DEC 2014 – President’s Article by Geoff Bonney


Some Things Never Change

Time for a bit of history about Redlands and the Chamber of Commerce.  We all have heard about President McKinley’s historic visit to Redlands in 1901.  Recently I learned about the role the Redlands Chamber of Commerce played in that visit.  Back then the C of C was called the Redlands Board of Trade.  At that time they resided in the Phinney Block building on a six month lease for $35 a month.  Things were good in 1901.

On the second floor of the Chamber offices, you may have noticed a leather chair in the southeast corner.  This chair was made by the Board of Trade specifically for President McKinley to use during his visit.  He sat in this chair while attending a Board of Trade meeting at the Phinney Block building.  Next time you sit in that chair, know that you are sitting in a bit of history.  McKinley was particularly important to Redlands, since his tariff on imported oranges helped the local industry.

Now the title of this article is “Some Things Never Change”.  As part of my research on the McKinley visit, I reviewed the minutes from the Board of Trade.  It turns out that they were dealing with many of the same problems then that we have now.  Here is a summary of a few items.

Roads were a big concern, probably even more so than now.  Since the streets were dirt, there is frequent mention of the need to sprinkler them for dust control.  When the President came to town they upped the anti to oiling rather than sprinklering.

Just like today, they had a Government Review Committee (then called the Committee on Law and Legislature).  In 1901 they were reviewing an ordinance to maintain vacant lots.  This included looking at similar ordinances in Los Angeles and Denver for comparison.  Also on their plate was the review of City Bonds to purchase the Yucaipa Ranch Property for a municipal water supply.

Tourism was on their minds as well.  Redlands called itself the “Land of Flowers” and the “Naval Orange Capital of the World”.  They sent had over 5000 tourism booklets printed, and sent 2000 to the Tourist Information Bureau of Los Angeles for distribution.

Of course there was the task of keeping the Board of Trade operating.  This included paying the electric bill (yes, we had electricity then).  I’m guessing there was not a Night Light Run.  If so, I would have seen another reference to sprinklering the streets.

I am told this pattern of Chamber work goes back even further.  In 6000 BC the Mesopotamia Chamber of Commerce was also addressing road conditions.  I wonder what their GRC had on their agenda.  I’m assuming they did not have to worry about paying the electric bill though.

Have a great Holiday and a Happy New Year!

picture for presidents article


President McKinley in Redlands, 1901.  Note the flowers and fabulous streets.