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Catherine Mulholland, 1923-2011




DWP presser follows.

LOS ANGELES — Catherine Mulholland, the granddaughter of William Mulholland, who wrote a comprehensive and critically praised biography of the storied founder of the Domestic Water Works System, later the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, died today at her home in Camarillo.

To the world at large, Ms. Mulholland was known mostly as a noted historian and author of William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, which challenged many of the prevailing notions of her grandfather’s legacy as the chief engineer who built an aqueduct to bring water to Los Angeles via gravity alone from 233 miles away. Completed in 1913, the Los Angeles Aqueduct then, as now, is considered one of the engineering marvels of the 20th Century.

To LADWP employees of recent decades, Ms. Mulholland was known for her willing participation in activities that celebrated the Department’s history and William Mulholland’s accomplishments. She generously loaned numerous family artifacts to the LADWP for its lobby exhibit “William Mulholland: The Man and His Vision” that celebrated the sesquicentennial of his 1855 birth. The exhibit is currently open at LADWP headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles.

“We are very saddened to learn of Catherine Mulholland’s passing,” said Ronald O. Nichols, LADWP General Manager. “Ms. Mulholland was well known to the LADWP family through her gracious participation in events that celebrated her legendary grandfather, William Mulholland, a revered figure here at the Department. We are all going to miss her and the link she provided to our historic past.”

By bringing water to a semi-arid former pueblo that could only sustain a population of 400,000 with existing sources, Mulholland’s aqueduct helped the city grow to ten times that size. His achievements are marked by such well-known public landmarks as the Mulholland Dam at Lake Hollywood, the Mulholland Memorial Fountain adjacent to Griffith Park and the scenic Mulholland Drive.

A sad day for Mulhollands everywhere, but unquestionably a life well lived.