A vanished city lives again...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gallery of historical photos

For the past few days, I have been vacationing in Los Angeles, and twice last week, I had the privilege of visiting the amazing gallery of historical photographs on the 4th floor of City Hall. (Courtesy of Councilmember Tom LaBonge.)

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

Lining the 4th floor corridors are framed enlargements of some of the most extraordinary images of old Los Angeles I've ever seen. I wish my old digital camera had image stabilization, or I'd be posting about 50 of the pics here! A handful I've seen before in the USC/LAPL archives, but the vast majority of the photos were totally new to me.

If you're an L.A. history nut like me, I'd really urge you to treat yourself to a visit to the 4th floor. I've been there a total of three times now (my first visit was last year), and I intend on going back every chance I get. Don't forget to go up to the observation deck on the 27th floor, too! It's open to the public during business hours on weekdays.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

First class People!!

Here's a nice postcard view of old Broadway south from First Street in the mid-aughts. The sender's note is nice, too: "The finest street of the City, walking first class People!!"

Here is the photograph the postcard was evidently made from.

Note the return address of 625 S. Hope St.

This is what the 600 block of Hope looked like back then. Since odd numbered addresses are on the west sides of streets in L.A., 625 Hope must be one of those little cottages lined up between the Hotel Orena and Hotel Acacia.

Library of Congress.

A century later, that stretch of Hope looks just a tad bit different. ;) In fact, Wilshire Boulevard now cuts a wide swath right through where the cottages used to be.

Bing Maps.

And 625 S. Hope proper? Today, it's the site of one of Los Angeles's most familiar skyscrapers – none other than the United California Bank Tower (1970), which was the tallest building on the West Coast for much of the time I lived in the L.A. area.

Google Maps Street View.

Currently, of course, the UCB/First Interstate building is known as AON Center.


Monday, June 7, 2010

100 years ago today

Another Spring Street treasure I acquired recently is this postcard that "Therese E." mailed to a Mr. Rudolf Schneider. It was postmarked exactly 100 years ago today.

The postcard depicts the old diagonal alignment of Spring Street which existed before 1928. There are many variants of this image on postcards from this era, but I've never seen one with this sharpness of detail.

The building at the end of Spring Street with the high arched doorway is Los Angeles's then-new Post Office and Federal Building. At the time the postcard was mailed, the impressive edifice had already been under construction for four years, but was not yet open to the public. I'll tell the whole story of the "Million-Dollar Post Office" when its official centennial comes around in October.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Spring Street treasures

One of the main reasons I haven't been posting here lately is that there's been a long dearth of worthwhile additions to my L.A. history collection, which regular readers have probably noticed is where I get most of my material.

Anyway, my long drought came to an end a couple of weeks ago with the acquisition of this awesome postcard of the Hotel Nadeau from 1908. This was one of the most important structures in early Los Angeles – it being the city's first-ever four-storey building, and incorporating its first passenger elevator, as well.

The detail is remarkable, isn't it? I was particularly pleased to finally obtain a clear depiction of the Godfrey & Moore pharmacy in the hotel's corner storefront. And what a corner! First and Spring in 1908 – you could hardly imagine a more ideal location for a retail business back then.

Today, of course, the main L.A. Times building occupies this once-vibrant street corner...

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

And look! I just got this Godfrey & Moore druggist bottle, too. I think this one is older than the Godfrey & Moore bottle I posted about previously. Reason I think that is the presence of a period after "LOS ANGELES." The convention of placing a period at the end of non-sentences ended around 1902, so this bottle probably pre-dates the other (and the postcard) by at least 6 or 7 years.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

I also like this specimen because it's a "dug" bottle. It was actually unearthed from somewhere under the old city, so it's almost akin to a fossil...