What Can We Learn From the Failings of William Mulholland?

The 'Father of Los Angeles' Was a Link in a Chain of Theft and Loss—And Its Consequences Ripple Into the Present

For much of my life I have been in conversation with a man who died 86 years ago.  He was born in Dublin in 1855 and grew up poor, with a face bruised by the fists of his father. He ran away from home at 14, joined the British Merchant Navy, and came to America. His name was William Mulholland, though he went by Bill, and by some he is known as the father of Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the country and the 13th in the world.

I was …

Where I Go: The ‘Meandering, Beautiful, Dangerous’ Angeles Crest Highway | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: The ‘Meandering, Beautiful, Dangerous’ Angeles Crest Highway

This Pacific Crest Trail Gateway Is Southern California’s Most Accessible Scenic Byway—When It's Open, That Is

The Angeles Crest Highway winds thousands of feet above the Los Angeles basin, a meandering, beautiful, and dangerous road that leads to the hiking trails of the Angeles National Forest …

Where I Go: The Garden Library I Grow | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: The Garden Library I Grow

Before I Plant, I Curl up With My Favorite Ecologists, Journalists, and Victorian Naturalists

My gardening habit was born on the day my mother died. Grief-stricken beyond belief, and thinking that her boundless spirit might linger still in the sun-loving plants she had long …

Where I Go: Atop San Francisco’s ‘Redwood Empire’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Atop San Francisco’s ‘Redwood Empire’

For Nearly 30 Years, I’ve Come to the City’s Highest Natural Point to Orient Myself

At 938 feet above sea level, Mount Davidson is the highest natural point in San Francisco. And for nearly 30 years, since I was a child, it has been my …

Why Americans Need to Believe in Bigfoot

The ‘Monster Roaming the Countryside’ Helped Lure Us Back Into Nature

Why are Americans so devoted to Bigfoot?

You can find Bigfoot everywhere. Its image adorns coffee cups, T-shirts, bumper stickers, bottle openers, and other sundries. Bigfoot is the Canadian-American version of …

How Our View of National Parks Shapes American Identity

What We Seek and Find in Our Sacred Environments Reflects Our Country’s Character

Few natural regions have been photographed as often, or in such varied ways, as the American West. Many of these alluring, emotionally resonant landscapes lie within the boundaries of national …