Friday, August 05, 2016

Santa Ana's wishlist, 1881

Fourth St., Santa Ana, circa 1887.
On Dec. 14, 1881, the Santa Ana correspondent to the new Los Angeles Times newspaper shared some of the pros and cons of her growing town and set forth a sort of community wishlist:

"Santa Ana is certainly coming to the front. We are bound to be and will be something yet. We have already enough and to spare of some  things. For instance, if you want a few preachers, or school teachers, we can supply you., and as for doctors we could supply the whole county. [Ed - Orange County was still part of Los Angeles County then.] We have all sorts: the old, the young, the half-breed Indian, the street corner loafer, the aristocrat, the little pill, the big pill, yes any kind of a pill. Every second man on the streets of Santa Ana is a doctor.

"...Mechanics of all kinds are very busy, [and] more could find employment if here, as there is much improvement going on and much more to be done both in town and country.

"...Wild geese are very plentiful just now. Come down, some of you city sportsmen, and take a few. We don't want them all.

"...Santa Ana wants:
A first-class hotel.
A first-class public hall.
A few less doctors, preachers and lawyers.
A stop to building more churches at present.
A much larger school house.
A few good servant girls.
A few more marriageable gentlemen.
A few less street corner loafers.
A good heavy rain."

So, 135 years later, how's Santa Ana coming along with its wish list? Let's take a look:
  • There seem to be plenty of mechanics now. (Check)
  • The doctors have mostly moved to places like Newport Beach. (Check)
  • The lawyers also mostly have their homes and offices elsewhere now, although the courts are still in Santa Ana. (Check)
  • Santa Ana still has plenty of "pills" -- But probably no more than most places. (No change)
  • The churches are mostly drying up and fading away. Only the Catholics seem to be thriving these days, and their cathedral is in Orange, not the county seat. (Check)
  • We've definitely thinned out the wild geese, although I still see a few hanging around Centennial Park. (Check)
  • Santa Ana has some pretty nice hotels, especially down by the airport (e.g. the Doubletree), although it lacks the kind of iconic hotel it had when the Saddleback Inn was at its peak. (Check)
  • The city may still not have a great "public hall," but for large public gatherings and performances there's the Santa Ana Bowl and the Yost Theatre. (Maybe half a check)
  • Schools continue to be a top priority for Santa Ana, and scads of teachers have been hired and schools have been built. But the district's academic rankings generally leave something to be desired. (Work in progress)
  • Santa Ana undoubtedly has an outsized number of "servant girls," although most commute out of Santa Ana to work. (Check?)
  • Does Santa Ana now have more "marriageable gentlemen?" I will live that for the ladies to decide. Single doesn't mean marriageable. (Unknown)
  • As for "street corner loafers:" At last check we had about 500 homeless people living among the landscaping at the Santa Ana Civic Center alone. And who knows how many folks in any given community are home watching TV (the modern street corner) during the work week. (Fail)
  • And all of Southern California is once again anxiously awaiting a "good heavy rain." (Status quo)


Anonymous said...

Well done Chris. Plenty of change since that photo was taken. KS

Anonymous said...

Now Fourth street is adorned with pawn shops and bridal stores

Chris Jepsen said...

Actually, Fourth Street has changed a lot and continues to evolve. Yes, it has its share of shops stores selling off-brand beauty products, quinceanera dresses, unlicensed Disney toys, religious brickabrack, etc. That's a lot of its charm. But there are also some really good restaurants, both Wells Fargo and B of A banks, sort of an "art house" movie theater, and even the obligatory Starbucks. And the fascinating the history and architecture alone make this area a pretty interesting place to spend a Saturday.

Anonymous said...

best way is to drive and park around 4th st then just walk up and down. The Fallas Paredes clothing store was the former Woolworth's as it says on the floor tiles. There is also a store that sells spray cans and markers for future "taggers" but it is "controlled" by the presence of the Santa Ana Constables.

Gustavo Arellano said...

"Anonymous" sounds like one of those Floral Park residents who adore their segregated Halloweens...

Chris Jepsen said...

For those who remember, I imagine it's pretty easy to be nostalgic for a time when we didn't have "taggers" polluting and damaging public and private property. Personally, I can't figure out why anyone would want to screw up their own neighborhood (or anyone else's, for that matter).