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Artbound

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Tending Nature

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Incline L.A.: Catalina's Island Mountain Railway (Episode 3)

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Need to catch up? Watch Part 1 on incline railways in downtown L.A. and Part 2 on Mt. Washington's residential railway.

The year was 1892, and Catalina Island was in foreclosure.

Its owner, George Shatto, had envisioned a resort town on the island but had built few tourist amenities apart from the three-story Hotel Metropole. When the island finally slipped from Shatto's hands, its new owners purchased it for just $280,000.

Today, sun-soaked Catalina Island -- a rugged mountain range rising from the sea some twenty miles off the coast of Los Angeles -- seems like a natural setting for a resort town. But at the time, its future as a tourist destination was in no way assured. It took a sustained campaign of new construction and scenic beautification -- spearheaded by the island's new owners, the Banning family -- to transform Catalina and the town of Avalon into a tourist's paradise.

The Banning brothers -- Joseph, William, and Hancock -- capitalized on Catalina's natural charms, encouraging sport fishing and big-game hunting and sponsoring stagecoach tours of the island. But nature alone was not enough. Among the other changes the Bannings brought: liquor at the previously dry Hotel Metropole; a vast tent-cabin city; a golf course.

And between 1904 and 1906, they built a monument to modern industrial technology: an incline railway, its station just steps away from the wharf in Avalon.

Collections Featured in Episode One: Downtown

Experts Featured in Episode One: Downtown

Special thanks to Water Tower for permission to use their "Pilgrim Song."

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L.A. as Subject is an association of more than 230 libraries, museums, official archives, cultural institutions, and private collectors. Hosted by the USC Libraries, L.A. as Subject is dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region.

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A black and white postcard photo of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Home in Eagle Rock probably taken a few years after the home opened in 1928. The four-story main building is in the shape of a Maltese cross with Churrigueresque ornamentation over the main door, an the elevator in the center and four wings reaching out.

A Haven for Early Feminists: Eagle Rock's Home of Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Founded by middle-and-upper-class women to push for abstinence and prohibition laws, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union at Eagle Rock became a major force for societal change and a hub for feminist activity in Los Angeles.
chutes park distant.jpg

When the Los Angeles Angels Played Ball Inside an Amusement Park

Discover the Angels' humble beginnings as a then-minor-league club playing out of Chutes Park, an all-dirt stadium part of a larger family entertainment center that included attractions like bowling alleys and an 85-foot-tall water ride.
A crowd of locals held back by rope try to view the situation as police continue to search the well for three-year-old Kathy Fiscus.

The Kathy Fiscus Tragedy Transfixed the World. Seven Decades Later, I Can’t Let It Go

A California historian can't shake his obsession with the 1949 death of 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus. Her death marked the first live, breaking-news television spectacle in history.