Day 489

Arabella Huntington

May 2nd, 2013

The second wife of Collis P. Huntington (musta been quite a catch), Arabella rose from humble roots in Richmond, Virginia to become "the richest woman in the world" when she inherited a massive chunk of Huntington's fortune upon his death.

She later married her former husband's nephew, Henry E. Huntington, an influential businessman who played an important role in the development of Southern California. Henry and Arabella, under the guidance of a trusted dealer, amassed a tremendous collection of artwork, which they later deeded to the public along with Henry's extensive library and the rest of their estate in San Marino, California, forming the institution now known as the Huntington. Henry and Arabella were buried on the property in a mausoleum designed by John Russell Pope that bears more than a passing resemblance to a later, more well-known creation of his: the Jefferson Memorial. (Arabella's monument here in Woodlawn is merely a cenotaph.)

While researching Mrs. Huntington, I found an NY Times article from 1902 about "an exciting automobile chase" that she was involved in. The "large black machine" in which she was riding blew past a policeman on the streets of Harlem and then

fairly bounded away and it swung at a tremendous pace westward through One Hundred and Twentieth Street into Mount Morris Park West, north along that short, broad thoroughfare to One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Street and on up Fifth Avenue. As it dashed across One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street it came so near to a collision with a crowded car that spectators held their breath. The course was laid straight up the avenue, but [Officer] Hanley was gradually . . . gaining on the automobile.
At a jammed-up 135th Street, Officer Hanley finally caught up to Mrs. Huntington's machine — on his bicycle. He estimated that her driver had been flying up Fifth Avenue at the blazing speed of 17 miles per hour. He dutifully hauled the driver into the station house over Mrs. Huntington's protestations, but she was able to bail him out immediately and continue on her way to her country house in the Bronx.

(Interestingly, Arabella wasn't the only member of the Huntington family to be written up in the Times that year for traveling in a speeding automobile. See "Prince Hatzfeldt Fined For Motor Scorching". Spoiler alert: 30 miles an hour!)

One Comment

  1. Lizzie T says:

    What a story!!

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