A vanished city lives again...

Friday, February 12, 2010

South Broadway, 1905-'06

Recall the image from my last post, which was taken from the roof of the then-new Hotel Lankershim. Now, turn 90 degrees to your right, and this is what you would see. It's South Broadway, looking north from Seventh Street, in winter 1905-'06 :

Source: USC Digital Library.

A pleasing vista of the old city, isn't it? There are familiar landmarks like the pyramid-topped tower of City Hall up the street, with the Los Angeles County Court House on the hill in the background. At right is the tallest structure in town: The Braly Building, or the Union Trust Building as it was called at that particular time.

I have to laugh at the sign on the also-new Hotel Alexandria at center right. "THIS FIRE PROOF HOTEL IS ABSOLUTELY FIRE PROOF." Sounds like a paraphrasing of a familiar internet meme. ;)

Pop quiz! How could I date this photo so precisely to 1906? Hint: it has to do with the conspicuous absence of two formerly-prominent (and pre-eminent) buildings at the left of this picture. If you know which buildings I'm talking about, then you know it's 1906, too! As far as it being winter – that's a very wintry view of the San Gabriel Mountains there. Looks like it does after a cold front's passed through, if my recollection of the area's seasonal weather features is correct.

As nice as this image is, I've saved the best for last. The next view I'll share with you will take your breath away, I guarantee!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Where the skyscrapers rise today

I realize I've been remiss in my duty here of late – not posting as much as I should (nor as much as I want). To make amends, I'm going to try to make up for my lack of quantity lately with an emphasis on quality. For starters, here's a view of old L.A. that I'll wager you've not seen before...

Source: USC Digital Library.

It's winter 1905-'06, and we're looking northwest from atop the old Hotel Lankershim at Broadway and Seventh, with Seventh Street stretching out to the hills at left. The vista shows what was called the "Apartment District" at the time. Within 25 years, frontage on Seventh would become some of the most valuable urban real estate in the West. And a quarter century after that, the area to the right of center would become the skyscraper district.

It's really something to see this area as an ordinary residential neighborhood, isn't it? Remarkable that essentially everything we see here was wiped clean off the face of the earth without a trace. No earthquake or fire or other natural disaster could have accomplished such a thorough obliteration as was wrought here by the hand of man himself...

Stay tuned! There's another even more remarkable image to follow soon.