3424 N. Riverside Drive 90027 - William Mulholland Memorial Fountain
3424 N. Riverside Drive 90027 Los Feliz USA
“William Mulholland Memorial Fountain” – Riverside Drive & Los Feliz Boulevard
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #162, declared 10/06/1976
The Mulholland Fountain, dedicated August 1, 1940, soon came to be known at the “Kool-Aid” fountain because of the way that colored lights illuminated the water at night.
Water appropriately shoots up from this memorial to William Mulholland, the man who built a concrete and steel river and brought water to L.A.’s doorstep. Growth–explosive and unending–was the fondest wish of many local businesspeople, land owners and other civic leaders in Mulholland’s time. They realized by the 1890s that water, which until then had come exclusively from the Los Angeles River and local wells, limited further development.
Mulholland, an Irish immigrant, was a self-taught engineer who became head of the city’s Bureau of Water Works and Supply. He supported the plan of another local visionary, Fred Eaton, to redirect water from the Owens Valley, on the eastern slope of the Sierras. Employing 5,000 workers and 6,000 mules, Mulholland completed the 238-mile-long aqueduct in record time and under budget.
The aqueduct, Mulholland estimated, would allow Los Angeles to grow from a quarter million people to 3 million.
The site for the fountain was chosen for several reasons. It was located at one of the city’s busiest and prettiest intersections. Furthermore, Mulholland had once lived there in a one-room wooden shack. The man who would build one of the world’s great water projects was first employed by the water department as a ditch tender. His job was to keep the “zanja madre”, the city’s main water ditch, clear of weeds and debris.
Over the next several decades, the fountain became a symbol of abundance – the good life – Los Angeles style. Through a complex maze of timers and jets, the fountain continually changed its shape, a water sculpture in motion. (Source: Mike Eberts, Griffith Park History Home Page)
The fountain honors William Mulholland, (1855-1935), “The Father of the Los Angeles Municipal Water System.”
“The Southland’s Mythic William Mulholland” a review of Catherine Mulholland’s biography of her grandfather, “William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles” Los Angeles Times, 07/26/00.
“Walter S. Claberg, designer of the William Mulholland Memorial Fountain at Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Blvd. will retire Wednesday (1961) after nearly 45 years of service with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Claberg, who is DWP building administrator was co-designer of the Water Palace exhibit at the San Diego World’s Fair in 1935. He also was architectural coordinator for the design and construction of the DWP general office building at 111 N. Hope Street.”
The fountain was meticulously restored by the DWP in 1996. It was rededicated on November 14, 1996, in a ceremony sponsored by the DWP and the LFIA.
Type: Historic-Cultural Monument Sold