Gaylord Wilshire

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Gaylord Wilshire, from his book Socialism Inevitable

Henry Gaylord Wilshire (June 7, 1861 – September 7, 1927), known to his contemporaries by his middle name of "Gaylord", was a land developer, publisher and outspoken socialist who gave Los Angeles famous Wilshire Boulevard its name.


Early years[edit]

Henry Gaylord Wilshire was born June 7, 1861, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Wilshire moved to Los Angeles, California in 1884.

In 1895 he began developing 35 acres (140,000 m2) stretching westward from Westlake Park for an elite residential subdivision. He donated a strip of land to the city of Los Angeles for a boulevard through what was then a barley field, on the conditions that it would be named for him and that railroad lines and commercial or industrial trucking would be banned.

In 1900, Wilshire was arrested for speaking in a public park in Los Angeles. A judge dismissed the charges, but the incident caused Wilshire to leave Los Angeles for New York.[1]

Political career[edit]

Wilshire was a frequent and far-ranging political candidate. He stood as the Nationalist Party Congressional candidate for the 6th California District in 1890, as the candidate of the Socialist Labor Party for Attorney General in 1891, for the British Parliament in 1894, for Congress in the California 6th District again in 1900, this time on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party of America, for the Canadian Parliament in 1902, and for Congress from New York in 1904. In 1909 Wilshire was a candidate for city council in Los Angeles as a part of the Socialist Party slate, which was backed at that time by the Los Angeles unions. By about 1911 Wilshire began to have his doubts about electoral politics, and shifted his allegiance to revolutionary syndicalism and advocacy of the general strike.[2] He was the editor of the Syndicalist League's magazine The Syndicalist during 1913. During World War I Wilshire worked with Emma Goldman in the Free Speech League in New York.

In 1900, Wilshire launched the first of his publishing ventures in Los Angeles, a magazine called The Challenge. At least 40 issues of the publication were produced between December 1900 and October 1901.[3] The name of this publication was subsequently changed to Wilshire's Monthly Magazine in 1901, before being shorted to Wilshire's Magazine (1902) and Wilshire's (1904), with publication variously in New York and Toronto. First a small-format magazine, later a tabloid newspaper, Wilshire's continued in production until February 1915.

Death and legacy[edit]

Wilshire eventually returned to Los Angeles and made much of his connection with the now famous Boulevard that bore his name, though he had no direct involvement with its gradual expansion in the years while he was absent from the region. He made and lost several fortunes during his lifetime and died destitute on September 7, 1927 in New York.[4]

Wilshire Drive in Phoenix, Arizona was named after him, as is Wilshire Avenue in Fullerton, Orange County, California (where he first ran for Congress in 1890 = the first congressional candidate in America from what became a socialist-oriented party).[5]

Wilshire's body was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Starr, Kevin. Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986; pp. 209-211.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "The Challenge," OCLC citation. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  4. ^ "Wilshire Passes in New York: Word of Death of Pioneer of Los Angeles Received by Relative Here," Los Angeles Times September 8, 1927.
  5. ^ See the 2012 biography by Los Angeles City College teacher Louis Rosen:


Books and pamphlets[edit]

  • Why American Workingmen Should Be Socialists. 1891. —Four page leaflet.
  • Free Trade vs. Protection. New York: Socialist League of America, 1892.
  • The Poor Farmer and Why He is Poor. Fullerton, CA: Nationalist Publication Co., n.d. [c. 1899].
  • Liquid Air: Perpetual Motion at Last: Tripler's Surplusage Explained. Los Angeles, n.p., 1899.
  • The Problem of the Trust. Los Angeles: [Gaylord Wilshire], 1900.
  • The Trust Problem. Los Angeles: Social Democratic Party, 1900.
  • Imperialism. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Branch of the Social Democratic Party, 1900.
  • A Business-like City Charter. Los Angeles: Allied Printing, 1900.
  • Trusts and Imperialism. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1901.
  • Imperative Mandate, Initiative and Referendum: Adopted in the Late Proposed New Charter for Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Gaylord Wilshire, 1901.
  • Debate on Socialism, Wilshire-Seligman: A Verbatim Report of the Greatest Debate in the History of Socialism in the United States, Which Took Place in Cooper Union, January 16, 1903, New York City. With E.R.A. Seligman. New York: Wilshire's Magazine, 1903.
  • Ten Cents a Year. New York: Wilshire Book Co., 1905.
  • Wilshire-Carver Debate on Socialism: Gaylord Wilshire vs. Thomas Nixon Carver: Held January 15, 1906, at Hartford, Conn. Before the "Get Together Club." New York: Wilshire Book Co., 1906.
  • Socialism: A Religion. New York: Wilshire Book Co., 1906.
  • Wilshire Editorials. New York: Wilshire Book Co., 1906.
  • Socialism Inevitable (Wilshire Editorials). New York: Wilshire Book Co., 1907.
  • Socialism: The Mallock-Wilshire Argument. New York: Wilshire Book Co., n.d. [c. 1907].
  • The Significance of the Trusts. New York : Wilshire Book Co., n.d. [c. 1900s].
  • Hop Lee and the Pelican. New York : Wilshire Book Co., n.d. [c. 1900s].
  • Why a Workingman Should Be a Socialist. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., n.d. [c. 1912].
  • Syndicalism: What It Is. London: 20th Century Press, 1912.
  • I-ON-A-CO: The Short Road to Health. Los Angeles: [Gaylord Wilshire], n.d. [c. 1926].


Further reading[edit]

  • Louis E. Rosen: Henry Gaylord Wilshire: The Millionaire Socialist, 2012 ISBN 978-1469982762
  • Howard H. Quint, "Gaylord Wilshire and Socialism's First Congressional Campaign," Pacific Historical Review, vol. 26, no. 4 (Nov. 1957), pp. 327–340. In JSTOR.

External links[edit]