This may be the first aerial photo of LA

first-aerial-la.jpgThis photograph of the fledgling town of Los Angeles apparently was taken from a hot-air balloon in 1887, part of a stunt by William Randolph Hearst and his San Francisco Examiner. Nathan Masters explains at Los Angeles Magazine's website:

Floating 9,000 feet above the city in a hot-air balloon, photographer Edwin H. Husher tilted his camera over the basket’s edge and captured thirteen views of Los Angeles.

Husher’s voyage was part of an elaborate publicity stunt orchestrated by the San Francisco Examiner and its new owner, William Randolph Hearst. Though designed to sell advertising—and to top a similar hot-air balloon stunt by Hearst’s archrival Joseph Pulitzer—the event injected extra excitement into a booming city teeming with real-estate boosters and instant millionaires. On the afternoon of June 26, 1887, residents clambered up hills and onto rooftops for a glimpse of the air balloon, and a special excursion train brought onlookers from as far as San Bernardino. To entertain crowds gathered around the takeoff site, a team of local ballplayers hosted the San Luis Obispo nine at the Sixth-Street Baseball Park....

The four-hour flight was not without incident. Disaster nearly struck when the aeronauts encountered turbulence over the Santa Monica Mountains, and when the balloon finally came to rest in the San Fernando Valley, it touched down on a cactus patch.

Read the rest. Hearst is connected more commonly with Northern California and New York, but his fingerprints are all over the history of Los Angeles. For instance, he's the reason that Westlake Park is known today as MacArthur Park — Hearst wanted to promote adulation for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his presidential aspirations. Hearst's man at City Hall took care of it while the residents of the Westlake district weren't watching.

Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent History stories on LA Observed:
Olde-time L.A. journalism
Bimini Baths in 1927
Vivid memories of the Ambassador Hotel, RFK and Donald Trump
Charles Manson dies 48 years after the murders that changed LA
Kevin Starr, 76, the historian of California
Winter solstice cave pictograph at Burro Flats
Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon
LA's first presidential election was different