A few months ago we stumbled on a photo album at the Huntington Library in San Marino that gave us a unique peek into the lives of two Angelenos – William Frick and Julius Oliver. These two friends were so fascinated by the two-year-old Los Angeles Aqueduct that they embarked on a road trip to photograph it. The photo album reads like a combination between a buddy movie and an adventure story, combining car culture, movie culture, and water culture into one scrapbook. As we consider the aqueduct as an engineering feat, symbol of the city’s hunger and growth, or giver of life to Los Angeles, this is a reminder at earlier Angelenos had a far less freighted relationship with the pipeline. Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, nothing more than a reason to gas up the Ford and take a trip. A handful of photos from the album are in the fall issue of Boom along with an essay by Assistant Editor Annie Powers, and we’re excited to be able to share the whole album here, where it’s accompanied by “My Little Ford,” the 1915 song listed as its soundtrack on the book’s last page.
In fact, we have been so excited about the album that we couldn’t resist posting a few images from it online while the issue was still in production. Some of our eagle-eyed, historically-minded readers helped us to track down the Hollywood address where Frick and Oliver began their journey. Those early photos also found their way to Ann Campbell, granddaughter of William Frick. Ann was kind enough to send us some of her family photos – and even take some of her own. Together, Boom and Ann visited the address pictured in Frick and Oliver’s photo album. There’s now an apartment building where the house once stood, but across the street there’s a house nearly identical to the one pictured. Here’s Ann standing in front of that house, holding the original photograph.
Slideshow by Annie Powers and the Center for Digital Humanities at UCLA. Want to share it on your website? Click here to see the embed code.
And visit the new Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform to explore the archives yourself.