Protecting the California Coast: New Interviews with Joe Bodovitz and Will Travis

Just over 50 years ago the California State Legislature established the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). This commission was charged with protecting the San Francisco Bay from unchecked development and with providing access to this great natural resource. In 1972, citizens throughout California voted to establish the Coastal Commission, which had a charge similar to the BCDC but its authority ran the entire coastline of California. Today we are pleased to release to new oral history interviews with two of the most important figures in both of those organizations: Joe Bodovitz and Will “Trav” Travis.

Joseph Bodovitz was born Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1930. He attended Northwestern University, where he studied English Literature, served in the US Navy during the Korean War, and then completed a graduate degree in journalism at Columbia University. In 1956 he accepted a job as a reporter with the San Francisco Examiner, reporting on crime, politics, and eventually urban redevelopment. He then took a position with SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) where he launched their newsletter. In 1964 he was enlisted to lead the team drafting the Bay Plan, which resulted in the creation of the San Francisco Bay Conversation and Development Commission (BCDC) by the state legislature in 1969. Bodovitz was hired as the first executive director of BCDC. In 1972 he was hired by the newly-established California Coastal Commission to be its first executive director. He left the Coastal Commission in 1979 and shortly thereafter was named executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission, a position he held until 1986. He served as head of the California Environmental Trust and then as the project director for BayVision 2020, which created a plan for a regional Bay Area government. In this interview, Bodovitz details the creation of the BCDC and how it established itself into a respected state agency; he also discusses the first eight years of the Coastal Commission and how he helped craft a strategy for managing such a huge public resource ? the California coastline. He further discusses utilities deregulation in the 1980s and the changing context for environmental regulation through the 1990s.

Will Travis was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1943. He attended Penn State University as both as an undergraduate and graduate student, studying architecture and regional planning. From 1970 to 1972 he worked as a planner for the then nascent San Francisco Bay Conversation and Development Commission (BCDC). In 1972 moved to the newly established California Coastal Commission, where worked in various capacities until 1985. In 1985 Travis returned to BCDC first as deputy director then as the agency?s director beginning in 1995. He retired from BCDC in 2011 and continues to work as a consultant. In this life history interview, Travis discusses his work both the BCDC and the Coastal Commission, focusing on accounts of particular preservation and development projects including the restoration of marshland areas around the San Francisco Bay. The interview also covers in detail Travis?s work documenting the threat of sea level rise as a result of climate change and how the Bay Area might plan for such a transformation.

Primary Sources: Los Angeles Sentinel, 1934-2005

A fairly recent edition to the Library’s collection of ProQuest historical newspapers is the Los Angeles Sentinel, with an almost complete run from 1934-2005. The Sentinel was established in 1933 by Col Leon H. Washington who began his career in newspapers at the The California Eagle, the oldest black newspaper in the state. The Sentinel started out as a free-circulation publication, but within a year readership increased enough for Washington to turn it into a subscription-based publication, soon rivaling The California Eagle in prominence and readership. To to this day the newspaper puts emphasis on issues concerning the African-American community and it’s readers.

Event: Patty Enrado Presents: A Village in the Fields

Patty Enrado Presents: A Village in the Fields
Thursday, October 22, 2015 | 6-8pm | Ethnic Studies Library

Celebrate Filipino American History Month with Patty Enrado, Eastwind Books of Berkeley, and the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library.

In her debut novel, A Village in the Fields, Patty Enrado highlights a compelling but buried piece of American history: the Filipino-American contribution to the farm labor movement. 50 years ago, September 8, 1965, Filipino farm workers walked out of the fields and sparked the United Farm Workers Union movement.

To write this novel, Patty Enrado, the daughter of a farm worker, researched and interviewed Filipino farm laborers who were involved in the labor movement including her own family members. This intricately detailed story of love, loss, and human dignity spans more than eight decades and sweeps from the Philippines to the United States. In the vein of The Grapes of Wrath, A Village in the Fields pays tribute to the sacrifices that Filipino immigrant farm workers made to bring justice to the fields.

Published by Eastwind Books of Berkeley (2015). This book was debuted at the Delano celebration of Filipino Farm Labor activism on September 5, 2015.

Event: Presentations by Architectural Historian Dan Gregory and CED Assoc. Professor Andrew Shanken

September 17, 2015, 6-7 pm
112 Wurster Hall, University of California, Berkeley

$10.00 cash, at door or purchase online
**free to students with UCB ID

In conjunction with opening of Exceptional Expositions the Environmental Design Archives will host a program of presentations by Architectural Historian Dan Gregory and CED Assoc. Professor Andrew Shanken. Gregory’s talk “Fire Up the Scintillator!: Architecture, Allusion, and Re-Affirmation at the PPIE,” concerns the hyperbolic architectural character of the exposition — from the 435 foot-tall Tower of Jewels covered in 100,000 cut glass “Novagems” to the Oregon State Pavilion treated as a redwood tree-replica of the Parthenon.

Shanken, author of the recently published monograph Into the Void Pacific will give a talk entitled “Very Empty, But Not False: the Architecture of the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair” addressing the ways the architects of the GGIE felt Californian, thought regionally, and aspired to a “Pacific Architecture” just as modernism was radically changing the aesthetic of design.

This will be followed by a book signing of Shanken’s monograph on the Golden Gate International Exposition. Books will be available for purchase at the event.

Contact: 510.642.5124

Chris Marino, Reference and Outreach Archivist
Environmental Design Archives
College of Environmental Design
University of California
230 Wurster Hall mc 1820
Berkeley, CA 94720-1820

Exhibit: California: Captured on Canvas

California: Captured on Canvas represents a first for the Bancroft Library Gallery: it consists exclusively of paintings from The Bancroft Library Pictorial Collection. These paintings depict many aspects of California from the 1840s to the 1960s, including landscapes both vast and intimate, colorful urban scenes, and depictions of its inhabitants from the Californios of early Mexican California to a vibrant likeness of tennis great Helen Wills.

More than 40 paintings have been selected from the Library’s collection, including scenes of Yosemite, the Gold Rush, and turn-of-the-century Chinatown. Artists represented include William Keith and Thomas Hill along with more contemporary painters. A six by eight foot painting by Charles Grant, of “The Great White Fleet entering the Golden Gate in 1908,” is only one of the numerous and varied artistic interpretations of the Golden State on exhibit.

The gallery is open Mon-Fri, from 10am-4pm.

Event: Bancroft Round Table: Gold on the Trees, Cold in the Ground: Cyanide and the Making of Southern California, 1886-1915

Please join us for the third Bancroft Round Table of the Spring semester. It will take place, as usual, in the Lewis Latimer Room of The Faculty Club at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 17. Adam Romero, Bancroft Library Study Award recipient and doctoral candidate in Geography at UC Berkeley, will present Gold on the Trees, Gold in the Ground: Cyanide and the Making of Southern California, 1886-1915.

Cyanide fumigation, discovered in Los Angeles in the fall of 1886 by a USDA scientist and a handful of progressive LA growers, bought a temporary reprieve from the ravages of industrial pests, allowing grower-capitalists to turn the valleys of Southern California into a citrus empire. But synthetic cyanide did not arrive in Southern California as a pesticide. It was cyanide’s ability to separate gold from ore, eventually perfected by the MacArthur and the Forest Brothers in Scotland in 1887, that made it such a valued commodity in the mineral rich west. Using cyanide’s selective chemical thirst for metals, particularly gold, miners now could unlock the refractory gold bearing ores that remained once the thin layer of placer gold was scraped off in the mad dash gold rushes of the 1850s, 1860s, and early 1870s. The subsequent boom in industrial cyanide production in Scotland, Germany, and New Jersey to meet the mining demand in Southern Africa, Australia, and the US, was critical in making cyanide compounds available, both geographically and economically, for a rapidly industrializing citrus industry. Southern California’s highly standardized, uniformly beautiful, sun-kissed citrus, that came to be known across the world in the early 20th century, was only possible because of the pest control capabilities offered by the use of cyanide fumigation, and cyanide fumigation was only possible because of changes in industrial chemistry and the international gold mining industry.

Lara Michels and Baiba Strads
Bancroft Library Staff

Event: Bancroft Round Table

The first Bancroft Round Table of the Spring 2013 Semester will take place at noon on Thursday, February 21 in the Lewis-Latimer Room of the Faculty Club.  Daniel Lynch, Ph.D. candidate in the UCLA Department of History and Bancroft Library Gunther Barth Fellowship recipient will present “Southern and Californio Convergence in Southern California: General Andrés Pico and the Chivalry Democrats, 1846-1861.”

Focusing on the life of the native-born Californio Andres Pico, this talk explores how two groups of southern Californians­Southerners and Californios­mediated the region’s incorporation into the United States during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. After leading Californio insurgents to their sole victory Mexican-American War at the Battle of San Pasqual, Pico launched a successful American political career as a state legislator. He joined the pro-slavery “Chivalry” faction of the state Democratic Party to forge a powerful regional political alliance between Southerners and Californios. This unusual alliance shared goals of keeping taxes low, protecting land ownership, masculine honor and female virtue, and maintaining hierarchies of race, class and gender.

The way in which partisans of the losing sides of two successive wars, the Mexican and U.S. Civil, found common ground and came to form the nucleus of a southern California elite political alliance is both fascinating in itself and crucial for an understanding of California politics in the ensuing century and beyond.  The community is invited to join us at this talk.  The Bancroft Round Table series aims to highlight the vast resources of our library to enrich our understanding of our historical heritage.

In peace,

David Kessler
Baiba Strads
Bancroft Library Staff

Primary Sources: Local History Digital Resources

Over 2000 new digital objects have been added to Calisphere and the Online Archive of California, as part of the 2011-2012 Local History Digital Resources Project. These include photographs, records, letters, brochures, and other primary source documents. 10 institutions contributed collections:

  • Beaumont Library District: images depicting historical buildings, structures, railroads, public institutions, ranches, and topography of the Beaumont and Cherry Valley communities.
  • Black Gold Cooperative Library System: photographs portraying life on the California Central Coast from 1853 through the 1970s among four major ethnic minority groups: African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans.
  • California State University Channel Islands Library: photographs capturing the history of the Filipino community in Ventura County from the ­1900s through the 1990s.
  • California State University East Bay Library: Images from various archival record collections, showing the history of the university and student, faculty, and staff life there.
  • California State University Fullerton Library: prints and negatives spanning the long history of a leading photography studio and depicting various people and scenes in Orange County, 1882-1853.
  • Glendale Public Library: promotional brochures from the early 1900s describing the towns of Glendale and Tropico as idyllic places to live, work, and visit.
  • Citrus College, Hayden Memorial Library: papers and photographs documenting the history of Citrus College, originally a high school and later the first community college in Los Angeles County.
  • Japanese American National Museum: letters written by Japanese American students who were incarcerated in American internment camps during World War II, addressed to their pre-war teacher.
  • Santa Cruz Public library: photographs depicting the first settlers to Scotts Valley and the development of the farming and dairy industries there.

More information on the Online Archive of California and Calisphere can be found on the History Research Guide.