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Lighter than Air: SoCal Ballooning in Photos

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Balloonist competing in a spot-landing competition at the 1910 International Aviation Meet. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
Balloonist competing in a spot-landing competition at the 1910 International Aviation Meet. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.

August 17th marked the 33rd anniversary of the first successful transatlantic flight of a balloon--the helium-filled Double Eagle II. Pilots Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, and Larry Newman rode the Atlantic winds from Maine to France in 1978, three years before the Double Eagle V would cross the Pacific, landing in California after taking off from Japan.

Long before the Double Eagle V touched down in the Mendocino National Forest, balloons, dirigibles, and their many variations took to the skies in service of sport, the military, advertising, and of course show business throughout Southern California. The images that follow document a small part of aviation-ballooning history in the Los Angeles region throughout the last 100 years.

Four dirigibles tethered at a military balloon school in Arcadia, California, circa 1918. From the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
Four dirigibles tethered at a military balloon school in Arcadia, California, circa 1918. From the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
A racing airship, built by Thomas S. Baldwin, parked at Chutes Park, Los Angeles, in 1905. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
A racing airship, built by Thomas S. Baldwin, parked at Chutes Park, Los Angeles, in 1905. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
A hot-air balloon advertising new Oldsmobiles at a 1925 auto show in Los Angeles. From the  Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
A hot-air balloon advertising new Oldsmobiles at a 1925 auto show in Los Angeles. From the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
A postcard from the early 20th century showing a honeymooning couple enjoying a balloon ride, carried aloft by an oversized California orange. From the David Boulé Collection.
A postcard from the early 20th century showing a honeymooning couple enjoying a balloon ride, carried aloft by an oversized California orange. From the David Boulé Collection.
Citrus crate label for Airship brand Sunkist oranges and lemons, 1910. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
Citrus crate label for Airship brand Sunkist oranges and lemons, 1910. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
burbank_stunt-thumb-600x894-16659.jpg
Stuntman Joe Gerlach, performing for a television program, dives into a foam pad from a balloon tethered above a Burbank parking lot. Originally photographed for the Los Angeles Times in1971 by William S. Murphy. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Golfer Ron Hollis takes a shot in 1969, with the Goodyear blimp hovering in the background. From the California State University Dominguez Hills Photograph Collection.<br />
Golfer Ron Hollis takes a shot in 1969, with the Goodyear blimp hovering in the background. From the California State University Dominguez Hills Photograph Collection.
dirigible_race_examiner-thumb-600x461-16665.jpg
Dirigible race at the Dominguez Air Meet, Dominguez Field, Los Angeles, 1910. A hot-air balloon advertising the Examiner newspaper hovers beyond the dirigible. From the Title Insurance and Trust / C. C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Digital Library.
Photograph of a painting by Homer A. Hamer of a balloon trip to Mount Lowe, as envisioned by Professor Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, circa 1895-1910. From the Title Insurance and Trust / C. C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Digital Library.
Photograph of a painting by Homer A. Hamer of a balloon trip to Mount Lowe, as envisioned by Professor Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, circa 1895-1910. From the Title Insurance and Trust / C. C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Digital Library.

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Photographic portrait of Mrs. Arcadia de Baker; previously Mrs. Abel Stearns, Arcadia Bandini, ca.1885. She can be seen from the waist up turned slightly to the left in an oval cutout. Her long dark hair is parted up the middle and pulled back to her neck. She is wearing a frilly shawl over a frilly dress with a low neckline.

The Powerful Mexican Woman Who Helped Shape Early Santa Monica

Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker was rich, beautiful and connected. This savvy businesswoman would be an important player in early California and helped shape Santa Monica and the west side of Los Angeles.
A black and white photo depicts a row of cabins are arranged in a line along a steep slope. Each one is affixed with screened porches.

They Built This City: How Labor Exploitation Built L.A.'s Attractions

In the early 1900s, Los Angeles’ temperate climate and natural attractions drew droves of tourists seeking an escape from crowded, industrial cities. But behind the pristine curtain of Mt. Lowe’s tourism industry was a harsh reality of labor exploitation that continues to disproportionately affect Los Angeles’ Latinx population today.
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Before Motown: L.A.'s Black-Owned Soul Music Empire

During the 1950s and 1960s, Los Angeles had its own Motown records — Dootone Records. The label's owner, Dootsie Williams, was a trailblazing Black music executive and entrepreneur who not only left an impact on the music industry, but also in his community.