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Harrison Gray Otis Album of California Scenes, circa 1890-1910
BANC PIC 1978.029--ALB  
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The Harrison Gray Otis Album of California Scenes contains 23 photographic prints taken circa 1890-1910 by the photographer "Rafert."
Harrison Gray Otis was born in 1837, near Marietta, Ohio, into a family characterized by their ardent loyalty to patriotic causes. Otis' grandfather served in the Revolutionary War, and his father was an ardent abolitionist who housed runaway slaves for the underground railroad. At the age of 14, Otis became an apprentice printer, and thereafter pursued a career in publishing. After moving to Kentucky, Otis was elected as a delegate to the state's 1860 Republican convention to nominate Abraham Lincoln. The following year, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Otis enlisted in the Union Army's Twelfth Ohio Voluntary Infantry, for which he would heroically fight until the end of the war, becoming a highly lauded officer. In 1867, Otis became a compositor for the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C., where he would join the International Typographers' Union. With the bold venturesomeness that often characterized his actions, Otis resigned from the G.P.O. in 1876 and moved to California, which he had visited two years earlier and which impressed him as a region of great financial opportunity. Immediately upon his arrival in Santa Barbara, he took over the Santa Barbara Daily Press of rancher William W. Hollister, whom he had befriended on his previous trip. In 1882 --after experiencing controversial political and business misfortunes in Santa Barbara, and after two brief spans as U.S. Treasury agent of the Seal Islands in the Bering Sea where he supervised the government and the local sealskin monopoly --Otis was hired as editor of the newly founded Los Angeles Times. He eventually became sole owner of the paper and president of the Times-Mirror Company. Using the influence of both his narrowly partisan conservative newspaper and his ties with business and government, Otis became one of the most important developers of the Los Angeles area. He promoted both urban and agricultural growth, was instrumental in the development of Los Angeles Harbor at San Pedro into a major seaport, and helped to establish an adequate water supply system for the city. (Concurrent with Otis' leadership of the Times, Los Angeles grew from a small frontier town of 12,000 inhabitants to a sprawling urban area with a population of over a half-million.) A vehement opponent of the closed shop, the one-time union member Otis was also a major force in the suppression of Los Angeles' burgeoning labor movement. In 1910, in retaliation for Otis' published attacks on organized labor, the brothers James and John McNamara bombed the Los Angeles Times Building, killing 20 persons and injuring 17 others --an event which Otis exploited to further his anti-union crusade. Always eager to selflessly commit himself to efforts he felt were for the greater good of the nation, the multi-millionaire Otis --at the age of 62 --requested and was appointed to the post of Brigadier General of the volunteer regiments fighting in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. As following the Civil War, Otis resigned with an exemplary record. Otis would remain owner of the Times until his death, always working closely with his son-in-law Harry Chandler, who as Otis' successor, would continue Otis' policies and would play an equally instrumental role in the development of Los Angeles. Otis' residence, "The Bivouac," located at what was formerly Wilshire Place and Park View Avenue, was a virtual museum of war relics, and reflected his appreciation of the fine graphic arts and photography. Shortly before his death, Otis donated the house to the County of Los Angeles to serve as an art gallery. It has since become the esteemed Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design. Harrison Gray Otis died in 1917.
23 photographic prints, 20 x 24 cm., mounted and bound in album, 24 x 32 cm. 23 digital objects
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