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Some incorporation supporters in the years that followed saw that night as a triumph of local government. The incorporation of Lakewood in was unexpected, but the kind of suburban community that Lakewood became was not unplanned.
Thinking about, writing about, and arguing about the homes of working men and women had been a feature of American social and political life since at least the s. Communities very much like Lakewood had been predicted in the s, when social reformers sought to get working-class Americans out of the crowded tenements and ethnic ghettos of big cities and into single-family homes. In the s, Congress and the Roosevelt administration turned this national conversation into legislation that would reform the financing of home ownership and create national standards for home construction.
A true revolution in home ownership had begun Under the GI Bill of Rights, ed into law in Juneevery veteran was promised the opportunity to have his own home. In the early postwar years, there was the model community of Levittown, developed by William Levitt in on Long Island. Levittown was the most written about and talked about suburban housing development in America, but not always favorably.
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Kaiser, looked much like Lakewood would. Closer to home, the Mayfair and Lakewood City tracts built for war workers in the s predicted the look of the Lakewood Park development that followed in These predictions made a place for a community like Lakewood in the imaginations of builders, bankers, government planners, and young men and women wanting a home.
Actually building Lakewood, fighting for its incorporation, and sustaining its civic life required much more than an optimistic imagination, however. That view is challenged by the narratives of the men and women in The Lakewood Story.
Lakewood's story contains many dreams achieved and some aspirations still unfulfilled. It reveals trends in municipal planning and shows how some of those trends were redirected by Lakewood's early success.
Ways to get connected
The Lakewood story also describes the economic engines that powered the city, as well as how Lakewood remained Lakewood even as the regional economy was transformed in the 21st century. The city's story documents the durable character of the Lakewood community, but it also shows the women of great change. It may seem less than celebratory, but the truth is obvious at a glance. The land of Lakewood is flat. Where other suburban landscapes in Los Angeles County undulate and provide vistas, Lakewood declines to mar the level surface of the plain that lies mature the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers.
If geography is destiny, then Lakewood was destined for flatness. A closer look at the early landscapes of the Los Angeles Basin. Flat is one of the reasons why it was possible to build thousands of Lakewood houses so quickly. Flat makes Lakewood a walkable city and a bikeable one local.
Flat puts everyone on the same footing. Nor is flat uninteresting. A lot is going on under Lakewood. Beds of water, stacked like a gravel, sand, and clay layer cake, lie beneath the city. Rifts and uplifts fold some of these layers into long, underground hills. Some of those folds are sharply broken, as if cut by an immense knife.
These faults show where earthquakes have shaken the Lakewood of Lakewood.
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Inone of these faults — t he Newport-Inglewood Fault — erupted in a destructive earthquake centered just off the coast at Huntington Beach. The magnitude 6. More than people died, largely from collapsed structures and falling debris. The entire Los Angeles region is seismically active, and Lakewood, like many other cities in the southeast, was rocked again in by the Whittier Narrows earthquake, the Landers and Big Bear earthquakes inand the Northridge earthquake in January These hills mark a boundary between two zones where underground water is found — the West Basin and the Central Basin.
Buried under the Central Basin is the plumbing that currently provides all the water that Lakewood residents use. The source is invisible, unlike the better-known system of aqueducts that supplies the city of Los Angeles. Beneath Lakewood — 1, feet or more — are zones or strata of sand and silt separated by compacted clay. These layered formations extend for many miles, some of them stretching all the way from the foothills of the mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
In the northern and eastern parts of the county, some of these strata have been uplifted so that they are exposed, allowing rainwater and snow melt from the mountains to flow into them, replenishing the underground water supply. Water that enters the exposed strata may travel dozens of miles over many months or even years before returning to the surface, where the water may form a natural spring or lake.
The strata that bear water are called aquifersand Lakewood sits above several aquifers from which water can be drawn using electric pumps. In the past, some of these aquifers carried such a large volume of water so close to the surface that when tapped by farmers for irrigation in the late s, the water gushed from the ground in the form of artesian wells. There once were famous artesian wells in Lakewood, drilled by a real estate promoter and Civil War veteran named Edward Bouton.
Some of his wells tapped an aquifer a short distance east of the present location of the Lakewood golf course. A closer look at Edward Bouton and his wells. Water for customers in the western part of the city is still drawn from Lakewood's own wells, although electric pumps are needed to bring the water from hundreds of feet below the surface.
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Water for customers in the eastern part of Lakewood is supplied by an investor-owned company. This water is injected into the aquifer system under pressure near the coast to prevent salt water from intruding into the Central Basin. Also, processed reclaimed water is pumped over spreading basins along the upper San Gabriel River.
This water reenters the aquifer system to be naturally filtered as it travels south to Lakewood and the city's wells. The eastern part of the plain was lifted up over thousands of years from the floor of a shallow sea that once covered the area.
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The western side of the plain, including Lakewood, is a piece of continental shelf, but it once was ificantly higher than it is today. Over time, Lakewood's side of the plain sank, allowing river-borne sand and gravel to fill ancient valleys cut by rivers when the area had a higher profile.
The underground and above ground landscapes of Lakewood are connected. The distribution of gravel, sand, and clay under the plain reflects the changing levels of the seashore and the action of streams that carried sediment from the foothills and mountains that enclose the Coastal Plain on three sides.
Each cycle leaves a ature in the sediments by producing distinctive layering or bedding, evidence of erosion, and telltale assemblages of fossils. The ancient beach is now well below the current ground surface because the Los Angeles Basin has subsided with time as it filled with sediment.
Water — flowing in enormous quantities from seasonal rivers that sprang from geologically young mountains — was the agent that spread sand, clay, and gravel over the valleys of ancient Los Angeles, leveling the surface and burying the aquifers. The gently sloping contour of the Lakewood today is a product of repeated flooding, going back tens of thousands of years, as nameless rivers that preceded the Los Angeles, San Gabriel, Rio Hondo, and Santa Ana rivers poured out onto the plain.
You might say that Lakewood, from top to bottom, was formed by water. Based on recent archaeological finds in Central and South America, their arrival was at least 13, years ago and perhaps longer ago than that. The early residents of the plain lived in a rapidly changing environment, wetter during long periods and more prone to drought in other eras.
Food sources changed as the climate and vegetation changed. Early human populations may even have hunted some large game animals to extinction, forcing the inhabitants to develop alternative food gathering and food preparation strategies.
New technologies also developed among native communities, including hunting tools like the bow and arrow and domestic improvements like Lakewood. The inhabitants of the plain changed as well. The Native Americans that Europeans first encountered in the s had arrived at least years before, displacing or absorbing earlier inhabitants.
European explorers, missionaries, and settlers did a poor job of recording the languages, beliefs, and histories of the inhabitants of the Coastal Plain before their way of life was wiped out by European diseases and forced labor. Reports to the Spanish woman in Mexico described a decentralized a network of local than thirty communities on the Coastal Plain that traded with other communities beyond the Los Angeles Basin. Each community was a cluster of dome-shaped dwellings made of willow branches and reeds.
Some of those who lived in the Lakewood area may have called themselves the Tongva, a Native American word that is not precisely defined. The pre-colonial communities they created are the source of many of the place names on the Coastal Plain: Pacoima, Cahuenga, Tujunga, Topanga, and Cucamonga. The mature Lakewood area, based on the limited archaeological record, was not a center of Native American life.
Relatively nearby by, however, were two important communities — Tibihangna and the ceremonial center of Puvuu'ngna.
He did not land, but he reported that ocean-going canoes from a large village had ventured out to meet his ship in San Pedro Bay. Inthe Spanish returned with every intention to hold Upper California against the expansion of Russian and British settlements further north. He had served as a soldier in the Spanish army in Italy and Portugal before being appointed Governor of Las Californias in The goal of the expedition was to find an overland route to Monterey Bay.
He went overland with a party of 63 soldiers and missionaries on July 14, and reached the vicinity of Los Angeles on August 2.
Instead, he continued inland, passing through the San Fernando Valley. The establishment of Spanish rule had a military purpose to extend Spanish authority northwarda religious purpose to convert the native inhabitants to Catholicismand a colonial goal to ensure that loyal Spaniards would settle in the towns that converted Native Americans would found.
In the eyes of the Spanish authorities, colonization and evangelization would bring the benefits of civilization to the wilderness they called Alta California. It was the fourth mission to be established by Serra.
The mission system that Serra imposed, while humanitarian in inspiration, required Native American communities to be gatheredsometimes by force, for religious conversion and communal labor on the mission grounds and at outlying settlements called rancherias.
Almost immediately, the impact of European diseases, heavy labor, and an unfamiliar way of life caused native communities to collapse. Their language was replaced by Spanish, and native customs were rooted out. Thousands died from tuberculosis, measles, and other diseases. Some of the mission Indians fled the region or were hunted down and punished, often severely. Other bands revolted against their treatment and attacked the contingents of Spanish soldiers posted to protect the missionaries.
Rebellion led to harsh retaliation, more deaths, and further limits on the freedom of native people.