The Kathy Fiscus Tragedy Transfixed the World. Seven Decades Later, I Can’t Let It Go

A California Historian Can’t Shake His Obsession With the 1949 Death That Became the First Live, Breaking News TV Spectacle

I can walk from my home to the area where Alice Fiscus stood in the kitchen chatting with her sister Jeanette on that fateful late afternoon of April 8, 1949. The landscape is changed now. But with luck, a good map, and a historic photograph, I can get within ten feet of where Alice looked out that window and first realized that her youngest child had disappeared. I have tried it before, and I feel like trying it again as I write this. Right there, at the mouth of an …

Chasing the Sun’s Medicinal Rays | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Chasing the Sun’s Medicinal Rays

At the Turn of the 20th Century, Southern California Became a Testing Ground for Healthy Living

Southern California has long attracted those seeking a mild climate, a healthy lifestyle, and sunshine. According to Lyra Kilston, author of Sun Seekers: The Cure of California, the origins of …

California, Don’t Let Your Greatest Thinker Die | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

California, Don’t Let Your Greatest Thinker Die

The Wisdom of 19th-Century Philosopher Josiah Royce Is Needed Now More Than Ever

If you’re a Californian who doesn’t know the name Josiah Royce, shame on you. And shame on the schools, libraries, and intellectuals who have allowed us to forget the greatest …

Pasadena, California, Was Born in Indiana During the Cold, Damp Winter of 1872 | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Pasadena, California, Was Born in Indiana During the Cold, Damp Winter of 1872

The Midwesterners Who Founded the ‘Crown City’ Were Seeking a Colony Where Their Lungs Could Heal

In May 1872, after suffering through another extremely cold, damp winter, a group of 150 middle-class neighbors from Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to leave home. The group included lawyers, doctors, journalists, …

Why California’s Greatest Historian Couldn’t Get Elected in San Francisco

Kevin Starr's Failed Candidacy Exposed the Fault Lines in a Shifting City

Kevin Starr is widely regarded as California’s pre-eminent historian—a prolific author and public intellectual for nearly 50 years—and his death earlier this year generated much writing about his life and …

How William T. Sherman Helped Create California

And How His Golden State Past Influenced the Civil War General’s Most Famous Decision

This month, as California celebrates Admission Day—a legal holiday in honor of our officially joining the United States on September 9, 1850—we should give ourselves an overdue present:

A founding story …