Los Angeles mayor, other contemporary and historic notables, join reenactment of historic event 100 years later to the day when water first arrived to L.A. from the Owens Valley, forever changing the city, Southern California and the West. LADWP Photo | Click to enlarge.
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) officials, and other notables celebrated the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial with a civic ceremony in Sylmar today that featured a reenactment of the first arrival of water from the Eastern Sierra to Los Angeles on November 5, 1913.
At approximately 1:15 p.m., the same time as 100 years ago, LADWP workers turned the wheels on top of the first Los Angeles Cascade to allow water to flow over the spill gates, a symbolic moment to mark the significance of this imported water source to the growth and property of Los Angeles. Honored guests on-hand for the event were Christine Mulholland and family, descendants of L.A. Aqueduct Engineer William Mulholland, brothers John and Hal Eaton, great-grandchildren of Fred Eaton, the man whose idea it was to bring water from the Eastern Sierra, and Harry Chandler, great-grandson of Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times and an early booster of the Aqueduct project.
"Today we mark an important chapter in the history of the City of Los Angeles, one that vividly reminds us of the contributions of those that came before us," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Thanks to the vision and technical prowess of our city forebears, subsequent generations were given the freedom to grow, create and innovate in what would become one of the most vibrant cities in the world."
"William Mulholland and everyone that contributed to the building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct left us a tremendous legacy. It is one of the greatest engineering achievements of its time and the fact that it is still providing us with water to this day is testament to its effectiveness, functionality and reliability," said Ronald O. Nichols, LADWP General Manager.
In his remarks, James McDaniel, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager for the Water System, highlighted the workforce behind the crown jewel of the LADWP Water System. He said, "Today's Aqueduct workers are not unlike those who toiled alongside Mulholland -- culturally diverse and hard working. Also, we're privileged to have women working in jobs once only done by men – from engineering to field work. As head of the LADWP's water division, I could not be more proud of today's workforce that brings safe, clean water to Los Angeles every day."
A special program featured actors in period costume who spoke words evocative of the era, and some delivered verbatim, by the likes of Mulholland, Eaton and Chandler, along with President Theodore Roosevelt, Senator Frank Putnam Flint, opera singer Ellen Beach Yaw and legendary Aqueduct worker "Whistling Dick."
A simultaneous public celebration and open house also took place at LADWP headquarters in downtown Los Angeles with a live video feed of the Cascades reenactment, followed by cake and refreshments for customers and employees to observe during their lunch break.
The dual events culminate the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Celebration, which began with the Los Angeles City Council declaration of the "Year of the Aqueduct" in January.
Previous Centennial activities leading to this culminating event include the unveiling of a plaque at the Aqueduct Intake gates, a performative parade of One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct, ribbon cutting and dedication of the L.A. Aqueduct Centennial Garden at the Mulholland Memorial Fountain, tours to the Owens Valley, and the CORO Southern California Water Symposium. In addition, Los Angeles' Natural History Museum is also celebrating its centennial this year and will be opening a new L.A. Aqueduct commemorative exhibit today entitled "Just Add Water."
Today, as 100 years ago, the Los Angeles Aqueduct remains one of the engineering marvels of modern times, and is operated and maintained through effective and responsible management by LADWP. The 233-mile Aqueduct will continue to be the backbone of L.A.'s water supply for the next century, as LADWP expands local water supply development and also through more recycled water, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and even greater conservation.