DispL.A. Case #54: Millstone


The history of Los Angeles as told through 232 objects.

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781. Between now and the 232nd anniversary, we are gathering the stories behind iconic objects that help explain our city. Los Angeles is older than Chicago, Atlanta or Washington, D.C. In fact, when L.A.’s founders were gathering at El Pueblo, New York City was still occupied by the British army. We have a long story to tell, let’s take a look back and see where the city came from. Feel free to add to this exhibition. Email your ideas to [email protected]

Wheat and cereals need to be soaked or crushed to get to the nutritious center. Outside of a mortar and pestle, the earliest way to do grind wheat was with a giant stone wheel driven by wind, horses, or water. The earliest example of one of these big gristmills in greater Los Angeles is El Molino Viejo, built near the San Gabriel Mission in 1816. Later that century, a water wheel appeared on the Los Angeles River near present-day Chinatown and turned this British-made stone, which made flour at the “first commercial mill in Los Angeles.” After 50 years in service, and probably a few more in storage, Walter Knott acquired the stone and moved it to his theme park in Orange County where it resides today.


DispL.A. Case #53: Pink’s Hot Dog

DispL.A. Case #52: Firestone Tire

DispL.A. Case #51: Copper Pot From See’s Candies

DispL.A. Case #50: Japanese Relocation Order

DispL.A. Case #49: Gary Leonard’s Camera