A postcard view of the Huntington Hotel and the San Gabriel Valley // © Los Angeles Public Library / Langham Hotel, Pasadena
By all accounts, 1914 was a turbulent time in world history.
The First World War broke out on the European continent and in North America, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata were calling for revolution throughout Mexico.
Despite the world unrest -- or perhaps because of it -- 1914 was also a time of great discovery and innovation. A particularly significant year in the growth of tourism, the United States witnessed the birth of two new tourism industries that year.
In Florida, former St. Petersburg Mayor Abram Pheil spent $400 ($5,000 in today’s currency) to be the first passenger to fly on a commercial air flight, a 23-minute flight between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla.
Meanwhile, in Hibbing, Minn., Carl Eric Wickman used his eight-seat Hupmobile to transport 15 iron miners to a nearby mining town for 15 cents a ride. The shuttle service, which took place well before the nation adopted a federal highway system, is now considered the first inter-city bus transportation. Wickman would go on to transform his transportation company into the massive enterprise known as Greyhound bus lines.
Cruise travel also became more lavish in 1914, when Cunard Line’s Aquitania sailed her maiden voyage. Considered one of the most beautiful liners ever built, she was one of the longest-serving Cunarders in history and the only major liner to serve in both world wars.
Perhaps the most important event of 1914 was the opening of the Panama Canal, which made sailing the globe faster than ever and brought more people and goods to western shores.
To accommodate the growth, a number of new hotels and attractions opened in California in 1914. This year many of these attractions are celebrating centennial anniversaries.
Less than a decade after the devastating earthquake that nearly crippled the city, San Francisco experienced a massive growth wave. Caught up in Panama Fever, the city was set to host the 1915 World’s Fair, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE). To prepare for the influx of visitors, a number of new hotels opened throughout the city.
Located steps from Union Square, the Clift Hotel (which officially opened in 1915) was commissioned to accommodate visitors to the World’s Fair and was billed as San Francisco’s first earthquake-proof and fireproof hotel. The architect, George Applegarth, would go on to gain critical acclaim for his design of San Francisco’s famed Palace of the Legion of Honor building.
Hotel Union Square
Built in 1913, the Hotel Union Square was also built to house people attending the World’s Fair. Then known as the Golden West Hotel, the property became fully operational in 1914. Today the hotel retains much of its early charm, including original Egyptian-motif mosaic murals, grand staircases and ornate moldings. The hotel was once a temporary home of author Dashiell Hammett, who came to San Francisco in 1915 to work at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Historians suggest that he likely wrote “The Maltese Falcon” and the “Thin Man” series while he was a resident of the hotel.
The Groveland Hotel’s “Queen Anne Annex” also opened in 1914. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Annex was built as an addition to the original Groveland Hotel. The Annex was constructed in order to meet the increased demand for accommodations by project managers, politicians and other dignitaries coming to town to oversee the progress of the Hetch Hetchy Dam, which was being built in Yosemite Park. In its 100-year history, the Annex has acquired a well-known ghost, Lyle, an old prospector who loved room 15 so much that his spirit never left it.
The Annex building is holding official 100th birthday celebrations this year, in conjunction with the Yosemite Grant 150th celebration.
New Delhi Restaurant
The New Delhi restaurant was built inside a lavish hotel ballroom, which was constructed in 1914 in the grand style of Louis XVI. The restaurant retains many of its original architectural features, including Remillard brick walls and original antique floor tiles imported from Florence. The restaurant, in operation for 25 years, serves cuisine made from recipes culled from the royal Indian menus dating back 400 years.
Port of San Francisco
Along the San Francisco waterfront, several buildings were constructed in 1914, including the historic Pier 43 Ferry Arch. The new Pier 43 Promenade Bay Trail project, now under construction, will connect Pier 39 with Taylor Street’s historic crab sellers. Once complete later this year, it will feature excellent views of the bay and the historic arch.
Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf
Some 70 miles south of San Francisco and 40 miles north of Monterey, visitors will find the birthplace of mainland surfing, the city of Santa Cruz. The city is home to the Santa Cruz Wharf, which at 2,701 feet, is one of the longest wooden piers in California. Constructed in 1914, the Municipal Wharf is actually the city's sixth wharf. None of the preceding piers could accommodate deep-water ships, so the current one was built with a steamship dock and freight warehouse. The wharf hosts an estimated 1.5 million visitors every year, and is featuring centennial celebrations all year long.
Los Angeles also witnessed a growing prosperity in 1914.
Significant improvements to the Port of Los Angeles in the years prior, including construction of an 8,500-foot section of breakwater, the widening of the main channel and construction of an all-new Southern Pacific Railroad wharf, meant the Port of Los Angeles was uniquely able to welcome new marine traffic generated by the opening of the Panama Canal.
The city’s movie industry was also in full swing. Paramount Pictures was founded in Los Angeles in 1914, and “The Squaw Man,” by Cecil B. DeMille, became the first motion picture to be produced in Hollywood by a major film studio. In Venice, Calif., Charlie Chaplin rolled out his famed “The Tramp” character, in his second movie.
On Jan. 28, 1914, some two years after the opening of the famed Beverly Hills Hotel - which served as the area’s de facto city hall and community center - Beverly Hills was incorporated as a city.
This year, the city celebrates its centennial with a variety of events, including the Beverly Hills Centennial Block Party, to be held on Rodeo Drive on April 27.
The Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel, in partnership with Guittard Chocolate Company’s corporate executive pastry chef, Donald Wressell, will present the City of Beverly Hills and its visitors with a larger-than-life birthday cake. The kosher chocolate cake will stand 10 feet high and measure 15 feet wide by 20 feet long. It will weigh 4,000 pounds and serve approximately 15,000 slices.
The Langham Huntington, Pasadena
Further north, the landmark Langham Huntington, Pasadena, is also celebrating its 100th birthday this year. In honor of its centennial, the property has rolled out the $100,000 Proposal of The Century package for guests who want to propose to their loved ones in grand style. The package includes private use of the Rose Bowl Stadium, a private serenade by the 40-piece Pasadena Symphony Orchestra and chauffeur-driven transportation between the Rose Bowl Stadium and The Langham Huntington, Pasadena.
The opening of the Panama Canal also played a significant role on the development of San Diego in 1914. The city hosted its own exposition that year, the Panama-California Exposition. The fair, created to help “put San Diego on the map,” welcomed more than 3.7 million visitors over two years.
Andaz San Diego
Then known as the Maryland Hotel, the Andaz San Diego opened in 1914 to host dignitaries for the Panama-California Exposition. The property, one of the most modernly equipped hotels of its time, was the only hotel in San Diego to have a bathroom attached to every bedroom. Every room also included a telephone and a full closet.
John Dietrich Spreckels, of the Spreckels sugar fortune, presented the city of San Diego with an outdoor pipe organ in 1914. Built in time for the Expo, the instrument is so powerful that its music can be heard from three miles away. Today the Spreckels Organ Society presents more than 100 concerts each year.