Monday, March 31, 2014

Top 11 Interesting Southern California Freeways

STUCK ON THE ORANGE CRUSH INTERCHANGE - We would like to think public transportation is finally coming into its own in Southern California, but let us face it, the freeway is still king. For a lot of us the freeway defines our way life, and that is not going to change anytime soon. So, here are the top 11 (some good, some bad) interesting freeways in Southern California.

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The Cahuenga Pass once upon a time. Date and author unknown. No copyright infringement intended.

#11 - The Marina Freeway - State Route (SR) 90

Otherwise known as the Westside Wang this has to be one of the most useless freeways in Southern California, and does not seem to serve any real purpose unless you need to get from the Westfield Culver City mall (formerly called Fox Hills Mall) to Marina Del Rey in your Chevrolet right away. 

#10 - The Chino Hills Freeway - SR 71

While driving alongside Chino Hills State Park makes for a nice scenic drive The Chino Hills Freeway is not too sure if it wants to be a freeway, highway or wide boulevard. Adding to the 71's identity crisis is the name, because until somewhat recently it was known as the Corona Expressway, and before that it was called the Temescal Freeway.

#9 - "The 91"

The 91 has one of the worst commutes in the country, because for a few miles through Santa Ana Canyon there are no back roads or alternative routes and thus everybody must take this freeway. Like the 71 this freeway too has bit of an identity crisis. Most people know it as The Riverside Freeway, but between the Interstate 5 and the I-710 interchange it is called The Artesia Freeway, and between the I-710 and I-110 it is called The Gardena Freeway.

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The proposed 1947 parkway plan. Photo courtesy of the Southern California Automobile Club. Used under Creative Commons. 

#8 - The Century Freeway - I-105

The last freeway to be competed in the Los Angeles Basin the Century Freeway is a vision of what our freeway system should have been when it was created by adding public transit rail lines along the freeway.

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Aerial view of the I-105/I-710 interchange. Date and author unknown; no copyright infringement intended. Used under Creative Commons.

#7 - The Santa Ana Freeway - I-5

The most direct route between L.A. and Orange County embodies everything wrong with post-War Southern California suburban sprawl. While cities and developers were more than happy to build tract-homes and malls for as far as the eye can see the powers that be never saw to it to expand the 5 to accompany the growth until it was way too late.

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Not the 5, but a 1954 photograph of The Hollywood Freeway, and although the style of cars have changed the traffic jam remains the same. Used under Creative Commons.

#6 - The Pomona Freeway - SR 60

On those off days when there is little traffic and it is clear and bright the 60 through the San Gabriel Valley actually makes for a nice drive with the green hills to the south of the freeway almost looking like the Pacific Northwest. Yet one cannot help but wonder that it would have made more sense to call the 60 The Riverside Freeway since it connects between downtown Riverside and Downtown L.A.

#5 - The San Gabriel River Freeway - I-605

While it is very convenient for people who live and/or work off the 605, but for an interstate freeway this feels like it does not have any real destination, and that it is kind of just "there," but there is something interesting about this freeway. The 605 goes from the foot of the mountains down to the foot of the ocean, and it is really the only freeway in Southern California that kind of does this.

#4 - The Harbor Freeway - I-110

Aside from going through the heart of L.A. the Harbor Freeway offers some of the best views of Downtown L.A.

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The Harbor Freeway through Downtown L.A. in 1964 in a photograph by the great "Dick" Whittington. Used for information purposes; no copyright infringement intended.

#3 - The Glendale Freeway - SR 2

Would not it be ironic if Cal-Trans renamed the 2 The Hipster Freeway given that this freeway goes through some of L.A.'s hip neighborhoods and it is kind of an awkward freeway? That aside The Glendale Freeway southern terminus ends somewhat awkwardly in Echo Park as it is the uncompleted Beverly Hills Freeway. This uncompleted freeway stands as a testament to money and power in L.A. as East L.A. and South L.A. residents were not able to stop massive freeway construction in their neighborhoods, but Hancock Park and Beverly Hills residents waved their magic paper green wands to make this freeway go away. (Interestingly then Governor Ronald Reagan supported completing the 2 to Beverly Hills.)   

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What could have been, a 1964 drawing of the proposed Beverly Hills Freeway. Photograph courtesy Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

#2 - The I-5 From L.A. to Tijuana

Despite the problems with the 5 it is exciting to think this freeway can take you from Downtown L.A. to another country in (traffic pending) around 90 minutes. How... European.

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Postcard dated 1945 showing the old border crossing in Tijuana/San Diego.

#1 - The Arroyo Seco Parkway - SR 110

For some people who first experience this freeway, err parkway, it is kind of like a rare fine wine. It kind of takes you by surprise and it takes a moment to settle in, but once it settles in you realize this is one of the most beautiful freeways, excuse me, parkways. in the country. If you have to live life on the freeway The Arroyo Seco Parkway makes it all worth it.

110 Freeway 1961 photo EXM-N-12904-0021.jpgLate 1950s photograph of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Author unknown. Used under Creative Commons.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Know Your Faults: Puente Hills Fault

(This is an occasional series exploring the many earthquake fault lines in and around Southern California. This series is not intended to be a scholarly, scientific review of earthquake faults throughout Southern California, but hopefully will be a jumping off point for you to understand and further explore the fault lines that cross Southern California. )   

LA HABRA - It has been a weekend of cleaning up shattered glass, having homes assessed and reassessed to see if they are still livable, and dealing with aftershocks in what is turning out to be perhaps the most damaging earthquake in the Los Angeles Basin since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

At only magnitude 5.1 it is considered to be a low-end moderate earthquake, but when you get a typical Southern California shallow quake in the magnitude 5 range under an urbanized area that is when you begin to see damage, and that has been painfully proven for residents and businesses in the Fullerton and La Habra area.

The La Habra quake is bringing much needed attention to something rather unpleasant, the Puente Hills Fault, or otherwise called, the Puente Hills Thrust System.  (For the rest of this piece we shall just call it the Puente Hills Fault.)

How Unpleasant?

Just how unpleasant is the thought of this fault to geologists, seismologists and emergency planners? Well, a major quake, "The Big One," on the San Andreas Fault in Southern California is going to be a major life altering event, but a major earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault, with an expected magnitude 7.2-7.5, could take such a disastrous event to a whole new level. In fact, a major event on this fault is expected to be worse than a major event on the Newport-Inglewood Fault.

Officials at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) believe this La Habra earthquake was caused by the Puente Hills Fault. It is worth noting USGS also believes the 1987 Whittier-Narrows Earthquake, which seismologists originally thought was on the then newly discovered Elysian Park Fault, was also caused by this fault.

Why So Dangerous?

Using rough directions,
the Puente Hills Fault runs about 25 miles, going east-to-west, from about the hills above Brea, across the lower San Gabriel Valley, going northwest into Downtown L.A., and further northwest ending just about before Griffith Park. Seeing and understanding where this fault runs you can understand why a major quake on this fault is such a dreadful thought to officials. 

Now unlike, say, the Whittier Fault or Newport-Inglewood Fault, which has noticeable scars in the earth, like hills, the Puente Hills Fault is a blind thrust fault with no surface scars. 

A Different Kind of Shaking

One of the many problems with a major earthquake on this fault is, unlike the Newport-Inglewood Fault or even the San Andreas Fault where those faults are vertical faults resulting in intense shaking near where the fault reaches the surface, the Puente Hills Fault is a horizontal fault with intense shaking felt over a much larger area.

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A shake-map scenario of a M7.1 Puente Hills Fault rupture created by the Southern California Seismic Network at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in partnership with USGS. No copyright infringement intended; Shown for educational purposes only.

Just How Bad?

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) along with the University of Southern California conducted a study in 2003 that showed a major earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault could cause "fatalities ranging between 3,000 and 18,000," along with "displaced households ranging from 142,000 to 735,000, with an average of 274,000."

With a fault running from the lower San Gabriel Valley, into Downtown L.A. up to Griffith Park you would have a major earthquake occurring in Southern California's oldest neighborhoods. Seismologists along with emergency planners believe such a quake could result in severe, catastrophic damage to Downtown L.A.'s older, historic buildings along Broadway, Main Street and Grand Avenue. 

What about the tall, modern skyscrapers that gives L.A. its modern, worldly skyline?

Thomas H. Jordan, director of the SCEC, told the L.A. Downtown News in March 2011 that, “A 7.5 at Puente Hills would pretty much be a worst-case scenario for Downtown,” with shaking lasting more than a minute. Mr. Jordan says, “It’s conceivable that some of the high-rise buildings would collapse [...] A lot of the modern structures in Downtown are very well constructed, so it would take a very extreme event like [a 7.5] to really cause damage to those very well-constructed buildings.”

A major quake could also have a catastrophic affect on the older industrial neighborhoods just southeast of Downtown L.A.

Of course it needs to be noted that this fault crosses over major freeway and freeway interchanges, along with major railway lines and public transit lines. Chances are good that there will be some kind of damage to these lines in the event of a major earthquake.

Some may remember during the Northridge Earthquake railroad tracks actually bent in a few areas.

Of course, there are the fires that will likely break out, and the water-pipes that will burst.

One of the most dreadful worst case scenarios is a major earthquake occurring during the Santa Ana Winds.  

The study predicts total damage cost may come to $250 billion.

While a lot of the focus involving a major earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault has been focused on L.A. it is expected that Orange County will have severe damage with strong ground shaking expected in north Orange County. The M5.1 La Habra earthquake was hardly a dress rehearsal for what is expected in Orange County.

YouTube video created by USGS, SCEC and San Diego Super Computer Center showing the shaking expected from a major Puente Hills Fault earthquake. No copyright infringement intended; shown for educational purposes only. 

Not to be left out the Inland Empire is expected to receive strong shaking and some severe damage, particularly in southwestern San Bernardino County.

So, all around when you get right down to it just how bad will a major Puente Hills Fault earthquake be? Well, there is only really one way to find out, and that is when Mother Nature decides to show us. 

When Will Mother Nature Decide To Let Us Know?

Well, according to USGS researcher Ned Field, the lead author of the SCEC-USC study, a major rupture on the Puente Hills Fault occurs about once every 3,000 years. "In fact," says Mr. Field in the study, "as an individual your odds of dying of a heart attack or an auto accident are much greater than dying from this earthquake." 

If you are like most Southern Californians chances are when you hear that number you probably think there is not anything to worry about, because 3,000 years is a long way away. Well, here is the bad news, geologists and seismologists are not too sure where they are at in the cycle, such as if we are maybe 2,800 years away from the fault rupturing, or one month away from the fault rupturing.

Aside from knowing when the fault ruptures the SCEC-USC study found that the Puente Hills Fault has ruptured at least four times in the last 11,000 years, with earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 7.2 to 7.5. 

It should be clear by now even if the next major rupture is a couple thousand years away the Puente Hills Fault is going to cause some problems for us in the years to come. 

It is worth noting that in the same March 2011 L.A. Downtown News story Mr. Jordan points out the San Andreas Fault is still a bigger threat to the area, because earthquakes there happen about every 100 to 200 years. 

The last major San Andreas' rupture in our area was the M7.9 1857 Fort Tejon Earthquake, which rupture along 225 miles of the San Andreas Fault beginning near Parkfield and rupturing south to the Cajon Pass.

The last major southern rupture of the San Andreas Fault between the Cajon Pass and the Salton Sea is believed to have occurred around 1690.

Why Does It Seem Like I Am Only Hearing About This Fault Now?

With such a dangerous fault running through Downtown L.A. you think you would of heard all about the Puente Hills Fault growing up or living in Southern California for many years. After all, at one point we have heard all about the San Andreas Fault, Newport-Inglewood Fault, Hollywood Fault, San Jacinto Fault, and Whittier Fault, among many others, but it seems like there has not been a lot said about this extraordinarily dangerous fault. 

You are not alone in thinking and believing you have only recently heard about the Puente Hills Fault, because it was just barely discovered in 1999, and it has taken a few years after that for officials to really understand the danger it poses. 

In the aftermath of the Northridge quake there was urgency among geologists and seismologists to attempt to find blind faults around Southern California.

So Do All These Recent Quakes Mean We're Going To Have a Big Quake?

The recent earthquakes in Orange County and L.A., along with the January 15 M4.4 shaker in Fontana, may simply mean, according to USGS, that Southern California is coming out of its "earthquake drought." 

As Doctor Lucy Jones from USGS has pointed out many times in various media interviews, following the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake the L.A. area, aside from the little jolt here and there, has been very seismologically quiet. It seems possible the 1992 Landers/Big Bear earthquakes along with the Northridge quake may have relieved stress for a time in Southern California, but now we may be reentering a seismologically active period in Southern California.

It Could Happen Anytime!

Whether it is preceded by a series of noticeable earthquakes, or no quakes at all, a major earthquake can occur anytime in Southern California. 

We all want a direct answer to the unknowable, and that is WHEN is a major earthquake going to happen? The direct answer to that is this, at this time there is no accurate way to predict earthquakes, and thus there is no way of knowing when a major earthquake is going to occur.

Just Be Prepared!

For a lot of people the above answer is not the one they want to hear, but it is the only answer available. So, all we can do is prepare and have a plan in place when it does happen.

Resources To Help You Prepare

Prepare SoCal from The American Red Cross

Ready L.A. - City of L.A. Emergency Preparedness 

Los Angeles County - Emergency Preparedness

Ready O.C. - Orange County Emergency Preparedness 

San Bernardino County - Emergency Preparedness 

Riverside County Fire Department - Emergency Management

Ready Ventura County - Emergency Management  

San Diego County - Emergency Preparedness

Cal-OES - California Governor's Office of Emergency Services

Tips on Preparing an Emergency Kit from Ready.Gov

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Songs of Southern California: Mix Tape #3

Now is time for songs of Southern California, mix tape #3.

X - Los Angeles

The Beatles - Blue Jay Way

Jan and Dean - The Little Old Lady From Pasadena

The Trade Winds - New York's A Lonely Town - KRLA Version!

The Penguins - Memories of El Monte

Frank Zappa - San Ber'dino

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Seven More Facts About Knott's Berry Farm, and Then Some

BUENA PARK - Since there was such a big response to the five facts about Knott's Berry Farm post here are some more interesting facts about the park in Buena Park that (another) Walt built.

Hopefully this will help bring about some interest in Knott's Berry Farm's history, which, quite frankly, tends to get overlooked and overshadowed by the big mouse in Anaheim. All the blame of course cannot be on the mouse who lives on Harbor Boulevard as Knott's Berry Farm's current owners, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, have done more than a few things to erase the rich history Walter Knott and his family created.

For a lot of people who grew up in Southern California they have great memories of Knott's Berry Farm when it actually was a farm and free to get in, or exploring the jungle across the street, or perhaps dancing the night away at Studio K. 

While the Knotts' many of us grew up with has gone away we shall always have the memories. To maybe help with those memories here are seven interesting facts about the farm off La Palma Avenue and Beach Blvd. that you may or may not have known about.

1. Busy Beach Blvd. is still California State Route 39, but back in 1920 when the Knott family started their roadside stand the street they were on was known to many then simply as Highway 39. Walter Knott must have known that location is everything, because before Interstate 5 came into existence Highway 39 was the main artery between Los Angeles and Orange County.

2. One of the most beloved rides at Knott's Berry Farm that is no longer there, and has not been there for a very long time, is Knott's Bear-y Tales. Knott's Bear-y Tales was apart of the new Roaring 20s section that opened July 4, 1975, but Knott's Bear-y Tales was almost wiped out. An arsonist set fire to Bear-y Tales as it was under construction. The creators of the ride were able to recreate much of the ride designs in about six weeks, and all was well in Bear-y Tale land. The fire was believed to be the result of a nasty a union dispute. In 1987 Bear-y Tales was no more and became Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, and that ride closed in 2004. The former Bear-y Tales ride now stands empty. It remains unclear, at least publicly, if Cedar Fair will do anything with this empty building.

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Some Bears and kids in front of the Roaring '20s fountain. Circa 1978. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

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Some Bears going on Knott's Bear-y Tales. Circa 1978. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

3. Many people may remember Knott's Berry Farm used to have cable cars surrounding the parking lot. Did you know those were actual San Francisco cable cars that the Knott family bought from the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI). The cable cars ran around Knotts' until 1979, and two of the cable cars were returned to MUNI, and two other cable cars were sent to The Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris.

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Cable Cars at Knott's Berry Farm. Circa 1960. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

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Cable Cars at Knott's Berry Farm. Circa 1959. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

4. Now here is a not-so-fun fact that exemplifies the problems with Knott's Berry Farm's current owners. For decades visitors to Knotts' could see and feel the original berry stand Walter and Cordelia built that started it all. Well, in what is frankly an appalling decision, the stand was destroyed when Cedar Fair built the Silver Bullet roller coaster. (Why it was not moved to somewhere else in the park or even offered to a museum is unclear.) The original berry stand that started it all was not the only thing destroyed to make room for this roller coaster, the Inspiration Church was also a victim. Furthermore, also a victim of this "extreme" ride was the nighttime water light show as the lake has been totally drained.

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Cordelia and Walter Knott in front of the stand that started it all. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

5. One of the things that helped make Knott's Berry Farm a success was the boysenberry, be it boysenberry sauce, boysenberry jam or boysenberry punch. The boysenberry was created by Rudolph Boysen, and Mr. Boysen was the Anaheim City Park Superintendent from 1921 until 1950.

6. One of Knott's Berry Farm's most iconic rides that is still standing is the Timber Mountain Log Ride. The very first person to ride the Log Ride when it opened in 1969 was John Wayne. Of course when The Duke rode the ride it was not the Timber Mountain Log Ride, as it is known today, but was called the Calico Log Ride.  

7. Probably one of the most famous attractions at Knott's Berry Farm is Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken Restaurant. This began in 1934, and Cordelia Knott was not too keen on the idea of making fried chicken and serving it on their family's fine China. However the Great Depression was underway and the Knott's roadside stand was not always doing a brisk business, and so Mrs. Knott began, rather reluctantly, making and serving fried chicken to help make ends meet. It seemed to work out for the Knott family.

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The famous Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Circa 1955. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.  

Here are some things that are no longer apart of Knott's Berry Farm.

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Middletons Train Supply House and Toy Museum at Knott's Berry Farm. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives. 

The Cordelia K. out on the lake. The Cordelia K. is one piece of Knotts' that will never come back, because a few years back whoever Cedar Fair put in charged of moving the boat broke the Cordelia K. in half. 
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The Cordelia K., taking a ride out in the lake. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

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The Cordelia K. out on the lake along with train ride in the background. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Songs of Southern California: Mix Tape #2

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ANAHEIM - Many musical tunes have been written for and about Southern California, and here are a few of them.

Mel Blanc - Big Bear Lake (Yes, "The man of 1,000 Voices")

Mountain Goats - San Bernardino

Morcheeba - Coming Into Los Angeles

Little Girls - Earthquake Song

D.I. - I Hate Surfing in H.B.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Five Facts About Knott's Berry Farm

BUENA PARK - For many years it was thought of Disneyland's quirky, perhaps eccentric older brother with a museum, insects and science exhibits, but, to the chagrin of many, for well over ten years now Knott's Berry Farm has transformed into someplace resembling Six Flags Magic Mountain.

At least one museum inside the park still stands, as does the replica Independent Hall across the street, but the science exhibit building is gone, as is the place to checkout insects, along with other rides and attractions that made Knott's Berry Farm a unique place. If you have not been to Knott's Berry Farm in well over a decade you may be in for bit of a shock seeing the steel leg of a modern roller coaster in the middle of Ghost Town. It is becoming a shell of its former self as nowadays Knott's Berry Farm is a place more for thrill rides that you can find at many amusement park around the world rather than a place for offbeat, unique attractions.

What happened? Well, in the late 1990s the Knott family decided to put the Farm on the market. Disney was interested in buying the park, but the Knott family feared Disney would, well, dramatically "Disneyfy" the place, and so they refused to sell to Disney. An offer finally came through, and in 1997 Cedar Fair Entertainment Company bought Knott's Berry Farm for $94.5 million, and the Knott family acquired two million ownership shares in Cedar Fair.

Since Cedar Fair bought the park the Knott's Berry Farm many people in Southern California grew up with and remember has been fading away, and replaced with something that resembles a different park.

However quickly fading it may be Knott's Berry Farm is still a historical place with a fascinating history, and here are five things you may never have known about Knott's Berry Farm. 

1. There is something Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm have a common. Can you think of it? Well, both of their creators were named Walter! Walter Knott and, of course, Walt Disney. Though they were competitors Walter and Walt both greatly respected each other, visited each other's parks, shared some ideas, and sometimes shared employees. 

2. Knott's Berry Farm began as a very small roadside stand in 1920 along State Route 39 selling, but what else, berries, berry preserves and pies. Roadside stands selling such things were common in this era, but what made the Knott's roadside stand stick out was Walter Knott's wife Cordelia wrapping the berries up in nice, sometimes colorful plastic bags. In an era when mandated food safety standards were not quite en vogue having food wrapped up in a package gave it the appearance that it was sanitary, and thus a very big selling point. 

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The Knott family roadside stand along Highway 39 (still state route 39, but better known now as Beach Boulevard) circa 1927. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

3. Knott's Berry Farm was an actual farm (you probably knew that) and Walter Knott, with the help of George M. Darrow of the USDA, brought back to life some dying vines that Rudolph Boysen brought with him when he moved to Anaheim from Napa. These vines contained a hybrid of blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries. Knott brought these vines back to life at the little farm in Buena Park, began selling them in 1932, and they became a big hit. The story goes Knott was asked what they were and he said, "Boysenberries." 

4. Walter Knott was a Southern Californian from birth to death. Knott was born in San Bernardino on December 11, 1889, raised in Pomona, and passed on in Buena Park on December 3, 1981 (and no, Walter did not die at Knott's Berry Farm). 

5. On the way to Las Vegas, just a little ways past Barstow, you have probably noticed, and probably visited, the old ghost town of Calico. There was a time in the 1930s and 1940s the old ghost town was falling apart, but of course in that time period there were some other pressing concerns. Well, as the post-war years set in come 1951 Knott bought the town of Calico and restored the old buildings. By 1966 Knott donated Calico to San Bernardino County, and shortly there after it became apart of the San Bernardino Regional Park system. Knott was familiar with Calico, because in 1915 while living in nearby Newberry Springs with his wife Knott helped build a new gold cyanidation plant in Calico. It is probably a safe bet that Calico was a major inspiration for Walter Knott and the park he would create. 

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Knotts' as many of us remember it. A 1985 Knott's Berry Farm map. Author's collection; no copyright infringement intended.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four Tunes About Southern California: Mix Tape #1

ANAHEIM - There are over ten million stories in Southern California, and here are four of them wrapped up in music.

Rilo Kiley - Glendora

Manic Hispanic - East Los Angeles

Rikk Agnew - OC Life

Thee Midniters - Whittier Blvd.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Did You Feel It? A 4.4 Earthquake Shakes L.A.

ENCINO - The largest earthquake to occur within the city of Los Angeles since the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake shook the city and much of Southern California at 6:25 a.m. Monday when a magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck in the Santa Monica Mountains in the Sepulveda Pass.

The United States Geological Survey put the epicenter about two miles south-southeast of Encino. USGS officials at the California Institution of Technology, or as most of us know it, Caltech, say this is the strongest earthquake to occur in the Santa Monica Mountains on record, which only go back to 80 years when earthquakes were first recorded in that area. 

There have been some small aftershocks, mostly micro-quakes, which is to be expected. Caltech says Monday's earthquake is following the typical pattern of Southern California earthquakes with the mainshock and aftershocks.

As would be expected there was no serious damage, but there was some light property damage with items falling off shelves. There have been no reports of any injuries. Typically when you get into the magnitude 5 range that is when you start seeing serious property damage, like windows shattering and larger items being thrown about. Also older structures tend to sustain damage, sometimes serious damage, particularly with a quake in the upper M5 range. When you get into the magnitude 6 range with a quake that occurs under an urban area that is when you begin to see serious structural damage, even in a place like Southern California.

So far, as of this writing, no earthquake fault has been assigned to this earthquake. Earlier on Monday seismologists suggested this quake could be on an unknown fault in the Santa Monica Mountains. There are several fault lines near the epicenter of this quake, including the Santa Monica Fault.

In the first five-to-six hours after the M4.4 quake there is a five-percent chance of a larger earthquake occurring. That goes down to about one-percent of a larger quake occurring within the next three days. Historically a larger earthquake happening after a smaller jolt has been rare in Southern California.

Prior to Monday's earthquake the last large earthquake to occur within the the city of L.A. was on September 9, 2001 when a magnitude 4.2 hit near West Hollywood, which USGS believes was on the Newport-Inglewood Fault. 

The last significant earthquake in the L.A. basin was on May 17, 2009 when a M4.7 quake struck in Inglewood causing minor property damage. Seismologists believe this quake is consistent with slip on the Newport-Inglewood Fault.  

The last magnitude 5+ earthquake in the L.A. metro area was the 2008 M5.5 Chino Hills Earthquake.

Seismologists have described L.A. and Southern California as being in an "earthquake drought," where typically the L.A. area should have on average a M4+ once a year. Caltech says they will have to wait many months to see if this is the beginning of Southern California coming out of its "earthquake drought."

In the last year and a half there have been a series of minor jolts in the Marina Del Rey area. USGS officials at Caltech are not sure if Monday's earthquake and those quakes are related. Seismologists say quake clusters are not typical for Southern California. Again, officials stress, there is no telling what those Marina Del Rey quakes may mean, if anything.

It is worth noting that on March 9 there was a M6.8 earthquake off the Northern California coast about 50 miles west of Eureka. That quake, however, is much to far away to be associated with Monday's quake.

Around social media, and on television, some people have been suggesting, or outright claiming, this morning's earthquake was caused by the full moon or it is "earthquake weather." Many studies conducted by USGS and other agencies around the world have shown and proven many times over there is no such thing as earthquake weather. Furthermore those same agencies have shown there has been no correlation and causation between full moons and earthquakes.

Bottom line, there is no way to predict earthquakes at this time. The only earthquakes that can be predicted are aftershocks, and USGS officials believe there will be small aftershocks in the next few days from this Encino earthquake. 

All you can do is be prepared.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Reality Land of Disneyland on OCTA Route 43 Land

ANAHEIM - Walking about any day and time in the Disneyland Resort you will see shining, happy "cast members," as Disneyland employees are called in Disney-speak. Over the years more that a few people have wondered and mused if these cast members are even human with their super smiling faces and always over-the-top cheerful attitude.

There is one place you can find the answer if Disneyland employees are actually human. To see behind the Mickey Mouse veneer of these overly happy cast members it is highly suggested you ride Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) bus route 43.

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OCTA bus route 43 that carries dozens upon dozens Disneyland cast members as seen at the Fullerton Transportation Center. No copyright infringement intended. 

Stepping onto the accordion looking bus you will notice the "Disney magic" quickly disappear, and you see a different look on the cast member faces, all while wearing their "costumes." You will see the magic of wore out, but loving mothers trying to make ends meet on a Mickey Mouse wage. You will see the college student who was promised an exciting, fantastic job, only to wonder what they are doing working in the parking lot.

Almost anytime of the day or night on the bus going all over Harbor Boulevard you will see Disneyland "cast members" that are not quite what is portrayed in Disney video and print promos of super-duper happy cast members. Rather, just an eerie feeling falls on the badly florescent lit OCTA bus. A lot of cast members stare out of the bus window as if wondering what lays beyond Walt's gate. As the cast members board the bus in their various "costumes" each cast member gives each other a blank dismal nod.

At Harbor Blvd. and Broadway in Anaheim a large group of young cast members depart the bus. This is not unusual as just down the street at Broadway and Anaheim Blvd. are the dorms for Disney's College Program.

If you want to be apart of Disney's College Program and have wanted to work at Disneyland, but live well outside the area, like maybe out of state, the mouse provides housing. The housing is like a dorm with multiple roommates, and it comes out of the cast member's magical paycheck. The jobs most these Disney College Program cast members hold are what the regular cast members hold, like ride operator, parking lot attendant, working in the kitchen, running the cash register and selling the Mickey Mouse hats. Riding on OCTA route 43 you see the program members who have looks of confusion on their face with a hint of depression.

Late night riding on OCTA route 43 you see the other cast members that are typically hidden from the public. These are not the ride operators or those working the shops on Main Street, U.S.A., but rather these are the people who keep the grass green, the Mickey Mouse flower garden that greet the visitors in front of the train station fresh and pretty, and the people who keep the dishes clean while the sun is down. These are the people who replace the twinkling lights all over the park during the overnight hours, replace all the grass, flowers and plants that might slightly give any hint that they may be changing colors; these are the people prepping food and washing dishes for tomorrow's "show." It is these cast members who ride the bus when the sun is down, who work all night and take the bus back home when the sun is rising.

Route 43 on the OCTA bus exposes a different side of Disneyland. Riding this bus amid the Disneyland workers exposes something the mouse tries to hide, a very human side to the operation. These are people maybe working one job at Disneyland and going home just to get ready to work at another job. These are people who have a family to support. Perhaps they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and having to use what limited energy they have to put on that smile and "show" for those at Disneyland.

If it seems like there is a lot of frustration and not-so-Disney like energy suddenly being released on the bus there is a reason for that.

Some of these cast members know if they let a moment of their reality slip in and show it on their face they could get in trouble. For Disneyland has people on their payroll who go undercover as guests to observed and interact with the cast members. Should there be anything these undercover agents do not like or simply disapprove of these agents report it to management. Then, making what is already a stressful day dealing with the public even more stressful, one of Disneyland's many managers now needs to "talk to you," and as a result there is now a formal reprimand on the cast member's record.

Maybe you see the stressed out faces of a cast member on route 43, because they had to stay home a few extra minutes to take care of an ill child. Now the person is running a few minutes late and "points" are going to be added to this cast member's record. "Points" is Disneyland's puerile system to punish those that are late to work, or call in and not able to make it to work. Get too many points and you are fired. Yes, sometimes people are late due to bad time management and bad decisions, but other times people have legitimate reasons for being late, like having to take their child to the doctor, or not able to find a sitter.

Mine you Disneyland has a clock in-clock out system, and if you are just one minute late you will now have "points" on your record. If you are just a minute or two late you cannot just clock in, but rather the cast member has to go through Disneyland's Kafkaesque management system to get it reported and cleared.

These are some of the stories the faces and the overheard telephone conversations tell, all aboard OCTA bus route 43.

Welcome to reality-land where the working class and deceived college students riding the bus up and down Harbor Blvd. keep the billion-dollar factory in Anaheim running and the shareholders in Burbank and New York happy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Confessions: Secrets of The Local Newsroom

LOS ANGELES - So you are watching the news, or maybe have it on as background noise, and suddenly you hear that jarring end of the World breaking news jingle and a for a few seconds your full attention is to the television, or radio. Other times, and less dramatically, you will hear the anchor say, "This just coming into the newsroom." Well, have you ever wondered just how Southern California newsrooms hear and learn about most of the news that they report to you?

Whether you watch channel 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 22, 34, 52 or 62, listen to 1070 AM or 89.3 FM, or read certain articles in local newspapers, here is a secret as to where local Southern California newsrooms obtains most of its news leads.

While our local news organizations have a lot of original reporting what a lot of readers and viewers probably do not know is our newsrooms receive most of their news leads from two sources, City News Service and Metro Networks.

City News Service is the better known of the two and in local media circles is known as CNS (this CNS is not to be confused with a separate website called CNSNews as the two are not related).

Here is how most local news gets to the newsroom. It starts with CNS sending out what amounts these days to be a glorified instant message to the newsroom that, for example, a fire is burning a commercial building at 3333 Magnolia Avenue in Burbank, or a major court verdict is about to be announced, or a bomb threat has been reported at L.A. City Hall.

A lot of times breaking news or developing news comes into CNS by scanner, and often when they send the first report to the newsroom it is accompanied by the words atop of the report, "NOT FOR PUBLICATION, BROADCAST OR DISTRIBUTION."

Often these are the first scanner reports CNS passes to the newsroom. At that point what is suppose to happen despite CNS' bold statement not to broadcast it, provided the newsroom has not been gutted in the name of budget cuts, is the person at the news desk, which could be the producer or editor (sometimes even the intern), calls the proper agency, like Los Angeles Police for example, and confirm the report, and if it is confirmed to try to get some more information, and sometimes, depending on the media outlet, get the official on-the-air right away. Ideally CNS is suppose to quickly send a follow-up either confirming the incident is true with more information, and that it is allowed for distribution, or that it is nothing, and maybe even a false call.

Of course if you are an on the ball producer/editor, or an intern showing great initiative, you call the LAPD Watch Commander thinking you have a great lead for the 4 o'clock news and urgently inquire about the information CNS just sent only to be told by the LAPD Watch Commander that they have no idea what you are talking about. You read verbatim to the officer what CNS sent you, and you hear the Watch Commander clicking through the computer, and still the Watch Commander has no idea what you are going on about. You say, "Thank you" to the Watch Commander, and hang up. You feel annoyed, but in keeping your cool you telephone CNS and let them know nothing is up. Then amid the normal chaos in the newsroom you discover CNS sends out a correction that made you look foolish with the LAPD Watch Commander, and you note it only took CNS a hour to send the correction.

This is one way developing and breaking news is sent to the newsroom. Other times throughout the day CNS will send information that other local news organizations are reporting.

Aside from breaking news events there are planned events throughout the week in Southern California that are often covered by local media.

Ever wonder how local newsrooms know when certain events are happening, like what day somebody will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or what day the LAPD will honor certain officers, or when Metrolink holds a rail safety campaign, or when a high school holds a special event? Well, CNS sends what is called "The Budget" to the newsrooms. Despite the name "The Budget" has absolutely nothing to do with money, but its an old newspaper saying as "budget" means the budgeting or allocation of space in a newspaper. The CNS budget gives leads to local newsrooms, and in these budget leads are contact numbers for the reporter or producer.

For example, here is a typical CNS budget (The following events, names and telephone numbers in this example are completely fictitious):

By City News Service

8:30 a.m. ANAHEIM - Anaheim High School students to be honored by Anaheim Police, and the state's department of education. 123 w. Lincoln Ave. Contact: Jim Jimbo, Anaheim High School Affairs Program, (714) 555-5555; Bob Smith, Anaheim PD PIO, (714) 555-5555.

9 a.m. FULLERTON - Jury verdict is expected in the trial of Bobby Robert, who is accused of fatally shooting a man during a birthday party in Anaheim. Dept. C34, Central Justice Center, 700 W. Civic Center Drive. Contact: (714) 555-5555.

In addition to providing breaking news and leads CNS provides full stories much like the Associated Press and Reuters. Some newspapers and broadcast news websites put the full CNS story on their website with full credit to the wire service. Other times certain media outlets take some liberties with the full CNS story adding or deleting paragraphs and giving no credit to CNS.

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Old AP teletype machine; date unknown. Along with AP and Reuters before they moved to computers to send news CNS also used the teletype machine. Shown for historic and educational purposes; no copyright infringement intended.

Now CNS is nothing new as it has been apart of the local newsroom landscape for many decades, and CNS for a very long time was the equivalent of Twitter news feeds for many newsrooms.

Many Twitter feeds of police, fire departments and other officials, along with reader's and viewer's Twitter feeds, in addition to local blogs and micro-local blogs, have made news gathering maybe a little less reliant on CNS. However CNS is still, and will be for sometime, the dominate local news wire and news sharing service. 

On that note, CNS has been sharing and reporting news reported on certain blogs in recent times.

A service like CNS is nothing unique to Southern California as other major markets, like New York and San Francisco, have similar news sharing services like CNS. 

Now you know a little bit how news gets to the newsroom. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

On This Date: The 1933 Long Beach Earthquake

LONG BEACH - On Sunday night a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck about 50 miles west of Eureka in the Pacific Ocean, according to the United States Geological Survey, and it was felt throughout much of the Northern California and southern Oregon. With this earthquake being some distance from land there was not much damage.

Sunday night's earthquake struck at 10:18 p.m., and was under a couple hours shy of occurring on March 10, which is the anniversary of a much less powerful earthquake that also had an epicenter in the Pacific Ocean, but caused much severe damage.

On March 10, 1933, at 5:54 p.m. with a magnitude 6.4 the deadliest earthquake in Southern California history on record hit resulting in 120 reported deaths and caused, in 2014 dollars, $899,676,923 worth of damage.

Commonly referred to as the Long Beach Earthquake, as damage was great in Long Beach and Compton with many collapsed buildings, the epicenter of this earthquake was actually about a mile west of Newport Beach in the Pacific Ocean.

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Aftermath of the 1933 earthquake along Main Street in Compton.  No copyright infringement intended; shown for historic and educational purposes only.   

As Carey McWilliams would point out, many boosters and chamber of commerce types often sold Southern California, aside from being the land of sunshine and oranges, as a place where big earthquakes do not ever happen, despite the fact that within the last 34 years leading up to 1933 there were at least three notable earthquakes in Southern California. Of course much of the same was said and done in San Francisco before and after the 1906 earthquake with their boosters claiming it was just a great fire that destroyed most of San Francisco in 1906 and ignoring large quakes in the Bay Area prior to 1906.

Nonetheless this earthquake was really the first event that brought to light many hazards and potential hazards earthquakes pose to modern Southern California.

With so many collapsed buildings the most important thing to come from the 1933 earthquake was a piece of legislation called, The Field Act. The Field Act was the first major piece of legislation that mandated earthquake resistant construction, which was specifically aimed for schools. When this earthquake struck many schools collapsed due mainly to unreinforced masonry construction, and, as has been pointed out many times over and still worth repeating, had this earthquake struck just a few hours earlier many, perhaps hundreds, of school children likely would have perished. Records show at least 250 schools were destroyed in this earthquake.

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Severe damage at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Long Beach as a result of the 1933 earthquake. No copyright infringement intended; shown for historic and educational purposes only.

The 1933 earthquake then and now vividly shows the dangers the Newport-Inglewood Fault poses to the Los Angeles basin. Many geologists and seismologists believe this fault can produce a magnitude 7.4 earthquake, and that such a major event on this fault could be much worse in terms of damage and casualties in L.A. and Orange County than perhaps an event on the San Andreas Fault.

With its epicenter just off the coast in Newport Beach this quake still holds the record as being the most deadly and damaging earthquake in Orange County history with major damage in Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Anaheim.

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Damage to a Santa Ana building as a result of the 1933 earthquake. No copyright infringement intended; shown for historic and educational purposes only.   

Historic film footage of the aftermath of the Long Beach Earthquake. No copyright infringement intended; shown for historic and educational purposes only.

A very important lesson we should all take from this earthquake is that it should dispel the myth that big earthquakes in Southern California only occur in the middle of the night or early morning. For anybody who grew up or lived in the Southern California for the past 25-plus years probably know that our major earthquakes have occurred during the early morning hours, and this has lead some people to believe big quakes only hit around that time. As USGS and other scientists have stressed many times over, it is simply luck that Southern California's recent large earthquakes have hit in the early morning. Seismologists and emergency planners stress that a major earthquake could hit at anytime, as this one did in 1933 at 5:54 p.m.

As old photographs show the Southern California coast, particularly in the Huntington Beach area, used to be dotted with oil wells. It was reported about two hours before the earthquake the pressure in Huntington Beach oil wells dropped. Geologists and seismologists have studied pressure drops in oil wells before and after earthquakes, but however at this time the whole correlation and causation of pressure drops and earthquakes has not added up, so to speak.

It would not be until the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake that the L.A. basin would experience its next damaging and deadly earthquake, and not until the 1952 Kern County Earthquakes that California would have its next damaging and deadly earthquake.

The Newport-Inglewood Fault is still highly active, and was likely responsible for the May 17, 2009 M4.7 earthquake near Inglewood. This fault may possibly be responsible for the series of minor earthquakes in and around the Marina Del Rey area within the last year and a half.

In very modern times the Newport-Inglewood Fault made it presence known in Orange County when on April 7, 1989 a M4.7 occurred right under Newport Beach. That quake caused items to fall off shelves at the Newport Beach Fashion Center and other such property damage around Orange County. It was the last notable sized earthquake in Orange County.

There is that whole thing about history and learning from the past, and not repeating it. Sometimes earthquakes have a tendency to strike the same area twice or more and that cannot be helped, but to avoid mistakes of the past we can all be prepared.

The 1933 earthquake shows big quakes can hit in the middle of rush hour, and an earthquake of this size with its Newport Beach epicenter can and likely will cause damage in the L.A. and O.C. metro area. Any time an earthquake at or above magnitude 6 hits in an urban area that is when you can expect damage, even in an area that is suppose to be "built" to resist quake damage.

As we always do when we talk about earthquakes on this site we stress the importance of being prepared, and remember, that at this time there is no way to predict earthquakes.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quick Take: Six Odd and Fun Facts About San Bernardino County

COLTON - If you are a regular driver between Southern California and Las Vegas you probably think San Bernardino County is a very large county. Of course you would be right, because that county in the Inland Empire is the largest county within the lower 48 states. Its record was beat with the admission of Alaska as a state, which has a much larger county. Perhaps you knew that already, but here are six odd and fun facts you may not have known about San Bernardino County.

1. The Rolling Stones played their first U.S. concert at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino with The Everly Brothers as the opening act.

2. Near where current day Colton is there was once a town called Aqua Mansa, which was, for a time, the largest town between Los Angeles and New Mexico. It is a very significant place with its roots going back to Californio days. Its residents included the Wilson family and family member Don Benito Wilson. That Mr. Wilson is better known as Benjamin David Wilson who would go on to be the second elected Mayor of L.A., and whom Mount Wilson is named after.

3. Future Vice-President and President Lyndon B. Johnson once worked as an elevator operator at a San Bernardino building in 1925. During a 1964 reelection campaign stop in San Bernardino LBJ returned to that building, known as the Platt Building, to operate the elevator once more in front of a few cameras. 

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Platt Building in San Bernardino. Date and photograph author unknown. No copyright infringement intended; shown for educational and historic purposes only. 

4. The oldest Jewish cemetery in Southern California is in San Bernardino.

5. The last two magnitude 7-plus earthquakes in California were in San Bernardino County. Those quakes are, the 1992 Landers Earthquake and the 1999 Hector Mine Earthquake

6. The San Bernardino Sun has been for many decades, and continues to be, the dominate newspaper in the San Bernardino area. Back in the 1960s the Los Angeles Times' then parent company Times-Mirror made an attempt to buy The Sun, but federal government antitrust officials were not too keen on the idea and thus no sale. Today The Sun is apart of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which includes, the L.A. Daily News, and Daily Bulletin, Pasadena Star-News, among other Southern California newspapers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Quick Take: Three Fun Facts About OC

ANAHEIM - Here are three quick interesting facts about Orange County you may or may not have known.

1. The name Anaheim is a fusion of two names: Heim, which is the German and Norwegian for home, and Ana, which was short for Santa Ana River. Perhaps at the first town meeting with the German settlers and winemakers from San Francisco it may have gone like this: "There's a river over there the locals call Santa Ana. Heim. Ana. Ana. Heim. Anaheim!"

2. Ever maybe notice Balboa Boulevard in the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach kind of looks like it almost should have some kind a light rail running in the middle of the street? Well, once upon a time it actually did, the Pacific Electric ran a trolley down the middle of that street to the bay. That line was originally constructed by Los Angeles Inter-Urban Electric Railway, but PE took it over in July 1908. The railway was a big boom to the then quiet peninsula.

3. In 1933 the deadest earthquake in Southern California on record occurred, and it is commonly referred to as The Long Beach Earthquake, which resulted in 120 reported deaths. There was indeed great damage in Long Beach and Compton, but the epicenter was actually just off the coast in Newport Beach along the Newport-Inglewood Fault. This earthquake was also the most damaging earthquake in Orange County history with major damage in Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Anaheim.

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Damage to a Santa Ana building as a result of the 1933 earthquake. No copyright infringement intended; shown for historic and educational purposes only.   

Guess What! L.A. Has Bad Traffic

SOMEWHERE ON THE 101 IN HOLLYWOOD - In stunning news to absolutely no one Los Angeles has been rated the worst place with traffic in the United States, according to a new study released by traffic analysis site Inrix.

There is a reason the Santa Monica Freeway in the past has been ranked the country's busiest freeway by the Guinness Book of World Records. According to Inrix's data, Interstate 10 between Alameda Street in downtown L.A. and 20th Street in Santa Monica has the worst traffic jam in all of L.A. 

Now all we need is a study showing L.A. has no NFL team.