A vanished city lives again...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Drive Through Bunker Hill, 1948.

Richard Schave of Esotouric recently uncovered some remarkable film footage of 1940s Los Angeles on Archive.org.

Go to this page and have a look! (I tried embedding the video here, but it doesn't play satisfactorily at all at DSL speeds.)

The 6-minute film consists of three clips. In the first two, the car with the camera drives west up Second Street starting just west of Olive, then turns south on Grand. In the second clip, the car turns west from Grand onto Fifth Street and drives past the Central Library. The third clip starts just north of Fifth and Flower, proceeds up Flower to First, and ends just as the camera car crests the very top of Bunker Hill.

I think I can date this film pretty precisely to Summer, 1948. Just north of Fifth and Flower is a billboard for RCA Victor televisions that depicts a cartoon donkey and elephant wearing boxing gloves, with a caption saying "Pick a sure winner!" This suggests to me that this is a post-war national election year, with the national party conventions soon to be broadcast (these have always taken place in mid-summer). The style of television depicted on the billboard also looks post-war.

Then, just as the car turns east on First, another billboard advertises a show at the Hollywood Bowl running from July 25-Sept 5; another clue that this is summertime. Also, several of the cars in the film are post-WWII models. Although I'm no real expert on the subject, I don't see any autos here that date later than the 1948-49 model year.

Anyway, I highly recommend downloading the hi-resolution 217.8 MB MPEG4 file on the Archive.org webpage. The size and detail of the image is amazing. It really brings Bunker Hill back to life!



Steven Keylon said...

I think you're right that this is the summer of '48. The license plates are all the yellow with black numeral 1947 plates, but with the small aluminum tag updating the year. These were used in '48, '49 and '50 - there was a new 1951 plate issued.

And 1948 was an election year. Just after the Architect's Building I saw a billboard for Pontiac ("Pontiac. Just a Sweetheart!") and found this from August 1948


I also have watched it a couple of times, and haven't seen a 1949 car yet....

Los Angeles Past said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the followup! ^^

Brian Wilson said...

Is that a 1949 Chevy "Styleline Special Business Coupe." I see at 3:20 in J. Scott Shannon's video link? This film may be early 1949!

Brian Wilson said...

Scratch my last post…The auto at 3:20 is a new 1948 Studebaker!!!! So the supporting evidence still stands at the year 1948…from the looks of it "SUMMER" of 1948.

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