Early Los Angeles Street Lights

Historical Street Lights of Los Angeles

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(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.

 

 

 

 
(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.   

 

Historical Notes

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.

 

 

 

 
(1880)* - View looking northeast on Main Street showing one of the City’s first gas street lamps standing in front of the St. Charles Hotel, originally the Bella Union Hotel^.  

 

Historical Notes

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.**

^The Bella Union Hotel was considered the first hotel in Los Angeles. It became the Clarenden in 1873 and the St. Charles in 1875.

 

 

LA's First Electric Street Light

 
(ca. 1882)* - One of the first of seven electric street lights installed in the City of Los Angeles, located on the east side of Main Street, just north of Commercial Street (300 block of Main St.) The street light stood 150 feet tall and was situated in front of the St. Charles Hotel where one of the city's first gas lamps once stood (see previous photo).  

 

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)^ - Photo of a drawing showing 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. 1890)*^ – Close-up detail view showing a 150-ft tall streetlight in Boyle Heights.  

 

Historical Notes

On New Year's Eve of 1882, with much less reportage and ceremony, and only twenty-four hours after electric lights were introduced to Los Angeles, the electric light mast at First Street and Boyle Avenue was switched on.

There were four other locations in Boyle Heights and East LA.   (Using present-day street names) they were Avenue 22 and North Broadway in Lincoln Heights (the area was then called East Los Angeles), First Street and Central Avenue, Fourth Street and Grand Avenue, and Sixth and Main streets.^##

 

 

 

 
(1889)^## – Sketch found on a map published in 1889 of the William Workman property and vineyards in Boyle Heights.  The “Electric Light” mast is plainly seen and identified on the upper left.   

 

Historical Notes

These maps were generally produced to promote a subdivision, neighborhood or city and prominent features, like the light mast, were given attention as part of selling a well-planned and suitably outfitted area for potential buyers of property and structures.^##

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1890)*^ – View looking west toward Bunker Hill showing the impressive Brunson Mansion at center-right with the Rose Mansion at far left.  Note the 150-ft tall streetlight at center-left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

By the mid-1880’s there were over 240 of the new electriic 150-ft tall streetlights throughout the city.**

 

 

 
(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  

 

 

 

 

 
(1896)*^ - View is looking east at Washington Boulevard from Main Street. There are storefronts on both sides of the wide dirt road. Horse-drawn carriages can be seen on the left as well as a very tall white streetlight with a small platform at the top. The platform is actually in the middle of the pole.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1899)#^^ – Panoramic view showing a train leaving the La Grande Santa Fe Station.  Standing tall In the background (center-left) is one Los Angeles’ first 150 ft. streetlights, installed to illuminate the railroad yard.  

 

Historical Notes

Over time, 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 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)* - Electric-powered street light truck with platform fully extended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Utilitarian Streetlights

 
(ca. 1920s)* - Early LA residential street light installation.  

 

Historical Notes

"Utilitarian" Streetlights are lamps attached to an overhead wire or to a power pole.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1920s)^^^ – View looking south on Broadway from the top of the Broadway Tunnel toward Temple Street. The LA County Courthouse, Hall of Records, LA Times Building, and City Hall (built in 1888) can all be seen in the background on the east side Broadway. The Alhambra Hotel is in the left foreground and the Hotel Alhambra & Apartments Annex is across the street on the right. In front of the Annex can be seen a very tall power pole with a utilitarian streetlight mounted on top of it.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1929)^x^ – View looking north on Long Beach Ave at 42nd Street, showing a very serious looking man standing in the middle of the road. Overhead lines run up and down both sides of the street (power lines on the left and telephone lines on the right).   Overhead utilitarian streetlights straddle the street between the lines. Railroad tracks are on the right and City Hall (built in 1928) can be seen in the distance. Click HERE to see contemporary view.  

 

 

 

 

 

(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.*

 

 

 

 
(1928)*^ – View showing a "Utilitarian" Streetlight attached to a wooden pole located at the apex of the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and N. Virgil Avenue. On the right is Jake's Market Fountain Cafe. Across Beverly on the left is the American Storage Building .   Barkies Sandwich Shop can be seen in the background where Beverly intersects with Temple Street.  

 

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Early Streetlight Electroliers

Streetlight "Electroliers" are defined as free-standing streetlights generally on their own posts.

The second period of street lighting in Los Angeles took off in the early 1900 and lasted until just before the Second World War.  During this period street lighting used vertically mounted incandescent lamps (electroliers) which were relatively low in height, placed close together, and often highly ornamental.

 

 
(ca. 1905)*^ - 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.  

 

Historical Notes

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.*

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

Even with multiple lamps, the light given off from these new Electroliers was not great.  Most had a single large globe that gave off 32‐candle power, and two to six smaller globes that each produced 16 candlepower.  This was in contrast to the 3000 candle power of the Brush arc lights.  Therefore, electroliers had to be placed relatively close together.  Nor could they be tall.*

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

Supplying these lamps to Los Angeles was the Llewellyn Iron Works.  The company fabricated a variety of electrolier configurations featuring a single large globe and two to six smaller globes.  All followed the classical treatment of a heavier base and a more slender shaft.  All the globes were spherical, but the seven‐lamp form could be provided with a finial atop the large globe.*

 

 

 

 
(1910)*** - A 7-bulb decorative streetlight with finial atop the large globe stands in front of the LA County Courthouse located at Broadway at Temple Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The popularity of the electrolier soon spread to other Downtown streets.  Within a year Hill, Main and Spring Streets had installed Llewellyn fixtures.  They were typically five‐globe rather than seven, allowing Broadway to maintain its image as the brightest of the Great White Ways.   Eventually other Downtown and neighborhood commercial districts gained Llewellyns. *

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1908)*^– Postcard view looking south on Broadway at night with the Bullock's Department Store building in the background. An ornate 7-bulb lamp stands tall in the foreground adjacent to a horse-drawn wagon.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)*^ - View looking at the southwest corner of Broadway and 7th Street showing two ornate 7-bulb lamps on the corners with the Vogel Building and its onion-shaped tower in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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 Theatre 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1915)***– 7-bulb electroliers light up both sides of the 800 block of Broadway in front of Tally's Theatre.  

 

 

 

Five-Globe Llewellyn Electrolier

 
(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. The building to the right is the California Club.  

 

Historical Notes

This five-globe streetlights (called Llewellyn Electroliers) were originally installed on all streets in Downtown Los Angeles in the early 1900s, (except for Broadway which had the seven-globe lights).  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, showing the ornate 5-globe Llewellyn corner streetlight in greater detail.  

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 
(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

Carroll 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 Carroll Avenue.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)^ - View of Spring Street looking south from 2nd Street. The 5-globe Llewellyn Electroliers can be seen on both sides of the street.  

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 
(1922)^ - Two ornate 5-globe Llewellyn Electroliers stand guard in front of the Hollywood Masonic Temple located on the south side of Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and La Brea.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1925)^#* - Ornate 5-lamp streelight posts stand in front of entrance to the Pantages Theatre, NW corner of 7th and Hill streets. The curved marquee reads: Irene Rich in "Compromise" and Buzington's Rube Band.  

 

Click HERE to see more 5-globe Llewellyn Electroliers (1930+)

 

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San Fernando Valley

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

The Van Nuys Highway Lighting District was organized August 10, 1912, under the California act providing for the highway lighting of unincorporated towns and villages and country sections.  The Van Nuys District, which is 16 miles long and 8 miles wide, embraces about 52,000 acres in the southwestern part of the San Fernando Valley (at the time).

The votes creating the district came from the new settlers.  Sixty votes were recorded for and eighteen against.  The small vote was due to the fact that the majority of people living in the tract came from other states and were not eligible to vote on account of not having been in California the required year.

The first lighting undertaken by the district was along Sherman Way, the 16 mile boulevard extending thru the tract. A sum of $75,000 was recommended for this purpose, which was included in the 1912 taxes of the district, and the entire amount was raised in that year.*

 

 

 

 
(1913)^.^ - Map showing the proposed streetlights for the Van Nuys/Marian/Owensmouth Lighting District. Photo courtesy of Dean Fields.  

 

Historical Notes

This was the first Lighting District the County of Los Angeles created.  When completed the lighting system had 484 three-light posts (electroliers) and 129 five-light posts (electroliers).

Streetlight "Electroliers" are defined as free-standing streetlights generally on their own posts.

The town of Marian became Reseda and Owensmouth is now Canoga Park.

The above map shows the original route of Sherman Way, which today is west on Chandler, north on Van Nuys Blvd, and west on Sherman Way. The other sections of today's Van Nuys Blvd were known as South Sherman Way and North Sherman Way.

 

 

 

 
(1913)*** – Night view looking south on Sherman Way (later Van Nuys Boulevard). Two rows of 5-lamp electroliers illuminate the area showing two sets of tracks and an electrical pole line running down the commercial center of town.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1913)*** – Closer view of Sherman Way (later Van Nuys Boulevard) showing the multitude of 5-lamp streetlights lining both sides of the street. Also seen are streetcar tracks and and an electrical pole line running down the center of the Boulevard. This is a blow-up of the previous photo.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1913)*** – Close-up detailed view showing a five light ornamental lamp.  Street sign on lamp post reads: SHERMAN WAY.  Sign on left reads:  “Electroliers Wired & Installed by Llewellyn Iron Works”.  Sign at right reads:  “Private Road – Exclusively for Autos”.  

 

Historical Notes

In the three townsites of Van Nuys, Marian, and Owensmouth, five-light clusters were used thru the main parts, four electroliers to every street intersection.  On these five-light posts, one 60-watt lamp was upright and four 40-watt lamps pendant, and they were placed through the main parts of the towns, four electroliers to every street intersection.*

The most common of the incandescent multiple globe electroliers of the early 1900s were those manufactured by the Llewellyn Iron Works of Los Angeles.  The firm became so identified with this style of street light that any multiple globe electrolier became commonly known as a Llewellyn.  The Llewellyn Iron Works, founded in 1889‐1890, was one of the largest metal working facilities in Los Angeles.  It manufactured structural steel – including that for the Bradbury Building.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1913)^.^ – View looking down on an unpaved Sherman Way showing an ornate Llewellyn Iron Works 3-lamp electrolier.  

 

Historical Notes

Cast-iron electroliers (made by Llewellyn Iron Works of Los Angeles) were used with three-light clusters for use along the boulevard outside the townsites, one 60-watt lamp upright and two 40-watt lamps pendant.  The electroliers were located 330 feet apart staggered, or 660 feet apart on each side of the boulevard, which is about 100 feet wide.*

These same type of streetlight electroliers can be found today on Carroll Avenue.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1913)^.^ - View showing the Owensmouth PE station looking west along Sherman Way.  Park Ave [now Vassar Ave] enters at right; behind the Simi Hills can be dimly seen.  Note the five-lamp ornamental streetlights along Sherman Way.  

 

Historical Notes

Sherman Way became the first paved boulevard across the valley. Following this was the paving of the state highway aka the Ventura Road, from the Cahuenga Pass to Newbury Park. Eventually, the road ran all the way to Ventura, and was renamed Ventura Boulevard.

 

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Windsor Square

 
(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.  

 

 

Llewellyn "Chester" Lamps

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

 

Historical Notes

Called Llewellyn “Chester” lamps, these six-globe streetlights were installed in the West Adams district beginning in 1903 (Named for Chester Place, one of the first gated communities in Los Angeles).


 

 

 
(ca. 1924)*^ - A close-up view showing one of the six-globe electrolier in front of a Craftsman three story home on 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1935)*^ - Two different style streetlights stand at the corner of  West Adams Boulevard and Hoover Street, with an Art-Deco Union 76 station in the background.  Click HERE to see more Early LA Gas Stations.  

 

 

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Dual-lamp UM 1906 Electroliers

  (1920s)^^ - A worker is perched at the end of a crane while installing a new two-lamp UM (Union Metal) 1906 streetlight assembly as two men watch below.

 

Historical Notes

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

The UM-1906 was manufactured by the Union Metal Company of Canton, Ohio. The company was founded in 1906 to produce ornamental porch columns and pergolas. By 1909 it began marketing ornamental street lighting, with its first major catalog of electroliers issued in 1915. Union Metal eventually supplied more than 4400 towns and cities with street lights. The UM-1906 is currently offered by the Bureau of Street Lighting as an option for roadway street lighting.*

One of the most significant variations of the UM-1906 dual-lamp streetlight was the UM-2502, which contained an extended center pole from which trolley wires could be suspended. Click HERE to see more.

 

 

 

 
(1924)*^ – The new light posts were 24 feet in height and manufactured by Keystone Iron & Steel Works of Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)* - A dual-lamp UM-1906 electrolier is seen in the foreground on Spring St. between 2nd and 3rd Streets.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1926)^^* – View looking north on Broadway showing dual-lamp UM-1906's lining both sides of the street. The Orpheum Building is seen on the east side of Boradway with a sign on its side that reads:  ‘New Orpheum – America’s Finest Theatre – Presenting Exclusively – Orpheum Circuit Vaudeville’  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1927)*^ - View looking north on Figueroa from just south of Washington Boulevard.  A paperboy dressed in light-colored clothing stands at the center of the street to the right hawking papers while cars pass him on either side.  A dual-lamp UM-1906 electrolier stands in the foreground. The tall building in the background is the Patriotic Hall.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)*^ - A two-lamp Keystone electrolier ('Broadway Special') stands on the corner of West 12th Street and South Broadway with an early traffic signal (Acme Semaphore), with sign reading "Go", to its left. Adjacent to the ornate streetlight base stands a fire hydrant.  

 

Historical Notes

To get cars and commerce moving through the downtown business district, Los Angeles installed its first automated traffic signals in October 1920 at five locations on Broadway. These early signals, manufactured by the Acme Traffic Signal Co., paired “Stop” and “Go” semaphore arms with small red and green lights. Bells played the role of today’s amber or yellow lights, ringing when the flags changed—a process that took five seconds. By 1923 the city had installed 31 Acme traffic control devices.*

 

 

Broadway Rose and. Broadway Special

 
(n.d.)^^ - There were two distinctive pole bases used on Broadway in 1920 through 1930, one ornamental with rosebuds known as the 'Rose' (left photo) another adorned with a cypress leaf and other known filigree known as the 'Broadway Special' (right photo).  

 

Historical Notes

Manufactured by Keystone Iron & Steel Works of Los Angeles, the "Roses" were found mid-block, and the "Specials" were at the intersections.  When the shafts and luminaires were changed in 1948, the bases of both designs were left in place.  But, because the "Specials" were at the intersections, they were the most vulnerable to updates to the traffic light and intersection improvements.  So, all the "Special" bases eventually vanished, while the "Rose" bases are still quite plentiful. 

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

The new Spanish Renaissance-inspired “Broadway Specials” and their efflorescent siblings, the “Broadway Roses,” were praised by the Journal of Electricity as “a new note in street lighting.”

The Los Angeles Times hailed the installation as “one of the most elaborate jobs of ornamental electroliers ever made on the coast.” The Broadway Specials no longer exist, but the Broadway Roses still light up West Sixth Street between Olive and Flower Streets.*

 

 

 

 
(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 (UM-1906) that was so prevalent in downtown LA starting in the 1920s.   

 

 

 

 

 
(1926)* - A view of Broadway looking north from 7th Street showing a 2-lamp streetight (UM-1906) standing tall on the S/E corner as hundreds of people walk by.  

 

Historical Notes

The ornate streetlight seen above is also referred to as the 'Broadway Rose'. It was so named for the distinctive climbing rose design on the post. The Broadway Rose only appeared on Broadway. 

 

 

 

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

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Bridge Lighting

 
(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 that 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 - 1928.  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.

 

 

 

 
(1930s)^ - Looking up at the 1st Street Bridge showing the hybrid type streetlights along its siding. Note the trolley wire connected to the post just below the top lamp.  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Downtown

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

This five-globe streetlights were originally installed on all streets in Downtown Los Angeles in the early 1900s, (except for Broadway which had the seven-globe lights).  Today, the last of these poles are still being used as architectural features in the gardens and malls adjacent to City Hall.

 

 

 
(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. This will be the location of the current 1928-built City Hall.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Residential Lighting

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

*Few people know that a giant white dot (35 feet in diameter, with 20-watt lights on the perimeter) was constructed below the HOLLYWOODLAND sign to catch the eye. The Sign itself featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart.

At night the Sign blinked into the Hollywood night: first “Holly” then “wood” and finally “land,” punctuated by a giant period. The effect was truly spectacular.^

Click HERE to see more Early Views of 'Hollywoodland'.

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 

(1931)^x^ - View looking west on 8th Street toward Western Avenue showing dual-lamp electroliers running down both sides of the street.  Also seen are power lines and streetcar wire attached to the top of the streetlight posts above the lamps.

     

 

 

 

 
(1931)^x^ – Close-up detailed view showing the ornate design of the dual-lamp electrolier.  Note the utility worker high up on the streetlight post across the street, probably working on the streetcar cable.  

 

 

Wilshire Special

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

Wilshire Boulevard was designated by The Octagon Museum of the American Architectural Foundation as one of the 'Grand American Avenues'. For nearly a half a century it was decorated with the Wilshire Special pole and lantern along nearly six miles of its length.

 

Wilshire Special

 

(n.d.)* - Close-up view showing a ‘Wilshire Special’ streetlight.  Each lantern is guarded by four silent, Thumbelina-sized, bare-breasted women.

     

Historical Notes

The idea of a specialized electrolier for a business district was particularly popular in the late 1920s.  The best known was the Wilshire Special, installed in 1928 along Wilshire Boulevard from Park View to Fairfax. In the 1930s these ornate electroliers were also installed on the remaining sections of Wilshire all the way to downtown. Other upscale commercial districts, such as Westwood Village, followed suit with their own special types.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(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 shop advertise Union 76 gasoline and Southern Pacific railroad. The sign reads "Ride cool trains! $6 to San Francisco. $17 to Portland".  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)^ - View of Wilshire Boulevard looking northwest across Masselin Avenue with "Wilshire Specials" lining both sides of the street..  A sign just barely in the picture on the right advertises for businesses to locate in the "Miracle Mile" on Wilshire Blvd. The La Brea Tar Pits can be seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1931)^*# - View is looking west on Wilshire in the Miracle Mile showing Wilshire Special streetlights lining both sides of the Boulevard. On the left is the Dominguez- Wilshire Building (aka Myer Siegel Building) with the Wilshire Tower Building seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1931)*^ – "Wilshire Specials" light up the street during rush hour traffic. The view is looking west on Wilshire Boulevard with double-decker bus seen heading towards the camera.  The Pellissier Building and Warner Theatre (now Wiltern Theatre) are seen lit up on the left. The Wilshire Professional Building is on the right and further back.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)*^- View of Wilshire Boulevard at Bonnie Brae Street looking west toward Westlake Park showing Wilshire Specials lining both sides of the street. These Wilshire Specials were installed in the early 1930s after the street was widened and name changed from Orange Street to Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

As of 2008, approximately 100 "Wilshire Specials" still remain over the distance of about one-and-a-half miles along Wilshire Boulevard. The original lanterns are solid bronze and stand 7½ feet tall from the base of the lantern to the top of the finial.^^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Bridge Lighting

 
(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 wire 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.

 

 

     

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Downtown

 
(ca. 1928)*^ – View looking south on Spring Street from Sunset Boulevard.  Two-lamp streetlights hanging almost at mid-post extend down both sides of Spring Street.  The posts are also used to support the streetcar wire.  A man is seen climbing a pole without streetlights that supports streetcar cables.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)*^ – View looking north on Broadway from just north of 10th Street (later Olympic Boulevard*).  The United Artists Theater Building is at left along with the Texaco Building.  The streets are aligned with dual-lamp streetlights and Christmas trees.  

 

Historical Notes

*In 1932, the entire length of the 10th Street, from East L.A. to Santa Monica, was renamed Olympic Boulevard for the Summer Olympics being held in Los Angeles that year.^*

 

 

 

 
(1930)*^ – View looking north on Broadway from 10th Street (now, Olympic Boulevard).  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 Market can be seen across the street.  

 

 

 

Hollywood

 
(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. 1937)* – View looking east on Sunset Boulevard at Van Ness Avenue showing early traffic signal and dual-lamp street lights that was common in the Hollywood area since the late 1920s..  

 

 

 

 

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

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(1935)*^ - View looking south on La Cienega at Pico Boulevard showing a string of dual-lamp electroliers on both sides of the street.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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)^.^ – View looking south on Alvarado Street at Temple Street showing a Police Call Box mounted on a power pole in the foreground with an ornate two-lamp electrolier seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The LAPD installed call boxes in 1903. Before that, officers had to go to headquarters on foot with a message, or headquarters had to send a runner to find them. Call boxes let officers check in at intervals, using a key to unlock the box. Later—probably in the Thirties—dial telephones replaced the direct lines. And much later, walkie-talkies made call boxes obsolete.*

 

Five-Globe Llewellyn Electrolier

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

 

Historical Notes

The most common of the incandescent multiple globe electroliers of the early 1900s were those manufactured by the Llewellyn Iron Works of Los Angeles.  The firm became so identified with this style of street light that any multiple globe electrolier became commonly known as a Llewellyn.  The Llewellyn Iron Works, founded in 1889‐1890, was one of the largest metal working facilities in Los Angeles.  It manufactured structural steel – including that for the Bradbury Building.^

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more 5-globe Llewellyn Electroliers (1900+)

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(1920s)^ - An ornate dual-lamp streetlamp stands tall on the SE corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and San Fernando Road.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

The twin street lights along Melrose were the Marbelite 1900 model, distinguished by its squarish base. The Melrose lights were removed around 1950, but there are a few survivors fairly close by.  Wilshire Boulevard on the west side also had similar streetlights in the 1930s.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)*** - View looking east showing dual-lamp electroliers on Wilshire Boulevard with the new Westwood Village development seen in the background on the left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)^ - Early dual-lamp streetlights running along Wilshire Boulevard. Note the dirt road.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1931)*^ – Close-up view showing an ornate dual-lamp streetlight near the NW corner of Fairfax and Drexel avenues with two women followed by two girls walking on the sidewalk nearby. The Richfield Gas Station on the corner is selling regular gas for 8½ cents/gal, with Ethyl going for 11½ cents.  Note the beautiful two-lamp streetlight on the corner.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1931)* – View showing a dual-lamp streetlight in front of Fairfax High School located on the south side of Melrose Avenue east of Fairfax Avenue.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1937)^x^ – Dual-lamp electrolier tries to compete with a spotlight during a premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre, 6316 San Vicente 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 Theatre at 3341 W. 43rd Pl. in Los Angeles.  The theater still stands today in Leimert Park as the Vision Theater.  

 

 

 

Sixth Street Bridge

 
(1933)* - Standing on the street beside the bridge, you can see across part of the roadway of the Sixth 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)* – Close-up view showing an ornate concrete streetlight in front of a pylon-tower on the Sixth Street Bridge.  

 

 

 

 

Macy Street Bridge

 
(1933)* - Looking up at the Macy Street Bridge from the ground below. The bridge has dual-lamp electroliers with trolley cable connected to top of the posts.  There are also four large pillars (two at each end) with ionic and doric columns and ornate streetlights.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally called the Macy Street Viaduct/Bridge, the Cesar E. Chavez Avenue Viaduct is the second bridge built during large bridge-building program in Los Angeles during the 1920s. The first bridge located on this spot was a wooden, kerosene lamp-lit covered bridge, built in 1870. It was later replaced with a small metal truss 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.  

 

 

Washington Boulevard Bridge

 
(1931)* – View showing opening day ceremonies at the East Washington Boulevard Bridge over the Los Angeles River.  The five-span T-girder bridge sits on wide pier walls. Note the two different styles of streetlights running along both sides of the bridge.  Photo date:  March 31, 1931  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)* - View showing one of four ornamental streetlight posts lcoated on the ends of East Washington Boulevard Bridge. Each base supports a large lamp and also has figures in relief that depicts the various industries located in the area.  

 

 

 

General Hospital

 
(n.d.)^x^ - Looking up at a streetlight that resembles a light house in front of the Art Deco style Los Angeles County General Hosiptial, built 1930 to 1933.  

 

Historical Notes

The site of numerous significant events in the history of public health, the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center contains one of the city's most recognizable Art Deco buildings. The facility is located in Los Angeles' Lincoln Heights neighborhood and has previously been known as County/USC and Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the LA County General Hospital.

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^x^ – Ornate street lamps in front of L.A. General Hospital Hospital. Note the high relief scultpures on the front face of the building.  

 

 

 

Wilshire Specials

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1934)^^* – Street view looking northwest showing "Wilshire Blvd. thru West Lake Park" (later MacArthur Park) with the "Wilshire Special" streetlights on both sides of the street.  

 

Historical Notes

On May 7, 1942, the Los Angeles Park Commission renamed Westlake Park in honor of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The decision to rename the park, which had been known as Westlake Park for more than 50 years, was made in preparation for an observance of MacArthur Day on June 13th.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Hollywood

 
(1936)^ - View looking west down Hollywood Boulevard from the intersection with Argyle Avenue. Note the decorative electroliers on the left side of the photo. These type of lamps were found throughout Hollywood as early as the late 1920s.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)^v^ - Close-up view showing a Hollywood-style two lamp electrolier at the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue with the Pantages Theatre seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Downtown

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

The ornate streetlight seen above is often referred to as the 'Broadway Rose'. It was so named for the distinctive climbing rose design on the post. The Broadway Rose only appeared on Broadway. 

 

* * * * *

 

Combination Streetlight-Trolley Poles

 
(1934)^^^ – View looking northeast toward City Hall showing two-lamp combination streetlight trolley poles at the intersection of Spring and 1st 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. 1937)*^ - Photograph showing a two-lamp combination streetlight trolley pole opposite the U.S. Hotel at 170 North Main Street.  

 

Historical Notes

One of the most significant variations of the UM (United Metal)-1906 dual-lamp streetlight was the UM-2502, which contained an extended center pole from which trolley wires could be suspended. Extant examples remain along Spring Street, between Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and First Street.

Variations of the UM-1906, the UM-2502, and similar dual uprights by other manufacturers also still exist in a number of outlying areas, generally neighborhood commercial in nature. They include the south side of Magnolia Avenue from Lankershim to Vineland and north side of Magnolia from Cleon to Cartwright in North Hollywood-Valley Village; 3400-3700 Slauson Avenue in Hyde Park; Seventh Street between Union and Garland Avenues in Westlake; La Cienega Boulevard between Airdrome Street and Olympic Boulevard, and Seventh Street between Catalina and Hoover Streets In the Wilshire area.*

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

Westwood Specials

 
(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. These lamps were called 'Westwood Specials'.  

 

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.  

 

 

 

 
(1932)*** – View looking northeast at the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Kinross Avenue where a “Westwood Special” streetlamp stands on the S/E corner.   

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - A "Westwood Special" stands in front of two shops in Westwood Village: LeRoy Gordon and Chas. Ona, with cars parked diagonally in front.  

 

 

 

 
(1938)^^^ – View showing an art deco style building located on Weyburn Avenue in Westwood Village.  On the left is a lamp shop with plates and lamps in the display window. Next door, on the right, is the Westwood Bookstore which is still open late at night. A "Westwood Special" streetlight illuminates the building.  

 

 

 

Wilshire Specials

 
(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.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Hollywood

 
(ca. 1937)^ - Dual-lamp electrolier with trolley cable connected to top of post in front of the Hollywood Cat and Dog Hospital located at 1151 North Highland Avenue. This building is still standing.
 

 

 

 

Combination Streetlight, Trolley, and Power Poles

 
(1937)^*# - Looking north on Highland Avenue from Sunset Boulevard showing dual-lamp streetlights sharing space with power lines and streetcar cables. Hollywood High School can be seen at far left. In the center distance are the Hollywood United Methodist Church and the Hollywood First National Bank Building. To the right, on the NE corner, is Currie's Ice Cream parlor.  

 

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.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1936)#**# – Closer view showing the combination streetlight-power poles runing north and south on Highland Avenue. This view is looking north on Highland Avenue toward Sunset Boulevard with Currie’s Ice Cream parlor seen on the northeast corner.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)*## – View showing combination streetlight, trolley, and power poles near the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl located at 2301 N. Highland Avenue.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)*^# – Postcard view showing a two-lamp electrolier (UM-1906) standing across the street from the Bullock’s Department Store at 650 S. Hill Street.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1937)^x^ – View looking north on Flower at 7th Street with the Richfield Oil Company Building (555 S. Flower St.) standing tall in the background.  A dual-lamp streetlight (UM-1906) stands behind an old-style traffic signal (semaphore).  

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles installed its first automated traffic signals in October 1920 at five locations on Broadway. These early signals, manufactured by the Acme Traffic Signal Co., paired "Stop" and "Go" semaphore arms with small red and green lights. Bells played the role of today's amber or yellow lights, ringing when the flags changed—a process that took five seconds. By 1923 the city had installed 31 Acme traffic control devices. ^*

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^^* – View looking up at the Richfield Oil Company Building tower from 6th Street showing a close-up of the two-lamp ornate streetlight (UM 1906).  

 

 

 

 

 
(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). Note the different design on this streetlight compared to the one in previous photo.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)^ - A man is crossing Main Street toward a 5-bulb streetlight in front of the Old Plaza Church. Signage on a water tower (upper left) promotes the nearby "Brunswig Drug Co."  Photo by Herman J. Schultheis  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2013)^^* – View showing two maintenance workers replacing a broken glass panel on a 'Wilshire Special', located in front of the Wilshire Grand Hotel.  Photo by Gary Leonard  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

WWII Modified Streeltights

 
(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).  

 

Historical Notes

During the War many streetlights throughout the City were blacked-out on top as a preventative measure.

 

 

 

 
(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)^.^ – Ornate two-lamp electroliers with tops blacked-out (WWII), located at the intersection of Lankershim and Magnolia in North Hollywood.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1946)* - View looking south on Lankershim Boulevard at Chandler Boulevard.  Ornate two-lamp electroliers (without the black-out tops) line both sides of Lankershim.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950)^^+ - View looking at northwest corner of E 1st St. and Boyle Ave showing an ornate two-lamp electrolier similar to the one seen in previous photo.  The building at the corner is the 1889-built Boyle Hotel which still stands today.  

 

 

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Combination Streetlight Trolley Pole

 
(ca. 1939)^.^ – View looking across a busy Alameda Street with the new Union Station in the background. A combination streetlight trolley pole with dual-pendant style lamps is seen at right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)^ - A decorative combination streetlight trolley pole is seen above. The dual-pendant style electrolier is still operating in front of Union Station (to the right and out of view). The United States Post Office Terminal Annex Building is seen across Cesar Chavez (formerly Macy Street).  

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Miracle Mile

 
(1940s)+## – Panoramic view looking east on Wilshire Boulevard through the Fairfax Avenue intersection.  One arm streetlights line both sides of Wilshire. They appear to be spaced closer than they really are due to the telophoto shot. We can see the May Company department store (now part of LACMA and future home of the Hollywood museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), Prudential Building, Coulters department store, and the Arthur Murray dance studio. This “Miracle Mile” stretch of Wilshire Blvd is busy now but back then it looks positively jam-packed!  

 

 

 

 

 
(1948)*^ - View of the Miracle Mile and the May Company 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.  

 

 

 

Hollywood

 
(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 at this intersection have been changed to single-arm pendant electroliers from two-lamp posts since the time of the previous photo.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(1959)*++– View looking west on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue showing single-arm pendant electroliers running down both sides of the Boulevard. The First Federal Savings and Loan Building can be seen at right (N/W corner), future site of the Hollywood and Highland Center, the current home of the Academy Awards. The Grauman's Chinese Theatre is seen in the distance.  Coffee Dan's, on the left, was a familiar landmark in Hollywood for decades.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

Downtown

 
(1945)* - Dual-lamp streetlights at Broadway and Temple in downtwon L.A. The Hall of Records Building is seen across the street.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(1951)*^ - View of the Newsreel Theater (aka Tower Theatre) 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1950s)^ - View showing one of downtown's busiest intersections, Broadway and 7th Street, during mid-day. The State Theatre on the corner is showing "The Brothers Karamazov." Again, here we have the confluence of two different types of streetlights, one running up and down Broadway and the other down 7th Street.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1980)^.^ – View looking north on Broadway from 7th Street showing a dual-lamp streetlight in front of Clifton's Cafeteria.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

Freeway Lighting

 
(1951)^ – View showing new lights being installed on the Hollywood Freeway (101 Freeway), still under construction, with the Federal Courthouse, Hall of Justice, and City Hall seen in the background. Click HERE to see more on the construction of the Hollywood Freeway through the Civic Center.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1952)* - View looking toward the Four Level Interchange on the Hollywood Freeway showing a Street Lighting Maintenance unit. 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.
 

 

Historical Notes

The Four Level Interchange was the first stack interchange in the world. Completed in 1949 and fully opened in 1953 at the northern edge of Downtown Los Angeles, it connects U.S. Route 101 (Hollywood Freeway and Santa Ana Freeway) to State Route 110 (Harbor Freeway and Arroyo Seco Parkway).^*

 

 

 

 
(1953)^^ - View showing streetlights running along the outer sides of the Four Level Interchange, looking east toward City Hall.  

 

Historical Notes

The interchange was constructed as a stack interchange because surrounding buildings and terrain made construction of a cloverleaf interchange impractical. The mainline traffic of US 101 is at the top of the interchange, above the ramps, a rarity in stack interchanges. Its distinctive architecture has long made it a symbol of Los Angeles' post-World War II development, and it appears on numerous postcards of the 1950s and 1960s.^*

 

 

 
(1954)^ - Streetlights are positioned to illuminated the lower sections of the Four Level Interchange.  

 

Historical Notes

The Four Level, also known as the Stack, gets its name from its multi-tiered structure that separates traffic heading in each direction into dedicated lanes. On the bottom level are curved ramps for those changing from the 110 freeway to the 101. One level above is the main trunk of the 110 freeway, named the Arroyo Seco Parkway north of the interchange and the Harbor Freeway south of it. On the third level are the arcing flyover ramps carrying traffic from the 101 freeway to the 110. Finally, on the fourth and top level is the main trunk of the 101 freeway, named the Hollywood Freeway to the west and the Santa Ana Freeway to the east.^

 

 

 
(1956)^ – View showing single-arm pendant electroliers on the Pasadena Freeway with densely packed traffic travelling southbound as seen from Park Row Drive overlooking the Freeway near Civic Center.  

 

Historical Notes

Between 1954 and 2010, Arroyo Seco Parkway was officially designated the Pasadena Freeway. In 2010, as part of plans to revitalize its scenic value and improve safety, Caltrans renamed the roadway back to its original name. All the bridges built during parkway construction remain, as do four older bridges that crossed the Arroyo Seco before the 1930s.*^

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1962)#^* – View showing a two lamp electrolier standing near the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue. The Pantages Theatre is to the left and in the foreground stands a small hamburger stand. The Capitol Records Building, with Christmas Tree on top, is seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1960s)#** – An incandescent electrolier with dual-lamps, curved cross-arms, and extended post stands on the east side of Highland Avenue just north of Hollywood Boulevard. The Hollywood United Methodist Church can be seen in the background on the corner of Highland and Franklin.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

The Davit Streetlight (aka Cobra Streetlight: 1950-1980)

 
(1964)* – View showing a Davit or Cobra-head street lamp in front of the Pollard-Ravenscroft Chevrolet dealership at 6001 Van Nuys Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

The extended-arm electrolier that dominated the postwar period was called the Davit Streetlight. It was so named because of its resemblance to the arm hoist used for raising and lowering boats and anchors. Unlike earlier streetlights Its design was typically unornamented.

 

 

 

 
(1968)#+ – View looking east toward the west end of 2nd Street Tunnel as seen from the southwest corner of 2nd and Figueroa where a davit-style sreetlgiht stands. In the background can be seen Bunker Hill Tower, still under construction.  

 

Historical Notes

The Davit Streetlight used a different type of lamp, based on improvements in HID lighting technology. Lamps were horizontally-mounted, rather than vertically as with the earlier pendants. This permitted a larger lamp in a housing, or optical assembly, which included reflector and prisms to direct the light. Along with this change in the lamp size and orientation came improvements in the gasses used.

 

 

 

 
(1976)^^# -  View through a telephoto lens looking north on Sepulveda Boulevard showing an American Airlines jet crossing over the Sepulveda Tunnel - making for a good optical illusion.  Davit-style streetlighs are sees on the west side of the street. Photo by Rick Meyer  

 

Historical Notes

By the late 1970s, sodium had replaced mercury as the most common form of lamp.  The result was a significant change in the height and spacing of street lights. The improvement in lighting power allowed the electroliers to be taller and placed further apart. Longer arms extended the lamp over the street, and the reflectors and prisms threw the light toward the center of the roadway.  The horizontal orientation of the optical assembly, attached to a curved arm, inevitably gave this type of street light the popular name of cobra-head.^

 

 

 

 
(1963)* - View showing dual-lamp mercury vapor electroliers on Sherman Way between Lankershim Blvd. and Laurel Canyon Blvd.  View is looking east on Sherman Way as seen from top of RR crossing.  

 

Historical Notes

Mercury vapor lamps are more energy efficient than incandescent and most fluorescent lights, with luminous efficacies of 35 to 65 lumens/watt.  Their other advantages are a long bulb lifetime in the range of 24,000 hours and a high intensity, clear white light output.  For these reasons, they were used for large area overhead lighting, such as in factories, warehouses, and sports arenas as well as for streetlights.^

High pressure sodium lamps would replace the Mercury vapor lamps by the late 1970s.

 

 

Van Nuys Blvd Streetlights

  (1970s)^^ - View looking south on Van Nuys Boulevard showing the unique three-arm sltreetlights running down both sides of the street.

 

Historical Notes

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.

 

 

 

 
(1970s)#^ – View looking southwest on Van Nuys Boulevard. Visible at center is 6211 Van Nuys Boulevard, known at that time as the Van Nuys Hotel. Note the forked three-arm streetlights running up and down Van Nuys Boulevard.  Click HERE to see contemporary view.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1978)##* – 3-headed streetlight in front of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour on Van Nuys Boulevard. At nighttime, this stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard was perfect for 'Cruising'.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1972)^.^ - Cruising Van Nuys Boulevard, the brightest lit street in Los Angeles during the 1970s.  

 

Historical Notes

Cruise night was every Wednesday on Van Nuys Boulevard from the early 1950s through the 1970s. Not only was Van Nuys Boulevard the brightest lit street in the city but gasoline was mighty cheap, and new and old cars were surprisingly inexpensive as well. The San Fernando Valley was home to, what seemed like at the time, a million teenagers, and just about all of them spent many a wonderful evening endlessly cruising from one end of Van Nuys Boulevard to the other, and then back again.^

 

 

Hollywood Special

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

 

Historical Notes

The most colorful of the postwar lights is the Hollywood Boulevard Special. Beginning around 1960 the existing electroliers on Hollywood Boulevard were reconstructed. The original pole bases and shafts were retained, but the lamps were replaced by luminaires on short arms. The Hollywood Special is a rectangular housing, over seven feet in length, in which three lamps are housed. The face of each side of the housing is adorned by red stars.^

 

 

 

 
(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 Apartments), a 54-unit apartment complex located at 6533 Hollywood Blvd.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2005)^^*- Close-up view showing a Hollywood Special 3-lamp streetlight head being replaced in front of the Roosevelt Hotel.  

 

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Wilshire Double

 
(1959)^^ – View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard from Hauser Boulevard. A two-headed specialty light (Wilshire Double) lines both sides of the Boulevard.  The windmill of the Van de Kamp's restaurant can be seen on the north side of the street with the Prudential Building behind it.  

 

Historical Notes

An example of the transition from the pendant to the davit is the two headed specialty light (CD-950), dating from the mid-1950s, which can be found along Wilshire Boulevard, from Fairfax Avenue to beyond Wilton Place. It is significant for its use as an updated specialty electrolier to continue the tradition of the Wilshire Special of the late 1920s. While in form close to the pre-war pendants, the luminaires are not teardrop in shape, indicating the use of early optical assemblies. Also new is the side-by-side mounting, rather than the front-and back position as found in the Broadway pendants of the late 1940s.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1962)^.^ – View looking at the southwest corner of Wilshire and Mansfield Ave showing the Four Star Theatre.  Coincidentally, the theater is showing “The Four Days of Naples”.   A Wilshire Double Streetlight stands in front of the Art Deco building.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1956)*^ - View looking west showing a "Wilshire Double" electrolier on the NE corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue. The old “Wilshire Special” streetlights are seen in the background. The Bullock's Wilshire Building tower stands in the distance while the historic Town House Building is seen across the street on the NW corner.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)^.^ - A Wilshire Double stands next to a lower profile electrolier in front of the Metro yard at Wilshire Blvd and Westmoreland Ave with the iconic Bullock's Wilshire Building in the background. Photo by Howard Gray  

 

 

 

Vine Dual-Arm Special

 
(2007)^* - An double-headed electrolier stands near the front of the Avalon (formerly the Hollywood Playhouse) at 1735 N. Vine Street near Hollywood and Vine. The streetlight actually 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.  

 

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Chinatown

 
(2019)^.^ – View looking at a combination streetlight-traffic signal on the NE corner of Hill and Ord streets in Chinatown.  The ornate single pendant teardrop-shaped lamp is adjacent to a large Velvet Turtle Restaurant sign with pigeons on top of both.  

 

 

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Bridge Lighting

 
(ca. 2003)### – Streetlight on the Mulholland Bridge over the Hollywood Freeway in Cahuenga Pass. The pendant form teardrop-shaped lamp is facing downward and suspended from a short arm.  

 

Historical Notes

The pendant could make good use of the early High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps becoming increasingly common by the late 1930s. In place of a filament, the HID lamp ignited a gas. The most common in the early years of the HID was mercury vapor. It was a practical lamp by 1938, providing 400 watts of power. It had a life of almost four years, compared to the incandescent which could last six to eight months.^

 

 

 

 

(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).  

 

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Downtown

 
(2005)^*  - View showing a dual-lamp electrolier on 1st Street near Spring Street, in front of the LA Times Building. Photo by Jim Winstead   

 

Historical Notes

This is the Los Angeles Times's fourth building since it started publishing in 1881. Click HERE to see views of the earlier LA Times buildings.

 

 

 

 
(2016)### - View showing a twin Cobra electrolier, sometimes referred to as Olympic Special, located on Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2015)### - View showing the only extant twin Olympic Special with the original GE Form 81-D (Ornate) teardrops.  Located at the Vermonica Exhibit, Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Eastern Hollywood. Photo by Glen Norman  

 

Historical Notes

The Vermonica Exhibit is a display of over nearly 30 vintage streetlights of Los Angeles that was erected in 1992 as an artwork sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs and voluntary labor contributed significantly by staff of the Field Operations Division of the Bureau of Street Lighting. The artist was Sheila Kline and the artwork was named 'Vermonica' for its location adjacent to the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

 

 

 
(2017)^^* – Close-up view of an ornate dual-lamp streetlight located on the west side of Los Angeles Street, adjacent to City Hall East. The formerly clear globes have recently been replaced with opaque balls, lamped with LED.  

 

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Carroll Ave

 
(2019)*– View looking east on Carroll Avenue toward Edgeware Road showing 3-globe streetlights on both sides of the street.  

 

Historical Notes

Carroll Avenue is a two block long street with an international reputation for restored Victorian homes (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 Carroll Avenue.

 

 

 
(2019)*– A beautiful 3-globe streetlight stands in front of a Victorian home on Carroll Avenue.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)*– Close-up view showing one of the ornate 3-globe streetlights on Carroll Avenue.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)*– A beautiful home and a beautiful streetlight stand side by side.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)* – An ornate 3-globe streetlight stands tall on the north side of Carroll Avenue near Edgeware Road.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)* – Close-up view showing a 3-globe streetlight in front of a Victorian home on Carroll Ave.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)* – View looking east on Caroll Avenue toward E. Edgeware Road showing a renovated 5-globe streetlight on the corner.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)* – View showing a five globe streetlight located on the northwest corner of Carroll Avenue and E. Edgeware Rd.  Sign reads:  Caroll Ave – Highest Concentration of Victorian Era Residences.  

 

Historical Notes

The entire 1300 block of Carroll Avenue was listed under the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

 

 

 

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 - Century City Special

(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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1960)* – View looking west on Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City.  A man stands at the base of a newly installed streetlight known as the ‘Century City Special’.

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1976)^ - View showing a combination streetlight-traffic signal 'Century City Special' on Olympic Boulevard in Century City. In the background is the triangular shaped Century Plaza Towers, located at 2029 and 2049 Century Park East.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1980)^x^ - Modern-style streetlights stand in the courtyard in front of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

LAX

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

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles International Airport installed eight M-1000 mercury-vapor luminaires mounted atop 57' Pacific Union metal poles, 60 poles spaced 160' apart, six FTC.  M-400 mercury vapor used on perimeter roadway and approaches.

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1964)#^* - An early morning sunrise at LAX Airport during the Atomic Age.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2018)^v^ - Two men wait by the crosswalk in front of the Theme Building.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1961)^v^ – View showing the control tower administration building at LAX.  Also seen is a 57’ tall, 8-lamp, mercury-vapor streetlight in the parking lot.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1974)*^ – A line of tall eight-headed lamps stand in the foreground, above row upon row of automobiles in a series of parking lots outside the airport.  

 

 

LAX Eaton Contemporary Streetlights

 
(2018)^.^ - View showing highly customized, double-arm Y-shaped, contemporary streetlights in front of the Bradley International Terminal at LAX.  

 

Historical Notes

Eaton dual-arm contemporary streetlights played a crucial role in revamping the exterior curbside lighting, as part of the first and second phases of the $118-million LAX Curbside Appeal and Roadway Improvement Project. The newly installed street lighting consumes 48 percent less energy than the 33-year-old, high-pressure sodium lights they replaced.

In 2013, the first 13 of the dual-arm contemporary fixtures were installed for the unveiling of the new $1.9 billion Tom Bradley International Terminal.  78 additional Y-shaped fixtures were subsequently installed throughout the airport.

 

 

 

 
(2018)^.^ - A line of Eaton contemporary electroliers light up both the roadway above (Departures) and roadway below (Arrivals) by the Bradley International Terminal at LAX.  

 

Historical Notes

These contemporry Eaton Electroliers were inspired by the ’60s style of the Theme Building and took their sculptural form from airplane propellers.

The streetlights’ two arms illuminate different areas and levels of the roadway. The resulting uniform illumination meets the roadway lighting requirements (average 2.5 foot-candles) for both the Lower/Arrivals and Upper/Departures levels at the airport, which serves 70.7 million passengers each year.

 

 

 

 
(2018)^ – View showing the propeller-like streetlights that illuminate both upper and lower levels at LAX  

 

 

 

Downtown Civic Center

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

 

 

 

 

 
(2018)^.^ – View looking up at an ornate dual lamp Union Metal Electrolier (UM-1906) with the 1973-built, 860-foot tall Aon Building behind it.  

 

Historical Notes

These dual-lamp electroliers (UM-1906's) were originally installed in the mid 1920’s. They were manufactured by the Union Metal Company of Canton, Ohio.  The Bureau of Street Lighting still uses these UM-1906's in select areas of Downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 
(2019)^.^ – Dual-lamp UM-1906 electrolier at 7th and Grand in Downtown L.A. Photo by Howard Gray  

 

 

 

Los Angeles Plaza

 
(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.  

 

 

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

 
(2008)^.^ - 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 by Chris Burden located in front of LACMA, 5095 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)^.^ - Close-up view looking up through the ‘Urban Light’ sculputre toward the 5900 Wilshire, 32-story SBE Building.  Photo courtesy of Aurora Ruvalcaba‎.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)^.^ - View looking across Wilshire Boulevard toward the Urban Light sculpture with palm trees as a backdrop, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Photo by Joe Loreto Eballar  

 

 

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References and Credits

* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LA Public Library Image Archive

*^USC Digital Library

**LADWP Historic Archive

^^Bureau of Street Lighting Image Archive

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

#^San Fernando Valley History Digital Library - CSUN Oviatt

#+Facebook.com: Classic Hollywood/Los Angeles/SFV

***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:  Garden of Allah Novels – Martin Turnbull

^##Boyle Heights History Blog: Introduction of Electric Light to Boyle Heights

+##MartinTurnbull.com: Fairfax and Wilshire

###Facebook: Glen Norman

#**Facebook.com - Vintage LA

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

#^*Facebook.com: West San Fernando Valley Then And Now

#^^Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

^x^Facebook.com: So. Calif. Historic Arrchitecture

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

 

 

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