Early Los Angeles Street Lights

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

 

Historical Notes

The street light seen above is dubbed the "CD 913"; the shaft and arms dating from 1948. Not seen here is the base, reused from the Keystone "Broadway Rose" of late 1919. The "Roses" were dedicated in January, 1920. The luminaires are an early 21st Century modification, bringing back the look of the GE Form 81 teardrops that were part of the 1948 installation.

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.

 

 

 

Dual-Lamp Teardrop Electrolier (Downtown Fashion District)

 
(2019)^.^ - View looking south on Broadway showing three iconic buildings: The Orpheum, The Eastern, and The Ace, with a beautiful dual-lamp teardrop streetlight (CD-913) seen in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ - View looking north on Broadway toward 8th Street showing a two lamp teardrop streetlight standing near the Orpheum Theatre.   Photo by Jill Feldman McMahon  

 

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ – View looking up at the newly renovated California Broadway Trade Center (801 S. Broadway) with an ornate dual-pendant teardrop-shaped streetlight (CD-913) seen in the foreground.   Photo by Howie Gray .  

 

Historical Notes

The 1908-built Beaux Arts building seen above was built in 1908. It was originally home to Hamburger’s Department Store which evolved into May Company and later Macy's. Click HERE to see more.

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ – Looking up toward a dual lamp teardrop electrolier standing in front of a building under renovation. Note the fire escape and outdoor elevator in background.  Photo by Jill Feldman McMahon  

 

 

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Olympic Special

 
(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 a dragon-armed, dual-lamp Olympic Special 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)^.^ - The dragon-armed Olympic Specials (UM 40314) watch as rush hour traffic passes in review. Looking West on Olympic Boulevard, just West of Century City. — at Rancho Park, Los Angeles. Photo by Glen Norman  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019)^.^ - Close-up view of a Mercury-lamped single arm Olympic Special just coming on for the evening. South side of Olympic Blvd. West of Century City in Rancho Park, Los Angeles.  Photo courtesy of Glen Norman  

 

 

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Carroll Ave

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

 

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)* – 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 Carroll Avenue toward E. Edgeware Road showing a renovated 5-globe streetlight on the corner.  

 

Historical Notes

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

 

 

 

Pacific Palisades

 
(2019)^^ – View looking at an ornate single-lamp electrolier located on 1500 block of N. San Remo Drive in Pacific Palisades. Similar to the Metropolitan Streetlight Standard.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2019) - Close-up detail view showing the single-lamp electrolier seen in the previous photo, San Remo Road, Pacific Palisades. Looks somewhat like a Metropolitan Streetlight Standard but without the spear tip on top. Photo courtesy of Lia Oganesyan  

 

 

 

Melrose Hill Special

 
(2020)^.^ - View showing a “Melrose Hill Special’ electrolier located in East Hollywood.  Photo by Glen Norman  

 

Historical Notes

The "Melrose Hill Specials" can be found along three streets: Marathon Street, Melrose Hill, and an intersecting street also called Melrose Hill. This one is on the corner of Marathon and Melrose Hill.

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ - Close-up view of a 'Melrose Hill Special'.  Note the acorn at the apex of the luminare. Photo by Glen Norman  

 

Historical Notes

Melrose Hill is a small neighborhood located in the Hollywood Studio District of East Hollywood consisting of only a few dozen homes. It is located north of Melrose Ave., South of Santa Monica Blvd., East of Western Ave., and West of the 101. (aka Hollywood Freeway).

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - "Melrose Hill Special" and/or 'Central Park Special' sketch showing design details.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed by architects Gerald Allen and Kent Bloomer in 1983, the above light fixture is found throughout New York's Central Park.  It is almost identical to the ‘Melrose Hill Special’ found in East Hollywood. ^

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ – An ornate ‘Melrose Hill Special’ electrolier stands on the 4900 block of West Melrose Hill Street in East Hollywood. Photo by Glen Norman  

 

Historical Notes

The cast-aluminum shell of the luminaire is constructed of elliptical curves adorned with abstracted leaves that follow and twist along the curves. The lantern is crowned with an acorn cap.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Century City Special

 

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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

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

 
(2020)^.^ - Double-arm Y-shaped contemporary streetlights, looking more like airplane propellers, line the roadway at LAX with the Control Tower seen in the background. Photo by Carlos G. Lucero  

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

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.

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

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.

 

 

Cobra LED Electroliers

 
(2020)^.^ - Two pigeons rest atop a new Cobra LED Streetlight…the most common streetlight being installed in Los Angeles today.  

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles has 215,000 street lights, 2nd most on any major city in the United States.  Since 2009, LA started converting all of these lights to LEDs. Today, LED lights are capable of producing almost double the ratings compared to when they started.  Millions of dollars have been saved by the City through this form of conservation.^

 

 

Metropolitan LED Electroliers

 
(2020)^.^ - View showing traditional Metropolitan Streetlight converted to utilize higher efficient LED lights. Photo by Glen Norman  

 

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ - View showing a Metropolitan LED electrolier located on Washington Boulevard and Lebanon Street on a rainy day.  Note the unusually shaped electrolier behind it. It is actually a combination streetlight-cell tower post commonly referred to as a ‘Smartpole’.  

 

 

Combination Streetlight - Cell Towers (Smartpoles)

 
(2019)^^ - Above are several designs and evolution of pole designs ('Smartpoles') which integrate streetlight and telecommunication equipment (cell sites).  

 

Historical Notes

In 2015, the LA City Bureau of Streetlighting kicked off a program that integrates telecommunication companies’ cell sites with newly installed streetlight electroliers.  The combination streetlights (called ‘Smartpoles’) have gone through several iterations of designs as can be seen in the above image.  Originally installed in the Hollywood area only, they can now be found throughout the City (200-plus as of 2020).

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ - Hundreds of these combination streetlight-cell tower 'Smartpoles' have been installed throughout the City. (initially in the Hollywood area).  

 

 

 

 

Broadway Rose

 
(2017)^.^ - The Broadway Rose in the wild, Downtown L.A.  Photo: Glen Norman  

 

 

 

 

 
(2018)^.^ – View looking up at the ornate dual lamp Broadway Rose with the 1973-built, 860-foot tall Aon Building behind it.  

 

 

UM-1906

 
(2020)^.^ – View looking down Hope Street at the U.S. Bank Building with a beautiful dual-lamp UM (Union Metal) 1906 electrolier seen in the foreground.  Photo by Carlos G. Lucero  

 

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  

 

 

 

 

 
(1964)^^^ – Close-up detailed view of a dual-lamp (UM-1906) electrolier in downtown Los Angeles. View is looking east on 5th street toward Grand Ave.  

 

Historical Notes

In the photo above, the large building in the distance is the Biltmore Hotel and the building being demolished is the Biltmore Theatre, built in 1924.   Also, the LA Central Library is to the right (out of view).

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ - A UM-1906 standing tall near the intersection of Figueroa and Adams in front of the St. Vincent Catholic Church. Photo by Carlos G. Lucero  

 

 

 

 

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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1969)^.^ - View looking northwest showing an ornate 5-globe Llewellyn Electrolier standing on the edge of the LA Plaza with the Old Plaza Church seen in the background.  Photo by Glen Norman  

 

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 (1893).

 

 

 

From Gas to Electric Lights

 
(1869) vs. (1969) - View looking NW showing the Old Plaza Church as seen from the Pico House.    

 

Historical Notes

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the L.A. Plaza.

 

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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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2018)^^ - The Broadway Roses is the artist's favorite work, standing 26 feet tall and the tallest of the "Urban Lights." Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times  

 

 

 

 

 
(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

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

 

 

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