The Los Angeles Aqueduct turned 100 on November 5, and the city has been partying hard. In a performance-art piece designed by Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studios, 100 mules plus their handlers walked along the 240 miles of the aqueduct from the Eastern Sierras to its terminus at The Cascades. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County staged a special exhibit to honor the centennial. And Department of Water and Power (LADWP) employees reenacted the opening of the Cascades’ spill gates, accompanied by descendants of Los Angeles Aqueduct Engineer William Mulholland.
Amidst all the excitement over the Los Angeles Aqueduct’s 100th anniversary, we should point out that not every engineering marvel related to William Mulholland’s masterpiece was completed. As displayed in the recently-closed show, Never Built Los Angeles, co-curated by this author and Greg Goldin, city officials and architect George A. Howard had planned a 220-foot-tall memorial to the aqueduct, located in the center of Exposition Park’s Rose Garden. Consisting of a fluted, classical column with a fresco-clad base, the memorial would be topped by a statue of “Miss Los Angeles,” who would continuously pour water into a moat below. Genius. Unfortunately World War I put a stop to the plan, and a modest fountain and lily pond, built in 1921, now stand on the spot.