On July 15, 1957, Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. The city, the man, and his paper were the subject of the lead story, “CITIES: The New World“. Norman’s grandfather, Union Army Colonel Harrison Gray Otis, had arrived in Los Angeles in 1882, bought up a quarter-interest in the Times, served as its editor, and four years later bought the publication outright. In 1886, the paper had a circulation of about 2500. By 1957, what had once been a small pueblo settlement on the Pacific Ocean had transformed into a 455-square-mile city of over 2 million inhabitants, with satellite communities covering 4853 square miles, three times the size of Rhode Island. As of the date of the Time article, the LA Times circulation numbered 462, 257.
Harrison Otis’ tenure at the paper saw the arrival of two railroads and a population surge into the city. Around the turn of the century, ambitious circulation boss Harry Chandler married Harrison’s daughter Marian. Chandler took over the paper soon after and became a major driving force in the growth of the City of Angels. He played a significant role (and enlarged his personal fortune by many millions of dollars) in the construction of an aqueduct to bring water and agricultural prosperity to the San Fernando Valley. Harry was also instrumental in establishing LA as the center of a $2.5 billion aircraft industry (Douglas, Lockheed, North American, Northrup), and had a hand in the development of the California Institute of Technology, the Memorial Coliseum, Union Station, and the Hoover Dam.
Norman Chandler, age 57 when the article was published, politically conservative, grew up on his family’s ranch north of LA and studied business at Stanford University. He married Dorothy Buffum (“Buffie”, namesake of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), came back to work at the Times and then took over when Harry retired in 1941. Norman and Buffie managed a multi-million dollar business empire which included paper manufacturing, real estate, securities, television, commercial printing, ranching, and oil. They funded the construction of the Hollywood Palladium, the Los Angeles Music Center, and the restoration of the Hollywood Bowl.
“Today’s Los Angeles is too amorphous for one man to rule, one newspaper to command,” the article pronounced. Republican Chandler and his paper nevertheless strongly backed California G.O.P. political candidates, including Vice President Richard M. Nixon. “I think Dick Nixon would make one of the finest Presidents the U.S. has ever had, ” Chandler asserted. “[California U.S. Senator] Bill Knowland is a fine man, but if they are both candidates for the G.O.P. nomination in 1960, Mr. Nixon will get the support of the Times.”
Image Credit: Time Magazine