Dr. William Estrada — History Making the Los Angeles of Today

How did the greater Los Angeles region get where it is today? What momentous event occurred 100 years ago to create the city as we now know it? As our November 16 keynote speaker Dr. William Estrada explained, Los Angeles was a small pueblo of less than 100,000 residents (and the County had under 200,000) in the two decades leading up to November 1918.  In the 1890’s Edward Doheny struck oil at 2nd Street and Glendale Blvd. in downtown L A and the boom was on!

As the region grew so did the need for water for the new arrivals. A few key players including Fred Eaton and William Mulholland pursued the promise of water from the Owens Lake north of Los Angeles by an aqueduct to ship it the 180 miles here. In 1907 a bond was passed to pay to build it and after a five year construction period, the aqueduct flowed water to Los Angeles as of November 1913.  

As well, this was the time of consolidation and expansion of the San Pedro Harbor into the Los Angeles Harbor establishing Los Angeles a major shipping port, the development of Exposition Park as a cultural center with the Museum of History Art and Culture, renamed the Natural History Museum, and the first air meet held in Dominguez Hills putting L A on the map as an aerospace center.

Dr. Estrada explained that in just twenty years by 1910, the city’s population tripled, to 310,000, with 504,000 total in the County. But all was not perfect in paradise. An ironworkers strike brought a bombing of the Los Angeles Times headquarters killing 21 and turning the City against unions.   

Yet Los Angeles continued to grow attracting people from around the world - and the rest is history! And history is Dr. Estrada’s specialty, as introduced by LA5 member Charlene Dimas Peinado. Dr. Estrada is past dean of students at Occidental, now serving as adjunct professor at USC, as well as Curator of California and American History and Chair of the History Department at the L A Natural History Museum. He also serves on many boards including the LA Child Guidance Clinic of which Dimas Peinado is President/CEO. He is currently writing a book on singular LA athletes who went to the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.