News stories from the local press
There was tremendous growth in the Long Beach area following World War I, as well as scandal. Read all about it here.
Chateau Thierry – Daugherty School of Aviation
With the war over, servicemen returned home, trying to get on with their lives and to attempt to pick up where they had left off. One of these returning veterans was aviator Earl Daugherty who had planned on opening an aviation school northwest of Long Beach in 1917, before his plans were interrupted by the war.
Materials for housing and other construction, in short supply during the war, were available once again. In April, George W. Hughes bought 200 acres of land lying north of Wardlow Road for $250,000 from the Jotham Bixby Company to build homes. The subdivision was christened “Chateau Thierry” in honor of America’s great battle in France. This was the area Daugherty had been looking at for his proposed aviation school before the war. Arrangements were made to build Daugherty’s school and a passenger carrying station at Chateau Thierry. In May, building began on his 30 x 45 foot hangars. On June 6, 1919, the aviator opened the Daugherty School of Aviation, with passenger-carrying on the side, at the Chateau Thierry tract. Records show he carried 1,785 passengers that first year.
When Earl and his father bought the Willow and Long Beach Blvd. property it was mostly willows and water with a small pond where youngsters sailed small boats. Father and son pulled up the trees and built a hangar. The Daughertys purchased 20 acres of the Chateau Thierry land and through the years most of it was sold off and subdivided. In 1923 Earl would convince the city to set up a new airfield a few miles away at Cherry and Spring–the current Long Beach Municipal Airport. But one of his hangars, labeled the Daugherty hangar, remained at Chateau Thierry until September 26, 1957, when it was torn down. Many protested the demolition, saying the city should have acquired it for an aviation museum. But the city said the building was a fire hazard, and too much work would have been needed to bring it up to code.
Daugherty made headline news in the November 10, 1919 Los Angeles Herald as Long Beach’s first aero policeman. G. E. Thomas was taken to the Long Beach city jail as the first prisoner to be “hooked” by Daugherty. Thomas was charged with colliding with a truck while intoxicated. According to the police report, Daugherty spotted Thomas speeding along American Avenue (now Long Beach Boulevard) and was flying above it when the collision occurred. Before the policeman-aviator could land to make an investigation on the ground, the driver of the automobile sped away from the scene of the accident. Daugherty flew to his aviation field, landed, and instructed assistants to telephone the police for a motorcycle officer. The aerial policeman was off again in his airplane and took up the trail of Thomas. As a motorcycle officer sped along American Avenue. Daugherty flew in the air above the automobile as a “marker” to direct the policeman on the ground. After being overtaken, Thomas was driven to the police station in his own automobile. Daugherty flew back to the aviation field and then proceeded to the police station to make his report.
Long Beach experienced tremendous growth during the war as people flocked here to work in the shipyards and other industries. All efforts were made to win the war and materials that would have been used to build houses were requisitioned for battleships and military equipment. Now that the war was over, proper residences could be built.
The 250 acre Chateau Thierry tract opened on Bastille Day, July 14, 1919. It lay between Wardlow Road and Downey Boulevard, with a mile of frontage on Long Beach Boulevard. It was adjacent to the new Virginia Country Club in the Los Cerritos area of the city. Most of the lots were 70 x 180 feet to 92 x 190 feet and cost between $5000 and $7000. The subdivision claimed the highest elevation between Long Beach and Los Angeles, which kept it free from fog and dampness. It also had macadam streets, underground wiring, gas, water, telephone lines and electricity. No public garages, bungalow courts, apartment houses or stores were allowed. Terms were 20% down with the balance to be paid in 3 to 6 years; generous discounts were offered to those paying cash and still greater discounts to the first few who started to build within 60 days. An added incentive to buy was an offer for a free airplane ride from Chateau Thierry to Long Beach to anyone who bought a lot.
The following day, July 15th, contractor Earl Lowe began work on the first residence–for himself. Costing $10,500, the house was of Dutch Colonial design and faced Long Beach Boulevard.
Fertile Farms Tract
North of Chateau Thierry and Los Cerritos, along Long Beach Boulevard, the Fertile Farms Tract was also being developed. It was billed as “a high-class suburban farm subdivision with some of the richest land in the state.” The ground was advertised as “being naturally fertilized in the form of a thick sediment-silt soil which would never deteriorate, yielding possibilities limited only to the grower’s own efforts”. Lots were available from 2 1/2 to 10 acres. It was everything you wished for–a small farm near Long Beach. Eventually it would become part of North Long Beach.
On December 20, 1919, the Belmont Pier Tract Corporation announced they were reclaiming 100 acres of “water lands” fronting the ocean east of the Belmont pier. On this land “exclusive residence sites” would be created. The enterprise included filling up the West Naples canal, which extended from near Mira Mar Avenue, eastward 4,200 feet. It also entailed digging away 14 acres of land (at a cost of $65,000) for material to fill the canal and raise the level of the 100 acre tract high enough to give the residents unobstructed views of the ocean. After 90 days the dredging was complete and a new lake created for boating. 530 lots were initially developed, 35 facing Ocean Boulevard. Dredging and sale of the lots began January 15, 1920. Total cost of the project was to be around $400,000.
Belmont Shore Place advertised that every mile of street was paved with solid 5-inch concrete pavement, something no other subdivision could claim. It also had sidewalks, curbs, water, gas and a sewer system. In addition, the proposed Coast Highway and the Pacific Electric railway ran in front of the tract. Until the dredging was done and the property complete, lots were sold at “virtually the cost of production.” The W.A. Heitman Company handled the sales, taking prospective buyers by auto from Long Beach to the bay for a free tour and lunch. Miss Mary F. Mecredy bought the first lot (lot 4, block 23) for $2750, and lot 4, block 5, for $3750.
Further development in Belmont Heights, Alamitos Peninsula, Naples and what would become North Long Beach would occur in 1920. In November 1920, Atlantic Heights, another piece of “choice residence property” was placed on the market. Lying on the north east corner of Atlantic Avenue and bounded on the south by Willow it is now in the area of the city known as the Wrigley District. Its value was enhanced by being near a new Long Beach park which included a 160-acre water lands tract west of Cherry Avenue. This park, it was said, would surpass the famous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and would also include an open air theater and stadium capable of seating 5000 in the arena and 20,000 more on the adjoining hillsides. The park was never developed, becoming instead the site of our present day Municipal Airport.
On May 21 1919, children stayed home from school as their families moved away from the shore, seeking refuge on Signal Hill. All this was due to a prediction that a tidal wave was going to hit Long Beach. It made no difference that the prediction came from an unknown astrologer. The mere fact that someone had predicted the tidal wave was enough for many to flee the area in an effort to escape the great wall of water which they feared would engulf the city. That day a heavy ground swell and rain storm made the sea appear threatening, adding to the terror.
The Long Beach Press had received a long letter from a woman signing herself “M.M.” “M.M.” claimed she had predicted the sinking of both the Titanic and Lusitania, now she claimed a gigantic tidal wave would hit Long Beach on May 21st between 4 p.m. and midnight. The article about the prediction was supposed to be humorous, not to be taken seriously. But even local merchants got into the “swim” (so to speak). Walp, Reynolds & Dodd (a men’s clothing store at 110 W. Third Street) ran a quarter page ad which read:
“The Tidal Wave. Prepare for It.
Get a bathing suit tonight and ride the crest of the big wave. Then after the wave goes by you’ll have it for the summer’s enjoyment – nothing like having a bathing suit of your own – use it when you want – it’ll appeal to you as being more sanitary.” (LBPress 5/22/1919 14:7)
On May 22, 1919, Long Beach was still afloat and the Long Beach Press apologized for printing the story which was geared to make people laugh, not create panic.
The Chautauqua, camp meetings and conventions held in early Long Beach advertised the town and gradually brought in more settlers. The old Tabernacle, the site of the Methodist camp meetings, was the civic center/city hall of early Long Beach, a place where people could meet to discuss their local affairs. It was here that 20 families voted bonds to build a pier, which eventually attracted even more people to Long Beach.
By 1898, the city council decided a real city hall and fire department was needed. With proceeds from a city hall bond issue, a site on Pacific and Broadway was purchased from the Long Beach Development Company. The price was $3000 but the company made the city a gift of $1000, reducing the cost to $2000. The building, constructed on a 48 x 60 foot lot, was brick, two stories in height, with an ornamental dome. In the rear was a fire station and the city jail. The lower floor housed the council chamber and public library. The upper floor was one large room, used as a public hall. It was dedicated September 29, 1899.
New City Hall
By 1919, quarters had grown so small and the population had increased so drastically (from 2,254 to 65,520) that a new city hall was sorely needed. Additional land was also required. The Southern Pacific Railroad was willing to sell their passenger station site just north of Lincoln Park to the city for $108,500. When this offer was made the city commissioners secured options on the remainder of the block from eight private owners for $137,250. This would fill the need for more city offices.
On July 1, 1919, an election was held. At first count the new city hall project did not receive a 2/3rd majority. A recount was held on August 28, 1919, and the vote carried by 8 votes. Judge Hewitt, the Daily Telegram stated, was amazed at the manner in which some of the ballots were mutilated. He threw out 13 ballots which were completely blank and 76 ballots which had been marked incorrectly. Some of the rejected ballots were marked with pencil or pen, instead of the official rubber stamp; some were stamped over the printed words, instead of in the blank spaces below the words; while still others showed the rubber stamp had been used like a pencil and dragged across the ballot in such a manner as to form a cross. If these had been counted, there would have been no new city hall.
The other project which included the $137,250 needed to purchase land and erect community buildings, lost by 271 votes. A new city hall could now be built as soon as $400,000 worth of municipal bonds could be sold.
PACIFIC FLEET VISITS
On August 9, 1919, thousands of people gathered on the beach, pier and tops of buildings to greet the Pacific fleet as it came into view. When the ships first appeared off the coast they fired their salute, and 300,000 people from San Pedro to Seal Beach returned a mighty cheer. Shrieking whistles soon drowned out the human cries when all the factories and industrial plants in San Pedro, Long Beach and Wilmington let their sirens roar. Before the whistles died down Fort MacArthur’s guns thundered their greeting. While the fleet was maneuvering into anchoring position, airplanes darted overhead dropping flowers.
Thirty-six vessels manned by 600 officers and 12,000 sailors comprised the main squadron. The second squadron consisted of 24 vessels. The fleet, which was to have stayed four days, extended their stay until the 24th to partake in all the activities Long Beach had planned.
There was much Long Beach was doing to make the fleet feel welcome—a banquet and grand ball was held at the Hotel Virginia for the officers and a street dance (between Cedar and Ocean) for the enlisted men. People with cars lined up to take the men on sightseeing trips, there were programs on the beach, fireworks, band concerts, games and much more. Long Beach was doing everything she could to promote her harbor and her community as one the U.S. Navy might want to call home.
FLOOD CONTROL AND THE UNION OF TWO HARBORS
The Long Beach harbor had been fighting a losing battle against rain runoff, and the silt brought with it, ever since dredging began in 1906. Every year the rains brought sediment which filed in the harbor and more money had to be found to get rid of the mud and deepen the channels. Attempts were made for years to get Washington to pay for keeping the port navigable and to prevent flooding. Washington, however, was not about to divert money to both Los Angeles and Long Beach, nor was it going to choose one port over another. But by 1919 the citizens of both Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor districts had put their differences aside to form a joint flood control project.
Following instructions from government authorities in Washington, the flood control channel contract was signed on October 25, 1919, by the federal district engineer in Los Angeles and the United Dredging Company. On October 27, 1919, the first earth was removed from the flood control channel right of way through Long Beach. The proposed channel would be six miles long and 720 feet wide. Five hundred Long Beach citizens, including C. J. Curtis, and John F. Craig, whose establishment of shipyards in the harbor began the city’s industrial life, were present. Ten thousand dollars would be spent by the county to search titles and $4000 to print the flood control condemnation notices. Rail lines and homes had to be moved. In all, $800,000 was needed to secure the flood control right-of-way.
On July 12, 1919, warrants charging extortion and grand larceny were served on Long Beach police officers Ralph Powell and H.M. Holbrook as they were taken off to county jail. Both were accused of extorting money from a Mr. Papadokis and a Mrs. Hardy who had registered as man and wife at a Long Beach rooming house. Since the man and woman were not married to each other they were in violation of the city rooming house ordinance. Powell allegedly went through Papadokis’ pockets, taking $63 and a shipyard paycheck. The officers then took the couple to a nearby police box to call the station, but the box appeared to be out of order; the officers said they would release them, but keep the money.
Unbeknownst to them all, Long Beach patrolman Clendenning had been listening at the keyhole to the room. According to Clendenning’s testimony, he had seen Papadokis and the woman enter the hotel and watched them register; he was sure they were in violation of the rooming house act. While listening at the keyhole, Clendenning asserted he heard a voice inside the room ask “How much money did you find?” While not positive that the question was asked by Holbrook, he was positive that Powell replied “I have found $58 so far.”
Holbrook pleaded guilty and was given probation. He claimed Powell was his superior officer and he was forced to follow his lead. Powell was found guilty and sentenced to 1 to 14 years in prison.
In August 1919, charges were filed against Police Chief Charles Cole by the Civil Service Commission. He was accused of protecting vice in the city and taking bail money. He was suspended as police chief and quit the force in September, on condition that all charges be dropped.
As part of their city clean up campaign, civil service eyes turned to the fire department. On August 7, 1919, Fire Chief G. Clarence Craw was arrested and charged with embezzlement. He was released on $1,000 bail.
The charges surrounded putting city tires and city gasoline in his private automobile. Craw frankly admitted that he had put a pair of city tires on his automobile and that he did use city gas and oil. However, he also testified that he used his private car extensively on city business and he had never been compensated for this use by the city. On August 22nd charges against him were dismissed.