William Mulholland Memorial Fountain & L.A. Aqueduct Centennial Garden, Los Feliz
The William Mulholland Memorial Fountain opened in 1940 at Los Feliz and Riverside Drive as a tribute to the man who siphoned water from the Owens Valley to feed a thirsty Los Angeles as the 20th Century dawned. Mulholland is hailed as a hero in that city; never do L.A. City officials acknowledge that the same brilliant LADWP engineer who designed the original 230-mile, gravity-fed Los Angeles Aqueduct also designed and built the ill-fated St. Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon. A cog in the wheel of the aqueduct system, the dam killed an estimated 450 people from Saugus to the sea when it collapsed March 12, 1928.
As a further tribute to mark the 100th anniversary of the aqueduct’s completion, L.A. city and water officials unveiled the new L.A. Aqueduct Centennial Garden at the site of the fountain on Oct. 23, 2013. A walkable art installation, the garden includes a curb in the shape of the aqueduct, with mile markers denoting the eventual 340-mile length of the pipeline from Mono Lake to the Cascades at Sylmar, which are represented by little steps at the end of the curb. The steps open onto an inscription in concrete bearing Mulholland’s words when the water flowed down the Cascades for the first time: “There it is; take it.” A small, round piece of steel in the appropriate place on the timeline reads “SAUGUS,” apparently denoting the two power plants in San Francisquito Canyon. Nearby is a riveted section of 8-foot-tall pipe.
One thing that’s missing is any acknowledgment of the 450 Santa Clarita Valley and Ventura County residents who paid for L.A.’s growth with their lives – without the benefit of receiving any of L.A.’s water.