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History mystery--photo detective

August 12, 2008 |  6:00 am

Spring Street, Main Street and Temple, Los Angeles, California

I was going through The Times' photos of Spring Street and became rather irked that someone labeled this image in grease pencil. This is the intersection of Main, Temple and Spring before Spring was realigned.   

A mysterious inscription
Then I noticed this inscription on the back. Most of it was illegible, but I could make out "demolished by runaway team." A mystery!

Mystery of old Los Angeles solved

Voila! The Newmark Fountain!
Los Angeles Times praises donor's generosity This dropcap is from Tarzan he Newmark Fountain was a minor landmark in downtown Los Angeles between  1882 and 1892. At left, The Times praised developer Harris Newmark &Co. for its generosity.

Driving cattle and sheep through the streets of Los Angeles may be banned

I love this 1882 story! The council tables a law to regulate driving cattle and sheep through the city.

Drinking fountain has naked woman

The fountain was 7 feet, 1 and 1/2 inches tall, topped by a "beautiful female figure."

Los Angeles firefighters pull prank on drinking fountain

Actually, it was a naked female figure, which prompted a prank by Los Angeles firefighters.
Drinking fountain destroyed in crash
In 1892, the fountain was destroyed in a spectacular accident in which a runaway team of four horses belonging to D.F. Donegan raced down Temple Street. One horse was killed instantly and another had to be shot, The Times said. D.F. Donegan was a major city contractor who owned a large stable that was often cited for poor conditions. The city tried to collect damages for the fountain and Donegan filed a counterclaim for the cost of the dead horses, saying that the fountain was an obstacle in the street.

In November 1893, Donegan finally agreed to replace the fountain. "It is a handsome piece of work and an ornament to the section of the city in which it is erected," The Times said.

Did the person who made the notation on the back of the photo actually witness the accident? We can only wonder.

Bonus fact: As far as I can determine, Sand Street vanished long ago, but intersected with Broadway north of Temple at the southern entrance of the Broadway tunnel, which has also disappeared.