Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Abbot Kinney:  1900-1905 – by Marty Schatz

Abbot Kinney Mural by Edward Bieberman

Abbot Kinney Mural, formerly in Venice Post Office – by Edward Bieberman – Public Domain

At the turn of the new century Abbot Kinney was nearing his 50th birthday.  By this time he had traveled extensively, built himself a fine home called “Kinneloa”,  sought to mitigate the injustices inflicted upon the “Mission Indians’,  oversaw the California Board of Forestry, published 4 books, and became a real estate developer.  As if this wasn’t enough to keep him busy, on Jan. 6, 1900 he launched yet another venture, a weekly newspaper he both owned and for which he wrote editorials.  The newspaper debuted as The Saturday Post.

The first issue of The Post Abbot Kinney stated the mission of the newspaper:  “The Saturday Post occupies a position unique in the field of local journalism. By reason of its being a high-class literary weekly story paper, it will satisfy a demand where there is no competition—The Saturday Post is the only paper of this character on the Pacific Coast. Realizing the public demand for a better class of literature than that which is ordinarily furnished the family, through the medium of the daily or society paper, the management has secured copyrights of the best and most absorbing  short stories and serials of modern gifted pens.”

Thus, in future issues one could always find a serialized story written by Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, or a number of other writers popular in this period of time.  In this respect, it resembled an earlier form of Readers’ Digest.  But it also included “News of the Week,”  brief stories about local and statewide events,  and quite a bit of advertising, including ads for Abbot Kinney’s books (Eucalyptus, Forest and Water, Twilight Until Dawn) and real estate ventures.  At this time he owned the Abbotsford Inn on the corner of 8th St. and Hope in downtown Los Angeles, parcels of land in the West Adams district (then considered “the country”), as well as an interest in the resort at Ocean Park. All of these ventures were advertised in The Saturday Post.

The Oct. 13, 1900 edition of the paper saw a new feature:  a banner on p. 10 proclaimed, in large bold-faced lettering…… “Editorial Comments on Current Events, Abbot Kinney”.

For the next four years Kinney wrote, each week,  a full page of his views on a variety of world, national, state, and local issues he deemed to be vitally important.  On the international front he wrote pieces on the Boer situation in South Africa,  The Unity of the Spanish Speaking Nations, Russian designs on Macedonia and Manchuria, and the cultural practices of the Chinese.  The scope and depth of his appreciation of these issues is quite remarkable, whether you agree with his positions or not. He was also very concerned with the consequences of the Monroe Doctrine as it related to the Philippines and Cuba.  In the same Oct. 13th, 1900 issue, he wrote editorials entitled “Open San Clemente Island,”  “Street Railroad Franchise,” “Restriction of Suffrage,”  “Public and Private Laws,” and “The Future of Local Real Estate”.  In the March 10th issue Abbot Kinney writes an article called “The Value of Our Climate,” in which he claims that Southern California has the best climate of anywhere in the world:

Southern California alone possesses an all-the-year-around climate for the world’s civilizers. Think of the extremes of cold and blizzard in the East and the other extremes of debilitating summer heat in such cities as New York and St. Louis and then think of San Diego, Redondo, Oceanpark, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, whose residents are never locked into closed rooms by frost or sun-fire.

He then goes on to speak about the extreme heat in South American locations such as Buenos Aires and Montevideo.  Kinney concludes his editorial by stating:  “There are people living here today who will see a million inhabitants in Southern California here for its climate”.  Oh, if Kinney could see what SoCal looks like today!

During the first year of publication The Saturday Post had a circulation of 11,000 per week.  The paper was normally between 15 to 20 pages in length.  On April 27, 1901 Kinney changed the name of the paper to “ Los Angeles Saturday Post,”  and it remained with this name until its last issue on Feb. 24, 1906.

By now there were recurring weekly columns, such as In the Theater, the Woman’s Department, the Automobile Department, and the Camera.  In contrast to other dailies or weeklies, there were no sports pages, though Kinney did recount in the July 11, 1903 issue a series of tennis matches in which he took part at his resort at Ocean Park.

There is no doubt that Kinney saw his role as a promoter of all things Southern California.  He touted the fabulous climate here, the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, the magnificence of the mountains, desert, and ocean, and the charm of its many communities.  Beginning with the Oct. 27, 1900 issue of The Saturday Post, Kinney dedicated specific issues to promoting a distinct  locale.  In this issue we are treated to a complete history of Pasadena.  In other issues we are regaled by tales of  San Diego, Loma Linda, Ocean Park, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, and Santa Monica.  These issues tended to be longer.  For example, the May 25, 1901 issue had 24 pages.  Long Beach was featured in the June 15, 1901 issue of the Los Angeles Saturday Post and it had 32 pages! These locale features also displayed full page photos or collages of photos  on the front page.

As time went on, Kinney newspaper contained more and more advertising.  Not only did he advertise his own books and properties for sale, there were a myriad of ads selling most anything you could think of.  Beginning in the Feb. 6, 1904 issue, a full page of “Classified Advertisements”  appeared.  Among the services offered were:  florists, physicians, hotels and rooming houses, detectives, employment offices, mediums and palmists, investments, pianos, dentists, legal, wines, bath houses, wallpaper, vegetarian restaurant, steam laundry, groceries, etc.  The William H. Hoegee took out a full page ad listing all items you would find in a sporting goods store/outdoor store.  There were guns and ammunition, hunting and fishing clothing, fish netting, hunting boats, tennis, golf, baseball, football, boxing, and croquet supplies.  Also offered for sale were rubber and canvas horse blankets, oiled horse covers, and burlap by the bale. In this era when the automobile began to replace horses and carriages, it’s fascinating to see the overlap appearing in the classifieds.

W.K. Cowan advertised the sale of the Waverly No. 21 Electric Vehicle, touting it as “The Most Remarkable Electric Vehicle Ever Produced.”  He claims it “Runs 60 miles on a charge. Weighs about 850 lbs. Cost but a half cent a mile.”
In the early months of 1904, just as construction on the new town of Venice-In-America was commencing, Abbot Kinney used his newspaper to wage war on the Southern California Fruit Growers Association and, in particular, its president, A.H. Naftzger. On the front page of the February 27th issue of the Los Angeles Saturday Post the banner now exclaimed the new campaign against the Fruit trusts and the railroads that supported them with the words—Fruit, Forest, and Farm. Below he directly addresses Orange Growers, saying:  “Great Problems Facing Them—The Industry in Danger—Excessive Freight Rates Sapping Out Its Life—Millions of Dollars Lost to the Fruit Shippers as a Result of Cheap Cars and Poor Car Service for which they Pay an Exorbitant Rate—Growers Must Demand Relief and Demand It in Such a Way as to Compel Attention and Action
The Post Enters into the Fight for the Growers—It is in the Fight to Stay and Win”

Beginning with this declaration of war, every subsequent issue carried on the fight against the Fruit Growers Association. Eventually Abbot Kinney managed to persuade government officials to convene a panel of six commissioners—-3 chosen by Kinney and the other 3 by the Fruit Growers Association—in order to render a verdict on the charges Kinney alleged. Despite the massive effort Kinney mounted to win his war, the August 24th issue of the Los Angeles Herald proclaimed: “Board of Inquiry Exonerates Head of Southern California Fruit Agency, Abbot Kinney’s Charges Do Not Convince Commissioners.

The article below this headline states each of the six charges Kinney brought against A.H. Naftzger and the Fruit Growers Association—-all of which were dismissed. After this embarrassing loss and with his Venice project in full swing, Kinney seems to have lost interest in the newspaper. He relinquished much of his editorial duties to Frank Peltret, the Post’s manager, while the newspaper continued for another year and a half before its final issue appeared on February 24, 1906, In its pages there was no acknowledgment that this was the final issue nor a reason given for its demise. It just ceased publication.