(c. 1865) The first Rhone wine grape varietals (Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignane) are brought to the San Gabriel Valley by Tennessee-born Benjamin Wilson, who helped make it California's leading wine region.
San Gabriel Winery (date unknown) -- was the largest winery in the world before blight destroyed the vineyards. It was located in the area southeast of where Costco now stands.
(Late 1870s) A great publicity campaign was launched with the slogan "Oranges for Health, California for Wealth." The result was a tremendous migration to California. Between 1880 and 1890, the population of California increased by 345,000.
(1883) A pair of telephone wires were installed at the San Gabriel Winery at what is now Main Street and Palm Avenue--seven years after Alexander Graham Bell obtained his first telephone patent.
(1885) The Santa Fe Railroad completes a second transcontinental rail line into Los Angeles, breaking the Southern Pacific Railroad's monopoly.
Tilley's Restaurant (opened 1885) -- Built by H. W. Stanton at the corner of Main and Garfield, the building was first used as a post office and grocery. The upstairs hall was used as a church, school, community meetings, and entertainment gathering place. H. W. Stanton was the first storekeeper, postmaster, teacher, telephone agent, land subdivider and promoter. After subdividing several ranches he became wealthy and retired. He took a trip around the world, but upon his return to Alhambra found that the boom had gone bust, and he too was broke.
Garfield School, Alhambra (1886) -- The first school (after the Arroyo School) was Garfield, which had a cupola that could be seen from far and a bell with a tongue that reached beyond the district's boundaries. The building had no electricity, heat, plumbing or window screens. (Photo: courtesy of Fame Rybicki)
Alhambra Ice Wagon (date unknown) -- On hot days, Alhambra children would run to the "Ice Wagon" to ask for slivers of ice (a luxury in those days)
(1887) Dr. F. B. Elwood subscribes for telephone service and becomes a telephone agenct for the Sunset Telephone-Telegraph Company.
(January 1887) City's first plumbing business opened by Robert Morehead with a cash capital of $100.
(1887) St. James Chapel, a Methodist Church was established as Alhambra's first church. In 1890, the growth of the church led to a new chapel designed to accommodate 400 persons.
(1888) The city's first library and reading room was established in the second story rooms over the Alhambra Savings Bank at Garfield and Main.
(March 4, 1889) Alhambra Bank, the City's first bank opened for business at the southwest corner of Garfield and Main.
Opening of the Ramona Convent (January 30, 1890) -- The Convent opened with seven boarders and nine students. The land upon which the Convent was built was donated by James de Barth Shorb, one of the early prominant early citizens of Alhambra. Shorb's daughter, Edith, disliked going to Northern California to boarding school and it is said she convinced her father to donate the land so the Sisters would start a school in Southern California. As part of Alhambra's Centennial celebration, a local artist, Victor Amor, is casting a bronze statue of James de Barth Shorb from a picture from Ramona's archives.
(1893) Alhambra's first hospital begins in a remodeled bungalow at the corner of Second and Main. The hospital closed down a year later and patients then had to go to Los Angeles if they needed hospitalization. A second hospital opened in 1914 at the corner of Chapel and Main by the Alhambra Medical Association, and was moved a year later to a remodeled house on South Third Street.
(1893) Incorporation of Alhambra Shoe Manufacturing Company
First Presbyterian Church of Alhambra (Dedicated September 23, 1888) -- One room church with a bell tower (with no bell) was located on South Second Street. Gail Borden donated a hand crank type pipe organ.
(1901) Henry Huntington forms the Pacific Electric Railway Company that would link Los Angeles by a network of rail cars.
(October 1901) Pacific Electric: Alhambra-San Gabriel Line -- Los Angeles and Pasadena Electric Railway (predecessor of PE) begins construction on the Alhambra line and on June 21, 1902 the line was opened with cars of the LA & P 90 Class running through to General Hospital in L.A. on a 30-minute schedule.
Seal of Incorporation (July 11, 1903) -- Alhambra becomes an incorporated city and three days later the first elected Board of Trustees were sworn into office. The first mayor of Alhambra was Newton W. Thompson, who held the office from 1903-1908.
(1903) Law enforcement is handled by a town marshall. His job is light enough that he had time to act as a tax and license collector, and also to repair the streets and sidewalks. William Hall was elected as the city's first peace officer to patrol the city's dirt streets.
(October 1903) First official street engineering job involved paving Vega Street. $25 bought four iron trash boxes at the corner of Garfield and Main for the "promotion of cleaner streets." Sewer service provided to the northeastern section of the city. Alhambra's street lighting system began with some 200 lights, patrolled by bicycle at night.
(1903) Pacific Light & Power Company brings electricity to Alhambra.
(1903) Standard Felt Company begins operation as the first industrial company in Alhambra. Founded on the site of the old San Gabriel Winery.
(1904) Main Street was widened to 90 feet from the west city limits to First Street, and Garfield was improved. Marengo was graded.
(January 5, 1904) An ordinance adopted on this date prohibited any "automobile, bike, riding machine or horseless vehicle" from traveling across intersections or around corners at a speed of more than four miles an hour and from traveling anywhere in the city limits at a speeds greater than eight miles an hour.
Alhambra City High School (Built 1905) -- Built for a capacity of 500 students although there were actually only 100 students at that time. By 1924, the enrollment had increased so substantially that the building was replaced with a new school.
(1906) City of Alhambra files first building report indicating 161 permits issued in that year for a valuation of $200,343.
Giles E. Ratkowski Home (built in 1906) -- This 15-room house, with many Chinese architectural features, was located at the northeast corner of Fremont and Valley Blvd. It was built by an engineer, Antonio Cajal, who had been to Peking. When he returned during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, he brought back a collection of sketches of a Chinese temple, which he then incorporated in the designs of curved Oriental eaves, lions' heads and serpents. From 1908 to 1926, the house had a number of owners, but in August 1926 it was purchased by Giles E. and Evelyn Ratkowski. The house sustained severe damage during the Whittier earthquake and was demolished in 1988. Mr. Ratkowski is shown in the center of the picture. Personal Recollections of the home by Fame Rybicki, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ratkowski.
Alhambra celebrates July 4th (1908) --- The school children of the entire school district turned out for this occasion. There was only one automobile in the city at that time.
(1908) The first motion picture was made in Los Angeles
(1913) On Alhambra's 10th anniversary, Alhambrans roped off the principal streets of the city and converted them into a 65-mile automobile speedway. The winner of the race was George Fetterman who covered the course in 73 minutes, 52.2 seconds in his Pope-Hartford. The cash prize was $300.
(1913) The 16th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, thereby creating the federal income tax
(1913) The Los Angeles Aqueduct begins delivering water from the Owens Valley. It was the largest municipal water system in the nation. Alhambra bought its water from the San Gabriel Valley Water Company, which was supplied from Kewen Canyon (now in San Marino).
Midwick Country Club (built in 1912) -- Located on 208 acres, the Club was referred to as the "granddaddy" of all the clubs in Los Angeles County. A regulation polo field was erected along Hellman Avenue along with a clubhouse, 4 guest apartments, tennis courts, swimming pool, and two smaller polo fields at a cost of $500,000. Membershp was selective and for whites only. The fee: $3,800 plus $22.50/month. The 1932 Olympics held several equestrian events there, including the Grand Prix and Hunter-Jumper competitions. Membership dwindled with the Great Depression and the club was sold at an auction for $178,000 to Dominic Jebbia, an Italian immigrant. The property was later sold to a developer--a small portion was donated to Los County as Granada Park. Personal Recollection by Alhambra resident Fame Rybicki
Orange Day (March 18, 1916) -- "Eat California Oranges"
(1916) City of Alhambra purchases the water wells in Kewen Canyon and pipelines in the City of Alhambra.
Corporal Tom Pope, U.S. Army - The only World War I veterans from Alhambra to win the Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient (the Nation's Highest Honor).
(November 1918) World War I ends
Henry Huntington donated land to Alhambra for constructing Alhambra Park (1919) -- Huntington was a local railroad magnate who owned vast holdings in the San Gabriel Valley, including the famous Huntington Library in San Marino which was his home.
Charles Malone (1919) -- Fifth person from the left, Malone was an Alhambra patrol officer in 1919 and a sergeant in the 1940s
(1920) Alhambra Hospital established. Later sold to Alhambra Community Hospital in 1951.
Owl Drug Co. Medical Building (1920s) -- Corner of Main & Garfield. Land for the building was purchased in 1922 by Dr. Weber for $30,000. The building was sold in 1928 for $250,000 by the Forbes Company in a record real estate deal.
Fremont Avenue (1920s) -- Looking west at Valley Blvd., which was being widened and paved at the time. Photo was donated by Giles E. Ratkowski, who moved to Alhambra in 1925 and purchased the corner of Fremont and Valley. The family retained the property until 1996 when it was sold as commercial property.
Dupuy's Pyrenees Castle (1926) -- Alhambra's famed French chateau, located on the hill south of Valley Boulevard and west of Fremont, is similiar to those in the Pyrenees Mountains. Click here for article published in Around Alhambra, February 2001; Personal Recollection of the Castle by Alhambra resident Fame Rybicki.
Eli Harvey, Sculptor -- Famous sculptor who knew Norman Rockwell and was a resident of Alhambra's "Artist Alley"
Jack Wilkinson Smith -- Biographical information on one of the artists who once lived in Alhambra's "Artists Alley"
(1927) Charles Lindbergh makes a solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris in a little over 33 hours
(1928) North section of what is now Story Park was donated to the city by F. Q. Story. Three years later, the south section of Story Park was purchased from the Alhambra Athletic Club for $25,000 which included the clubhouse, pool and a gym, which burned down in 1945.
(October 24, 1929) There is a collapse of stock prices on the NY stock exchange and within a week, the market loses $30 billion, plunging the country into the Great Depression. By 1930, the nation's unemployment is estimated at 4.5 million.
Thomas C. Allen (Oct. 9, 1932) -- Made a historic flight as one of the first two Black aviators to make a transcontinental airplane flight from Los Angeles to Long Island, N.Y. Allen was the flight mechanic. J. Herman Banning was the pilot. The 3,300 mile flight took 41 hours and 27 minutes in a plane that had been pieced together from junkyard parts. The trip actually required 21 days to complete because the pilots had to raise money each time they stopped. Allen's son, Duane Allen, a former professional football player resides in Alhambra.
(1934) Granada Park developed with the aid of county welfare funds which was extended to federal funds.
(1934) A severe dust storm strips the top soil (estimated at 30 million tons) from several midwestern states. The result is an exodus of farmers from those states to California
(1937-41) The Story Book Parade was an annual event staged by youngsters for youngsters. The final parade in 1941 drew more than 40,000 spectators. For weeks before the event, teachers planned, helped and made suggestions to their students in the preparation of their entries. In the final parade, more than 3,500 youngsters participated. World War II, which put an end to public assemblies, spelled the doom of the Parades. After the War was over, the spirit that had made them a success was never revived.
(1938-39) Adolph Hitler announces that Austria has been "united" with Germany and Germany invades Czechoslovakia. World War II begins.
(1940) Annual production in the Alhambra area exceeds $8 million with nearly 4,000 employees; the area is ranked as the 14th in value of products in California.
Assessed valuation of the city jumped from about $13 million in 1923 to over $27 million in 1939-40. Building increased more than 600 percent since 1910.
(1940) Mark Keppel High School opened.
(1940) A six-mile stretch of the Arroyo Seco Parkway (Pasadena Freeway) is opened, becoming the first freeway in the western United States.
(Nov. 30, 1941) Pacific Electric "Red Car" makes its last trip on the Alhambra, San Gabriel and Temple City line.
(1945) Lt. Wayne Denning, a 1938 graduate of Alhambra High School, is lost with five other officers in the "Bermuda Triangle." More information on this story provided by Alhambra resident Fame Rybicki.
General George S. Patton, Jr. -- The infamous General Patton was the grandson of Don Benito (Benjamin Wilson) and son of Ruth Wilson Patton and George S. Patton, Sr.
Painting by Josephine Romano Lyden, Alhambra Resident (Date Unknown) -- During the 1930s and 40s, Lyden worked with prominent artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Walt Disney. She worked as a teacher for the L.A. Unified School District for many years. She is famous for her paintings of the Molly Bentley Dolls. This photo was donated to the Alhambra Historical Museum.
(1949) The Pacific Electric Railway Company asks the Public Utilities Commission for permission to replace its famous "Red Cars" with buses on 11 of its 17 lines.
(1961) Granada, Spain becomes Alhambra's Sister City. Mayor and Mrs. Talmage Burke hand deliver framed resolution and other gifts to the Mayor of Granada. More photos of The Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Duane C. Allen (1961-2003) Professional Right-End, Los Angeles RAMS Football team and resident of Alhambra. Son of Thomas C. Allen-one of the first two Black men to make a transcontinental airplane flight from L.A. to New York.
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