Author: charley2030

Partial solar eclipse


NASA image via .

Notes added.

On April 19, 1939 there was a partial eclipse of the sun that could be seen in southern California but it wasn’t much. Learn more at . The area of totality was in Alaska and the North Pole as shown in the image above.



If one were on the moon and there was an eclipse of the sun by the earth, it might look like this illustration appearing in a 1939 issue of National Geographic magazine.


Streetcar residences


Image: Undated photo of Class 1 Streetcar homes in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego, CA from .

“In early 1939, the San Diego Electric Railway Company began the process of retiring the Class 1 streetcars. For a period of seven months that year, public sales were held to sell off the streetcar bodies, which could be purchased for $50 each.

“Fortunately, some of the big, roomy Class 1 streetcar bodies were purchased, put on lots, and converted into residences. Within a few months, however, there were complaints, and city leaders passed laws which made it illegal to use any more of the retired streetcars as residences…

“Since 1939, any time residential property with a streetcar home was sold in San Diego, the streetcar body had to be removed from the property, because they were not legally transferable as homes. The only streetcar bodies that could be used for homes were those that were grandfathered in, and continually resided in by the original property owner. Most streetcar homes were gone by the 1960s.

“A young, newly married couple purchased three of the streetcars in 1939 during that short seven-month period. This couple lived in them together for over fifty years. These are the last of the original 24 Class 1 streetcars and they are ready to be restored and returned the streets of San Diego.”

Excerpts from: . Read more about the history of this class of streetcar in San Diego at the link.

National Aviation Day


National Aviation Day, August 19, celebrates the development of aviation.

“The holiday was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who issued a presidential proclamation which designated the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday to be National Aviation Day (Mr. Wright, born in 1871, was still alive when the proclamation was first issued, and would live another nine years). The proclamation was codified (USC 36:I:A:1:118), and it allows the sitting US President to proclaim August 19 as National Aviation Day each year, if desired. Their proclamation may direct all federal buildings and installations to fly the US flag on that day, and may encourage citizens to observe the day with activities that promote interest in aviation.”
Excerpt from .

Image retouched from August 1939 Popular Science magazine article on a Los Angeles model airport: .

1939 activities honoring Wilbur and Orville Wright can be seen here: . None were in southern California, though.

Dept. of Motor Vehicles


If it was time to renew your drivers license, you would probably be studying this.


Then you might have to stand in a line like this (although this is a 1940 photo of people waiting to purchase a license plate before the annual deadline). The photo does not indicate the location apart from being in Los Angeles.

Image: Los Angeles Daily News photo from Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library via,1940.jpg .


China City fire


Image of post-fire Buddha statue from .

With the construction of the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal on the old Chinatown site, socialite and investor Christine Sterling created the China City tourist attraction near her Mexican themed Olvera Street north of downtown Los Angeles. Set buildings from the 1938 The Good Earth film were used.


“In February 1939, a suspicious fire (most likely arson) burned much of China City. After making repairs, Sterling reopened it in the summer of 1940. However, the rebuilt tourist center was not as successful as its previous incarnation.”

But there is more to the story:

Around 1935, Old Chinatown community leader Peter Soo-Hoo, Sr. met with Christine Sperling, the person responsible for adapting  Olvera Street into a Mexican themed shopping district. Sterling envisioned a new China City tourist district in downtown Los Angeles that played to popular Chinese themes. Soo-Hoo hated her idea, so he decided to pursue his own development project at another site. 

“Soo-Hoo and Sterling became bitter rivals which intensified after construction began on their competing Chinatown projects. Sterling scoffed at Soo-Hoo and his supporters by telling the press, “What do they want? An Oriental Westwood Village? Let them build [New Chinatown] if they think they can get away with it, but I think it will fail.”

“Soo-Hoo, in return, argued that the Chinese-Americans were best suited to design and build a New Chinatown…

“Soo-Hoo’s New Chinatown opened three weeks later [than Sterling’s China City in 1938]. Not only was Soo-Hoo’s New Chinatown funded, owned, and operated by Chinese investors and businesses, it provided homes for displaced Chinese, while Sterling’s did not. New Chinatown also reflected a more authentic Chinese culture and clientele.

“The competing business districts factionalized Chinese residents. China City’s shopkeepers and workers were grateful for the opportunity to find work in Sterling’s business district and were happy with the influx of celebrities and tourists. New Chinatown’s shopkeepers and business owners, however, felt that China City’s vendors mocked their culture by offering rickshaw rides and selling ‘Chinaburgers.’”

Excerpts and image from .