Engstrum Hotel Apartments

(1930s)^ – Postcard view looking north showing the Engstrum Hotel Apartments located at 623 W. 5th Street as seen from the Central Library. Part of the Edison Building is seen on the right. To the left of the Engstrum is a parking lot and then Hope Street which dead ends high above 5th Street.  


Historical Notes

Owner Fred E. Engstrum built the 220-room, six-story Engstrum Hotel at 623 Fifth Street. Its dedication in 1914 was reported as an evening of continual music and dancing without intermission. Residents of the hotel included film stars Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino.




(ca. 1932)^^ – Ground view of the Engstrum Hotel Apartments with cars seen parked in on both side of 5th Street.  


Historical Notes

Franz Otto Engstrum was born in Stockholm, Sweden on January 4, 1848, the son of a builder.  After completing his education, he worked in the stone-cutting business.

Engstrum moved to the United States in 1871, living for a short time in New York and Louisiana before relocating to Houston, Texas.  There he set up his construction business and was responsible for the completion of many large buildings in both Houston and Fort Worth, including the J. H. Brown warehouse and the First National Bank.  In 1886, he moved to San Diego with his wife Elizabeth C. Engstrum They subsequently moved to Escondido where Mr. Engstrum constructed a number of residences, churches, schools, and commercial buildings.

Mr. Engstrum moved to Los Angeles in 1892, where he set up a business office downtown.  The F. O. Engstrum Company, incorporated in 1904, had up to two hundred employees, all “skilled and independent workmen.” Although it first specialized in large carpentry projects, the Engstrum company soon became well-known as one of the most prominent general building-contracting firms west of Chicago, specializing in reinforced-concrete construction of large institutional and commercial buildings.  (The firm was said to have built the first cast-in-place concrete structure.) These included the Court Houses in Riverside and Ventura, the Security National and Citizens National Banks on Spring Street in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Polytechnic High School, the County and California Hospitals, Fire Station No. 23, the seven-story Elks Hall, the Ocean Park Bathhouse, the Agnews State Hospital, and Tower Hall at what is now San Jose State University.*




(Closer view of the Engstrum Hotel Apartments from the Central Library grounds. Note the bridge connecting the Edison Building (on the right) to a garage building directly behind the Engstrum.  


Historical Notes

Engstrum also built large multi-unit residential buildings, such as the Engstrum (seen above), Rampart, and Bryson Apartments and the 750-room Rosslyn Hotel in Los Angeles.  The Rex Arms at 945 Orange Street was declared “the finest apartment house built in Los Angeles up to that time.”  The firm also was said to have built all the concrete bridges from Los Angeles to Pomona for the Salt Lake Railroad, installed the street-lighting system in Newport Beach, and constructed numerous other buildings in Monrovia, Colton, San Diego, El Paso, and Oxnard (where the Engstrum family owned land). ### 




(ca. 1945)^^ - View looking NE from over the intersection of 5th and Flower streets with part of the Central Library seen at lower right. On the north side of 5th Street can be seen (from l to r): Sunkist Building, Engstrum Apartments and Edison Building. In the distance stands City Hall and a couple of large gas holders (“Gasometers”). Note: Hope Street dead ends above 5th Street, between the Sunkist Building and the Engstrum Apartments.  




(ca. 1976)* – View looking west on 5th Street showing the Engstrum Hotel Apartments (right) with the Union Bank Building (455 S. Figueroa) and the Bonaventure Hotel (4th and Figueroa) seen in the background  





(1980)* - The old and the new. The 1976-built Bonaventure Hotel towers above the 1914-built Engstrum Hotel Apartments which will soon be demolished to make way for the 73-story Library Tower (1989).  





(ca.1986)^*# – View looking west on 5th Street showing the Engstrum Hotel Apartments with the 1981-built 48-story Citigroup Center standing in the background (NE corner of 5th and Flower) where the Sunkist Building once stood. The Citgroup Center Building now obscurs the view of the Bonaventure Hotel. Sign over the entry way in the foreground reads "One Bunker Hill" which is the name of the old Edison Building to the right and out of view.  





(n.d.)^ – Close-up view of the entrance to the Engstrum at 623 W. 5th Street.  


Historical Notes

One of the last hotels to be razed as part of the redevelopment project, the Engstrum was replaced by the 73-story Library Tower (1989).



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