Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fourth of July in Santa Monica

Fourth of July picnic 1904

Float for Independence Day parade, n.d.

Firework display from 1920

Like most cities in the United States, Santa Monica has long celebrated Independence Day with parades, picnics and fireworks!

Santa Monica Public Library first to have 16mm films

The Santa Monica Public Library was the first library in California to offer 16 mm films and projection equipment for check-out by the public, beginning in 1947. In the first year, the collection grew to 22 films, which were shown at the Main Library and branches. In 1949, public interest in phonograph records resulted in donation of nearly 200 LPs. In 1951 the department was named - Films and Recordings - which grew so rapidly that in 1965 with the opening of the new Main Library, a dedicated Films and Recordings Department was included. The image of the Films and Recordings Department appears in this 1967 photograph, viewable in the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives online.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beginnings of the Santa Monica Fire Department

Santa Monica was originally served by the Crawford Hook and Ladder Co., beginning in 1875. Subsequently Robert Eckart, who helped organize the Los Angeles Fire Department, and William Jackson organized the Santa Monica Hose, Hook and Ladder company in 1889. They had a cart equipped with some axes, ladders and one thousand feet of hose, which they placed in the old engine house on Oregon Avenue (Santa Monica Boulevard). Volunteers comprised the work force for the department early on.

Information from: Santa Monica Fire Department 1889-1989 by Kevin M. Archer (c1989) and Ingersoll's Century History of Santa Monica Bay cities by Luther A. Ingersoll (1908); photograph from Santa Monica Image Archives at

Award-Winning Author of Childrens' Books, Margaret Carver Leighton, lived and wrote in Santa Monica

Margaret Carver Leighton moved her four children to Santa Monica from Virginia in 1935 when her husband died. She wrote 22 books in her lifetime, many Junior Literary Guild choices. She went to college at Radcliffe and was an Army nurse during World War I. Her writing focused on historical characters including Cleopatra, Elstrid, General Custer, Mary Godwin Shelly and others. She also wrote several mysteries for children, using her own children as models for the characters. Mrs. Leighton was a member of the Library Board for the Santa Monica Public Library and appeared in the Children's Department of the Library signing books in 1960. She died on June 19, 1987 at the age of 90 in Santa Monica.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Douglas Aircraft plant camouflaged during World War II

In April 1942 of World War II, the Douglas Aircraft plant located at 3000 Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica, was camouflaged with burlap supported by a tension compression structure of more than 5 million square feet of chicken wire and 400 poles covering the entire factory. A dummy of the aircraft plant was built near the dummy neighborhood. From above, it appeared to be just another part of the neighborhood, with houses and cars. The design was developed by landscape architect Edward Huntsman-Trout. Volunteers from Hollywood film studios pitched in to create the false landscape. Photographs of the camouflaged plant are located in the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives. This was one of the most elaborate camouflage jobs of any strategic location during the war.