Early Los Angeles Street Lights

 
(1869)* - View of Calle Principal (now Main Street) looking northwest with the Old Plaza Church seen on the left. To the right is the Los Angeles Plaza (square at the time) with two gas lamps, one on each of its corners. These were the first gas lamps installed in the City of Los Angeles.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1867, Los Angeles Gas Company, the forerunner of today's Southern California Gas Company, installed 43 new gas lamps along Main Street, making the city safer at night. The gas lighting business was run by five entrepreneurs who manufactured the gas from asphalt, a tar-like substance, and later from oil.

A lamplighter on horseback rode down the street at dusk to light the streetlights. By 1873, about 136 gas lamps provided the outdoor night lighting for the City.

 

 

 

 
(Early 1870s)^ - San Pedro Street, a muddy dirt street, near 2nd Street in the early 1870s. A gas lamp post can be seen standing in a pool of water.   

 

The gas company was enjoying modest success until Thomas Edison introduced his electric light in 1879.

In 1882 electricity was introduced to Los Angeles. That year 3,000-candle power arc lamps were lifted atop seven 150-foot poles. The state of the art at that time encouraged the use of a few tall standards with high illumination.

But difficulty with maintenance and the undependability with lamps on 150-foot “masts” encouraged engineers to improve lighting technology so more pole locations could be used economically with shorter poles and less energy requirements.**

 

 

 

LA's First Electric Street LIght

 
(ca. 1882)* - One of the first of seven electric street lights installed in the City of Los Angeles at Main Street and Commercial Street in 1882. It stood 150 feet tall.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1882, C. L. Howland installed seven 150-foot tall streetlight masts, each carrying three carbon-arc lamps of three thousand candle-power. He also installed a small power plant to provide the electricity for his new street light system.

In 1883, Howland and other investors would go on to form the California Electric Light Company (changed to Los Angeles Electric Company within a year). It was the first electric utilty in Los Angeles.*

Click HERE to see more in First Electricity in Los Angeles.

 

 

 
(ca. 1882)* - Another look at one of LA's first electric light poles. View is of the buildings on the east side of North Main Street at Commercial Street at near right, looking toward the Baker Block. A man can be seen standing on a platform half way up the street light mast.  

 

Historical Notes

Approximately 30, 150-foot tall poles with carbon-arc lamps were installed in Downtown Los Angeles between 1882 and about 1885.  These were reported to provide illumination equal to the level of a full moon.^^

 

 

 

 
(1880s)^ - Main Street looking north from atop the Temple Block.  Baker Block is just right of center. This vantage point is now occupied by City Hall. This gives a good view of where one of the first 150-ft. tall street light poles stood.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1889)^ - A parade on Main and Temple streets, looking north. The City's new 150-foot tall electric light pole can be seen in the center of the photo.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1892)^ - View showing one of the City's 150-ft tall streetlights in the residential area of Orange Street (later Wilshire Boulevard) at Lucas Avenue.  

 

 

 

 
(1890s)^ - A sailboat and several row boats are seen on the lake at the City's new park, Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park). The hillside is beginning to be filled with new homes. The very tall pole in the background is one of the City’s new streetlights (150-ft tall).  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1895)^ - View of Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) circa 1895. Transportation was still by horse and carriage (lower left of picture) and ladies carried parasols to shade themselves from the sun. The tall pole seen on the other side of the lake is one of the City's first 150-ft tall electric light poles  

 

 

 

LA's First Electric Light Power Plant

 
(1883)* - The first electric light plant in Los Angeles was built in 1882 by C. L. Howland (Los Angeles Electric Company) on the corner of Alameda and Banning Streets.  

 

Article from LADWP's Historic Archives

“Los Angeles City is famed not only for its climate and for its oranges, but its electric light comes in as its crowning glory . . . "

This glowing eulogy depicts the enthusiasm 130 years ago when on December 30, 1882 the first streetlights were turned on in Los Angeles, illuminating the way to a pioneering age of growth and development for the expanding metropolis.

There had been a time in Los Angeles, a century ago, when a scattering of dimly lit gas lanterns, hanging from an occasional front porch, were the only traces of light on the otherwise darkened city streets. By law, early residents and business owners in the small pueblo of 12,000 were required to hang a lamp outside their doorway for the first two and one half hours of every dark night, or face a penalty of $2 for the first offense and $5 for each subsequent offense.

It was a vexing time for early Angelinos who could rarely leave their homes at night without stumbling about in the dark, toting candle-burning lanterns to find their way. A rumbling began among the citizenry for universal night lighting. The need for city dwellers to be able to find their way home, to have protection from crime, and to have greater illumination for stores and properties at night created fervor of support.

The interest was intensified in 1882 when Thomas Edison put his Pearl Street Station – the first commercial central station in the world – in operation on September 4 in New York. This was the start of the electric industry as it is known today.

The Edison plant supplied its light through incandescent lamps. A similar kind of lighting, in an improved form, was proposed for Los Angeles by C. L. Howland, representing the California Electric Light Company. While numerous proposals had been made, on September 11, 1882 the City Council unanimously voted to enter into a contract with Howland to “illuminate the streets of the city with electric light.”

At the time, it was a revolutionary idea. The proposal called for Howland, at his own expense, to erect seven, 150-foot-high masts each carrying three electric lights or lamps of three thousand candle-power. The masts were to be located in the heart of the city and its settle suburbs “which would be thoroughly and satisfactorily illuminated.”

Howland set quickly to work. He had received a deadline of December 1, 1882 to have the masts erected and electricity on. By October 25, he had purchased a lot on the corner of Alameda and Banning Streets where he proceeded to erect a brick building, 50 by 80 feet, to house the boilers, engines and the 30kw, 9.6 ampere “Brush” arc lighting equipment for supplying the electric energy. Three weeks later, by November 16, the masts were in place and soon afterwards the pole lines and wires were strung along the streets leading to the masts.

By December the only hold-up was the delayed arrival of the dynamo and lamps. In growing anticipation, the citizens anxiously awaited the moment in history when the first streetlights would illuminate the night skies of Los Angeles. That moment came on December 30, 1882 before an admiring crowd of spectators. Mayor Toberman threw a switch at twenty minutes past eight, simultaneously lighting two mast tops, one at Main and Commercial and the other at First and Hill.

An account in the Express newspaper at the time, recounted the historic event in this way: “The Main Street light burned steadily and beautifully and it cast a light similar to that of the full moon on snow. The First Street light was very unsteady, glowing at times with brilliancy and again almost fading from sight. The only complaint so far is from young couples who find no shady spots on the way home from church or theatre.”

By the following evening, five more masts were lighted on First Street and Boyle Avenue; Avenue 22 and North Broadway; First Street and Central Avenue; Fourth Street and Grand Avenue; and Sixth and Main Streets.

The project was considered so successful that before the expiration of Holland’s two year contract, he and others had formed the Los Angeles Electric Company, which besides serving streetlights, supplied arc lights for commercial establishments.

From these early beginnings, engineers over the years have worked to improve lighting technology. In May 1905, the first ornamental post system in the city was introduced on Broadway between First and Main Streets. This installation consisted of 135 posts each equipped with six small glass globes, enclosing 16 candle-power amp, and one large glass globe, enclosing a 32 candle-power lamp. This system operated until 1919 when it was demolished to make way for a more modern system.

The progress of street lighting in the years hence has been truly phenomenal. The present electric system of the DWP is a far cry from the pioneer service of the Los Angeles Electric Company in 1883. Yet, this pioneering system paved the way for today’s sophisticated electric system, which like its predecessor still “illuminates the streets of the city with electric light." **

 

 

 

 
(1888)* - Banning Street Electrical Plant now showing two smokestacks. It appears that the building as been enlarged from its original footprint as seen in the previous 1883 photo. Click HERE to see more in Early Power Generation in Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

Early Street Lights - Bureau of Power and Light

 
(Early 1920s)* - Bureau of Power and Light crew working on an ornamental street light.  

 

LADWP Historical Archive

(1973) Despite the variety of designs, street lights are known as either electrolier or utilitarian types, according to Harvard Johnson, engineer in charge of Street Light Design. Customers own the electroliers --- lamps affixed to concrete or metal posts. The customer-owners of these are most likely the Department of Public Works or residents who form a private street lighting district.

The DWP owns the utilitarian lights. These are temporary lamps attached to wooden poles. Other agencies and lighting districts will eventually replace this type with the more modern electrolier systems. With both types, the DWP supplies the electrical energy, cleans the glassware, replaces lamps and glassware, and paints the electrolier posts. There are 191,000 electrolier standards and utilitarian lamps presently (1973) in the city.**

 


 
(Early 1920s)* - An electric powered street light truck used by the Bureau of Power and Light in the 1920s.  

 

 

 

 

 
(Early 1920s)* - Bureau of Power and Light worker changing out a hanging lamp in the middle of an intersection.

 

 

 

 

 

(Early 1930s)* - New street light being pulled up for installation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

(1933)* - L. G. Gould with a new and an old incandescent lamp at 30th and Trinity Streets.

 

 

 

 

     

Historical Notes

This marked the close of another era in the development of Los Angeles. The last arc light in the City was removed November, 1933 by L. G. Gould's street lighting section and replaced with a modern incandescent lamp.*

 

 

 

Early Street Light Electroliers

Streetlight "Electroliers" are defined as free-standing streetlights generally on their own posts while "Utilitarian" Streetlights are lamps attached to an overhead wire or to a power pole.

 

 
(ca. 1902)*^ - View of Broadway looking north from Sixth Street. The 7-lamp ornate streetlights that ran along the sidewalk curb consisted of a large round bulb surrounded by six smaller ones.  

 

 

 

 
(1905)* - Looking west from 5th and Hill streets. Ornate 5-bulb streetlights appear as far as the eye can see. The trees of Pershing Square are visible on the left, and the State Normal School, on the present site of the L.A. Public Library, Central Branch shows prominently in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

This five-globe streetlights (called Llewellyn) were originally installed on all streets in Downtown Los Angeles (c.1900).  Today, the last of these poles are still being used as architectural features in the gardens and malls adjacent to City Hall.^^

 

 

 
(1908)^^* - Close-up view of the same corner as previous photo, in 1908. The ornate 5-bulb streetlight can be seen in greater detail.  

 

 

 

 
(1907)*^ - View looking north on Broadway near 5th Street at dusk or dawn. Beautiful 7-lamp streetlights are illuminating the nearly vacant street.  

 

 

 

 
 
(1909)^^# - From Los Angeles, California/The City Beautiful aka Report of the Municipal Art Commission for the City of Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)*** - A 7-bulb decorative streetlight stands in front of the LA County Building located at Broadway at Temple Street.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)^ - At right, a man stands under a multi-bulb electrolier located on the southeast corner of Broadway and 7th Street. Horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians share the road at the intersection and Bullock's Department Store can be seen across the street.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)^ - An evening crowd gathers under the marquee of the Hyman Theater at 802 S. Broadway, on the southwest corner of 8th and Broadway. Two boys stand under an ornate 7-bulb streetlight, one leaning on it.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)^#^ - A beautiful 5-bulb electrolier stands on the corner of 5th and Olive streets. The Clune's Auditorium is seen on the north side of 5th Street across from Pershing Square. A horse-drawn carriage is seen parked by the curb while a streetcar is in the middle of the road.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)^ - View showing two ornate 5-bulb streetlamps standing on the corners at the intersection of First and Spring streets. The Wilson Building with its copula is seen on the southeast corner.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1912)^ - Early view of Van Nuys Boulevard, looking north. Note the ornate 5-lamp light posts along the sidewalks. These lamps were also installed in front of most of the old mansions in Downtown LA.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1914)^^* - View of a 3-lamp electrolier on the corner of Wilshire and Windsor boulevards. This is the west side of the 600 south block of Windsor Blvd. in Windsor Square. Both houses in the photo amazingly resemble some of the homes built today.  However, the house on the left was built in 1911 and the house on the right in 1914.  

 

 

 

 
(1919)^^* - View of Adams Street in 1919 showing inverted six-globe lighting posts along the parkway.  

 

Historical Notes

The six-globe streetlights were installed in the West Adams district beginning in 1903.^^*


 

 
(ca. 1924)*^ - A closer view of the six-globe electrolier in front of a Craftsman three story home, Adams Street, west of Figueroa Street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)*^ - View looking south on Portland Street toward Adams Boulevard.  A six-globe streetlight stands in front of The Second Church of Christ Scientist (today the Art of Living Foundation) at 946 W. Adams Blvd.  

 

 

 

 
(1919)^ - View showing a multi-globe street light on the corner of 7th Street and Figueroa Street.  A small Standard Oil Company gas station is on the corner and behind it is the home of Samuel Calvert Foy, businessman and one-time LA Chief of Police, and also Foy's daughter, Mary E. Foy, the first woman to hold the position of City Librarian in 1880.  

 

Historical Notes

Carrol Avenue in Los Angeles, a two block long street, now has an international reputation for restored Victorian homes, c.1880 - 1910. Three, four and five globe authentic fixtures taken from various locations in the City and which date from that era now grace both sides of Carrol Avenue.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)^ - View of Spring Street looking south from 2nd Street. The five-bulb electrolier can be seen on both sides of the street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)*^ - Exterior view the old Federal Building and Post Office on the corner of Temple Street and Main Street. A multitude of five-lamp ornate streetlights surround the building.  

 

 

 

 
(1922)^ - Exterior view of the Masonic Temple located on Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and La Brea. Note the two ornate 5-bulb streetlights in front of the building.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1925)^#* - View of the front entrance to the Pantages Theatre. The beautiful curved marquee reads: Irene Rich in "Compromise" and Buzington's Rube Band. Note the ornate 5-lamp streelight posts in front of the theatre.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)* - A two-lamp electrolier is seen in the foreground on Spring St. between 2nd and 3rd Streets.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)*^ - A two-lamp ornate electrolier is seen here on the corner of West 12th Street and South Broadway. A street light with a sign reading "Go" hanging from its side can be seen to the left of the lamp post, while a fire hydrant can be seen to the right.  

 

Historical Notes

Replacing the five-globe Llewellyn in Downtown Los Angeles and extending outward along several major streets, hundreds of UM 1906's were installed in the mid 1920's.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)* - A busy scene with pedestrians and city traffic in this view of Broadway and 5th looking north, showing the new UM 1906 two-lamp electroliers as far as the eye can see.  

 

 

 

 
(1922)* - View of the Loew's State Theatre building located at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Streets.  On the right is a close-up view of the two-lamp electrolier the was so prevalent starting in the 1920s.   

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)*^ – Close-up view looking at a 2-lamp streetight (UM-1906) on the southwest corner of Broadway and 7th Street. These electroliers are seen running up and down both sides of Broadway.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)* - The 1st St. Bridge as viewed from across the street. A trolley and several cars can be seen driving across the bridge. Note the ornate streetlight design on the bridge. It consists of a three-prong configuration with the center bulb taking on a different shape than that of other two.  

 

Historical Notes

Special ornamentation was common on bridges constructed between 1900 - 1925.  These poles serve two purposes:   1) to hold the decorative streetlight lanterns and  2) to support the overhead for the Los Angeles Railway (LARy) streetcars that used the bridge.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1923)*^ – View looking at the northeast corner of Hill and 12th streets showing the back side of the Examiner Building.  An ornate 5-bulb streetlight stands on the corner with a line of billboards behind it.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1923)*^ - Hill Street and 1st looking north toward the Hill Street Tunnel. Ornate 5-lamp electroliers appear on the east side of the Hill Street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)*^ - Decorative 5-bulb streetlight lamps can be seen running down both sides of Main Street near 4th.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1925)^ - Exterior view of the Bullard Block located on the northeast corner of Spring and Court streets. At one time the building housed the courthouse. Note the ornate 5-bulb lamps on the corners.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)* - Residential streetlight lamp on Fourth Street. Note that the street sign is attached directly to the streetlight concrete post.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1925)* - Single-lamp streetlights in a residential area. View is south on Serrano Ave. from the corner of Franklin showing a tree-lined street with well-kept lawns in the Los Feliz district, built in the early 1920s.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1926)^ - View of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign with homes seen in the foothills. Note the single-bulb streetlight on the right. This was the type of lamp used in Hollywood's residential neighborhoods during this time period.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1926)^ - Two-lamp electroliers are seen along the side of the walkway at Venice Beach.  

 

 

 

 
(1928)*^ – View looking west on Pico Boulevard at Bonnie Brae Street.  Note the ornate 5-bulb lamposts on the corners.  

 

 

 

 
(1928)^ - Streetlight electroliers near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, looking east.  

 

Historical Notes

Wilshire Boulevard was designated by The Octagon Museum of the American Architectural Foundation as one of the 'Grand American Avenues' was decorated with this Wilshire Special pole and lantern for nearly six miles of its length. Approximately 100 poles still remain over the distance of about one-and-a-half miles. The original lanterns are solid bronze and stand 7½ feet tall from the base of the lantern to the top of the finial.^^

 

 

 
(1928)*# - Aerial view of a well lit Wilshire Boulevard at night. The original Brown Derby restaurant is visible on the right. Note the numerous signboards on both sides of Wilshire Blvd. The "Wilshire Special" streetlights do a good job lighting up the Boulevard.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)*# - Close-up of one of the many "Wilshire Special" streetlights that were prevalent along Wilshire Boulevard during the late 1920s and 1930s. The lamp post sits in front of the Van-Shire Florist open-air shop. To the left of the entrance, a young girl and woman look at the arrangements. Bilboards on either side of the shope advertise Union 76 gasoline and Southern Pacific railroad. The sign reads "Ride cool trains! $6 to San Francisco. $17 to Portland".  

 

 

 

 
(1928)^ - View of the ornate two-lamp electroliers on the arch bridge located at Fourth and Lorena Streets in Boyle Heights, not long after in was built in 1928. The bridge, a declared city of Los Angeles historic monument, No. 265 (Click HERE to see the LA Historic-Cultural Monuments List), is located in a residential neighborhood, as indicated by the various homes present in the background. The electroliers shown here are the same design as those used on the 1st Street Birdge seen in previous photo.  

 

Historical Notes

Special ornamentation was common on bridges constructed between 1900 - 1925.  These poles serve two purposes:   1) to hold the decorative streetlight lantern and  2) to support the overhead for the Los Angeles Railway (LARy) streetcars that used this viaduct.^^

 

 

 

(2001)#* - View looking north/northeast showing the ornamental lamp detail on the Fourth and Lorena Street Bridge.

 

 

     

 

 

 

 
(1929)*# - Looking north on Hill Street from 8th Street on Dec. 5th, 1929. The street is illuminated by streetlights, electric signs, and lights on the Christmas trees.
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1929)^ - Double-lamp electroliers stand on the corner of West 6th Street and Alexandria Avenue.  Chapman Park Public Market can be seen across the street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1929)*^ - View of the ornate two-lamp electrolier in front of the Mandarin Market located on the northeast corner of La Mirada Avenue and Vine Street.  

 

Historical Notes

In the late 1920s and 1930s, many of this type of streetlight were installed in various parts of the City, but none more than in the Hollywood area.

 

 

 
(1930)* - A two-lamp streetlight in front of th Hollywood-Vine service station and parking garage,  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)^ - View from across the street on Bunker Hill of two Victorian style hotels on the 100 block of S. Grand Ave., the Richelieu (at 142) on the right and the Hotel Melrose (at 130) on the left. Dual-lamp electroliers stand in front of the buildings.  

 

Historical Notes

If still standing today, the view from the porch of these buildings would be that of Disney Hall, located directly across the street, on the other side of Grand Ave. Click HERE to see more in Early LA Historic Buildings (1800s).

 

 

 
(1930)*^^ - A 5-lamp ornate electolier helps light up the northeast corner of Broadway and 9th Street with the Hamilton Diamond Company store in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)^ - Close-up view of an early 5-globe street light on the corner of Second and Hill streets  

 

 

 

 
(1931)^ - Street lights at the corner of Grand Avenue and 9th Street.  

 

 

 

 
(1931)^^* - Looking south on Main Street at least seven 5-bulb decorative lamps can be seen in front of the old Federal Building/Post Office adjacent to City Hall.  

 

 

 

 
(1927)^^* - View looking southeast at the intersection of Melrose and Bronson avenues showing two ornate dual-lamp electroliers.  Today, Raleigh Studios is located at this corner.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)^ - Early dual-lamp streetlights on Wilshire Boulevard.*  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)* - Ornate dual-lamp street lights in a residential neighborhood.*  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)* - The same type of dual-lamp streetlight as previious photo but in a commercial area. This view looking west on Whittier and Vancouver in East Los Angeles includes from right to left: a Safeway market (5128 Whittier Boulevard), the United Artists Theater, and the Vega Building shops.  

 

 

 

 
(1933)^*# - A dual-lamp electrolier stands across the street from the Leimert Theater at 3341 W. 43rd Pl. in Los Angeles.  The theater still stands today in Leimert Park as the Vision Theater.  

 

 

 

 
(1933)* - Standing on the street beside the bridge, you can see across part of the roadway of the 6th St. Bridge. The bridge lighting, with its unique design, is placed every few feet.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1933)^*# - View near the center of the Sixth Street Bridge.  

 

 

 

 
(1933)*^ - Photograph of a view of the Sixth Street Bridge. Ornate lamp posts are evenly interspersed on both sides down the length of the bridge.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1933)* - One of four identical decorations on the Macy Street Viaduct, a bridge over the Los Angeles River that is now Cesar Chavez Avenue. The viaduct is in Spanish Colonial Revival style with ionic and doric columns and ornate streetlights.  

 

 

 

 
(1934)*^ - Photograph of a view of the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard, 1934. At center, a wide, two lane boulevard can be seen extending into the distance where highrise buildings can be seen while at center, a narrower road intersects the wide boulevard. To the left of the center foreground, a street lamp can be seen, beginning a procession that extends down the right side of the road.  

 

 

 

 
(1934)* - Caption reads: Close-up of new standard in Olympic Boulevard ornamental lighting system, serviced by the Power Bureau – with officials representing State, County and City governments in attendance, the Olympic Boulevard street lighting system was placed in service May 16, 1934, adding another brilliantly lighted thoroughfare to the many already served by the Bureau of Power and Light.  

 

 

 

 
(1935)^ - An ornamental two-lamp electrolier standing in front of Van de Kamp's Bakery on Beverly Boulevard and Westmoreland Street, looking west.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)^ - View looking west at the bridge which connects Hilgard Avenue to the main campus quadrangle at the U.C.L.A. Westwood campus. Decorative two-lamp streetlights can be seen along the center median. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of UCLA.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1936)^ - Single-post street lamp in Toluca Lake. This type of lamp was commonly installed in residential areas throughout the 1930s and 1940s.  

 

 

 

 
(1936)^ - View looking west down Hollywood Boulevard from the intersection with Argyle Avenue. Note the decorative electroliers on the left side of the photo.  

 

 

 

 
(1936)^** - View of patrons at the Cafe Trocadero on the Sunset Strip in what is now West Hollywood. Note how the the awnings drape around the ornate dual-lamp streetlight.  

 

 

 

 
(1935)*^^- View of an illuminated two-lamp electrolier in front of the Vogue Theater located at 6675 Hollywood Boulevard. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Hollywood.  

 

 

 

 
(1935)^ - View of a singular 5-bulb streetlight standing guard in front of the U.S. Hotel on the corner of Market and North Main Street.  The hotel was built in 1862 and demolished in 1939.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)^ - View of busy Broadway and 7th Street. Two different styles of streetlights are seen merging at this intersection. The two-lamp electroliers run up and down Broadway while the 5-lamp electrolier reside on 7th Street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - Ornate five-lamp electrolier stands between a traffic signal and a switchman’s tower used to control the flow and path of streetcars through the intersection. This is a view of Main looking north from Ninth St. to where Spring and Main streets converge.  

 

 

 

 
(1935)* – Greatly facilitating the maintenance work on street light standards, a new five-ton tower truck was placed in service June 6th by the Power Bureau’s Street Lighting section. The first painting job assigned to the truck’s crew was two-light standards on Broadway between California and Pico Streets.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)*^ - Photograph showing a two-lamp combination streetlight trolley pole opposite the U.S. Hotel at 170 North Main Street.  

 

Historical Notes

Southern California was once home to the world's largest interurban electric railway system, the Pacific Electric Railway. Los Angeles also boasted the Nation's fifth largest urban trolley system, the Los Angeles Railway. This combination streetlight trolley pole on North Main Street is representative of many different styles of steel and concrete decorative poles used to support the 600-volt DC wires which supplied power to the streetcars and interurbans of the two companies.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)*^ - View looking west on 7th Street at Hill. Two-lamp electroliers run up and down both 7th and Hill. The Warner Bros. Downtown Building is seen on the northwest corner. The Los Angeles Athletic Club sits just to the west of Warner Bros. on 7th Street.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)^ - This early type of streetlight was predominantly seen on Wilshire Boulevared between the late 1920s thru the 1940s. The above photo shows a double-decker bus; the upper deck filled with passengers. This is the Route 82 motor coach that travels from Wilshire to 5th and Hill. A very large marquee atop a building behind the coach reads: "It's in the Examiner", possibly making reference to the Herald Examiner newspaper. Photo taken at Wilshire and Western.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)^ - View of Westwood Boulevard in 1937. The ornate streetlights stand in front of a multitude of gas stations and retail stores. These streetlight electroliers are similar to those seen on Wilshire Blvd. except for the base of the posts, which have a different design.  

 

Historical Notes

Westwood Village adjacent to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) was decorated in the early part of the century with the Westwood Special, notable for the blue and gold ceramic tile around its base. These were replaced with modern lights in the early 1960's when Westwood Village determined to become the brightest lighted commercial area in the world using 1,000-watt mercury vapor lamps.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)^ - A view of Westwood Boulevard's Bank of America building, P. J. Walker Company and Phelps Terkel. This northwest corner of Westwood Boulevard and Broxton Avenue is called "The Dome," and it served as offices for the Janss Investment Company when built. The 'Westwood Special' streetlights can be seen on both sides of the street.  

 

 

 

 
(1938)^ - Close-up view of a portion of the western side of Bullock's Wilshire. An ornate “Wilshire Special” streetlight stands in front of the art deco building located at 3050 Wilshire Blvd.  

 

 

 

 
(1931)*^ - Close-up view of another "Wilshire Special" on the corner of Wilshire and Shatto.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1933)^^^ - View looking north of the Western Auto Supply Co. Building located at 5655 Wilshire Boulevard. A tall "Wilshire Special" streetlight stands on the corner (Wilshire and Hauser). In the distance also stands an oil derrick.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)^ - Dual-lamp electrolier in front of the Hollywood'Cat and Dog Hospital located at 1151 North Highland Avenue. This building is still standing.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1937)^*# - Looking north on Highland Avenue near Sunset Boulevard. Hollywood High School can be seen at far left, and in the center distance are the Hollywood United Methodist Church and the Hollywood First National Bank Building.*^^  

 

Historical Notes

The dual-lamp electroliers shown above were utilized in a most unique way. Cross-arms were installed on top of the electrolier post and power lines layed upon the arm. Also, streetcar wire ran across the street and was attached at both ends to the electroliers.

 

 

 

 
(1931)^ – View looking north from 5th Street on Occidental Boulevard in the Westlake area. A row of  2-lamp UM-1906 streetlights stand in the center median in line with another row of palm trees.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)* - Electrically operated Los Angeles traffic signal, with City street light in background.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)* - View of dual-lamp style electroliers at the corner of Avalon Boulevard and West I Street in Wilmington. One side of the electrolier is capped off either for energy conservation or for keeping illumination levels to a minimum.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1942)#*^ - View looking east from 6th and Beacon streets in San Pedro, with the Municipal Ferry building in the background.  Note the ornate streetlights on both sides of the street.  

 

 

 

 
(1938)#^ - Single-lamp electroliers stand on Reseda Boulevard between Parthenia Street and Roscoe Boulevard. Several men are seen planting trees. Carl S. Dentzel, a community leader, is visible at the center, wearing a suit. The other people in the photograph are from the Parks Department and Department of Forestry, City of Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)^ - Detailed view of a two-lamp ornate streetlight (UM 1906) on the Southwest corner of Ninth Street and Broadway.  In the background is the sunlit Eastern Columbia building (849 South Broadway) and further down the block the May Company (800 South Hill Street).  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)*^ - Nightime view of Ninth Street and Broadway showing Cristmas decorations hanging from the dual-lamp UM 1906 streetlights.  

 

 

 

  (ca. 1937)* - View of the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Van Ness Avenue showing the dual-lamp electrolier that was common in the Hollywood area since the 1930s. The traffic signal in front of the lamp post reads: "GO"

 

 

 

 
(1938)^ - Traffic signal at Hollywood and Vine, looking northeast, with the California Bank building in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - View of the main facade of the "Old Plaza Church" as it is now called. An ornate 5-bulb streetlight can be seen in front of the entryway to the church and acroos the street from the L.A. Plaza. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the L.A. Plaza.  

 

 

 

 
(1940)^^ - Dual-lamp electroliers situated in the center median of Trousdale Parkway on the USC campus in 1940, when it was still a public street. The view looks northeast up Trousdale (then named University Avenue) from Exposition Boulevard. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of USC.  

 

 

 

 
(1940)* - Ornamental streetlight electroliers (Wilshire Special) on Wilshire Boulevard west of Rossmore.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - Early DWP Streetlight Maintenance worker repairs an electrolier.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)* - Early streetlight adjacent to the Municipal Water and Power office building in downtown Los Angeles.*  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)^ - View of dual-lamp electroliers standing in front of the newly constructed Federal Courthouse.  City Hall can be seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)^ - A dual-lamp electrolier is being utilized as a streetlight and a utility pole on the corner of Temple and Hill streets.  In the background stands City Hall. Photo by Ansel Adams  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)**# - A single-arm streetlight post sits in front of the Nordvord Building located at 6420 Van Nuys Blvd., just north of Victory Blvd. This is the same type electrolier as seen in previous photo but with only a one arm extension.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1955)^#^ - View of another dual-lamp electrolier that is being utilized both as a streetlight and a utility pole.  It is located on the southeast corner of Market and Main streets across from City Hall.  Today, Market Street no longer exists and City Hall East stands at this location.  

 

 

 

 
(1942)^ - A dual-lamp electrolier (UM 1906) towers above the sidewalk as two men walk by near the corner of 1st and San Pedro streets on June 17, 1942. The streets look deserted.  

 

 

 

 
(1943)*# - Two-lamp ornate electroliers in front of the Biltmore Hotel as seen from the corner of Olive and 5th Streets. Notice that the top of the streetlights are blacked-out (during WWII).  

 

 

 

 
(1944)^ - View of the War Loan Drive Parade at the busy intersection of Seventh and Broadway. In the lower right stands a 5-lamp electrolier with 4 of the 5 bulbs blacked-out on top.  

 

 

 

 

(ca. 1943)* - Close-up view of a five-globe Llewellyn streetlight located on the corner of Main and 33rd streets with all five bulbs blacked-out on top (during WWII).

Note the old trapezoidal street sign imbedded just below the topmost globe.^^#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)^ - Another example of a decorative combination streetlight trolley pole is the above dual-pendent style electrolier still operating in front of Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. The United States Post Office Terminal Annex is seen from Union Station across Cesar Chavez (formerly Macy Street).  

 

 

 

 
(1945)* - Dual-lamp streetlights at Broadway and Temple in downtwon L.A.  

 

 

 

 
(1948)*^ - View of the Miracle Mile and the May Co. building, looking east down Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax Ave. Note how the design of the electroliers change from the east side of Fairfax to the west side.  

 

 

 

 
(1947)^** - View toward the northwest corner of Hollywood and Vine, looking over an ornate two-lamp streetlight. The traffic signal at lower right shows "GO" even though the intersection is full of cross-traffic.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1949)^ - Curved one-arm electroliers on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in 1949. The view is north on Vine Street. Note that the streetlights have been changed to one-arm electroliers from two-lamp posts since the time of the previous photo.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)*^ - Looking north on Vine Street toward Sunset and Vine, curved one-arm electroliers light the intersection.
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)^ - View at dusk on Vine Street from Selma Ave. Two-lamp ornate streetlights illuminate Vine St. along with the neon signs atop the buildings.  

 

 

 

 
(1950s)^^# - View of Vine Street looking north, ilumminated by both streetlights and neon signs.  

 

 

 

 
(1951)*^ - View of the Newsreel Theater (aka The Tower Theater) on the corner of Broadway and 8th Street. Here we see the confluence of two types of streetlights: the ornate five-bulb lamps runing east-west on 8th Street and the newer dual-lamp streetlights runing along Broadway.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)*^ - View looking north on Broadway toward 11th Street. A dual-lamp streetlight stands on the corner next to the Hearald Examiner building. The Case Hotel is seen on the southeast corner of Broadway and 11th.  

 

 

 

 
(1952)*^ – Sometimes even streetlights get in the way. View shows Officer H.L. Chapman holding a license plate at the scene of a traffic accident (corner of 8th and Bonnie Brae streets) with a downed electrolier lying on the ground.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1953)^ - View is looking southeast toward the corner of First and Spring streets.  The Nibblers Restaurant stands at that corner. Note how two different styles of streetlights come together at this intersection.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1952)* - Street lighting maintenance unit on the Hollywood Freeway. Caption reads: Modern-day lamplighter seen against Los Angeles' downtown skyline is James Salazar of the Street Light Maintenance section. These lights on the Hollywood Freeway don't have to be lit by hand, of course, but they do require washing and globe replacement. On ground is Joe J. Restivo. Truck with electrically operated ladder is one of four used by the Street Light section.
 

 

 

 

 
(1955)*^ - A singular electrolier stands tall on top of College St. Bridge over the Arroyo Seco Parkway.  The view is looking north. In the distance can be seen the San Gabriel Mountains partly covered with snow.  

 

 

 

 
(1956)*^ - View of a dual-lamp electrolier recently installed on Wilshire Boulevard at Commonwealth Avenue. The old “Wilshire Special” streetlights are seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1959)*^ - A five-globe lamp post with City Hall in the background. Today, the last remaining of these ornate street lights can still be found in the gardens and malls adjacent to City Hall.  

 

 

 

 
(1964)^^^– Close-up detailed view of a dual-lamp (UM 1906) electrolier in downtown Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 
(1965)^ - View of a single-post arm electrolier in front of the Hall of Records with City Hall in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1962)^ - Nighttime view of Los Angeles and City Hall, looking southwest from the San Bernardino Freeway. A billboard for the French restaurant "Taix" and "The TIMES" up in lights on the top of a building appear in the background. A variety of streetlight designs are seen throughout.  

 

 

 

  (1970s)^^ - These forked three-arm streetlights were chosen in the early 1970's by representatives of the Van Nuys business community to light Van Nuys Boulevard and Magnolia Boulevard. Originally, 1,000 watt mercury vapor lamps were used to provide on average five foot-candles. This turned out to be too bright and too costly from an energy level.  Today, these three-pronged electroliers can still can be seen on and around Van Nuys Boulevard.  However, the luminaires today are 250 watt high-pressure sodium.

 

 

 

 
(1976)^^^ - View of a 3-lamp streetlight in front of the Garden Court Apartments (Hotel) on Hollywood Blvd. This unique electrolier remains the predominant streetlight along Hollywood Boulevard today.  

 

 

 

 
(2005)^ - Close-up view of a Hollywood Special streetlight embellished with five stars along the side of its lamp housing. The building behind the streetlight is the Hudson Apartments (formerly The Historic Hillview Hollywood), a 54-unit apartment complex located at 6533 Hollywood Blvd.  

 

 

 

 
(2007)^* - An electrolier stands near the front of the Avalon (formerly the Hollywood Playhouse) at 1735 N. Vine Street near Hollywood and Vine. The streetlight consists of three lamps. At the top, a dual-arm configuration has two lamps hanging over the street area. At the post's mid-span, another lamp extends out over the sidewalk.  

 

 

 

(2008)*#*- View of the ornate dual-lamp streetlight on the 4th Street Viaduct near downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
(2008)*#* - Detailed view of one of the beautiful sets of dual-lamp fixtures on the 1931 built 4th Street Viaduct (Bridge).  

 

 

 

More Early Los Angeles Streetlights

 

(n.d.)* - View of a 7-bulb electrolier lamp in an early Los Angeles City park.

 

 

 

 

(n.d.)^^ - This pole was installed exclusively in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles which is now the location of the homes of many Hollywood movie stars and the Playboy Mansion.

 

 

 

 

 

(n.d.)^^ - This "Windsor Square Special" originally installed as part of land development in 1914 in the Windsor Square area of Hancock Park was recently refurbished, including the use of incandescent lamps under a special policy adopted by the City Council.

 

 

 

(n.d.)^^ - No longer in service, this Victoria Park special was affectionately called a 'plumber's nightmare' by maintenance forces. It graced an area of upscale Victorian-style homes from shortly after the turn-of-the-century until nearly 1960.

 

 

 

 

Early Ornamental Streetlight Standards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now and Then - We've Come Full Circle!

 
(ca. 2000)^^ - The City now operates three systems utilizing 100 foot tall poles.   (ca. 1882)* - One of the first of seven electric street lights installed in the City of Los Angeles. It stood 150 feet tall.

 

 

 

 

The Modern Look

 

(ca. 1960s)^^ - Century City was developed as a major business center in the early 1960's principally sponsored by the Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA), hence the use of these aluminum davit poles throughout the streets within Century City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1976)^ - View of a combination streetlight-traffic signal on Olympic Boulevard in Century City, showing a partial exterior view of the triangular shaped Century Plaza Towers, located at 2029 and 2049 Century Park East.

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1961)*^# - New streetlights being assembled in the foreground as construction of LAX's Theme Building proceeds in the distance.  

 

 

 

 
(1961)*^ - A tall post with eight street lamp heads on it is situated adjacent to the Theme Building at the Los Angeles International Airport. Another lamp can be seen in the far background.  

 

 

 

 
(1960s)^ - Theme Building at the Los Angeles International Airport illuminated at night. Multiple lights can be seen around the building and in the parking area.  

 

 

 

 
(1960s)*^# - Night view of LAX showing a line of taxis waiting in front of a terminal with the Theme Building and a well lit parking lot in the background. Click HERE to see more in Aviation in Early L.A.  

 

 

 

 
(1972)*^ – A 5-lamp decorative streetlight stands in front of th Old Hall of Records building and the newer Criminal Courts building as seen from across Broadway at the County Mall.  

 

 

 

 
(1970s)*#^ - 5-bulb ornate streetlight in located in the historic Los Angeles Plaza across the street from the Pico House.  

 

 

 

 
(1977)^ - View of the Pico House from the L.A. Plaza with City Hall in the background. Ornate 5-lamp streetlight sits in the foreground. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the L.A. Plaza.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2011)**^ - Chris Burden's "Urban Light" in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  

 

Historical Notes

Chris Burden's "Urban Light" installed on the sidewalk in front of LACMA has been one of LA's favorite and most photographed landmarks since its unveiling in February 2008. The piece incorporates 202 antique street lights from cities and neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles.*^

 

 

 

 
(2011)*^* - Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Location: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2010)^*^ - Nature as art: An 'Urban Light' sculpture showing a collection of street lights from many eras is reflected in the Los Angeles rain.  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

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References and Credits

* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LA Public Library Image Archive

*^USC Digital Library

**LADWP Historic Archive

^^The George A. Eslinger Street Lighting Photo Gallery

#*Library of Congress: 4th and Lorena Street Bridge Light

#^San Fernando Valley History Digital Library - CSUN Oviatt

***Huntington Digital Library Archive

*^^Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles - losangelespast.com

^^*Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; Windsor-Wilshire

^^^California State Library Image Archive

^**Vintage Los Angeles: Trocadero Nightclub ; Hollywood and Vine

*^*Photo Ramblings - Garth Buckles

^*^Mail Online - Daily Mail Reporter

**^Flicker: Tripod2011

^#^LA Times: Amestory Building

*#*Flicker: smgerdes - 4th Street Bridge Lights

*#^LAPL-El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Photo Archive

^#*Facebook.com - Los Angeles Theatres: Warner Bros. Downtown

**#San Fernando Valley Relics - Facebook.com: Van Nuys Blvd., Ca. 1940

^^#Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

*^#Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

^*#California State Library Image Archive

#*^Facebook.com - San Pedro's Original Website, San Pedro.com

^* Wikipedia: Los Angeles Country Art Museum; Hollywood Playhouse (Avalon Hollywood)

 

 

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