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See the Los Angeles Aqueduct on its 100th birthday

October 30, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds
  • A photograph shot in July shows water flowing down the Los Angeles Aqueduct's Cascades section in Sylmar.
A photograph shot in July shows water flowing down the Los Angeles Aqueduct's… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

If you attend only one event this year marking controversial real estate practices and epic events in California infrastructure, well, Nov. 5 might be a good day for it.

Why? Because it was Nov. 5, 1913, that the Los Angeles Aqueduct opened, diverting water to parched Los Angeles County from the Owens Valley in the Eastern Sierra. Without that water (and the quiet land acquisitions that preceded the opening), Los Angeles as we know it wouldn’t exist.

At the Cascades area (in Sylmar), where the aqueduct’s official opening was originally celebrated by an estimated 30,000 people, the city Department of Water and Power is presenting a reenactment. It’s also hosting commemorative activities at its downtown headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Culver City is staging a bus tour up to the Cascades to see the reenactment. The bus trip cost is $20. This bus is expected to leave the center (9331 Venice Blvd., Culver City) at 11 a.m. and return by 4 p.m.  

It was at that 1913 ceremony that William Mulholland, chief engineer for the Los Angeles Bureau of Water Works and Supply, famously said: “There it is. ... Take it.”  

As the Los Angeles Visionaries Assn. points out, Mulholland also said:

“This rude platform is an altar, and on it we are here consecrating this water supply and dedicating the aqueduct to you and your children and your children’s children -- for all time.” (A few decades later, the Bureau of Water Works became known as the Department of Water and Power.)

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