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Born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1830, Banning arrived at San Pedro Bay in late 1851 and within a decade built a transportation business at the harbor, which he later incorporated as the Wilmington Transportation Company (WTC) in 1884.
In 1887, another southern California entrepreneur purchased Santa Catalina for $200,000 with the same intention as Banning.
William, Joseph, and Hancock Banning had taken over their father's harbor business after Phineas's death in 1885.
Joseph, the on-site manager, built a cottage at Avalon where he, his wife, Katharine Stewart Banning, and their family lived much of the year.
Some single men of the middle or working classes were unwelcome, particularly if they were considered "undesirable loafers continually lounging at street corners," as a Banning representative explained.
These changes ushered in a new era in Banning ownership of Santa Catalina, but the period from about 1906 to 1919 was not as amiable for the company management and Avalon residents as the years preceding it.
Others singled out a group of residents who opposed Banning policies, as the fire appeared to be ignited in several locations simultaneously.
the Chicago chewing-gum maker and owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball club, told William Banning that he had been "a good boy all through the war, and paid his taxes, and now he was going to play with the island.
William Banning arranged the sale's protocol and headed the negotiations.
The Banning heyday at Santa Catalina coincided with the continuing transformation of American resorts in the early twentieth century.
Banning policies governing the island--the ban on selling lots to private owners, preventing the landing of independent vessels, and strict rules of social control (except for racial exclusion)--were loosened or eliminated late in the Progressive Era as older views of the 1890s Gilded Age came to terms with the modernism of post-World War I America.
The end of the Banning era at Santa Catalina opened a new opportunity for developing the Magic Isle.