Ramadan on Off-Ramp for August 11, 2012

A page out of history - Los Angeles Mayor George Cryer

LA Public Library

June 1, 1929: Mayor George Cryer about to push the electric switch which will light up green lanterns around LA, symbols of hospitable soda fountain services. L: A.H. Vossmeyer, representing druggists at whose stores the lanterns will be placed. R: A.V. Wainright, President of California Consumers Co., sponsors of the movement, which will revive the spirit of the old inns.

Here's a man most Angelinos know nothing about.

After stumbling across his noble portrait while browsing the LA Public Library's delightful and encyclopedic online photo archive, I've cobbled together this pocket bio, gleaned from the LAPL, Wikipedia, and Los Angeles A-Z:

George Edward Cryer was the 32d mayor of LA, serving from 1921 to 1929, when the city added more than 40 square miles and rose in population from 570,000 to more than a million.

He was born in 1875 and moved here from Nebraska with his family in 1885. He went back East for law school (UM), graduated with honors, and began practicing law in Los Angeles in 1903. He served in the local US Attorney's office and county DA's office, and was the prosecutor in the corruption case brought against Los Angeles County Supervisor, Richard H. Norton.

During his mayoral administration, the city started building LA City Hall, the Central Library, the LA Memorial Coliseum, and the Mulholland Highway.

Los Angeles A-Z says Cryer, "lost control of crime and vice, and proved unable to deal with police corruption. Cryer's right-hand-man, Kent Parrot, was considered the defacto mayor of the city." He went through five police chiefs in his last years of office.

After leaving office in 1929 Cryer went into private practice, but between 1929 and 1931, became engaged in a widely publicized court battle with radio evangelist Rev. Robert P. Shuler.

Wikipedia says Shuler 'branded Cryer as a "grafter" and the "chief exploiter," called his administration "one of the must corrupt the city ever saw," linked him to vice king Charlie Crawford, and asserted that Cryer went into office as a poor man and came out as a millionaire.'

At trial, asked if he'd ever taken a bribe, Cryer responded: "No, sir; never at any time, directly or indirectly. I never profited by my office. In fact, I considered it a financial detriment. It was the darndest job I ever had. It took practically all of my time, Sundays and every other day, and most of the night. I had to take the telephone out of my house so I could get a little sleep. I used to come home at nights from a banquet or something and people would call me sometimes at 3 o'clock in the morning -- some of them apparently insane."

Cryer lost in court, but did manage to get Shuler's radio licensed revoked. (Shuler also attacked blacks, Catholics, and the YWCA.)

Cryer tripped over a garden hose in 1961, broke his hip, and died after surgery. He's buried at Forest Lawn Mausoleum.


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