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Table of Contents

Explorations of the West
Sam Dalsheimer

Caitlin Goss
Nick Schradle
David Sena

Representations of
Native Americans

Richard Dybas
Amanda Leong
Cynthia Robertson

The Western Railroads
Ronni Toledo
Kayt Fitzmorris
Jon Ingram
David Halperin

The California
Gold Rush

Jordan Helle
Adam Lawrence
Marisa Pulcrano
Patrick Ryan

California as Western Destination/ Mediterranean Boosterism
Maddy Kiefer
Danielle Mantooth
Molly Nelson
Stefanie Ramsay

Other Online Exhibits

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, boosters marketed Southern California to residents of other states, purporting it to be a land of permanent vacation. Americans from the Midwest and the East were encouraged first to visit the wonderful land of California, and then eventually make permanent residence there. Charles F. Lummis edited two magazines that beautifully illustrate the ethos of the culture of boosterism.[more]

Land of Sunshine and Out West provided ready-made examples of the good life in California. Particularly interesting is the postcard provided by Land of Sunshine that could be sent to friends and families back home along with a subscription to the magazine. Lummis urged newly transplanted Californians to spread the message of boosterism to their Eastern friends by saying, “You have not forgotten them – the people you grew up with back in Ohio, or New York… they often speak of you and say, ‘He is out in Southern California now, making money hand over fist. Lucky fellow! I wish I were there.’” (13) Such blatant promotion is rampant in these magazines. The focus of this strategy was centered around several themes. These include quality of climate, abundance of agriculture, romanticization of California’s mission history, and the real estate boom of Hollywood. The following essays discuss these aspects of California boosterism in more depth.

Lummis, Charles F. Land of Sunshine. Land of Sunshine Publishing   Co., June 1894: 13.

Land of Sunshine, article: “The Orange in Southern California” – Volume II, No. 4, March 1894

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- Maddy Kiefer

Horace Edwards’ article, “The Orange in Southern California,” boasts the extreme success of the orange in the Golden State, attempting to prove to the rest of the country that this seemingly insignificant attribute was reason enough to relocate to California. He explains that “Orange-growing is undoubtedly the most important horticultural industry in Southern California,” and describes it as the “undisputed king” of the agriculture industry (Edwards, 67). He appeals to easterners by insisting that, “To those brought up in the bleak and wintry East, orange-growing has always a deep fascination,” and that they find no greater joy than when they have the chance to visit a California orange grove (Edwards, 67). Easterners frequently express a desire “to pick an orange from the tree ‘with their own hands,’” as there is no other fruit with “such a halo of romance” (Edwards, 67).
When reading advertisements in Land of Sunshine, it is apparent that the various ads were generated to appeal to different demographics, each of them presenting varying aspects of the culture and opportunities that California provided. The agricultural aspect, seen in this article, is appealing to many Midwestern farmers, reassuring them that they could continue their farming work even out west, and romanticizing the experience of having an orange grove. In contrast, other ads and articles boost the civilization and metropolis that can be found in California.

However, many of these advertisements are misleading. This article fails to mention California’s largely engineered environment, and only briefly points out that oranges, despite not being native to the state, can only grow there because of the engineering of the land (Edwards, 67). It also doesn’t mention the remoteness of Los Angeles from the rest of American civilization – once Midwesterners would move that far west, they would seldom be able to go back home, and they would be in a large region that had few developed cities.
Horace Edwards briefly mentions the lack of accessible water in Southern California, which is often omitted from other ads, and discusses the commitment necessary to be a successful orange grower. Oranges need moisture to thrive, which can only be supplied by irrigation. Therefore, it is important for farmers to recognize this initial money and energy. Although this may seem like an inconvenience, it is actually a blessing in disguise (according to Edwards). One needs to be entirely committed to caring for the groves, so it is not a job to be taken up lightly. Orange groves can only be successful “where the greatest care had been taken in cultivating, picking, packing and shipping” (Edwards, 68). Although Edwards mentions these necessary qualities, he only mentions it in a positive light. He doesn’t describe the extent to which one must be committed, such as the labor, equipment, wealth, and patience that are required. He also fails to admit that only a handful of orange growers can be successful; there was not an extraordinarily large amount of demand for oranges at this time. When examining articles, such as this one, it becomes obvious that magazines like Land of Sunshine were attempting to appeal to many different demographics, and therefore tended to omit many crucial qualities of true California living.

Edwards, Horace. “The Orange in Southern California.” Land of Sunshine, March 1894, 67-68.

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Land of Sunshine, article: “Some Characteristics of the Southern California Climate” - Volume II, No. 1, Dec. 1894

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- Danielle Mantooth

"Mediterraneanism and the Southern California Climate"
One of the ways in which Southern California was marketed to residents of the Eastern and Mid-Western states was in terms of its climate. Essential to this promotion was the concept of Mediterraneanism. Mediterraneanism asserted that Southern California would grow into a society of importance because of its climate. Just as Rome and Athens had become influential centers, so would Southern California, simply because they shared the same climatic characteristics. Thus, the particular weather of Southern California became a central focus of boosterism for the state.

The magazine Land of Sunshine made blatant and copious references to the sublime climate of California. A photograph on the cover of the December 1894 edition shows a winter landscape in California. Instead of snowdrifts, rosebushes in bloom and sunshine are featured. This photo represents the broader thesis of Southern California boosterism. Americans from other states should travel to California in search of a welcome respite from the brutal winters they have experienced elsewhere, and eventually make a permanent move to this land of eternal sun. Further discussion of the merits of the Mediterranean climate can be found in an article written for the magazine in 1894 by Horace Edwards entitled “Some characteristics of the Southern California Climate.” Edwards wrote that the region “possesses a distinctive climate, considered by Southern Californians a trifle superior to any other on earth” (42). Moreover, in the area, “an average of 325 days in the year are cloudless” (42). Remarks such as these are meant to entice the weary easterner to Southern California by pointing out the fact that the weather is hardly ever inclement, let alone snowy. However, if anyone should get the wrong impression, Edwards claimed that “the idea of Southern California as an arid region is as erroneous as the other idea that we are flooded with water during half the year and dried up during the other half” (43). This, of course, is exactly the case, but knowledge of this situation would not have convinced many to move to the region. Edwards also assures prospective Californians from the Mid-West that there is an “absence of severe storms of every description. Cyclones and tornadoes…are here entirely unknown” (43).

The entire purpose of Land of Sunshine was to spread the word about this new Mediterranean paradise. Southern California was promoted as a sort of “garden of eden” where migrants could leave their overcrowded, frigid cities behind and find their own place in the sun. When Mediterraneanism is considered, these jaded transplants from the east could be part of a “high civilization” upon their arrival. The underlying principle being that since Southern California shares the same Mediterranean climate with Greece and Rome, that it too would grow into an advanced society. In reality, the climate of Southern California may leave much to be desired. The fact that Edwards needed to refute rumors about the “aridity” of the region suggests that the “garden” aspect of this “garden of eden” had been manufactured and ardently cultivated. Nonetheless, the climate of Southern California accounted for a large part of boosterism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as many Americans travelled west in search of paradise.

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An excerpt from the
                                              August 1894 issue of Land
                                              of Sunshine, including a
                                              small, nostalgic
                                              illustration of a mission

Land of Sunshine, article: "Olden Times in Southern California" - Volume I, No. 3, August 1894

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- Molly Nelson

Romanticization of California’s Mission History

California boosters harnessed the power of California’s Spanish mission history to contribute to their image of California as a land of beauty, plenty, and most importantly, leisure. According to the 1894 Land of Sunshine article “Olden Times in Southern California,” the modern, “cosmopolitan,” “enterprising and progressive” Southern California of 1894 still retains the “easy-going Spanish habit of putting everything off until la manana… a custom to which the newly arrived gringo readily accustomed himself” (Lummis, 29). The California boosters used a romanticized vision of the agriculture, real estate, and climate of the Spanish missions and their Native American inhabitants to make California as attractive as possible to tourists and potential residents.

Land of Sunshine takes care to emphasize the calm, idyllic aspects of Spanish mission life, particularly those elements which have continued into the present. Descriptions of agriculture hide the reality of the back-breaking, strictly scheduled labor Indians performed in the missions, as described by Kent Lightfoot in his book Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants (60). Instead, it takes the form of “small orchards and vineyards” cultivated by the priests and livestock “raised by the aid of the converted Indians” (Lummis, 29). This quaint imagery does, however, include essential components of California farming to which newcomers to the region would be attracted: orchards of nuts and fruit and the production of wine as well as meat and dairy. The article’s descriptions of Spanish ownership and development of land are also clearly aimed towards potential buyers. The lives of the rancheros, the large landowners, “constituted the height of happiness,” with “A horse to ride, plenty to eat, and cigaritas to smoke… What more could the heart of man desire?” (Lummis, 31). Similarly, the “one-story adobe architecture” of the period “formed a fitting background to the easy-going habits of the pleasure-loving residents” (Lummis, 29). This suggests to potential real estate buyers that they too could experience the independent, leisurely lifestyle of a ranchero and suggests the attitude they should have towards purchasing and developing land. The mild Southern California climate is also used as a selling point for the past, when life was “lived carelessly and uneventfully, in the land of sunshine, in those early days” (Lummis, 31). While the “accursed thirst for gold” may have sped up the pace of modern life, the sun still shines on California and this effortless living is still possible (Lummis, 31). By selling California’s enchanting Spanish history, the boosters are also selling the California of the present.

This strongly romanticized presentation of mission history contributes to the postcolonial Orientalist discourse about the subjugated Native American population, “who found the padres hard task-masters and often longed for the earlier days of unrestrained liberty, before the white man set foot on Alta California” (Lummis, 29). This article incorporates romantic or positive stigmatization as described by Edward Said in his famous work, Orientalism. This attitude of positive stigmatization is applied not only to the domination of the Spanish over the Native Americans, but is also used to discuss a second level of domination – that of the conquering United States over the Spanish colonizers themselves. The descriptions of the simple, “picturesque” existence of the padres and rancheros are also a form of romantic stigmatization (Lummis, 29). The California boosters promote admiration of the Spanish “other” for their quaint, carefree lifestyle in contrast to the sophisticated “great American commonwealth” founded by the “adventurous spirits” of western migrants (Lummis, 31). This attitude simultaneously celebrates the perceived simplicity of the past while establishing modern-day Californian civilization as superior.

Lightfoot, Kent G. Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants: The
Legacy of Colonial Encounters on the California
Frontiers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
Lummis, Charles F. "Olden Times in Southern California." Land
of Sunshine, August 1894
Said, Edward W.. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979.

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Out West article:
“Hollywood, the City of Homes” - Volume 21, No. 1, July 1904

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- Stefanie Ramsay

In the early 20th Century, California was marketed as a perfect home for both families and for those looking for a new cosmopolitan lifestyle. The hope of advertisers was that people who visited California would make the move permanent. One article describing real estate in Hollywood, “Hollywood, the City of Homes”, exemplifies the ways in homes and the city were marketed to prospective residents. While the article may have been convincing in its romantic descriptions of Hollywood, the truth of this city was that it was not the center of high culture yet and the advertisements embellished many facts of Hollywood. The highly mythologized presentation of real estate in California gave emigrants false hope of a new and exciting lifestyle out west. However, it was this myth that led to the construction of a glamorous Hollywood.

The homes in Hollywood in 1904, when this article was published, are built in various styles with the hope that they would appeal to wide range of people. In fact, according to this article, there is “not a shabby home in town” (98). There are homes built in Mission style as well as European style homes that are built to show the sophistication of the city. Every home is described as “rising from the Cahuenga Valley…[with a] view of the breakers at the Playa del Ray” and located by the Santa Monica Mountains (98). Not only will a prospective resident be intrigued by the style of houses, but by the beautiful location as well. Above all, new residents could feel “the velvety softness of the air” and smell that “the whole place is filled with the perfume of flowers” (97). Hollywood was marketed to seem like a vacation, but a permanent one.

Thought it was marketed as the perfect place to start a new life, Hollywood was not yet a bustling city of the elite class, as is made clear in the photographs that accompany this article. The photographed homes do not appear to be unique but seem fairly ordinary, with no immaculate views of the ocean or mountains, but rather, set in surprisingly desolate areas. This is a startling contradiction in marketing and highlights the way in which romantic language was utilized in order to present a false notion of Hollywood. However, the myth of this exciting city reflected the hopes that Hollywood had for its future and ultimately produced the city that it is today. People were attracted to the city because of some false advertising but then built it to be the city that they had dreamed about. This can be seen in the promotion of real estate. For example, “homes have dancing parlors and all have capacity for quite elaborate functions” (110), so that people could entertain their guests in a luxurious manner before the city built venues to fulfill that need. The reputation of Hollywood as a city of glamour started with the false belief that it was this way from the beginning, but this myth was needed in order to ultimately attain that standing.

Lummis, Charles F. “Hollywood, the City of Homes.” Out West (1904): 97-111.

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 About this Project / Acknowledgements

Occidental College's "American Frontier" Research Seminar was developed by
Dr. Jeremiah B.C. Axelrod, Adjunct Assistant Professor of History.

The library project is developed in collaboration with the Special Collections Department:
Dale Ann Stieber, Special Collections Librarian
with student staff
Henry Boule and Claire Lem and
Laila Tootoonchi and Anahid Yahjian.

Title Image: Thomas Moran, "Nearing Camp, Evening on the Upper Colorado River, Wyoming, 1882," from http://www.boltonmuseums.org.uk/collections/art/paintings_prints_and_drawings/oil/nearing_camp_moran

Page last edited on 03/12/2013.
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