From: NPR STAFF - NPR
Published November 4, 2013 06:22 AM

Los Angeles aqueduct celebrates 100 years of service

Today the beauty of Los Angeles is dramatically symbolic of the ancient prophecy: The desert shall "blossom like a rose."

This blossoming was made possible by the birth of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, opened 100 years ago this month. The opening of the aqueduct might as well have been the birth of the modern West and the image of the city as a "Garden of Eden."

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The vast quantities of water the aqueduct moved made Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities across the region possible.

The project fulfilled the vision of William Mulholland, then L.A.'s chief water engineer. As he stood in front of 40,000 spectators on the day it opened, Mulholland gestured toward the water cascade charging down the hillside and declared, "There it is. Take it."

Water flows through The Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades near Newhall Pass in Sylmar, Calif. The aqueduct, which carries millions of gallons of water to the city of Los Angeles, turns 100 years old this week.Enlarge image
Water flows through The Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades near Newhall Pass in Sylmar, Calif. The aqueduct, which carries millions of gallons of water to the city of Los Angeles, turns 100 years old this week.

But as with all things, the aqueduct also came at a price.

The $23 million Los Angeles Aqueduct project took 5,000 workers five years to complete. It also finished on time and under budget, something you might not hear a lot these days.

"The state of California would be different, arguably the world would be different, without the L.A. Aqueduct," says Jon Christensen, the editor of Boom Magazine. Their latest issue looks at the 100-year anniversary of the aqueduct.

While the aqueduct brought water to Los Angeles, it also took it from somewhere else: Owens Valley. Christensen tells NPR's Arun Rath that over the years there was a lot of anger and accusations that L.A. took water the water by force.

Los Angeles Aquaduct photo via Shutterstock.

Read more at NPR.

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