and Kisses to my dear children, Albert and Neppie - wishing them good health and much happiness I remain their loving Mother 

Ask Hattie for any information she will gladly give you all she knows.  [Neppie was pregnant with Edward Phillips Nickinson.]

next:  Salt Lake City Aug. 1890    previous: San Francisco 1896

Chicago, July 25, 1896
I settled with Gustave Frohman (for Chas Frohman) for next season.  Beginning in San Francisco August 17th.  Leave here [Chicago?] on Sunday August 9th, due in "Frisco on Wednesday and rest there until Monday 17th when we open at Baldwin Theatre for 2 weeks.  Travel down the coast and up as far as San Diego and back up as far as  British Columbia

If the company did go to San Diego we have no letters from there.  We do have one from Vancouver..  

Hotel Ramona
Los Angeles, Cal    
Septr 7th 1896

My dear dear Son, 

Your letter with Birthday wishes to me rec'd this Morning.  I thank you and assure you it gave me great pleasure to receive your prayers for my welfare and safety on this, my 66th anniversary.  I am indeed grateful that I have been spared thus long to receive the love and Kisses sent to me by my dear children, and received today, even if it is from 3000 miles away.  

I think I told you in my letter yesterday that I had a cold, and this Morning I began sneezing again, so found a doctor and am taking medicine every hour.  I do not feel at all sick, but a little sore in my left breast when I cough or sneeze, so thought I had better see a doctor, as an ounce of prevention would be better than a pound of cure. 

Our ride to Sacramento will be a hot and long one.  I thought a little physical preparation would be wise.  We shall be in  Portland,  Ore 14th, 15th and 16th.  The ride to Salt Lake City from Seattle will be a long hot one, two nights on the road.  Also from Salt  Lake to  Kansas will be hard, but it will be getting cooler by that time.  I hope [grandson Ted Nickinson] is by this time better.  His Grandma Nickens loves him and I am his  Grandma.  

Hotel Ramona 
Los Angeles Cal  
Septr 8th 1896 

My dear Son, 

Your [birthday] telegram received last night.  Many Thanks.  Took streetcar ride to Pasadena this Afternoon, was warm and pleasant. We give a Matinee tomorrow (Wed).  We had a good house last night.  Play pleased.   My love and Kisses to [Ted] also his Mama and yourself from your loving Mother

Was the Hotel Ramona named after Helen Hunt Jackson's novel? http://socalhistory.org/biographies/helen-hunt-jackson.html

next: Portland Sept. 1896

The first streetcar system in L.A. dates back to 1874, when Judge Robert M. Widney convinced his neighbors in the vicinity of Third and Hill Streets (then considered the sticks) that they needed a convenient way to get to the business section of the city. A single-track railroad stretched for 2 1/2 miles from the Mission Plaza down Main and Spring Streets to Sixth Street. Subsequent horse-drawn streetcar systems were developed in other growing communities like Pasadena, Ontario, Santa Monica, and San Bernardino. A portion of the L.A. system along Pico Street was electrified in 1887, and expanded in 1890.  Redcars of Los Angeles, Univ of Southern California, 2002  http://www.usc.edu/libraries/archives/la/historic/redcars/

Street Railway History of Los Angeles
http://www.erha.org/railwayhis.htm 1873-1921  
Street Railway History of Southern California 1873-1910, Electric Railway Historical Association   http://www.erha.org/railwayhis.htm

Railroads in Los Angeles
No other single California company ever held the power and influence that the Southern Pacific did. For more than three decades, its slightest decision about where to lay tracks and where not to created some cities and destroyed others. In 1880, in an area halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco called Mussel Slough, a dispute over land rights between settlers and the Southern Pacific erupted into violence, leaving seven men dead. The brief bullet-punctuated episode became a turning point, as public outrage swelled against the powerful railroad. Over the next several decades, the SP operated out of three grand train stations, beginning with the Los Angeles Junction, which boasted a hotel and dining room in an area known as "the Cornfield," bound by Spring Street and North Broadway. In 1888, the SP moved to the Arcade Station at 5th and Central streets, which was rebuilt on an adjoining site three decades later and called Central Station... Two more railroads would battle the SP for a foothold in the West, and each had its own station. In 1891, the Los Angeles Terminal Railway Station -- whose title spawned the name for Terminal Island -- opened on East 1st Street, just east of the Los Angeles River. After changing its name to the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake, it eventually was swallowed up by Union Pacific. ... In 1885, the SP paid the Santa Fe, which had reached San Diego, $500,000 a year to make San Bernardino its terminus instead of Los Angeles, to keep competition away. Their pact lasted only two years, when the Santa Fe acquired a route, becoming the third railroad line into the city and triggering a half-century-long conflict.  Union Station Helped Turn a City Into a Metropolis  By CECILIA RASMUSSEN, [Los Angeles?] TIMES STAFF WRITER, 2002, Railfan.net   http://www.railfan.net/lists/rshsdepot-digest/200209/msg00005.html   

Wikipedia Los Angeles Coming of the Railroads http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Los_Angeles#The_coming_of_the_railroads   
more on Railroads

Views of early Los Angeles http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/faculty/hodgson/courses/city/LosAngeles/Early_images/laviews.html
Los Angeles celebrated the arrival of the Southern Pacific railroad  in 1876 http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/faculty/hodgson/courses/city/LosAngeles/Early_images/trainband.gif

Los Angeles and San Bernardino, 1880 http://davidrumsey.artselect.com/perl/frChooseSize?artID=21566&collectionID=4715

A glance at New High Street
New High Street was not sufficiently glamorous to engage the attention of postcard photographers on its own merits! We obtain some rare glimpses via enlargements of pieces of other postcard views and photographs. In this view, the County Courthouse on what's left of Pound Cake Hill dominates the center of the picture; the unseen street below the slope we see immediately to the right of the courthouse building would be New High Street, running parallel to the old "diagonal" block of Spring Street, which is the street seen stretching into the picture above the word "Nadeau" on the wall-sign in the foreground (we are looking down on the "alley side" of the Hotel Nadeau at Spring and First). At the left edge of the view, we see the tower of the High School, the previous incarnation of which was on the location of the Courthouse.  http://www.csulb.edu/~odinthor/socal5.html
Brent C. Dickerson, A Visit to Old Los Angeles, New High Street

Discovery of oil in Los Angeles 1892  http://www.usc.edu/libraries/archives/la/historic/oil.html

Mulholland, Catherine, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press
Mrs. Frank Leslie, California: a pleasure trip from Gotham to the Golden Gate, April, May, June, 1877
Chapter XXVIII The Queen of the Angels
Chapter XXIX Baldwin's Ranch
Chapter XXXI Santa Monica

Los Angeles City Historical Society http://www.lacityhistory.org/  
Los Angeles Conservancy Historic Walking Tours http://www.laconservancy.org/tours/tours_main.php4
Registered Historic Places Los Angeles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Registered_Historic_Places_in_Los_Angeles
Southern California Historical Society http://socalhistory.org/
Wikipedia Los Angeles 1870-1913 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Los_Angeles#Industrial_Expansion_and_Growth_1870.E2.80.941913

Los Angeles Times Proquest  1881-1986 http://www.proquest.com/assets/literature/products/databases/hnp_latimes.pdf

Last updated April 3, 2011

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