Grocer, Doctor, Gambling Man, Clerk ...

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is the 41st mayor of Los Angeles, takes over a job with a colorful history. Here's a look at how L.A.'s 40 former mayors are remembered, if at all.

Alpheus P. Hodges


Hodges was mayor and coroner. He received no pay as mayor but earned $100 for each inquest of a "dead Indian." His hallmark was his youth when he took office -- 28 years old, still a record.

Benjamin D. Wilson


A winemaker and land baron, Wilson was the first elected full-time mayor. He also organized the first police force.

John G. Nichols

1852-53, 1856-59

Nichols, a grocer, lived in the first brick house and his son was the first American born in L.A.

Antonio F. Coronel


Coronel, sworn in kneeling before a makeshift altar, established the Department of Public Works. He encouraged residents to gather in the plaza at the sound of a gong and vote on city matters by a show of hands.

Stephen C. Foster

1854-55, 1856

Solidifying his "law and order" pledge, Foster scrambled atop a beer keg and announced his brief resignation to head a lynch mob. When the Yale graduate resumed the job, he started a chain gang to build new streets.

Thomas Foster


Foster, a physician, enforced a $3 fine on those who bathed or washed their clothes in the zanja madre, the city's water system. He sent a wagon dubbed the "Black Maria" to cart off smallpox victims.

Damien Marchessault

1859-60, 1861-65

A carousing onetime New Orleans gambler, Marchessault and a partner laid wooden water pipes that burst and turned streets into sinkholes. Struggling with mounting debts, he slipped into an empty City Council chamber on Jan. 20, 1868, and shot himself to death.

Henry Mellus


An entrepreneur and a bookish Bostonian, Mellus sailed around Cape Horn in 1835 with Richard Henry Dana Jr., author of "Two Years Before the Mast."

Jose Mascarel


A former French sea captain, Mascarel spoke Spanish and French but little English. During the Civil War, when the Union Army's Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell scheduled a visit, it was feared that his language skills might prove an embarrassment. Fortunately, McDowell spoke French.

Cristobal Aguilar

1866-68, 1871-72

Aguilar vetoed a proposed sale of the city water system and started the Department of Water and Power. He failed in a bid for a third term when his opponent made an issue of his flawed English. He was the last Latino mayor before Villaraigosa.

Joel H. Turner


Turner is perhaps best known for startling Secretary of State William Seward by "ambushing" his stagecoach with a band of troubadours "all tricked out in ribbons and spangles in old-time Californian style."

James R. Toberman

1872-74, 1878-82

Toberman, who sported a droopy mustache, was a bit of a skinflint. He budgeted $25 for the welcoming ceremonies for Rutherford B. Hayes, the first American president to visit L.A.

Prudent Beaudry


Beaudry was pitied as a fool for paying $517 for 20 acres of "howling coyote wilderness." He piped water to it in 1875 and, because it was the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, he named it accordingly.

Frederick Alexander MacDougall


Scottish-born MacDougall was a charter member of the city's first all-male social club.

Bernard Cohn


Appointed mayor for two weeks after MacDougall died in office.

Cameron Erskine Thom


Elysian Park was established when he was mayor. An attorney, he helped draft the City Charter.

Edward F. Spence


A businessman and banker, Spence helped found USC.

William H. Workman


A former saddle-and-harness dealer, Workman helped import water from the north, developed Boyle Heights and devised an Eastside streetcar system.

John Bryson


Bryson's wife publicly demanded that the real estate mogul live with his girlfriend outside the city limits. "I would rather die than agree to any such crazy proposition as that," he said.

Henry T. Hazard


Hazard, a businessman and attorney, was in a barber's chair, lathered with shaving cream, when the 1871 Chinese Massacre broke out. With shaving cream on his face, he drew his revolver and plunged into the murderous mob to rescue hapless victims.

Thomas E. Rowan


Owner of the American Baking Co., his real interest was politics and shenanigans. Rowan sponsored the first "La Fiesta de Los Angeles," which endures as Fiesta Broadway. Newspaper accounts report Rowan and others paraded in "weird and terrible costumes."

Frank Rader


An innocent-looking man with a handlebar mustache and wavy hair, Rader fought for federal money to develop a port.

Meredith Pinxton Snyder

1896-98, 1900-04, 1919-21

The former furniture store clerk was a durable Democrat in a period of Republican ascendancy. But he refused to clamp down on the oil industry.

Fred Eaton


A visionary engineer, Eaton tried to solve the city's water crisis. After he left office, he hatched an ambitious plan for an aqueduct to divert water to Los Angeles from the Owens Valley.

Owen C. McAleer


The first whisker-free mayor in more than 50 years, McAleer helped oust the city librarian in 1905 to make way for a former Los Angeles Times editor.

Arthur C. Harper


Harper stepped down in 1909 amid charges that he was taking payoffs from casinos and frequenting downtown brothels.

William D. Stephens


Filled in for less than two weeks after Harper resigned.

George Alexander


A former grain dealer, Alexander was a progressive reformer, avid prohibitionist and anti-unionist. After union agitators dynamited the Times building in 1910, he hired the private detective who broke the case.

Henry R. Rose


A socialist and progressive, Rose was also a crack pistol shot, winning many matches, even against the police chief.

Charles E. Sebastian


He rose from a flatfoot in the Police Department to chief of police and then mayor, a feat never repeated. He quit after a newspaper printed love letters to his girlfriend in which he called his wife "the Old Haybag."

Frederick T. Woodman


Woodman was indicted on charges of accepting bribes from the vice squad. Although he was acquitted, it led to his downfall.

George E. Cryer


Cryer, a police officer and a lawyer, was known as the hiking mayor for popularizing Griffith Park's trails.

John C. Porter


A used-car dealer, Porter combined reform politics with Protestant populism. He nearly caused an international incident in France when he refused to drink a champagne toast to the president, noting that Prohibition was in effect in the U.S.

Frank L. Shaw


He handed out keys to the city but put his brother on the payroll as "private secretary" and appointed a dishonest police chief. A recall sent him and his chief into retirement. Some historians believe that the overthrow of the Shaw machine drove the L.A. mob to Las Vegas.

Fletcher Bowron


A former Superior Court judge, Bowron was a law-and-order mayor who in World War II called for the roundup of enemy aliens and their children "who are more dangerous because of their command of English."

Norris Poulson


During a dinner at the Ambassador Hotel in 1959, mild-mannered Poulson scolded Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev for his boast that communism would "bury" capitalism. Poulson retorted: "You shall not bury us and we shall not bury you."

Sam Yorty


Known as "traveling Sam" because he was out of town 372 days in a 3 1/2 -year period, the feisty Yorty gained national attention with his unsolicited advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson on such matters as the Vietnam War and Palestinian refugees.

Tom Bradley


Shrewd and silent, Bradley, the city's first and only black mayor, presided over its rise to world-city status as corporate towers rose.

Richard Riordan


Riordan led moves to reform the L.A. school board and the City Charter. The bicycle-riding millionaire was known for his temper and his off-kilter sense of humor.

James K. Hahn


After he lost his reelection bid, Hahn said he suffered from "charisma deficit disorder." His one term was marked by two bold moves -- ousting the police chief and defeating secession.

Graphics reporting by Cecelia Rasmussen

Los Angeles Times

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