Los Angeles’ drinking water has never gotten much respect, even in the 1920s when a new Eagle Rock resident named Burton N. Arnds Sr. found the taste of the municipal water supply “to be lacking,” according to an L.A. Times story. Within a few years, Arnds and partners opened a water bottling plant supplied by a well near what is now York Boulevard and Avenue 48. The Sparkling Artesian Water Co. was later renamed Sparkletts as demand for bottled water skyrocketed with the arrival of newcomers. It was one of several Northeast L.A. bottling plants that captured and sold water tapped from underground wells and streams. By 1929, Sparkletts was ready to break ground on a much larger, $200,000 bottling plant that today stretches across most of the 4500 block of Lincoln Avenue, according to a Times story. The firm hired architect Richard King to create a massive brick building topped by several domes in what looks like an effort to give the box-like industrial structure a Moorish-style ambiance.
Over the main entrance, which is topped by the largest dome, a tile mural depicts what looks like an oasis, with a pool of water, palm trees and two figures dressed in flowing robes standing in front of a domed building. Inside, the new bottling plant featured a then modern production facility that, according to a 1929 L.A. Times article, was home to what the the firm “claimed to be the largest, five-gallon bottle sterilizer in the world, with a capacity of 1,800 bottles per hour.”
The fast-growing company said it would hire 200 additional workers to staff and distribute water from 80,000-square foot plant fed by underground water:
No tanks, reservoirs, filters or pumps are necessary in the company’s plant, it is pointed out, as the artesian water is carried from granite sources hundreds of feet underground through noncorrosive brass pipes to a point twenty two feet above ground level at the rate of 237,600 gallons per day. It is claimed to be absolutely sterile in its natural state and never sees daylight until it enters the sterilized bottles.
Sparkletts is now part of a much larger company but its bottling plant, topped by a landmark Sparklets sign, continues to operate in its Eagle Rock home.
Crates of Sparkletts bottles sit on west side of the Eagle Rock plant.