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From the Archives: Hoover Dam lights up Los Angeles party

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From the Archives: Hoover Dam lights up Los Angeles party

On Oct. 9, 1936, electrical power generated at Hoover Dam arrived in Los Angeles. The city celebrated with floodlights and a parade on Broadway.

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Writer Thomas Treanor reported in the Oct. 10, 1936, Los Angeles Times:

Astride the power of 115,000 horses, with burning plumes outspread, the Giant of Hoover Dam Electricity rode into Los Angeles last night, casting a heretofore unseen and magnificent glare on more than 1,000,000 persons who crowded the downtown district from end to end.

Advertisement A tumult of yelling and whistling and screaming greeted the giant with an exuberance and spontaneous feeling that has not been observed since the demonstration the day the World War ended. …

On the site of the old Courthouse at Temple and Broadway, a platform had been erected. On the Courthouse grounds sat 10,000 persons in folding chairs.

Oct. 9, 1936: Opening ceremonies in Los Angeles included from left: California Gov. Frank F. Merriam, Elizabeth Scottergood, Louise Hepburn and John R. Haynes, chairman of the Boulder Power Inaugural Committee. The switch was used to start generators at Hoover Dam. (Los Angeles Times)

Advertisement The speakers had finished their speeches, the massed chorus had ended its song, and the prayer had been said, when the young woman — Miss Elizabeth Scattergood —stepped foreword.

She read for a moment in a choked voice, a simple little speech full of feeling. Then she reached out her finger and touched a key. There was a tense moment of quiet.

A sputtering sound as the northeast corner of the Courthouse grounds. Brilliant as an explosion, lavender light washed away the half-darkness. In a great wave it swept across to the City Hall, to the Federal Building and to the Hall of Justice and Hall of Records…


Oct. 9, 1936: Searchlights atop Los Angeles City Hall are lit up during the celebration of new electrical power arriving from Hoover Dam. This photo was published on page one of the Oct. 10, 1936, Los Angeles Times. A staff artist retouched portions of the right side of the photo. (Jack Herod/Los Angeles Times)

The day after this event, the Electrical Age Exposition opened a nine-day run at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. For the next 50 years, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison operated the Hoover Dam powerhouses. In 1987, the powerhouses were turned over to the Federal Bureau of Reclamation.

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Oct. 9, 1936: Parade on Broadway celebrating the opening of Hoover Dam. (Los Angeles Times) Advertisement

Oct. 9, 1936: Parade on Broadway. (Wide World Photo)

Oct. 9, 1936: City of Los Angeles float on Broadway during the parade. (Los Angeles Times)

Oct. 9, 1936: The crowd on Spring Street next to City Hall during the celebration. (Paul Calvert/Los Angeles Times) September 1936: Hoover Dam with its 12 enormous flood valves open. This photo was published in the Sep. 12, 1936, Los Angeles Times. This photo, released by Union Pacific Railroad, was taken from a Western Air Express — United Air Lines aircraft. (©Union Pacific Railroad)

1937 photo of four generators just installed in the Nevada wing of the Hoover Dam powerhouse that provide service to Los Angeles. This photo was published in the April 11, 1937, Los Angeles Times. (Bureau of Reclamation) Advertisement

For more, check out this Water and Power Associates website for a Construction of Hoover Dam photo gallery.

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This post originally was published on Oct. 5, 2013.

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