A vanished city lives again...

Monday, March 30, 2009

A prelude to terror

One century ago today – indeed, 100 years to this very hour – this postcard was penned in a long-vanished boarding house at Temple and Figueroa Streets in Los Angeles, and addressed to a now also non-existent residence in Cleveland, Ohio...

In 1909, the intersection of Broadway and First Street was the center of civic life in old Los Angeles. Today, however, absolutely nothing you see in this postcard still exists. Old San Francisco was destroyed by its famous earthquake and fire of 1906, most of Chicago was wiped out by its own Great Fire of 1871, but old Los Angeles was even more thoroughly destroyed by the hand of man himself.

In 1910, however, another kind of destruction would visit Broadway and First, when the building to your immediate left (you could almost reach out and touch it from this vantage point) would be dynamited into fiery rubble in the third most murderous act of domestic terrorism in the first half of the 20th century. Only the Wall Street bombing of 1920 and the Bath School bombings of 1927 produced higher death tolls than this anarchist attack in Los Angeles in 1910.

And yet, I doubt that even 1 out of 10,000 of the present-day residents of L.A. know about the horrific bombing that took place in their own city less than a century ago. I didn't, myself, before the history of pre-WWII Los Angeles became an avocation of mine a few years back.

I'll have more to say about the bombing at its centennial in October of next year...



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