Historical Record Committee Updates

February 2022

We are currently awaiting the results of a structural analysis that will determine if we need to first complete a seismic retrofit of the Hammel Building to accommodate the added weight of the exhibit. After being handed the design books from the Natural History Museum of LA County in June 2021, the Water Engineering and Technical Services team worked extensively with El Pueblo to evaluate the building and structure of the space to plan and begin construction of the exhibit. During these evaluations it was discovered that the building may need a seismic retrofit.

In July 2021, LADWP employed the specialized engineering services of AECOM to analyze the structural system of the Hammel Building an Unreinforced Masonry Building. The preliminary analysis, evaluation, and cost estimate is due March 2022. The analysis will either conclude the building meets current seismic codes or the building requires a seismic retrofit.

If the building requires a seismic retrofit, a cost estimate and revised schedule will be developed and presented to LADWP management for consideration.

If the building does not require a seismic retrofit, the design will be finalized and the Los Angeles Building & Safety permit process will commence. The construction is estimated to start May 2023 and the museum could be completed by December 2023.


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July 2019

The development of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Historical Exhibit in the Hammel Building on Olvera Street has been approved by the Commissioners of LADWP and the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument Department (El Pueblo).

This new Exhibit will include the relocation of the existing History of Water Exhibit (which has been closed because it was not accessible to people with disabilities), expanded exhibits highlighting the role of the Department in the founding and development of Los Angeles, and present information on the sustainability efforts being undertaken by LADWP.

The Hammel Building which fronts on Olvera Street and also includes access to North Main Street is particularly suited for this exhibit because it contains an exposed portion of the Zanja Madre (the original water distribution system of Los Angeles).  It also has sufficient space (2,600 sq. ft.) to greatly expand the current displays to cover the historical roles of water and power in the development of the City of Los Angeles, as well as allowing for rotating exhibits focusing on current issues.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies stipulates LADWP will provide up to $195,000 for capital improvements, design, installation, and on-going presentation of exhibits. El Pueblo will be responsible for coordinating the development of the exhibit; providing staffing consistent with all the other museums in El Pueblo; and performing the maintenance and operations of the site once the project is completed.

It is anticipated that the exhibit will open in about a year and that it will last about 10 years before major changes would need to be considered.

The Water and Power Associates will be looking at the possibility of augmenting the staff of Museum through providing docent services for the exhibit (Click HERE for exhibit location).


Gerald A. Gewe
Chair Historical Record Committee


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July 2016

An important part of the mission of the Water and Power Associates (Associates) is to provide information on the role that LADWP has played in the development of the City of Los Angeles and Southern California. Included in this is seeing that the Historic Record is preserved and that it is made more accessible to the public and scholars.

While there have been a number of excellent exhibits presented over the years, the Associates have been encouraging the development of a permanent exhibit where the LADWP’s story can be presented and the public encouraged to delve more deeply into the history.

Recently the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument and LADWP have been investigating the expansion of the Museum’s existing Water exhibit (which is largely inaccessible due to ADA access issues). This will allow for a larger exhibit space, in which a more complete story of LADWP’s role in the establishment of Los Angeles can be presented within the context of the Monument’s mission of presenting the history of Los Angeles from its founding through 1931. The Zanja Madre runs underneath the exhibit space and would be visible to the visitors. There would also be space for rotating exhibits where more modern history and current water and energy issues facing Los Angeles and Southern California could be addressed.

The Associates is also encouraging space to be set aside so that visitors can have computer access to the Associates Virtual Museum and LADWP’s collection of historic documents as they become available in through the LADWP website in the next few years.

As the plans are further developed the Associates will also be looking at the opportunity to assist the effort through arranging for its members to volunteer as docents for the exhibit.

We look forward to seeing this valuable addition to the Museum and assisting in moving the project forward.


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March 2015

The Water and Power Associates (Associates) have a high interest in seeing an accurate historical record associated with LADWP and its activities preserved and made readily accessible to the public and scholars.  The historical record is contained in artifacts, documents and photographs that have been generated through the Department’s activities.

There have been many misrepresentations and inaccuracies associated with references to the activities of LADWP over the years.  There has been a tendency for these to be repeated in later references and become accepted as fact in the public perception of LADWP.  Often times there has not been proper credit given to the Department’s role in the development of the City of Los Angeles.   A first step the Associates have taken in making historical record available is the Virtual Museum. If you have not yet visited this museum, We strongly urge you to do so now.  You will find it fascinating.

A little over a year ago the Associates established a Historical Record Committee to work with LADWP management to develop a structure and processes that will assure that the historical record of LADWP is preserved and made accessible to all with a legitimate interest in that historical record. 

As a first step the committee hired a consultant, Linda Vida who had been the archivist for the University Water Library that had been located at UC Berkley and was responsible for the relocation of that Library to UC Riverside.   Linda assisted the Committee by performing an evaluation of the current activities of LADWP (which are being conducted as part of the Records Management Program) and providing suggestions on what needs to be evaluated for developing a more robust program.

Currently the program is focused upon making digital copies of the documents that have been identified as historical documents within the LADWP’s document management system.  It is our understanding that about half of the documents have been scanned, although scanning many of the remaining documents will be more challenging as they exist as bound or oversized documents.  Ultimately the goal is to make these documents searchable and available through the LADWP website, once a new generation website that can better handle those activities is operational.  It will be several years before this is fully functional, but plans are moving forward.

LADWP has also initiated efforts to catalogue and protect the many artifacts that are scattered throughout the facilities of the Department.  Volunteers are need to help develop information on what many of these items are, how, when and where they were used, and the significance of them.  The committee is hoping to develop a list of volunteers that would be willing to periodically receive an e-mail with pictures of 10 to 20 artifacts that they can review and share their knowledge regarding the items that they are familiar with.   If you are willing to participate in this effort, please contact Jerry Gewe at Jgewe@hotmail.com and indicate your interest.

LADWP is also seeking to develop a LADWP exhibit regarding the Department’s role in the founding of Los Angeles within the El Pueblo Historical Park.  This exhibit would focus primarily on the period through the 1930’s (consistent w/ El Pueblo’s strategic focus) with the possibility of including a rotating component to cover other events and/or items of current interest.   The Historical Record Committee is encouraging the exhibit to include computer capability which would allow visitors to access other sources of information regarding LADWP that exist on the internet such as the CSUN website, the Associates website and the historical portion of the LADWP website once it is available.

Making these types of resources available will hopefully allow students and the general public in the future to gain a more balanced presentation of and appreciation of the activities of LADWP in the founding and development of the City of Los Angeles.


Jerry Gewe

Historical Record Committee Chairman
Water and Power Associates, Inc.




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