Thursday, August 04, 2011

There It Is, Take It: A Portrait of the Mulholland Fountain

Mulholland Fountain

"There it is. Take it." William Mulholland's role in the evolution of Los Angeles is forever solid -- as head of the Bureau of Water Works and Supply, he built a 238-mile aquaduct to redirect water from the Owens Valley to here. But Mulholland's career, of course, ended in disaster and tragedy -- the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster. Mulholland died in 1935, but is memorialized not only by the famed Mulholland Drive but also by the 1940 Mulholland Fountain, located at the corner of Los Feliz and Riverside (across the street from the entrance to Griffith Park).

Some history on the fountain:

On Aug. 1, 1940, a warm Thursday evening, the water wars of the 1920s seemed safely in the past. Mulholland, who died in 1935, had outlived most of the controversy his career had generated. And the city had a grand new fountain to dedicate in his honor.

Approximately 3,000 people spilled across Los Feliz Boulevard, some standing on the adjacent hill in Griffith Park. The Los Angeles Police Band played. The Civic Chorus sang. The Aquaduct Post Color Guard presented the flag. Mayor Fletcher Bowron accepted the fountain on behalf of the city, predicting that "as the crystal pureness of the water . . . radiates brilliantly in the sun . . . or shimmers in the colors of myriad electric lights," the fountain would help to develop "a greater civic pride, a more developed civic consciousness."

The site was chosen for several reasons. It was located at one of the city's busiest and prettiest intersections. Furthermore, Mulholland had once lived there in a one-room wooden shack. The man who would build one of the world's great water projects was first employed by the water department as a ditch tender. His job was to keep the "zanja madre"--the city's main water ditch--clear of weeds and debris.
The fountain remains a popular photo spot for wedding pics (not a weekend goes by without a full wedding party stopping by to take a few shots). We rode by the fountain the other weekend and took these pics.

Mulholland Fountain

Mulholland Fountain

Mulholland Fountain

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