A vanished city lives again...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

1891 Landmarks

Apologies for the hiatus. Seemingly endless computer snafus and trainwrecks in my personal life have kept me from spending more time indulging in my favorite avocation. Anyway, recently, I used Photoshop to do a little color mod of this panoramic map of Los Angeles from 1891. The highly-foxed original image cleaned up rather well, I think!


Library of Congress.


Library of Congress.

The buildings depicted in the margins are worth a much closer look.

Library of Congress.

Library of Congress.

8 more behind the jump!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The oldest building in Los Angeles?

Many have already heard about the emerging realization that the Sanchez Adobe in the Baldwin Hills may be the oldest building in Los Angeles.

Although the structure bears the Sanchez name, it is believed to have actually been built by unknown rancheros fifty years before the land was first deeded to Don Vicente Sanchez in 1843.

This 1840s map depicting the boundaries of "Rancho del Paso de la Tijera" shows the little cottage whose existence has now spanned four centuries.

Hispanic-Heritage Links at the National Archives.

The former Baldwin Ranch, circa 1926. The Sanchez Adobe is the taller white building to the left of center.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Casa de Sanchez, ca. 1924. At this time, the house was already 130 years old.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Another view of the Sanchez house (right) in the 1920s. Does the adobe outbuilding at left still survive? A modern aerial view suggests a possibility that it may.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Only a few years later, the two-storey Sanchez house was incorporated into a much larger modern structure that still stands today at 3725 Don Felipe Drive.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cahuenga Boulevard, Then & Now

The same spot,
    on the same road,
        in three centuries...

Cahuenga Pass, 1897:

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Cahuenga Avenue, 1927:

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Cahuenga Boulevard, Today:

Click image above to see the Google Maps Street View.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Cahuenga Valley...

...before it became better known to the world as "Hollywood."

The E.A. Melrose ranch, circa 1915.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Not even yet a century ago. Hard to imagine, isn't it?


Friday, September 14, 2012

Panorama of Los Angeles, 1899

Click image for full-size enlargement. Images courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

A panoramic view of Los Angeles in 1899, looking west from atop the Maier & Zobelein Brewery, known to later generations of Angelenos as the "Brew 102 building." The four tall structures visible here were, from left to right, the Cathedral of St. Vibiana, City Hall, the County Court House, and Los Angeles High School.

In the entire panorama above, I can make out only six buildings that are still standing today.

The broad boulevard was Aliso Street. Today, it is U.S. Highway 101. The old Brew 102 building and the modern freeway can be seen in the photo below, circa 1976.

Photo by William Reagh, courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spring and First Streets, c.1903

One of my favorite places in vanished Los Angeles was the bustling intersection of Spring and First Streets. Here are three contemporaneous views from just after the turn of the last century.

Looking north on Spring Street from First.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

Now, in the photo above, see the man at upper left leaning on the flagpole? He's standing on the roof of the Larronde Block, which is the likely vantage point of this shot dated 1903.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

And the view south, probably taken from an upper storey window in the Phillips Block.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

South on Spring from First today. Click on the Google Street View image below to have a look around the intersection now. (Peek over your left shoulder to really get your bearings.) ;-)

Google Maps Street View.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hill Street at First, Then & Now


Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.


Google Maps Street View.

Today, clearly, it's "Hill Street" in name only.


Friday, August 3, 2012

More old Temple Square views

I appear to have found the original version of a previously-posted photo of Temple Square c.1879, looking south from the NW corner of Temple and Main Streets. In this stereoscope view, you can see the top of the United States Hotel's four-storey-tall flag pole, which, for many years after the Civil War, was the tallest man-made object in Los Angeles.

Wikimedia Commons. (A high-res 2737x1446 version can be viewed here.)

Now, if you were to go up to the top of the Temple Block (at right in the above images) and look northward, this is what you would have seen. The building with the three cupolas was the Baker Block. The tall mast at right was not a flag pole, but an arc-lamp street light. (An excellent illustrated history of street lighting in Los Angeles can be found here.)

Wikimedia Commons. (A high-res 2737x1613 version can be viewed here.)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Court House cornerstone

I'm in Los Angeles on my annual visit right now, and just a few hours ago, I made an astonishing historical discovery. Entirely by happenstance, I found the cornerstone of the old Los Angeles County Court House!

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

During my 2010 trip, I had noticed that the granite blocks that ring the Criminal Justice Center bore an intriguing resemblance to those that were used in the wall around the old Court House, which previously stood at that location. I didn't get a chance to investigate this further at the time, though, but I resolved to check on it on a future visit. (I couldn't do it last year because Michael Jackson's physician's trial was taking place there then.)

Well, today was the day, and while driving east on Temple past the front of the Justice Center, I was giving the granite wall a looksee, when my eye spied a chunk of carved granite behind the wall that had "1888" inscribed on it. Knowing the old Court House had been erected in 1888, I knew at once what that had to be: the long-gone building's original cornerstone!

The green arrow shows its location on Google Street View.

Here's the old Court House, viewed from basically the same street corner before the turn of the last century.

Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library.

And check it out – obviously there was a time capsule inside!

Photo by J Scott Shannon.

I wonder what it contained. I'm also curious to know where this cornerstone was for the 36 years between the demolition of the old Court House and the construction of the newer building in 1972*.

I'm still not sure if the wall stones are the same ones that used to be in the Court House retaining wall, though. I may never know. But I do know that, almost certainly, the 1888 cornerstone on display at the SW corner of Temple and Spring is the oldest remaining fragment of Los Angeles's Civic Center.

ADDENDA: Since this writing, I've learned that one of the clock faces from the Court House tower has been preserved. Hurrah! Additionally, although I have not yet been able to confirm this, it may be that some decorative pieces of red sandstone from the old Court House were used in the cornerstone of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse at First and Hill Streets.

*Here is the whole story of the Court House cornerstone, courtesy of ProphetM on the Skyscraperpage.com noirish Los Angeles thread.

Photo by formwerks on Flickr.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Union Station, 1939

These two photo-montages are from our family album. They depict the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal in 1939, just prior to its official opening. I've never seen the likes of them in any online archive, so I'm guessing they may be rather rare images.

Click image for 300dpi enlargement. Link to Flickr page.

Click image for 300dpi enlargement. Link to Flickr page.