Posts by sethrobertbabb

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Photos by Seth Babb

A continuation of trips to the landscapes of Ralph Cornell takes us to Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach. Rancho Los Cerritos is already an interesting site due to its deep historical significance in Southern California; the changes that Rancho Los Cerritos has gone through are representative of the development of the region as a whole. What seems like a somewhat typical older Southern California residential landscape contains layers of history and subtle design, a surprisingly distinguishing site representing the work of Cornell throughout Southern California that illustrates his ability to elevate the landscape into an experience worthy of a historic site.

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All photos: Seth Babb

Installed in 1935, the Power of Water was originally installed as a working fountain (possibly in Lafayette Park). The woman at the top basin represents water, with different people at the base representing the toil and turmoil in the search for the elemental resource. But in time, the basins were eventually filled in with soil and planted, eventually falling into disrepair.

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The Power of Water no longer functions as a fountain, but it’s still a beautiful example of the Art Deco style that exemplifies the beauty of many WPA projects. Overall, the fountain is still in surprisingly good shape given its age and marginal location. The statue may be old, but its timely message still resonates today as Angelenos are still preoccupied with the search for water.

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