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Interested in CA history?
“You always lose something when you build a dam.” – U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona)


This is the story of how Los Angeles became a major city. By 1905, LA was still a small, backwater city located in a desert, inhabitable only because of a makeshift maze of irrigation canals and small waterways. A man named William Mulholland had come from Ireland to LA earlier and begun working as a ditchdigger. By 1905, he was in charge of all LA waterways, and began an epic plan to bring an abundant water supply to LA. You’ll see his story in photos, film and interviews here. Was Mulholland a thief, a visionary, or both?

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In "Chinatown” (1974), screenwriter Robert Towne creates a story of how one rich and powerful man named Noah Cross connives to control the water supply of Los Angeles and become immeasurably richer. The complex plot involves a murder, deception and incest. Noah Cross, played by John Huston, is suggested by Mulholland and the construction of the aqueduct from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. The movie is not a history, but an artistic treatment of the events and people involved, and the deeper truths as Towne – and director Roman Polanski – see them. The word “Chinatown” is a metaphor suggesting mystery, the unknown, and what we can never hope to understand fully.