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Cities During the Progressive Era
General Comments on the Progress of Los Angeles

Jackson A. Graves (1852-1933) and his family left Iowa in 1857 and settled in San Mateo, California. Graves moved to Los Angeles in 1875 and became one of the city's leading attorneys and bankers. My Seventy Years in California (1927), a book in California As I Saw It: First Person Narratives, 1849-1900, covers a number of topics--Democratic Party politics, the position of Hispanic citizens, conflicting land claims, railroad interests, social life, and farming. After 1904, Graves's professional life centered on his work as a bank executive for the Farmers & Merchants Bank. What about the excerpt below makes it appear "progressive" in its attitudes and outlook? What are Graves's attitudes toward professional sports and other forms of recreation?

View the Book Navigator for My Seventy Years in California. The excerpt was taken from Chapter 57. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

IT WOULD take many volumes to trace with accuracy the growth of Los Angeles from 1900 to the present time. An increase in population, during that period, from 100,000 to 1,200,000, tells the tale. Such a history would necessitate the recording of many new individuals, firms and corporations, which have engaged in business here; a description of our electric and steam railroad developments; an enumeration of the business blocks, apartment houses, hotels and factories erected; an account of the development of electrical energy; a history of municipal water and power development, including grave mistakes made therein and petty politics played; a memorandum of lands subdivided, of dwelling-houses built, and of country homes, on a palatial style, established; the rise and progress of the movie industry, including its scandals, debaucheries, murders, assassinations, suicides and divorce proceedings; the development of our oil resources; the growth of the automobile industry to unbelievable proportions; the increase in our banking facilities, including the inauguration of branch banks and the exploitation of the office of State Bank Commissioner for the benefit of individual banks, making, as it were, a political football of that official position; the rise and extraordinary increase in the tourist business; the construction of our harbor at San Pedro, and great increase in the volume of our ocean-going commerce; the rise and fall of local political demagogues, who, after abusing a little brief authority, have faded away into well-merited obscurity; the part Los Angeles played in the World War; the account of the valiant services rendered this community by the Los Angeles Daily Times , in always fighting for our best interests and against the assaults of labor-unionism, and in constantly showing up the evils of the direct primary system, and in ever voicing a program for the upbuilding and advancement, not only of this community, but of the whole State of California and the nation at large; the growth of our social institutions, including the part taken therein by women's clubs; the vast increase in the number of our houses of worship and public school facilities; and the effects, good and bad, of prohibition. It is enough to state that, from the small beginning of even 1900, we have progressed to our present marvelous position. No thinking person believes that the end is at hand. There is every evidence that there will be as great a development in the resources of this country, in higher ideals of government, and in everything that makes life worth living, here in Los Angeles, as in any other quarter of the country.

The world has made more progress, during the seventy-five years of my life, than in all of the centuries that passed before I was born.

The preceding years were all in preparation for what has since occurred. Man's present knowledge and ingenuity have been centuries in the making. The development which has occurred in the arts and sciences, in the mechanical world, in inventions, discoveries, and the application of scientific principles to the varied affairs of life, have come about gradually. They have resulted from the better education and training of the masses, as well as from constantly increasing opportunities. One invention has led to another, until we are astounded at the perfection of the automobile, the telescope, the microscope, the telephone, wireless telegraphy, the flying machine, and the thousand and one things that have contributed to the advancement as well as to the comfort of the human race.

I realize that the part I have played in the world's affairs has been inconspicuous. I have always faced every situation that has confronted me, with fortitude. In the daily affairs of life, if there is any one thing above another that I have been conspicuous for, it has been action. I have never idled my time away. While others spent priceless hours at the two great American abominations, professional baseball and professional football, I was attending to business. I have never wasted my time at cards or other games of amusement. I am proud to say I have never disgraced my mother, my wife, my children or myself, by attending a prize fight. Seeing a prize fight would not, in itself, be so bad as mingling with the crowd which attends them. While some decent people are found in prize ring audiences, the bulk of the attendance is made up of the scum of the earth that no decent man should ever mingle with.
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View the Book Navigator for My Seventy Years in California. The excerpt was taken from Chapter 57. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.