Building Home

Building Home

Author: Eric John Abrahamson

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 9780520273757

Category: History

Page: 357

View: 638

"This book is not only a biography of Howard F. Ahmanson but also the story of the financing of the postwar housing boom and the tremendous growth of Los Angeles. Americans have long believed that homeownership is fundamental to the strength of our democracy and the character of our people. Victory in World War II, combined with new government policies designed to stimulate mortgage lending, sparked a tremendous surge in rates of homeownership in the 1950s. With savings and loans providing more than half of the mortgages for these homes, the industry enjoyed a golden era in its history--especially in southern California. Among its peers, Home Savings & Loan Association of Los Angeles was a giant. By 1954 it had more customers and assets than any other thrift in America. Through its real estate development entities, the company played a leading role in the postwar suburban explosion that made LA the quintessential postmodern city. As the crown jewel among a handful of mortgage-related businesses launched and controlled by Howard F. Ahmanson, the company generated philanthropic capital to build L.A.'s cultural centers and finance the campaigns of the region's leading politicians. As a sun-tanned yachtsman and a cigar-smoking financier, the Omaha-born Ahmanson was both unique and representative of many of the business leaders of his era. Like many elites, Ahmanson shared a fundamental confidence in his ability to lead the nation to prosperity. His death in 1968 came just as the era of deregulation was beginning. In this new era, the central role of the savings and loan in financing the American dream diminished and Home Savings was sold to help create one of the biggest branch banks in America--Washington Mutual"--