CALIFORNIA: The Triumph of Roger Lapham

Loafers in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, idly feeding crumbs to the pigeons, suddenly found three circus elephants in their midst. With equal suddenness, in the midst of the elephants, appeared sober, chunky Roger Dearborn Lapham, the onetime shipowner who is now San Francisco's bustling new mayor. Mounting a soapbox, able Mayor Lapham gave the pigeon feeders an impromptu 15-minute lecture on the merits of unifying the city's traction system. Pointing to the elephants, he cried: "There stands an early outmoded form of transportation the likes of which we intend to get rid of in this town."

This was only one...