A vanished city lives again...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nostalgia for a place I never knew...

I should be taking eBay auction pics right now, but I'm feeling too edgy.

So, I'm relaxing like I have been a lot lately – traveling back in time to 20th century Los Angeles.

It's amazing to me that I feel nostalgic for a place I fled from in terror 25 years ago.

But it's not actually that Los Angeles I journey to in my mind. Mostly it's to a Los Angeles I never knew; before WWII, when it was a real city – a downtown that people actually lived in, as opposed to commuting to.

The freeways changed all that, though. The freeways bled the life out of Los Angeles. By the time I was born in the mid-'50s, most working folks had already left the city for suburbia.

I think this postcard photo was taken around 1950. (That's a '49 Buick in the foreground, and I can't really see any cars on the freeway that look much newer.) It's the Hollywood Freeway westbound just as it's leaving the city center.

It's a pretty view, but from a historical perspective, what's interesting to me is seeing all those houses and trees on Bunker Hill (above the billboard). It was still a largely residential neighborhood in 1950. I don't remember it being like that when I was growing up in the '60s. I do remember when the fate of the last two houses on Bunker Hill became a matter of public debate around 1968, though. That's when I as a young man first really became aware that there ever was a neighborhood there (and a quite wealthy neighborhood it was in its time, too).

*chuckle* I still think it's strange that I think fondly of L.A., though, at any stage of its history. Strange it may be, but that's where my thoughts have been going a lot lately when my mind wanders, which has been fairly often. ;-)



Arestop said...

This picture would have to be from after April 1954 as this segment of the Hollywood Freeway did not open until then.

J Scott Shannon said...

Thank you for that info! I wrote this back when I was brand new to the study of L.A. history. I sure wouldn't make this kind of mistake today. Thanks again!

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