A vanished city lives again...

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Mystery postcard

This is a "Real Photo" postcard of my mother snapped by a street photographer somewhere in downtown Los Angeles in October, 1936. Mom would have been 19 years old then; a secretary at the Huntington Land Company.

I've wondered about this picture for years. Where exactly was it taken, and what's that almost Stalin-esque building in the background? Adding to the mystery is: I remember this place. My mom used to take me on shopping trips there when I was around 5 years old, which means this place-in-time still existed at least until the late-'50s. Can anybody tell me where in town this is/was, and perhaps help me to finally put this ghost memory to rest?

I'm always struck by Mother's appearance here. She's so young, so self-assured, and so fashionable. Even at that young age, the personal poise she was known for all her life was already in full flower.

And I wouldn't be born for another 18 years...

EDIT, May 17, 2008: Mystery solved! I actually figured out the location a while back, but now I can show you proof positive, thanks to this recent postcard acquisition...

Mother was walking south on the west sidewalk of the 900 block of South Broadway in Los Angeles. Here's a contemporaneous postcard view of this stretch of Broadway at night:

On the right, there's the Radio Supply Co. with the "Stalin-esque" building behind it. That edifice turns out to be the actually rather beautiful Ninth and Broadway Building, built in 1929.

So, hurrah! I've also now even been able to pinpoint within about 50 feet exactly where Mom was on the sidewalk when the picture was taken. I'll leave that for a later post, though. :)