Mulholland Dam

William Mulholland (1855 – 1935) was Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power when he designed the Mulholland Dam.  The Dam was constructed in 1923 as part of the controversial Hollywood Reservoir and Owens River Aqueduct System used to supply Los Angeles with most of its drinking water.  Frederick Eaton, the Mayor of Los Angeles from 1898 to 1900 and Mulholland’s political crony, blocked the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from irrigating the Owens Valley and paved the way for water to be diverted south to Los Angeles from Owens Lake via an aqueduct system designed by Mulholland. 

The south-facing facade of the Dam is decorated with arches and a sleuth of California Grizzly Bears.  The Grizzly Bear is California’s State Animal, despite its extinction at the hands of settlers who colonized the state.  Bears that have been hunted to extinction guarding the ill-gotten drinking water of a sprawling car-dependent city in the desert:  which karmic debt will demand repayment first?

What goes around comes around:  Eaton’s fortune was wiped out in August 1927 when the Owens Valley Bank collapsed; Mulholland’s career came to an abrupt end when the St. Francis Dam failed in 1928.  Mulholland had supervised the St. Francis Dam’s construction and had pronounced it safe less than 24 hours before it collapsed and killed more than 500 people.  The Mulholland Dam was fortified after this disaster:  mounds of dirt were deposited against the south-facing facade of the Dam, underneath the concrete Grizzly Bears.

FUN FACTS:  

  • When viewed from the top of Mulholland Dam, the bas-relief grizzly bears look like a pack of golden retrievers. 
  • William Mulholland’s Metropolitan Water District offices were located on the top floor of the Million Dollar Theater in downtown L.A. 
  • The Oscar®-winning classic “Chinatown” (1974) was inspired by the Owens Valley – Los Angeles water controversy.
Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: