A vanished city lives again...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Third Street at Hill: Then, Then, Then and Now

Within a span of only two lifetimes, one street intersection in Los Angeles undergoes an almost unimaginable series of transformations...


Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.


Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.


Photo by William Reagh, Courtesy California State Library.


Photo by J Scott Shannon.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

The other Wrigley Field

Several times, I remember Dad telling me about the other Wrigley Field, the one in Los Angeles: original home of the Los Angeles Angels (Pacific Coast League, 1925-1957; American League, 1961). I'd never seen pictures of it before now, though.

Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.

Located at 42nd Place and San Pedro Street, California's Wrigley Field opened in 1925.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.

This Wrigley Field got its lights in 1930. Its namesake in Chicago would have to wait another 58 years for night baseball.

Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.

It was initially proposed that the Dodgers would play here after relocating from Brooklyn. This concept drawing from 1957 depicted proposed improvements to turn Wrigley Field into a major league park. Instead, it met the wrecking ball in 1966.

Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Temple and Main Streets, Los Angeles: Then and Now

The civic center of Los Angeles in three centuries...

Temple Square – the heart of the city, 1885 – at the intersection of Temple, Main and Spring Streets:

USC Digital Archive.

Temple Square, 1927. The new City Hall looms over the doomed Temple Block:

Photo from La Reina - Los Angeles in Three Centuries, Published by Security Trust & Savings Bank, Los Angeles, 1929.

Temple and Main Streets, today:

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

The Temple Block was the ornate 3-storey brick structure in the older photos. It was the hub of civil life in Los Angeles during the 1870s-1880s. As we face the Temple Block, Main Street runs to the left, and Spring Street emerges at a diagonal angle to the right. Temple Street runs from left to right in the upper photo, but it can't be seen because it's obscured by the Downey Block at far right. (Here is Temple Street heading west from Temple Square.)

Spring Street was realigned when construction of the new City Hall began in early 1927. Spring now runs parallel to Main, and intersects with Temple where the large skyscraper at right is now located.

What strikes me the most when I compare these images is how the city center of old Los Angeles was a vibrant place, alive with people and commerce, while today's sterile Civic Center is almost exclusively a home for government, and where the populace is only a transitory visitor.

It's difficult to imagine this extensive a change taking place within a period of only two normal human lifespans, isn't it? Were a citizen of 19th century Los Angeles to suddenly find themself transported to today's Temple and Main, the place would no doubt be completely alien to them. Like another world entirely...


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.