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Grumpy [Nov. 21st, 2007|11:32 pm]
The Internet Accuracy Project. "Helping stop the spread of erroneous information, both online and off!"

Lucky Baldwin. "Lucky Baldwin was a California pioneer who founded the California cities of Arcadia, Monrovia, Baldwin Park and Baldwin Hills, on his vast 62,000 acre ranch."

Well, Baldwin did subdivide the first section of Arcadia, but Monrovia was founded by William Monroe in 1884, on 240 acres of land he had purchased from Baldwin. Baldwin Park was a creature of the Pacific Electric Railroad, developing around a station built in 1912, three years after Lucky Baldwin died. Baldwin had sold some of the land in the area for small farms as early as the 1880s, but no town emerged until after the P.E. arrived. Also there is no city called Baldwin Hills, and never has been. There's a district in the City of Los Angeles informally called Baldwin Hills, but that area was mostly vacant during Baldwin's lifetime, and nothing resembling a settlement developed there until well into the 20th century. And, by the way, in case anybody's wondering, that 62,000 acre ranch was actually a number of non-contiguous ranches scattered hither and yon across the landscape. Just so nobody gets the wrong impression and thinks it was like San Simeon or something.

Oh, good luck with that accuracy on teh Intarnets thing.

A collection of nice cirrus clouds brought a fairly decent sunset this evening, but I didn't get much time to look at it as I had to go out to various grocery stores. This is something one does not want to do on Thanksgiving Eve. No, not at all. Sheer holiday hell. But I had to go because I forgot that it was Thanksgiving Eve. That's one of the downsides of not making a big deal of holidays. There had been procrastination (yes, the passive voice) and this had made it needful that something be picked up for dinner tonight, and I found myself dealing with a mob picking up dinner for tomorrow. Next year somebody remind me. In fact for Xmas somebody remind me.

[User Picture]From: whiteboyhalf
2007-11-22 10:26 am (UTC)
There's so much interesting stuff about LA.

Is it true that Firestone, Ford, and Stanard Oil globbed together to buy and rip out all the trolly lines in the city back in the day to make people more dependent on cars, gasoline, and tires? and isn't that why LA is so car crazy?

It's two thirty on thanksgiving morning and i had no one else to ask.
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[User Picture]From: flying_blind
2007-11-22 03:37 pm (UTC)
It was General Motors which started National City Lines, a bus company that bought streetcar systems in various cities and converted them to all-bus operations (using buses made by G.M., of course), and Standard Oil and Firestone became involved in the company as well. And it wasn't just in Los Angeles, but in cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

There's also evidence that companies pressured large railroad lines such as Southern Pacific, which owned the Pacific Electric and some other interurban transit systems, to convert their streetcar-operating subsidiaries to buses, this pressure taking the form of threats to ship their cars, tires, and oil via competing railroads (the three companies were among the largest shippers in the country at the time.)

But there were other factors involved as well. Cities themselves were complicit in most cases, as they charged transit companies heavy franchise fees for using the public streets and, where streetcar companies had private rights-of-way, property taxes. Motorists didn't pay equivalent fees, as gasoline taxes and vehicle license fees covered only part of the cost of extending and maintaining roads, while most of that expense was covered by property taxes— including the taxes paid by the transit companies, so they were in essence made to subsidize their competition.

Retailers also contributed to the decline of transit by doing such things as giving free parking to customers who drove cars, when "free" meant that the cost of providing it was added to the price of merchandise, even when bought by customers who didn't have cars.

The ultimate goal of everyone who was involved with National City Lines was of course not simply to replace streetcars with buses, but to accelerate (and profit from) the shift from mass transit to private cars which was already underway. Because most people of the time preferred to own their own cars anyway, some apologists for G.M. and the other miscreants have claimed that there was no conspiracy, just sensible business practices, but the companies left a pretty clear trail behind them.

There was undoubtedly opportunism in what they did, but there was also calculated destruction of streetcar systems that could have remained useful.
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