A vanished city lives again...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A pleasant prospect

Received yesterday another postcard view I've long been eager to acquire – this pleasant prospect of Los Angeles, as seen looking east from Bunker Hill, near Olive and First Streets, sometime around the turn of the last century.




I'm truly transported by scenes like this. It's a time and a place I never knew, but I feel completely at home here. Unlike the L.A. of my younger years, this is a town that I could have lived in and genuinely loved...



Some familiar landmarks stand out. Looming over downtown, at left, there's the old County Court House. In the center can be seen the Phillips Block – in its heyday the largest mercantile building in the city – at Spring and Franklin Streets. And, toward the lower right, with its broad cupola, is the ill-fated Times Building at First and Broadway. (Its presence in this view establishes the date at no later than 1910.)

Interestingly, the USC Digital Archive has the actual photograph this postcard was made from. (The date's given as circa 1887, but the old Boyle Heights orphanage is visible on the far horizon, so it can't be earlier than 1890.)



The view from Olive and First Streets is quite different today. (And not in a good way.)


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The last time I was in Los Angeles – ten years ago – I walked past this very spot. I could never have imagined that, a century before, such tranquil beauty once existed there...

 

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