Saturday, March 28, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 29, 2009 Dodgers play at the Los Angeles Coliseum

On this day, commemorating its 50th year in Los Angeles, the Dodgers played one game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Dodgers had  played in the Coliseum for a few seasons when they moved in to LA. This exhibition game had a crowd of 115, 300 the largest baseball attendance in baseball history in any country or league.

This game saw the Dodgers lose to the Boston Red Sox by a score of 7-4. Due to renovations and stadium dimensions, the Coliseum's left field corner was shortened to only 190 feet.

March 29, 2008 Dodgers vs Boston Red Sox record setting 115,300

Dodgers playing at the Los Angeles Merorial Coliseum in 1959

Monday, March 9, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 10, 1933 The Long Beach Earthquake

On this date at exactly 5:55 PM an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 struck Long Beach. Damage to buildings was widespread throughout Southern California. A roughly  estimated fifty million dollars' worth of property was damage and 120 lives were lost.

More than two-thirds of the 120 deaths occurred when people ran outside and were struck by falling bricks, and structure debris. Among the buildings severely damaged or destroyed in the earthquake were many schools in and around Long Beach. Had the quake occurred a few hours earlier, while children were still in these schools, the deaths might have numbered in the thousands. The poor performance of school buildings in withstanding the shaking led to the passage of the Field Act. This piece of legislature analyzed schools all over California, to whether they could withstand a severe earthquake.

The cities of Compton, Long Beach and Huntington Park suffered the most in the earthquake as they were collapsed buildings and structural damages. Many of these cities were left without water for days. This major earthquake reshaped the City of Long Beach.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 9, 1963 The Onion Field Tragedy

On March 9, 1963, Los Angeles police officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger pulled over a vehicle in Hollywood with a broken tail light. The occupants of the car, Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith had been involved in numerous amounts of bank robberies. The suspects  managed to disarm both officers and take them hostage. They drove from Hollywood to a remote onion field near Bakersfield, California where Campbell was shot and killed, while Hettinger managed to get away and run four miles to a farm house to get help.

The Onion Field

Powell was arrested on the night of the murder, after being spotted driving a stolen vehicle by California Highway Patrol officers. The following day, Smith was apprehended as well.  Both suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. 

The Onion Field tragedy is very important in police work, as police officers are told to never give up their weapons regardless of the situation. This accident was documented in a 1973 book by Joseph Wambaugh tittle the The Onion Field. 

Just recently a TV series show Southland  (based on LAPD officers) used this accident as their series finale. I became interested in this accident due to that show and immediately read the book.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Who Knew #20 The Chicano Movement of 1968 Part 1.

In late 1967 East Los Angeles housed a school system entrenched in racism. The Mexican American community had the highest high school dropout rate and lowest college attendance among any ethnic group.  1 out of 4 students successfully graduated from high schools, and Mexican Americans were "pushed out" of public education. The poor facilities and constant underestimation of student capabilities by teachers created an atmosphere hostile to learning.  Many students believed in better education and demanded bilingual bi-cultural education; more Latino teachers and administrators; smaller class sizes and  better facilities.
 During the Spring of 1968, organizers decided to call for action by walking out of classrooms and protesting for equal educational rights.  Many schools were aware of the situation and had police stationed outside of East LA campuses  just in case students decided to walk out. On many occasions in March, students were beaten up and arrested for trying to walk out of their  classrooms. Despite police and administrative efforts to control walkouts, students gathered and walkout of schools to protest these injustices. 

On March 31, thirteen of the walkout organizers were arrested for conspiracy to disturb schools and the peace (which was considered a felony charge). Included in those 13 was a teacher Sal Castro, this created a community uproar which led to even more protest and gatherings in City Hall. All these events were known as the Chicano Blackouts.

Check out these 2 YouTube videos:

Check out this full PBS Documentary:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Who Knew #19 The Battle of Los Angeles 1942

Just yesterday when I was looking into air raid sirens in Los Angeles. I came across an interesting article about a moment when panic landed in the streets of Los Angeles.

In the early  morning hours of February 25, 1942, residents of Los Angeles  were waken up by loud screaming air raid sirens and thundering anti-aircraft gunfire. Thousands of residents, ignoring blackout invasion rules, (Rules that were set right after Pear Harbor) left their beds and went into the streets to watch sweeping searchlights and orange tracer shells streaming into the night sky. 

Pictures of the actual event from the Los Angeles Time

Trained volunteer air wardens grabbed helmets and boots to rush into action. Frightened drivers, speeding through darkened streets, collided with one another, resulting in traffic fatalities. Gunners expended more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition that caused quite a bit of damage to structures on the ground.

Many residents  believed that they were going to see a Japanese invasion force lying offshore when daylight broke. Although explanations for what had spooked military gunners ranged from a false alarm to  UFOs, an investigation could not clearly determine the exact cause. The incident turned out to be the only serious military action to occur over a continental U.S. metropolitan area during World War II.

To this date, this event which is now known as the Battle of Los Angeles has theories ranging from false alarms that led to chaos to an alien invasion. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who Knew #18 Air Raid Sirens in Los Angeles

During my last semester at Cal State Long Beach, I took a Sociology class in Pop Culture and my final project was to give out a full day class lecture on a decade and connect some sociological framework that we had learned. During my research, I was in charge of the historical and political aspects of the 1950's. As some might know during the late 1940's, early 1950's, President Eisenhower’s political agenda was basically to contain Communism creating this "Red Scare". The 1950's brought in the beginning of a Cold War between the United States and Russia. In my presentation I discussed  the style of living due to this Cold War and talked about intriguing  bomb shelters and air raid sirens that existed in  Los Angeles.

 Like many aspects of the Cold War, Civil Defense Sirens became part of people’s daily lives all throughout the United States.  In Los Angeles, sirens were tested in unison at 10 a.m. on the last Friday of every month. Typically these sirens were placed atop tall fire stations or attached to 30-foot steel poles; residents would hear a loud blast from the sirens. More than 250 civil defense siren towers were activated throughout the streets of LA. These sirens were supposed to alert people about a Russian attack so they could find shelter.

According to the LA Times,

By 1980, then-Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess reported that the sirens were "virtually useless." The federal government stopped providing for the sirens' upkeep. Officials discovered that parts were hard to find, that many sirens no longer worked, and that removing them would cost more than $250,000.
Monthly siren tests were silenced in January 1985 by order of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Then-Supervisor Kenneth Hahn said the system gave citizens a "false sense of security" and false alarms "panic[ked] people at 2 o'clock in the morning

There are around 150 sirens still visible within city limits of Los Angeles, just the other day as I was driving home from work, I looked up in one of street lights and realized there was one up there. (I have yet had the opportunity to take a picture of it)

Here is a link to a map with all the locations of air raid sirens in Los Angeles.

Monday, March 2, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 3, 1991 Rodney King Beating

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was caught by the Los Angeles police after a high-speed chase. The officers pulled him out of the car and beat brutally assaulted him, while someone caught it all on videotape. The four L.A.P.D. officers involved were indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer. However, after a three-month trial, a predominantly white jury acquitted the officers, inflaming citizens and sparking the violent 1992 Los Angeles riots

L.A riots of 1992

A few YouTube videos of this incident 

Who Knew #17 MLB Spring Training in California

 The month of March always brings joy to every baseball fan out there. The beginning of the new season begins with spring training (practice games before season starts in April) 
While Florida and Arizona now host all Major League Baseball teams for spring training, this has not always been the case. Before the Dodgers and Giants made their cross country move to the west coast some Major League baseball teams held their spring training in California. Here are 5 teams who trained in   Southern California during Spring Training
White Sox (1933-1952)

 In 1933, the White Sox took up residence at Pasadena's Brookside Park. The White Sox enjoyed many celebrities during their stay including Marilyn Monroe


 Chicago Cubs (1966)
The Chicago Cubs trained in Long Beach during their spring training season in 1966. They occupied Blair Field (home of Cal State Long Beach baseball) for just one season. The Chicago Cubs held spring training and played eight exhibition games at the ballpark. Long before training in Long Beach the Chicago Cubs practice in the Catalina Island from 1921-1951.

Pittsburgh Pirates (1937-1942, 1949-1952)

One of the most interesting teams that played in the Southern California were the Pittsburgh Pirates who played in San Bernardino

 In 1937, San Bernardino civic leaders brought Pittsburgh Pirates to their town with offers of a custom-built spring training facility at Perris Hill Park.

 Philadelphia Athletics 1940-1943

In 1940, the city of Anaheim welcomed the Philadelphia Athletics to a newly built facility at La Palma Park for 3 years. This is the only team to have ever had play a spring training game in Orange County

California Angels 1961-1992

The California Angels were the last and final team to ever have a spring training facility in California. The Angels trained and played their spring training games in  Palm Springs'. The Polo Grounds, later renamed Angels Stadium in recognition of the longstanding association left to Tempe Arizona after 1992.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 1, 1983 The Last Tornado in LA

When you think about natural disasters in LA, the first thing that pops to your head are earthquakes or landslides but how about tornadoes?

The last major tornado of any account taking place in Los Angeles occurred exactly 32 years ago day, on March 1, 1983.

This Los Angeles tornado was classified in the tornado spectrum as  “significant damage". Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars overturned; large trees snapped or uprooted; highrise windows broken and blown in; light-object missiles generated.” Wind speeds were approximately from 113–157 mph. The tornado began from 7:40 to 8:05 a.m. The tornado injured a total of 30 people in South Los Angeles, and destroy a total of 60 homes.

This tornado has been classified as the last tornado to have ever hit Downtown Los Angeles and be classified as an F2 (Classification of Tornadoes which means it can cause significant damage)