A vanished city lives again...

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Richfield Building

I'm in love again! ;-) This time with the Richfield Building (1928-1968), formerly located at 6th and Flower, Los Angeles. Unquestionably, the most elegant Art Deco skyscraper ever built west of the Mississippi. Its intricate, sculpted exterior was adorned with terra cotta tiles of black, burnished gold and turquoise. It rose 500 feet from street level to the top of its stainless steel neon tower.



I was alive and living in L.A. County during the last fourteen years of the building's existence, but unfortunately, I have no memory of it whatsoever. Not too surprising, considering its location, because Mother hated the adjacent Harbor Freeway and avoided it whenever possible. So near and yet so far...


Library of Congress-Historic American Buildings Survey.


Library of Congress-Historic American Buildings Survey.


Even its elevators were Deco design jewels:


Library of Congress-Historic American Buildings Survey.


Library of Congress-Historic American Buildings Survey.


Library of Congress-Historic American Buildings Survey.


Sadly for architecture buffs like me, after Richfield Oil merged with Atlantic Petroleum to form ARCO in 1966, the Richfield headquarters in Los Angeles was deemed redundant. It was torn down in 1968-1969, and replaced by the impossibly drab twin ARCO Towers in 1970.


Los Angeles Public Library.


Bleah. :-p

Aside: here is a restored Richfield service station (1934). Richfield's service stations of the time were also tastefully designed... simple but stylish.


Courtesy C. V. Dusty on Flickr.

 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

COOL.

But.. I'm from L.A. and I remember some building downtown that had an art deco eagle on it. I thought it was the Richfield building, but no.

Do you have a clue?

Wes Clark
wes.clark@uspto.gov

Alice Andrade said...

How nice to come across this. This building was absolutely gorgeous. My father worked at the Atlantic Richfield refinery in Wilmington and was so proud that he worked for this company. I remember him pointing this building out to me whenever we happened to drive through that area. I was shocked when they tore it down to build those ugly tower. I was born here in SoCal and love it here, but Los Angeles has no real sense of architecture and it's such a shame.

John Rieth said...

A beautiful building and a great loss to downtown. Didn't the color of the tower beacon light indicate the weather forecast?

Steve Marquez said...

It got torn down because of Atlantic merging with Richfield and Atlantic Richfield didn't want the Beautiful Richfield building. That is why you see the Arco Towers now instead.

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