A vanished city lives again...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gay Nineties' L.A.

Recently, I happened upon these nice views of Los Angeles from the 1890s.

The 200 block of South Broadway was one of the more active centers of civic life in its time.

Courtesy California State Library.

The almost brand new City Hall (1888-1928) dominates the right of the picture. Several other landmarks of the day can also be seen here. The tower of Los Angeles High School is partially visible to the left of the power poles. The clock tower in the distance is that of the Los Angeles County Court House. The tall spire next to that belongs to the First Presbyterian Church at the SE corner of Broadway and Second Street. And, the gothic structure just barely visible between City Hall and the Crocker Building (with the two bay windows) is Los Angeles's first Jewish synagogue.

Nothing special to see there today, unfortunately.

This quaint brick sideroad – complete with baths and a French restaurant – was Requeña Street (later renamed Market Street). The ornate Victorian on the left is the United States Hotel (1886-1939), and on the opposite corner is the Amestoy Block (1887-1958) – the first brick office building in town (and the first to have an elevator). The clock tower behind, once again, is the Court House.

Courtesy California State Library.

The U.S. Hotel and the Amestoy Block looked much nicer from the front. Click below to view the two from Main Street.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The oldest palm tree in Los Angeles

Many by now have probably seen Nathan Masters's recent blog post or read elsewhere about this lone palm tree standing today in front of the Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park.

Google Maps Street View.


At approximately 180 years of age, it is almost certainly the oldest-known palm in Los Angeles, and the stereoscopic photograph below from circa 1873* may just be the oldest-known image of said tree (the smaller palm on the left).

My attempt to reproduce the original camera image.
Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


The basic story of how the palm ended up in Exhibition Park is told on its commemorative plaque.

Photo by J Scott Shannon.


The fascinating details of the palm's earlier journey from a back yard on San Pedro Street to the Southern Pacific Arcade Depot in 1888 have been meticulously detailed here.

Taken c.1888, just prior to the move to the Arcade Depot...

...where it stood greeting travelers for the next quarter of a century.
Courtesy U.S.C. Digital Library/California Historical Society.


While the palm at Exposition Park may be the oldest documented Washingtonia filifera in Los Angeles, we shouldn't forget the oldest-known examples of W. robusta: the Longstreet Palms (below), the story of which I've told here many times. These Civil War-era veterans are at least 150 years old, and are therefore no less worthy of monument status than their cousin in Exposition Park.

Wikimedia Commons, original photo by waltarrrrr on Flickr.

Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


The Hammel Palm and the Longstreet Palms were each world famous in their day. Now that they have all arisen out of obscurity, I think it's wonderful that their historical importance is once again being acknowledged, and celebrated.