Harry Chandler (May 17, 1864 – September 23, 1944) was an American
newspaper publisher and investor who became owner of the largest real
estate empire in the U.S.
1 Early life
3 Personal life
4 Death and legacy
6 Further reading
Harry Chandler was born in
Landaff, New Hampshire
Landaff, New Hampshire to Moses K. and Emma
J. (Little) Chandler. He attended Dartmouth College, and on a
dare, he jumped into a vat of starch that had frozen over during
winter, which led to severe pneumonia. He withdrew from Dartmouth
and moved to
Los Angeles for his health.
In Los Angeles, while working in the fruit fields, he started a small
delivery company that soon became responsible for also delivering many
of the city's morning newspapers, which put him in contact with The
Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis. Otis liked this
entrepreneurial young man and hired him as the Times’ general
manager. Harry married Otis’s daughter, Marian Otis, in 1894 (two
years after the death of his first wife). The couple had six children
together and also raised two daughters from Harry's first marriage.
Upon Otis’s death in 1917, Harry took over the reins as publisher of
the Times, transforming it into the leading newspaper in the West and
at times the most successful. For three straight years in the 1920s,
under his leadership, the Times led all other American newspapers in
advertising space and in number of classified ads.
Much of his boundless energy and dreams were however directed to
transforming Los Angeles. As a community builder and large-scale real
estate speculator, he became arguably the leading citizen of Los
Angeles in the first half of the 20th century. Chandler was directly
involved with helping to found the following: the
Los Angeles Coliseum
(and bringing the
1932 Summer Olympics
1932 Summer Olympics to L.A.), the Biltmore Hotel,
the Douglas Aircraft Company, the
Hollywood Bowl, The Ambassador
California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the
Automobile Club of Southern California, KHJ radio station, Trans World
Airlines, the San Pedro Harbor, the
Los Angeles Athletic Club, the
California Club, The
Pacific Electric Cars, the
Los Angeles Art
Santa Anita Park
Santa Anita Park racetrack, the
Los Angeles Steamship
Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, and the
restoration of downtown’s
Olvera Street and Chinatown[citation
As a real estate investor, he was a partner in syndicates that owned
and developed much of the San Fernando Valley, as well as the
Hollywood Hills (Hollywoodland). The Hollywoodland sign was used to
promote the development. Chandler's other real estate projects
included Mulholland Drive, much of Dana Point, the Tejon Ranch
(281,000 acres (1,140 km²) in Southern California), the Vermejo
Park Ranch (340,000 acres (1,400 km²) in New Mexico), and the
C&M ranch (832,000 acres (3,370 km²) in northern Baja,
Mexico). At one point these investments made him the largest private
landowner in the U.S., while at the same time, he was an officer or
director in thirty-five California corporations, including oil,
shipping, and banking.
Harry Chandler was a notable eugenicist during his time as President
Los Angeles Times, and was a member of the Human Betterment
Foundation, an organization headed by Ezra Gosney.
A proclamation prepared for a
Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Dinner -
Harry Chandler (1931) included this excerpt:
At six feet two, Chandler was a big man, and many stories were told of
his prowess in delivering papers, tussling with unionists, or pitching
hay on one of his many ranches. A Congregationalist in religion, he
abstained from alcohol, lived frugally, and commuted by foot whenever
possible. His favorite charity was the Salvation Army. He was an
indefatigable worker and forthright in his editorial positions. For
his comments on the court decisions in certain labor cases still in
the process of appeal, he was found guilty in 1938 on two counts of
contempt of court. His conviction was overturned by the United States
Supreme Court in 1941 - a landmark decision for freedom of the press.
For their role in the decision Chandler and the Times won their first
On February 6, 1888, Harry married Magdalena Schlador whose brother
worked at the
Los Angeles Times. They had a daughter, Francesca, born
April 7, 1890 and a second daughter, Alice May, born July 24, 1892.
Sadly Magdalena, who Harry called May, died of puerperal fever two
weeks after Alice May's birth on August 4, 1892 at the age of twenty
Chandler went on to marry Marian Otis in 1894. Francesca and Alice
May were soon joined by Constance (born March 19, 1896), Ruth (October
15, 1897), Norman (September 14, 1899), Harrison Gray Otis (February
12, 1904) and the twins, Helen and Philip (born February 17, 1907).
Death and legacy
Chandler died on September 23, 1944 from a heart attack. He and
Marian are buried at
Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica
Boulevard. Harrison Gray Otis's memorial is nearby. Harry's oldest
son, Norman Chandler, took charge of the
Los Angeles Times after
Chandler Boulevard, a major street in the San Fernando Valley, is
named for Harry Chandler.
^ a b "Harry Chandler, 80, Veteran L. A. Publisher, Dies". The Fresno
Bee. September 23, 1944. p. 2. Retrieved May 15, 2016 – via
Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
^ a b c d e "
Harry Chandler of Times Dies. Leader in Southland for
Half Century". The San Bernardino County Sun. September 24, 1944.
pp. 1–2. Retrieved May 15, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
(Registration required (help)).
^ George Chandler (1883). The Chandler Family.
^ Gosney, E.S. (1929). Twenty-eight Years of Sterilization in
California. Pasadena, California: The Human Betterment Foundation.
^ Gwendolyn Garland Babcock, The Ancestry of Harry Chandler,
The Powers That Be, David Halberstam, Dell Books, 1986
Otis Chandler and the Rise and Fall of the L.A. Times
Dynasty, Dennis McDougal, Perseus Publishing, 2001
The Ancestry of
Harry Chandler by Gwendolyn Garland Babcock