I’ve come to think of 1913 as a a high water mark, an icy high water mark, in the early history of the city of Redlands. The freeze of 1913 threw the local economy, based around citrus, into a tailspin; the town froze in more ways than one. One by-product of this is that the beautiful domestic architecture of the city was frozen in time; the growth that you would have expected from a pre-1913 linear progression never happened. In this analysis, the city developed up until 1913 and then semi-literally, froze. The houses we have today are the fruits of the freeze of 1913.
There’s a proposal on the June municipal election ballot in Redlands to ban Wal-Mart from opening a new super center in town. I have no idea if it’s going to succeed or not, but one yardstick is the seriousness with which Wal-Mart is taking the threat of the proposed ban; the company has mounted a fairly massive campaign to combat the proposal. I myself have answered at least three phone surveys and gotten at least two mailings from Wal-Mart funded organizations campaigning against the proposal in the past few weeks. And I just talked to an astroturf canvasser on the street who was against it.
On this day, 5 January, in 1913, the economy of Redlands, CA, literally froze. Temperatures dropped to 10-15 F in some areas, representing some of the coldest nights ever measured. According to Time Magazine, practically the entire citrus crop, the basis of the local economy, was destroyed. The cold snap lasted for three days:
Icicles hung on the trees in most groves; many of the trees were completely defoliated. The losses of the citrus growers soon became an economic and social disaster for the entire town. In the years following the freeze, Redlands lost 2,000 people, and it was not until after World War I that building and neighborhood development started once again.