Photo courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

Calling all Los Angeles neighborhood connoisseurs, local historians, and amateur detectives!

Where was this photo taken?

While working on our fall issue, which will focus on the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, we uncovered a curious photo album about the aqueduct at the Huntington Library. The album ends with this neat photograph of a woman watering her lawn at 1837 Canyon Drive in 1915. But which Canyon Drive? Can you help us pin this photograph to a map? We’d like to rephotograph the site for our fall issue.

Here’s another clue: The photo album features two men, W. H. Frick and J. G. Oliver, who took a car trip along the L.A. Aqueduct just two years after its construction. We think it’s an interesting early example of the evolving attitude of Angelenos toward water, the southern California landscape, car culture, travel and tourism, photography, and even movies, but we’re thirsty for more information. Do you know where in the Los Angeles area we can find this 1837 Canyon Drive? Do you have any idea who W. H. Frick and J. G. Oliver were, or the woman, who is identified only as “the Slacker,” who is “using the water” that came all the way from Owens Valley to water her lawn? Help us crack the case!

Leave a reply here or send editor Jon Christensen an email. See our contact page for his email address. Please let us know what your evidence is, and when we track down the address and re-photograph the site, you’ll get credit here on our blog and in print for helping us solve this mystery!

UPDATE: Mystery solved — and a family member revealed!

Thanks to our readers, we’ve been able to figure out a lot about 1837 Canyon Drive, the aqueduct explorers, and the “Slacker” watering her lawn. The home was in Hollywood, but has since been demolished and replaced with a modern apartment building. W. H. Frick and J. G. Oliver are William Henry Frick and Julius Goodwin Oliver, and the woman watering her lawn is Oliver’s niece, Lillian, who lived with him. And most exciting of all, Ann Campbell, a relative of Oliver and Frick, heard about our search and reached out to us. She has allowed us to share some of her family photographs, including the one above.

Watch for our Fall 2013 issue of Boom, when we will tell more about their photographic expedition and publish the full photo album online!

Annie Powers

Posted by Boom California


  1. According to the 1915 Los Angeles City Directory, 1837 Canyon in Los Angeles was the residence of Julius G. Oliver. His friend William H. Frick, a salesman at the Cass-Smurr-Damerell Company, lived nearby at 4534 Kingswell.

    1837 Canyon has been demolished.

  2. In the 1915 US City Directory for Los Angeles, Julius G. Oliver is listed as living at 1837 Canyon Drive.

  3. In the 1930 census, Julius G Oliver, aged 74 and single, was living with his niece, Lillian E Oliver, age 49. Might Lillian be watering the lawn? Does this woman appear to be about 35ish?

  4. AND, the 1916 LA City Directory also lists Lillian as living at 1837 Canyon….

  5. William Henry Frick was married to Olive Oliver, who appears to be a half-niece? Julius G’s father William Henry Oliver had a first wife, Mary Anne. One of their children was Frederick Oliver, the father of Olive Oliver (what a name!). After Mary Anne died, William Henry married Mary Hill, the mother of our Julius G.

    1. Steven,
      My grandparents were William Henry Frick and Olive Oliver. I supplied the photo of their sons Richard Henry and William Oliver and am interested to know if you have a connection to the family.

  6. Many thanks for the additional information. We will incorporate much of it into our catalog record. I appreciate your time and effort.
    Jennifer A. Watts
    Curator of Photographs, The Huntington Library

  7. Christina Dillmann May 31, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    This answer is from my sister-in-law and brother: “Maybe canyon drive in Hollywood? Corner of canyon and Franklin”

    What do you think?

  8. Christina Dillmann May 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    P.S. — Why is she a slacker? (caption) Using water in a drought, using this new fangled device?

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