Everything has to start somewhere. And this site, location of the first utility pole in Los Angeles, marks the beginnings of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.
Way back on March 30, 1916, the very first utility pole in Los Angeles was installed on the corner of Figueroa (then called Pasadena Avenue) and Piedmont Streets by the Bureau of Power and Light, the entity that would eventually become the Department of Water & Power.
This single pole was the beginning of the city’s newly created municipal electric distribution system. Before this, there were three different private companies providing power to the city — Southern California Edison (which is still around), L.A. Gas & Electric (eventually bought by the DWP), and Pacific Light & Power (which merged with Southern California Edison).
After this first pole was installed, others were placed around the city and connected together with a network of copper wires. Then, eight months later on November 13 1916, the whole network was powered up with electricity purchased from Pasadena’s municipal power plant.
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From these humble beginnings, the Los Angeles electrical grid has grown to the largest municipally-owned utility in the country.
This plaque commemorating the first utility pole in Los Angeles was placed in 1952 to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of when Los Angeles took control of of its water system and formed the Water Department under the control of the Board of Water Commisioners. The Water Department is now the DWP, but it’s still governed by the five-member Board of Water and Power Commisssioners.
The First Utility Pole in Los Angeles
- 6145 N Figueroa St (at Piedmont Ave), Highland Park
- GPS: 34.113984, -118.186102 [ Google Maps ]
- what3words: ///about.grand.loft
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