A vanished city lives again...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Best lighted Street in the World."

While on the subject of street lighting, I'd like to share what is probably my favorite postcard of old Los Angeles: this view of Broadway from First Street. Note the caption. Broadway is said to be the "Best lighted Street in the World." Although the card was mailed in 1907, I believe the image itself may be about a decade older, from around the turn of the last century (due to the conspicuous absence of automobiles).

I love this card mostly because the detail in it is amazing – it really brings the old city alive for me. Broadway was both the commercial center of Los Angeles and the seat of its government. (The tall Romanesque campanile with the pyramidal top is the bell tower of the old City Hall, built in 1888 – at that time, the tallest structure in Los Angeles.) Sadly, as with my even older postcard of Spring Street, not a single structure visible on this Broadway postcard remains standing today.

Here is the same view today. What was once a bustling downtown street filled with people, commerce and civil life is now a home only for sterile monolithic buildings.

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The postcard itself has an interesting story to tell. It was originally mailed to Belgium, and as you can see, it took almost a month to get there; traveling as it must have by sea.

In Europe, the postcard somehow survived two World Wars, made its way to the Netherlands where I bought it from an eBay seller there, and in the 21st century, the postcard is now back in California, with me. ^^

Now, see where the person who sent the card lived, and what's there today...

I can't quite decipher the name of the sender. It looks something like "Mrs. Linton," but her address is clearly "1351 Delong St."; note her 1s written in the European style.

Well, Delong Street is another of those vanished residential L.A. streets, like Palm Drive. And actually, Delong turns out to be walking distance from Palm Drive, in what was generally a very nice old out-of-the-way part of town.

Here's a view of Delong from an 1894 "bird's eye" map of Los Angeles.

We're looking towards the south here. In L.A., odd numbered addresses are on the west sides of streets, so 1351 would probably be the house immediately to the right of the "S" in "ST.", or maybe the small green one up and to the right of the "S."

Anyway, here's an aerial view of the neighborhood today, and a Google Maps Street View image. Delong Street is now occupied by the Los Angeles Convention Center...

Google Earth.

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Where «34 rue de l'industrie» is in Vilvorde, Belgium, though, I wasn't able to determine. Like Delong St. in Los Angeles, it, too, is likely no more...


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Birthday postcard

Got an unexpected surprise via eBay the other day: an old postcard mailed exactly 100 years ago today, and 46 years before I would be born.

It features a really nice view of the old L.A. County Court House, too; probably the nicest in my postcard collection.

Lovely penmanship...