December 4th, 1881 – The LA Times

Today-In-History

The Los Angeles Times was first published on December 4th, 1881, as the Los Angeles Daily Times under the direction of Nathan Cole Jr. and Thomas Gardiner. It was first printed at the Mirror printing plant, owned by Jesse Yarnell and T.J. Caystile. Unable to pay the printing bill, Cole and Gardiner turned the paper over to the Mirror Company. In the meantime, S.J. Mathes had joined the firm, and it was at his insistence that the Times continued publication. In July 1882, Harrison Gray Otis moved from Santa Barbara to become the paper’s editor. Otis made the Times a financial success.

Chandler_and_Otis 680

In an era where newspapers were driven by party politics, the Times was directed at Republican readers. As was typical of newspapers of the time, the Times would sit on stories for several days, notably including the 1884 victory of Democratic presidential candidate Grover Cleveland.

Historian Kevin Starr wrote that Otis was a businessman “capable of manipulating the entire apparatus of politics and public opinion for his own enrichment.” Otis’s editorial policy was based on civic boosterism, extolling the virtues of Los Angeles and promoting its growth. Toward those ends, the paper supported efforts to expand the city’s water supply by acquiring the rights to the water supply of the Owens Valley in the California Water Wars, a set of events fictionalized in the Roman Polanski movie Chinatown.

Photo-los-angeles-times-building-post-bombing

The efforts of the Times to fight local unions led to the October 1st, 1910, bombing of its headquarters, killing twenty-one people. Two union leaders, James and Joseph McNamara, were charged. The American Federation of Labor hired noted trial attorney Clarence Darrow to represent the brothers, who eventually pleaded guilty.

Otis fastened a bronze eagle on top of a high frieze of the new Times headquarters building designed by Gordon Kaufmann, proclaiming anew the credo written by his wife, Eliza: “Stand Fast, Stand Firm, Stand Sure, Stand True.”

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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