Historic Persons

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 Tartaglia advertising mirror


The Los Angeles City Historical Society recently held a lecture about the Italian immigrants to Los Angeles as part of the Marie Northrop Lecture series.  Always on the lookout for Los Angeles historical memorabilia, I happened to find an advertising mirror that advertises the Tartaglia and Bros. Tailors with their motto, “Six Brothers, Six Reasons.”    Many businesses used promotional giveaways of this type in the early part of the 20th century.  This one is special.   Photographs of each of the six Tartaglia brothers, Charles, Joseph, Michael, John, Angelo and Otto grace the front of the mirror.  All the Tartaglia brothers were born in Italy and immigrated to the United States settling in Los Angeles.  Charles arrived first in 1902. Joseph and Michael came to America in 1905 and 1906, respectively. Charles joined the Journeymen Tailors Union of America in 1907 and the same year opened his tailoring business “Charles Tartaglia & Bros. Tailors.”  Brothers John and Angelo immigrated in 1909 and Otto in 1912 to join the business.  The brothers were all about 14 or 15 when they immigrated with the exception of John who came when he was 24.  Charles married his wife Rosina who emigrated from Italy in 1913 and was 10 years his junior.  They both became naturalized citizens in 1917.   By 1920, three of the brothers had married and they all lived next to each other on S. St. Andrews Place.   Each of the married brothers had one bachelor brother living with them.


The Tartaglia tailors prided themselves on their union affiliation calling themselves the union tailors for men and women.  Their advertisement from the 1914 California State Federation of Labor Yearbook  stressed their being the only “reliable” union tailors.  Otto, the youngest of the six  had immigrated in 1912 so the “six brothers” motto had to been developed between 1912 and 1914.     On October 12, 1929,  the Los Angeles Times reported that Charles Tartaglia and Bros. Tailors had taken up a new home at 713 Flower Street, adding to the importance of Flower Street as an important street in the downtown Los Angeles shopping district.  The tailoring business occupied the entire two story building right next to Barker Brothers. Although there is no information to verify the date of the advertising mirror, a rough guess as to the ages of the brothers from their pictures in the 1914 advertisement and the mirror would likely date the mirror to the mid 1920’s.  By 1930 Charles was living with his wife and son Mario in his own home on Clayton Avenue, then valued at $14,000.  By 1940, Charles’ wife, Rosina, has joined him in the tailoring business; Charles was renting at that time with his business listed in the city directory at 3149 Wilshire.  Later we find the business at 9885 Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills where they catered to well-heeled clients like movie stars.  One can also find other Tartaglia tailoring establishments in other parts of Los Angeles as the family grew.


Today, collectors of vintage clothing look for the Tartaglia label.



Gene Autry purchased suits from the Tartaglia brothers in the 1960’s.  Rock Hudson also used Tartaglia brothers.  This receipt below from the Rock Hudson estate collection shows Tartaglia Bros. Tailors with two locations in 1964, one in Los Angeles and one in Beverly Hills.



Yelp reports the most recent location at 9905 Santa Monica Boulevard is closed.

Prepared by LACHS Board Member Geraldine Knatz

[cross-posted with permission from the Los Feliz Ledger]

Feldman and LaBonge

92-year-old Eddy Feldman was recently honored by Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge.

By Diane Kanner, Los Feliz Ledger Columnist

Glen Dawson is the quintessential Californian. The Sierra Club was brand new when he joined, the same year photographer Ansel Adams took his portrait. In his younger days, Dawson scaled bald peaks like Mount Whitney. His career as a bookseller was preordained after his father Ernest established a bookshop downtown. Later located on Larchmont Boulevard, Dawson’s was a meeting place of western states antiquarian book collectors and Dawson hung out with bibliophiles like W.W. Robinson, Ward Ritchie and Lawrence Powell.

Dawson’s centennial birthday celebration at the University Club in Pasadena on June 2nd brought together his friends. Among guests was 92-year-old Eddy Feldman, an attorney who lives in Park LaBrea. Nibbling on a Cobb salad before leaving for another engagement, Feldman recounted the story of how Dawson changed his life.

Feldman was Chair of the Board of Municipal Arts Commissioners when Mayor Sam Yorty called him to the Central Library to help create a “friends of the library” support group. Feldman had travelled to Europe where he photographed local streetlights. As a commissioner, he was called upon to evaluate proposals for streetlights, and he was developing an eye in the public works genre.

Feldman offered his photos towards the library effort but found no takers. Dawson was in the room, and he told Feldman he wanted to see the photos. The upshot was the publication of Feldman’s text, “The Art of Street Lighting in Los Angeles” in 1972 by Dawson’s Book Store. Listed for $46 on Amazon.com, copies hold photos of lights throughout the city, including one inspired by the hollyhock flower on the hillside of Barnsdall Park.

The City of Los Angeles and The Los Angeles City Historical Society introduce:

“The Los Angeles City Officials, 1850 to the Present Historical Database”


A Los Angeles City history project was initiated by the Works Project Administration in the 1930’s during the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It sought to identify and record the terms of office of individuals who, over the years, served in the government of the City of Los Angeles. It includes all elected officials and all appointed commissioners who served on the various municipal boards.

This historical study of 1850-1965, was originally published in four volumes by the City of Los Angeles. In 2007, The Los Angeles City Historical Society applied for a grant to the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation to complete the project to the present date, ad infinitum. At that time it was decided to convert the already published information to a computer based program, thus completing the focus of the project to the present time.

Database Information

The purpose of this database program is to introduce and make available on the World Wide Web to people displaying an index of “Movers and Shakers” of Los Angeles City government. This City evolved from a one-horse town into the second largest city in the United States. The evolution and growth of this megalopolis progressed, good and bad, because of these individuals, who left their imprint on the sands of time.


Only individual names, dates and offices held election by election are found on this database. The names found are a polyglot composite of English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Jewish, Turkish and Armenian.

A User Guide, tutorial, will be found on the database. For further information about Los Angeles City government history see the References link also on the database.


This database program is not a narrative history. It is a compilation of individuals, both men and women, who held certain offices at certain time periods in Los Angeles City government from 1850 through to the present time, ad infinitum.


The Ahmanson Center on Wilshire Blvd is an iconic piece of L.A. architecture, built by Howard Ahmanson Sr., one of L.A.’s great businessmen and philanthropists. His son Howard Ahmanson, Jr. shares his father’s story–and the transformation of his father’s vision into today’s Koreatown–on Zócalo Public Square.

Thanks to Antal Neville for passing this along to us!

Starting this month, the Oviatt Library at California State University Northridge will be showing artifacts from its Catherine Mulholland collection in the C.K. and Teresa Tseng Gallery. The exhibition runs from September 20, 2011 until July 27, 2012. From the Oviatt Library website:

“Over the years, Catherine Mulholland, who loved libraries and the Oviatt in particular, donated her personal archives and those of her family to the Library, understanding the importance of preserving the past for future generations. This remarkable collection, dating back to the 1860s, is a journey through Valley history as seen in the photographs, scrapbooks, memorabilia, clothing and ranch records of this pioneer family. We invite you to come share the story of the Ijams, Haas, Perret, Ferguson and Mulholland families. Curated by Holli Lovich.”

photo: Catherine Mulholland at the LACHS Holiday Gala in December 2010.

Press release from the LADWP website:

LOS ANGELES — Catherine Mulholland, the granddaughter of William Mulholland, who wrote a comprehensive and critically praised biography of the storied founder of the Domestic Water Works System, later the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, died today at her home in Camarillo.

To the world at large, Ms. Mulholland was known mostly as a noted historian and author of William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, which challenged many of the prevailing notions of her grandfather’s legacy as the chief engineer who built an aqueduct to bring water to Los Angeles via gravity alone from 233 miles away. Completed in 1913, the Los Angeles Aqueduct then, as now, is considered one of the engineering marvels of the 20th Century.

To LADWP employees of recent decades, Ms. Mulholland was known for her willing participation in activities that celebrated the Department’s history and William Mulholland’s accomplishments. She generously loaned numerous family artifacts to the LADWP for its lobby exhibit “William Mulholland: The Man and His Vision” that celebrated the sesquicentennial of his 1855 birth. The exhibit is currently open at LADWP headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles.

“We are very saddened to learn of Catherine Mulholland’s passing,” said Ronald O. Nichols, LADWP General Manager. “Ms. Mulholland was well known to the LADWP family through her gracious participation in events that celebrated her legendary grandfather, William Mulholland, a revered figure here at the Department. We are all going to miss her and the link she provided to our historic past.”

By bringing water to a semi-arid former pueblo that could only sustain a population of 400,000 with existing sources, Mulholland’s aqueduct helped the city grow to ten times that size. His achievements are marked by such well-known public landmarks as the Mulholland Dam at Lake Hollywood, the Mulholland Memorial Fountain adjacent to Griffith Park and the scenic Mulholland Drive.