A vanished city lives again...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where Mother was: Then & Now

In this old post, I told the story of my mother having had her picture taken by a street photographer somewhere in downtown Los Angeles in 1936, when she was a 19-year-old secretary for the Huntington Land Company. Some time later, I finally identified the location of the picture as having been the 900 block of South Broadway. Here's a nice clear photo of the locale in 1939.

USC Digital Library-Dick Whittington Photography Collection.

Anyway, thereafter, I decided that if I ever went back to Los Angeles, I would like to visit the place where my mother was photographed, 73 years ago. And three Wednesdays ago, during my recent L.A. vacation, I did just that.

Here's the exact spot, then and now.

J Scott Shannon.

Remarkably, relatively little in the background has changed in the intervening seven decades. The two principal buildings visible in the old photograph are still there – the 9th and Broadway Building (1929), and the L.L. Burns Building (1914); the latter is the one with the "Kelly's" ad painted on its side. (No ads today – this section of Broadway is not in any way the commercial hotspot it used to be.) The lampposts are noticeably different in height and style, but the bases themselves are apparently the same ones as when Mother was there.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

And where was Mom walking to that day in October, 1936? Probably to a trolley stop at the intersection of South Broadway and Olympic Blvd., which is only a few feet in back of where the 1936 photographer was standing.

Heh, it's funny, when I was there last week, I tried to show Mom's picture to several passers-by, but nobody could be bothered. Admittedly, if I were walking on South Broadway and some stranger asked if I'd like to see a picture of his mother, I'd probably avoid the guy, too. ;-)


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The palms yet live!

I've just returned from my first visit to Los Angeles in 10 years, and by far, the greatest thrill of my trip was seeing that at least some of General Longstreet's ancient palm trees in West Adams are still alive. After reading this, I was genuinely afraid that all of the old palms might have been removed by now. What a relief it was to see that my fears were not realized.

Here's a gallery of palm pics taken during my visit on July 17. Thanks to Deborah Justice at Orthopaedic Hospital for granting me permission to take photos on the site.

Many of the 150-year-old palms have been removed over the decades, but 23 of them are still thriving today...

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

The palms are in their full summer bloom now and are still robustly healthy, despite their great age and having been immediately adjacent to the bustling, smog-belching Harbor Freeway for the last third of their almost impossibly long lives.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

What a joy it was to be in the presence of these Civil War-era veterans. Los Angeles historically has been characterized by impermanence, but these palms are a living testament to endurance in the face of constant change. All in all, theirs is quite an inspiring story. I consider it an honor to have passed that story on to Angelenos of the 21st century...


Friday, July 10, 2009

City Hall rotunda

View of the central rotunda from the fourth floor inside Los Angeles City Hall, taken earlier today.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My post office (again)

Here's a nice view of Temple Square looking west toward my (yes, my!) post office, from what would probably have been the intersection of No. Main Street and Commercial Street, otherwise known as Ducommon Corner. And, judging by where the cars are headed, I'd guess we're standing on the southeast corner of Main and Commercial, in front of the U.S. National Bank. When? Best guess, c.1910, probably not too long after the new post office first opened for business.

To get your bearings of where this was, the north bit of the present City Hall would today be visible just beyond the left edge of the postcard.

At left is the good ol' International Savings and Exchange Bank at what used to be the northern terminus of Spring Street, and between the two buildings can be seen a smidgen of the old Los Angeles County Court House at Temple and Broadway.