A vanished city lives again...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time-traveling to Old L.A.

Reader and past contributor Nathan Marsak posited a question the other day: what if you had a time machine, and you could pop back to Old L.A. for a weekend. What time in the city's history would you choose?

For me, without a doubt, it would be the weekend of October 14-16, 1910.

Why? Mostly, it would be to attend the Saturday dedication of the brand new 'Million-Dollar' Post Officethe building which first sparked my interest in L.A. history.

U.S.C. Digital Library.

For my accommodations, I'd book the top-floor corner room at the United States Hotel at Main and Market Sts., which would have an absolutely perfect vantage point for viewing the festivities in Temple Square.

U.S.C. Digital Library.

There'd be plenty of other things to see and do while I was there, of course. Assuming I could get my hands on a period camera, I'd take a ton of good pictures of various buildings for posterity, especially the ruins of the L.A. Times Building, which had been terror-bombed only two Saturdays ago.

I would also love to take a 360-degree panorama from the top of the 1888 Court House. (1910 would be the last year you could do that, with the Hall of Records rising immediately south of the Court House at that time.)

I'd also try to get an Edison cylinder recording of the bell chimes of the old Court House (and the 1888 City Hall's bells, if there actually were bells in that tower – does anyone know for sure?).

And I'd probably walk the old diagonal alignment of Spring Street about a dozen times. I'd ride Court Flight over and over, too, until they kicked me off of it. (Never mind Angels Flight – been there, done that, 50 years later.) ;)

Court Flight.

Re: dining – I'd probably eat breakfasts at the Hollenbeck Hotel and the Hotel Nadeau, and at least one lunch at the little hole-in-the-wall indicated in this old postcard. It had to be good! Someone actually wrote home about it!

But mostly I'd eat as much "Spanish" food (as Mexican food was called at the time) as I could. I'd be very curious to know what the native cuisine tasted like a hundred years ago!

I'd do a bunch of other things, too, including a mandatory jaunt down to the Longstreet Palms. World-famous at the time, no visit to old L.A. would be complete without seeing them!

Another time I'd like to travel back to would be October of 1936, so I could see the Los Angeles that my mother knew when she first moved there. Of course, Number One on my list of places to visit then would be the incredible Richfield Building. I'd also take my own set of panoramic photos from atop City Hall, and go to the Paris Inn every night for dinner, too. My kind of place, definitely!

But most of all, I'd make sure to be hanging out at the northwest corner of Olympic and Broadway during lunch hour on Tuesday, October 20th, so I could watch a certain snooty young lady get her picture taken by a street photographer. 8)

Ooooh, now here's a Twilight Zone thought for you – what if Mom's photographer actually turned out to be time-traveler Me?!  D:


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Temple Square: Then, Then, Then & Now

Temple Square – the former junction of Main, Temple and Spring Streets – photographed from the roof of the Bella Union Hotel.


Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.


Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.


Link to image on Flickr.

And here is the view from the former site of the Bella Union in the present day...

Photo by J Scott Shannon.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mom's first car at the Silver Lake Auto Court

Mother's new position as General Secretary of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera was apparently sufficiently remunerative for her to be able to buy her first car. It was a used 1936 Pontiac Master Six Coupe. Here she is with her new Pride and Joy at the Silver Lake Auto Court at 2500 Glendale Blvd. in July, 1938.

Link to original photo on Flickr.

I know Mom did not live there, though. In 1938, she and her sister were living in their first apartment at the Barker Hotel in Westlake.

Here is a contemporaneous linen postcard of the auto rest.

On the reverse of the card it states: "A 67 unit Auto Court with Trailer Sites. Resort Atmosphere in the heart of the City, well known for its Hospitality and Service. Rates Most Reasonable."

Here is an aerial view. As best as I'm able to determine, Mom was posing with her car near the spot where the red arrow is pointing.


Remarkably, Michael Smith, a/k/a Kansas Sebastian on flickr, posted this Then & Now composite of the Silver Lake Auto Court in the 1920s with a comparison shot from 2010. His sleuthing revealed that the older aerial view was taken approximately 11 years before Mother was there posing with her Pontiac.

Click image to view the original photo on Flickr.

Amazing the things one can find on the 'net, eh!