Early Los Angeles City Views (1800s)

Historical Photos of Early Los Angeles

 
(ca. 1858)^^+ – View looking southeast showing a man with a rifle standing on New High Street (later Spring Street).  At center right is the intersection of New High and Temple streets.  The brick two-story building at center is the Allen Block, at the SW corner of Spring and Temple.  Behind it can be seen the Clocktower Market/Courthouse (built in 1858) of the Temple Block. Click HERE to see another view of New High and Temple.  

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles, an extremely violent city in the 1850s, reported one death a day from fights or assassinations. Law enforcement was practically non-existent as they were often the victims of the violence.

 

 

 

 
(1876)^ - View toward the old Courthouse built by John Temple for market and theater, looking east. Spring Street is on the west, Main on the east, and Market on the north and Court on the south. The courthouse occupied this building from 1861 to 1891.  

 

Historical Notes

John Temple was one of Los Angeles’ first developers, constructing such landmarks as the original Temple Block and the Market House, which later served as city and county administrative headquarters, contained the county courthouse, and featured the first true theater in southern California. He also served as the first alcalde (or mayor) of Los Angeles after capture of the pueblo by the United States during the Mexican-American War and served on the first American-period common (city) council.

In 1849, after Los Angeles was ordered by California's military governor to conduct a survey, but couldn't pay for the work, Temple paid for the Ord Survey out of his own funds, and then was repaid by the sale of lots created in the survey.*^

In 1859, Temple Street was named after John Temple, who opened the first store in Los Angeles. He built a block of shops, lawyers' offices and a saloon at the junction of Main, Temple, and Spring Streets, where Los Angeles City Hall stands today.*

 

* * * * *

 

 

McDonald Block

 
(1876)^ - Main Street between 1st and Court, Old McDonald Block, showing Alex McKenzie liquor store. John Temple's old courthouse building with its clock tower can be seen on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

The first organizational meetings of the Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) were held in the law offices of Judson, Gillette, and Gibson on the second floor of the old McDonald Block on Main Street in 1880. James B. Lankershim was the first president of the LAAC. He later became a leading developer of the downtown business district.*#^#

 

 

 
(1880)^ - Lithograph of McDonald Block building on Main Street, 1880.  

 

* * * * *

 

Signoret Block

 
(ca. 1876)^ - View of Main Street looking north from Arcadia, showing the Russian Electric Baths, Signoret Block, Turner Street and the Plaza Church circa 1876.  

 

Historical Notes

Felix Signoret was born in France on June 9, 1825, living in Marseilles before he came to the United States. By trade he was a barber, later an apartment owner. He bought a parcel of land at 125 Aliso Street in 1871 and built a "substantial brick house" about thirty feet wide with an area of nearly 1,800 square feet; the roof was "hipped on all four sides in mimicry of the fashionable Mansard shape. . . . By 1888 the Signorets . . . were long gone, and their genteel house was used as a brothel."

Signoret was elected to the Los Angeles Common Council, the governing body of the city, serving from May 9, 1863, to May 5, 1864. He was also a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1866.

He is also known for having led a lynch mob that hanged five people in Los Angeles in 1869–70 in the aftermath of a murder resulting from 'offensive remarks (made) about the newly organized French Benevolent Society.'

In 1874, Signoret built a new hotel at Main and Turner streets, north of Arcadia Street and "opposite the Pico House," also with a Mansard pitch, which the Los Angeles Star said would be the first such roof in the city.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Spring Street

 
(1876)^ - On Spring near First Street. Stage depot/livery stable at left offering horse shoeing had once served as headquarters for the Butterfield Overland Stage, which arrived in Los Angeles for the first time in 1858.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1876, the year this picture was taken, a land boom developed in Santa Monica. Stagecoaches to the beach were abandoned in favor of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad , which carried passengers for $1 a round trip, arranging their schedules to allow time for riders to swim, picnic or buy lots in the growing community.^

The Butterfield Overland Stage headquarters site has been designated as California Historical Landmark No. 744. Click HERE to see more of the California Historical Landmarks in LA.

 

 

 
(1876)^^ - Fourth of July, 1876: Los Angeles celebrates the centennial of American independence with a parade down a dusty Spring Street.  

 

 

 

Main, Spring, and Temple Streets

 
(ca. 1870s)^^* - This is the earliest known photo of the Los Angeles Volunteer Fire Department. A horse-drawn fire engine followed by uniformed firemen (volunteers) parade at the corner of Main and Spring Streets with the Downey Block on the left.  

 

Historical Notes

There are discrepancies in the date and event shown. Below are two different captions related to this photo:

"The first Fire Company was organized on September 30, 1871. The boys are out celebrating the First Anniversary of the occasion with a parade.  This is the first known picture taken of the Fire Company.  The camera was pointing North from Main and Spring Streets.  The Pico House can be seen in the background.  The buildings back of the fire engine are on the present site of the Federal Building."  - The Firemen’s Grapevine (1961)

"The Los Angeles Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its first anniversary, September 30, 1872, with a parade through downtown streets.  They paused at Main and Temple Streets, where Photographer V. Wolfenstein captured the scene for posterity in a picture which was to become one of the  fire department's most famous through frequent reproductions of it." - A Century of Service (1886-1986) by Paul Ditzel

 

 

 
(ca. 1871)^ - Another view of the corner of Main and Spring Streets, looking north from Temple Street showing the Downey Block. Several horse-drawn vehicles are on the street as well as pedestrians milling around. A sign on the edge of the balcony reads Levy & Coblentz.  

 

 

 

 
(1875)^ -  View showing the North Main Street side of the Downey Block. Two well-dressed men are standing on the dirt road in front of the building.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1878)^ - View of Main Street north from Temple Block, about 1878. The photograph was taken before the Farmers and Merchants Bank moved to Main and Commercial Streets in the fall of 1883. On the far right is Commercial Bank, which changed to First National Bank in 1880. A gun store is visible to the left located in the Downey Block. In the distance can be seen the cupola of the Baker Block.  

 

 

 

Main Street

 
(1880)^ - St. Charles Hotel, originally the Bella Union Hotel. The Bella Union became the Clarenden in 1873 and the St. Charles in 1875. Pico's building to the left was the original home of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, which later merged into the Security Pacific Bank. Also shown is the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Office, in the lower floor of the Backman House.  

 

Historical Notes

The telegraph, invented in 1832 by Pavel Schilling and Samuel Morse, didn't get to Los Angeles until 1860.*^

Phineas Banning helped to bring telegraph lines to Los Angeles. In 1860, telegraph lines were slowly making their way toward Los Angeles from San Francisco. When progress lagged, Banning ordered wire and began building from his end. Starting in Wilmington, of course, the link was completed on October 8, 1860, and Los Angeles was no longer an isolated outpost.*#

Click HERE to see more on Phineas Banning and Wilmington in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington.

 

 

 

 
(1880s)^^ - View showing a stagecoach (or Tally-ho) parked in front of the Pico House. Nine people sit in the uncovered stagecoach. The driver holds a whip over the hitched team of 4 horses. Nine other people stand on the boardwalk in front of Pico House looking on.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - The Pico House, sometimes called "Old Pico House", built by Pio Pico in 1869-70. Standing by the Pico House on the left, horses and carriages are waiting. You can look down the block and see the Merced Theatre next to it, 2 more buildings, and then the towers of the Baker Block.  

 

Historical Notes

Ezra F. Kysor designed the Italianate Merced Theatre, built in 1870 by William Abbott and named for his wife. It opened on January 30, 1871 and is the oldest surviving theater in Los Angeles.

Baker Block was completed in 1878 by Colonel Robert S. Baker.^

 

 

 
(1880)^ - Southeast corner of Arcadia and Main Streets. The building with the three distinct towers is Baker Block.  

 

Historical Notes

The ornate three-story Baker Block was constructed by Colonel Robert S. Baker on the corner of Arcadia and Main streets in 1878.  It was built on the former site of the residence of Abel Stearns.

Arcadia Street was dedicated in 1872. Arcadia Bandini, born in 1823, was the daughter of prominent ranchero Juan Bandini. She came to be regarded as one of the most beautiful belles of Los Angeles and was just 14 when she married 44-year-old Abel Stearns, who had come west from Massachusetts and acquired Southern California's largest land-cattle empire. Stearns built a home for his bride one block south of the Plaza--the community's central gathering area--and the house, called El Palacio, became the social hot spot. In 1858, Stearns constructed a two-story business block on Los Angeles Street nearby and called it Arcadia Block. The street was officially dedicated one year after Stearns' death in 1871.^*^

In 1874 Arcadia married Colonel Robert S. Baker (1826–1894), owner of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, and they settled in Santa Monica. The famous Arcadia Hotel in old Santa Monica was also named after her.*^

Click HERE to see the Arcadia Hotel in Early Views of Santa Monica.

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - View of North Main Street. Baker Block is on the left and the St. Charles Hotel, formerly the Bella Union Hotel, is on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

Constructed in 1835, the Bella Union Hotel (seen above after it became the St. Charles Hotel) has a long, rich history. It served as the County Courthouse until October 1851, and in 1860 was the location of a champagne fete celebrating the connection of San Francisco and Los Angeles by telegraph.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - View looking north on Main Street from the Downey Building located just south of the Baker Block on the 300 block of N. Main Street. In the distance can be seen the Old Plaza Church where Main Street veers to the left. Telephone/telgraph lines can be seen on both sides of the street.  

 

Historical Notes

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in the late 1870's and it didn't take long for Los Angeles to adopt the new technology. In 1879, the Los Angeles Telephone Company was formed and it began offering telephone service in the area of what is now Downtown Los Angeles. This was just one year after the very first North America telephone exchange was installed in New Haven, Connecticut (January, 1878). The Los Angeles Telephone Company originally started with only seven subscribers.^*^*^

 

 

 

 
(1880s)^ - View looking south on Main Street from near the Pico House. Temple Block can be seen in the distance. A large number of people are on the sidewalks and quite a few horse-drawn vehichles are on the street. The population in Los Angeles had grown to 11, 200 by now. Telegraph/Telephone poles and wires are seen on both sides of the street. The wording 'SUNSET' can be read on one side of the pole to the left.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1883, The Los Angeles Telephone Company merged with another local telephone company based in Northern California, Sunset Telephone Company. In 1906, the Sunset Telephone Company was acquired by Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, later known as Pacific Bell.^*^*^

 

 

 

 
(1888)^## – View looking south, showing the west side of the 300 block of Main Street as seen from the Pico House.  A horse-drawn streetcar shares the street with pedestrians, horse-drawn wagons, and a man on horseback (center-left).  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1940s and 1950s, the historic buildings on the 300 block of North Main were demolished to extend Aliso Street from Los Angeles Street to Broadway. Several years later the Hollywood Freeway (Route 101) would be constructed over this new Aliso Street extension.

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Historic 300 Block of N. Main Street.

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(1880)^ - View of Los Angeles looking northeast from First Street.  The old county courthouse with its distinctive clock tower can be seen at the upper right of photo.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - Aerial view of Los Angeles, between 1874-1880. Some of the identifiable buildings are the Hotel Des Princes, Farmers and Merchants Bank, the St. Charles Hotel (formerly the Bella Union Hotel), and the magnificent Baker Block, marked by towers and located along Main Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The ornate three-story Baker Block was completed around 1877 by Colonel Robert S. Baker. For a number of years, the building housed offices, shops, and apartments. Goodwill Industries of Southern California purchased it in 1919. Despite plans to relocate the structure for another purpose, the city purchased the Baker Block from Goodwill in 1941 and demolished the building a year later. U.S. Route 101 now runs beneath where these buildings once stood.^

 

 

 

 
(1880)^^ - Exterior view of L. Lichtenberger's carriage factory, Los Angeles, 1880. A picture of a carriage and the name L. Lichtenberger is displayed on a billboard-like sign centered in front the building between the first and second floors. At the roof, another displayed sign reads: "Carriage Manufactory". Several carriages are parked out front as a handful of workers pose nonchalantly in front of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

As of 1880 the city of Los Angeles had one large carriage and wagon factory, owned by L. Lichtenberger, that had been in operation since 1864, producing up to 300 vehicles a year.  There were also seven other smaller carriage/wagon producers. #^^#

 

 

 

 
(1880)^ - Men and carriages in front of Louis Roeder's dealership in wagons, carriages and buggies at Spring and 2nd Street.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1881)^ - View showing the New York Saloon, located on the northeast corner of 3rd and Spring streets, advertising beer for five cents. The one-story building has a porch with openings at the top for trees. A group of men are standing in front and kegs are stacked by the wall. On the wall, the words "Liquors and Cigars" are painted.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1880)^ - Exterior view of Moody's Variety Store on Spring Street, in Los Angeles, in 1880.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^^ - View of people standing outside the Woodhead & Gay general store, headquarters for Milton Thomas Nurseries, Los Angeles.  At center, a man tends a horse-drawn wagon while five children sit to his right on the wooden sidewalk.  An overgrown lot to the right of Woodhead & Gay contains the sign for Milton Thomas which reads "Headquarters of Milton Thomas and the Co-operative Nurseries and Fruit Growing Association Southern California Agency for Trumbull's Garden Flower Field and Tree Seeds."  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880s)^ - Exterior view of Laggart & Bosch wholesale liquor dealers on New High Street (later Spring Street) between Franklin and Temple, with a number of men standing in front. A sign indicates there is a sample room in the rear. Next door is the office of J.M. Davidson, attorney at law.  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 
(1880)^ - New High Street (later Spring Street), north of Temple Street, with First Congregational Church and Kimball Mansion, where Helen Hunt Jackson stayed.  

 

Historical Notes

Helen Maria Hunt Jackson (1830 – 1885) was a poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. She detailed the adverse effects of government actions in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona dramatized the federal government's mistreatment of Native Americans in Southern California and attracted considerable attention to her cause, although its popularity was based on its romantic and picturesque qualities rather than its political content. It was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times, and contributed to the growth of tourism in Southern California.*^

 

 

 

 
(1880)^ - Another view of the First Congregational Church and Kimball Mansion on New High Street near Temple Street. Wagons and horses can be seen in the foreground next to a barn.  

 

Historical Notes

The First Congregational Church building was dedicated on June 26, 1868 by the Rev. Alexander Parker and was used until 1883, when a new building was constructed at Third & Hill streets.^

Click HERE to see more early Views of the First Congregational Church (Oldest Continuous Protestant Church in Los Angeles).

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - View of Hill Street, looking north from 3rd. A man walks by the Mines & Farish real estate and insurance office. Palm trees at the side shade a bit of the office building. Although the street has electric railroad lines it is still unpaved  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - Hill Street looking south towards 3rd Street from Bunker Hill. In the middle of the photo is the First Congregational Church at 3rd and Hill streets. The spire to the left of the Congregational Church belongs to the German Methodist Church on 4th Street.  

 

Historical Notes

Hill Street was originally laid out in 1849 by Edward Ord. At that time, the street's northern end was near 4th Street, the roadway being obstructed by its namesake, Bunker Hill. The northern section of the street was originally named Castelar Street, and several institutions along this end of the street still bear that name.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - Hill Street looking south from 2nd in the early 1880s. Residential buildings are interspersed with churches and vacant lots.  

 

Historical Notes

In the middle of the photo is the First Congregational Church at 3rd and Hill. It was built in 1883. Reverend A.J. Wells, the pastor at that time, sold it to Central Baptist Church for $40,000 in 1889. Unable to pay the full amount, $30,000 was eventually settled on. It was later sold to the Unitarian Church. To the left of the Congregational Church is the German Methodist Church on 4th St.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1881)^^- Panoramic view looking south on Fort Street (later Broadway) near Temple Street. Los Angeles High School is seen to the left at the future site of the LA County Courthouse. The church with the tall spire in the distance is the First Presbyterian Church located on the southeast corner of Fort and 2nd streets.  

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles High School was one of the architectural jewels of the city, and was strategically placed at the summit of a hill (Poundcake Hill), the easier to be pointed to with pride. One of the school's long standing mottos is "Always a hill, always a tower, always a timepiece." *^

 

 

Click HERE to see more Early Views of Los Angeles High School

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^^ - Panoramic view looking southwest of the residential area surrounding Broadway, Temple Street and Hill Street. Two-story victorian-style houses fill the frame, situated on top of or at the foot of the hill in the background on which several of the roads converge. The houses are interspersed with trees.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1885)^ - Looking west towards Bunker Hill as it appeared in 1885. Hill Street runs through the center, with 3rd Street (not shown) to the left of the First Congregational Church (left) which later became the Central Baptist Church and then the Unitarian Church.  

 

 

 

 
(1880s)^ - An unpaved Olive Street, looking north from approximately 7th or 8th Street in a time when it was a residential area. Bunker Hill and the San Gabriel Mountains can be seen in the distance. Horse-drawn vehicles are also visible.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1881)^^ - Photograph of a lithograph by E.S. Glover depicting the left panel of a panoramic view of Los Angeles, looking southeast.   

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1881)^^ - Photograph of a lithograph by E.S. Glover depicting the right panel of a panoramic view of Los Angeles, looking southwest.  

 

Historical Notes

A sweeping view of the city is shown above, with more hilly, rural land visible in the foreground. At the center foreground, a windmill is pictured, just to the left of a circle of trees. Farther right, the silhouettes of two purveyors can be seen atop the swell of one of the hills. Major streets such as Temple Street, Alameda Street and Main Street are labeled. An earlier record reads "Panoramic view of Los Angeles from hill back of Sisters Hospital on Sunset Boulevard”.^^

 

 

Pershing Square Area

 
(ca. 1880)^^ - Panoramic view showing Los Angeles City Park (later Pershing Square) from Fifth Street and Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles. A rectangular-shaped park can be seen at center surrounded with trees. Pathways can be seen in the park amongst grass lawns. Dirt roads line each side of the park, while one- to two-story residential buildings are visible around the park. Most of the buildings have yards and trees nearby. The flat land in the background is mostly devoid of buildings.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1850s, the Pershing Square location was used as a camp by settlers outside of the Pueblo de Los Angeles, which was to the northeast around the La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles church, the plaza, and present day Olvera Street. 1850s surveyors drew the site as 10 individual plots of land, but in practicality it was a single 5-acre parcel. Canals distributing water from the Zanja Madre (Click HERE to read more about the Zanja Madre) were adjacent.*^

In 1866 the park site's block of plots was dedicated as a public square by Californio and new Mayor Cristobal Aguilar, and was first called La Plaza Abaja, or "The Lower Plaza." *^

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

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - Close-up view of City Park (now Pershing Square) taken from Bunker Hill, looking southeast.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1883)^^ - View looking southeast from the State Normal School (current location of Central Library) showing St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral (lower-right) with Los Angeles Park (now Pershing Square) across the street.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1883)^^ - Closer view of Los Angeles City Park (now Pershing Square) looking southeast as seen from the State Normal School showing the newly built St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral (lower-right) at the present site of the Biltmore Hotel.  The multi-story building on the right is St. Vincent's College located on Hill Street between 6th and 7th Streets.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1867, St. Vincent's College, present day Loyola Marymount University, was located across the street, and the park informally became called St. Vincent's Park. In 1870, it was officially renamed Los Angeles Park. In 1886 it was renamed 6th Street Park, and redesigned with an "official park plan" by Frederick Eaton, later the mayor. In the early 1890s it was renamed Central Park, which it was called for decades until after World War I when it was finally named Pershing Square.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880s)^ - View looking south on Olive from between 4th and 5th Streets. At the right is the tower of St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral. At the left is the old St. Vincent's College building, later temporary headquarters of the Y.M.C.A. In the middle is Central Park, later Pershing Square.  

 

Historical Notes

St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral was built in 1883 on Olive Street. It was sold in 1922 to make way for the Biltmore Hotel.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1885)^ - Panoramic view of 5th and Olive Streets, looking south in the early 1880s. Central Park (later Pershing Square) is seen, and St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral is at right. St. Vincent's College is at left. Horse-drawn vehicles travel the unpaved street. Same view as previous photo but a couple of years later (note the addition of telephone poles along Olive Street).  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1888)^^ - View of two women walking along a walkway in Sixth Street Park (formerly known as St. Vincent's Park). Today, this is the site of Pershing Square.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1890)^^ - View of Pershing Square, then called Sixth Street Park. Later it would be called Central Park and then Pershing Square (post World War I).  

 

Historical Notes

The following is a chronology of name changes the park has seen before becoming Pershing Square:

◆ 1866 – La Plaza Abaja or "The Lower Plaza"

◆ 1867 – St. Vincent Park

◆ 1870 – Los Angeles Park

◆ 1886 – 6th Street Park

◆ 1890s- Central Park

◆ 1918 – Pershing Square ^*

 

 

 

 
(1886)^ - View of Sixth Street Park (later Pershing Square) circa 1886, looking northwest toward St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral on Olive Street and the State Normal School, on the southwest corner of Grand and Fifth Street (Click HERE to see more views of the State Normal School). The slopes of Bunker Hill are on the right.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1890)^ – View looking west on 5th Street from Hill Street showing Hazard's Pavilion on the right, NE corner of 5th and Olive.  On the left is 6th Street Park (now Pershing Square).  In the distance can be seen the State Normal School, future location of the Los Angeles Central Library.  

 

Historical Notes

The 4,000 capacity Hazard's Pavilion opened in 1887 and did everything from citrus shows and political rallies to grand opera. It was demolished in 1905 for construction of the Philharmonic Auditorium Building.

 

 

 

Then and Now

 
(1890 vs. 2021) – 5th Street looking west at Hill Street with Pershing Square (then 6th Street Park) seen on the left..  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1900)^ - View of the Central City looking northwest over Pershing Square toward Bunker Hill and the Hollywood Hills. Later the Biltmore Hotel replaced St. Paul's Episcopal Church and boarding houses in the foreground. This is a similar view to the photo above but 14 years later. Part of the Normal School can be seen in the center-left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1913)^^ - View looking southeast showing St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the foreground, Pershing Square, and part of the city skyline.  

 

 

 

Before and After

 
 

 

 

Click HERE to see more Early Views of Pershing Square

 

* * * * *

 

 

Spring and 6th Street

 
(ca. 1882)* - A view of 6th St. looking west with Spring St. crossing in the foreground. The Spring Street School is in the right foreground. This would later be the site of the Arcade Building.  

 

 

 

Main Street

 
(1882)^ - View looing north on Main Street, with the Downey Block on the left, followed by the second location of the Farmers and Merchants Bank from June 15, 1874, to October 29, 1883, followed by the Cosmopolitan Hotel (previously Lafayette Hotel). On the right is the Ducommun Building, Bella Union-Clarendon-St. Charles Hotel, Pico Building (the first home of Farmer's and Merchants Bank), the Grand Central Hotel, and the Baker Block (with towers).    

 

 

 

 
(1882)^ - View looking north on Main Street with buildings annotated. The Farmers and Merchants Bank opened October 29, 1882 in the Hellman Building. First National Bank, formerly Commercial Bank, was in the building on the right. The Duccommon building can be seen at center-left of photo.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1882)**- One of the first of seven electric street lights installed in the City of Los Angeles at Main Street and Commercial Street in 1882. It stood 150 feet tall. Baker Block is on the left and the Ducommun Building on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

Each of the 150-foot-high masts carried three carbon-arc lamps of three thousand candle-power. All seven lamps and a small power plant to provide the electricity were installed by C. L. Howland in 1882.

In 1883, Howland and others formed the Los Angeles Electric Company.**

Click HERE to see more in Early Los Angeles Street Lights.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1882)^ - Hardware Store of C. Ducommun, dry goods store of S. Prager and a furniture store at 204 N. Main Street (after 1890 at 304 N. Main Street) are shown.  

 

Historical Notes

Charles Louis Ducommun, a watchmaker by training, emigrated to the US from Switzerland in the early 1840s. He started a general store, providing supplies (and credit) to gold prospectors and other pioneers who had settled in the burgeoning pueblo of Los Angeles. Ducommun Street was named for Charles Louis.^*

 

 

 

 
(1886)^ - Facade of the hardware store of C. Ducommun at 204 N. Main Street (after 1890 at 304 N. Main Street).  

 

 

 

 

 
(1882)^ - View of a parade on Main Street, looking north. Later on the right corner would be the Civic Center Plaza, at the left City Hall.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Historic 300 Block of N. Main Street

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Cahuenga Pass

 
(1882)^ - Before roads and rail lines were built traveling through the Cahuenga Pass was by wagons and horses or on foot. This picture was taken at the summit. There is a saloon concealed among the trees.  

 

Historical Notes

The Cahuenga Pass connects the Los Angeles Basin to the San Fernando Valley and is the lowest pass through the mountains. It was the site of two major battles, the Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1831 (a fight between local settlers and the Mexican-appointed governor and his men, two deaths), and the Battle of Providencia or Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1845 (between locals over whether to secede from Mexico. One horse and one mule killed) both on the San Fernando Valley side near present-day Studio City, and cannonballs are still occasionally found during excavations in the area.

Along the route of the historic El Camino Real, the historic significance of the pass is also marked by a marker along Cahuenga Blvd. which names the area as Paseo de Cahuenga.^

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the San Fernando Valley.

 

 

 

 

 
(1882)^ - View of the summit of Cahuenga Pass with a saloon, Cahuenga Tavern, situated between the tall eucalyptus trees.  

 

Historical Notes

Cahuenga is the Spanish name for the Tongva village of Kawengna, meaning place of the mountain.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^ - View of Cahuenga Tavern, also known as Eight Mile House, situated between eucalyptus near the summit of Cahuenga Pass.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1870s, a primitive hotel -- named the Eight Mile House because Los Angeles was eight miles down the road -- rose among a stand of eucalyptus trees inside the canyon.*#*

 

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^ - View of early Cahuenga Pass. The road runs around and through a cultivated area.  

 

Historical Notes

As late as 1914, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille rented a wooden cabin in the pass as his home. He rode daily into his studio on horseback -- with a revolver on his hip.*#*

Click HERE to see more Early Views of Cahuenga Pass.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Broadway and 2nd Street

 
(ca. 1878)^^ -  View looking east showing the intersection of Second Street and Fort Street (later Broadway) where the First Presbyterian Church, with its impressively tall spire, can be clearly seen on the southeast corner.  In the distance, on the east side of Main Street just south of Second Street, stands St. Vibiana's Cathedral.  

 

Historical Notes

Broadway was known ast Fort Street until 1890.

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^^ – Street view looking at the southeast corner of Second Street and Fort Street (later Broadway). A horse-drawn coach stands parked in the street to the right of the Gothic-style First Presbyterian Church and its impressively tall spire. A man stands in the unpaved street farther to the right. A wrought-iron fence enclosed a garden of topiary across the street to the left. The city's first Jewish Synagogue, B'nai B'rith Temple, can be seen behind the church to the right. To the right of the synagogue is the future home of LA's 3rd City Hall (1888-1928).  

 

 

 

 

 
(1889)#^ – View looking south toward the intersection of Broadway and 2nd Street showing a cable car full of passengers in the foreground. Horse-drawn vehicles are parked along the curb on both sides of the street. On the SE corner (left) stands the First Presbyterian Church with the 1888-built City Hall situated further south at 226 S. Broadway.  To the right, on the SW corner, is the California Bank Building. In the distance can be seen Fort Street Methodist Episcopal Church, located on the west side of Broadway between 3rd and 4th streets. Note: Broadway was known as 'Fort Street' until 1890.  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Main and 3rd Streets

 
(1880s)^ -  View looking north on Main Street near 3rd Street showing a large Cactus tree in front of the "Round House", with a kindergarten sign seen on the left. In the distance, on the right, can be seen St. Vibiana's Cathedral.  

 

Historical Notes

The Round House was once a popular beer garden and later became LA's first kindergarten

 

 

 
(ca. 1884)^ - Main Street near 3rd, looking north. Workers are laying double tracks down for the horse-drawn street car line. St. Vibiana's Cathedral is seen in the distance.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Main and 2nd Streets

 
(1884)^ - Main Street looking north toward 2nd Street, showing the Cathedral of St. Vibiana on the right side. Horse-drawn streetcar can be seen heading South on Main Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, often called St. Vibiana's, opened in 1876 as the cathedral for what was then known as the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles, and remained the official cathedral of the Los Angeles for over 100 years.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1887)+# – View looking north on Main Street toward 2nd Street showing numerous horse-drawn wagons and including a horse-drawn streetcar in front of St. Vibiana's Cathedral.  

 

Historical Notes

Electric-powered streetcars did not begin operating until 1887.*##^

 

 

 

 
(1885)^^ - Exterior view of St. Vibiana's Cathedral located at 200-248 S. Main Street. A man stands near a horse-drawn carriage that is parked on the dirt road in front of the church.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1963, St. Vibiana's Cathedral was dedicated as Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 17 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

Click HERE to see more Early Views of St. Vibiana's Cathedral.

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880s)^ - A horse-drawn street car stands near the corner of Main and Winston Streets with the Post Office and Federal Building (aka Government Building) in the background. Its route is between the Southern Pacific Depot, Main and 5th Streets, and Temple Block.
 

 

Historical Notes

Winston Street is located between 4th and 5th Streets. Click HERE to see more Early Views of Main and Winston Streets.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)^ - J.P. Wanvig stands outside his feed store located at 408 Main Street. The signs on the sidewalk advertise barley, hay, oat hay, alfalfa, wood, coal and bran are for sale within the establishment.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880s)^ - Exterior view of Los Angeles Laundry Co. located at 633 San Fernando Street, near Bellevue Avenue. To the right is the William McLean & Co., "Staff and Composition Ornamentations", at 635 San Fernando. Numerous horse-drawn carriages are parked on the unpaved street.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880s)^ - A team of horses and a wagon with men on it stand on an unpaved street in front of the general jobbing carpenter shop of A. Papesghi at #10 of an unidentified street, probably in the Plaza area. He is a cabinet maker, does carpenter work, and makes store and office counters and shelving fixtures. A sign above the door reads, "La Plaza Shop." Next door to the left is Hing Kee shoe making and repairing, and beyond that a restaurant selling meals for 15 cents, and a barber shop. To the right is Mathis Brewing Company.  

 

 

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

Please Support Our Cause

Water and Power Associates, Inc. is a non-profit, public service organization dedicated to preserving historical records and photos.  We are of the belief that this information should be made available to everyone—for free, without restriction, without limitation and without advertisements.

Your generosity allows us to continue to disseminate knowledge of the rich and diverse multicultural history of the greater Los Angeles area; to serve as a resource of historical information; and to assist in the preservation of the city's historic records.

 

 

.

 

 

More Historical Early Views

 

 

Newest Additions

 

 

Early LA Buildings and City Views

 

 

History of Water and Electricity in Los Angeles

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

References and Credits

* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LA Public Library Image Archive

**LADWP Historic Archive

^^USC Digital Library

*# Historical Society of Southern California: Eternity Street; Phineas Banning

+# A Visit to Old Los Angeles - CSULB.edu

+^ Old Los Angeles and Environs blogspot

#^ Huntington Digital Library Archive

***Los Angeles Historic - Cultural Monuments Listing

*^*California Historical Landmarks Listing (Los Angeles)

*^#Public Art in LA: Campo Santo

^*^LA Street Names - LA Times

^^^LA Times: Newmark Fountain

*##Metro.net - Los Angeles Transit History

^##California State Library Image Archive

**#The Cable-Car-Guy.com: The Los Angeles Railway

*#*KCET - When the Cahuenga Pass Was Rustic

^*#Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; 2nd and Broadway

^^#CSULB - A Visit to Old LA: Hamburger Dept. Store; Main Street

**^History Matters: Calle de los Negros, 1880s

^^*LA Fire Department Historical Archive

^***Homestead Museum: Workman and Temple Family

^^*#Jewish Museum of the American West: Jacoby Brothers

*^^^Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital

*^^*Los Angeles Past: Temple and Main Streets, Los Angeles - Then and Now; Longstreet Palms; Palm Drive Then and Now

*#^#Los Angeles Athletic Club History

**## Mojave Desert.net: Remi Nadeau

#***Photos of Vintage Los Angeles - Facebook.com: 1899 Bunker Hill

#^^#Cal State Pomona Archive: Lichtenberger's Carriage Factory

^*^*^Los Angeles Telephone

*^ Wikipedia: Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker; Bunker Hill; Prudent Beaudry; Jonathan Temple; Los Angeles High School; Joseph Widney; Pershing Square; Port of Los Angeles; Belmont High School; Hollenbeck Park; Ducommun; Isaias W. Hellman; Abel Stearns; Sawtelle Veterans Home; Arcade Station; Alhambra; Fort Moore; History of Santa Monica; History of Los Angeles; Burbank; John Schumacher; History of Los Angeles Population Growth; Telegraphy; Felix Signoret; Helen Hunt Jackson; Hill Street; Cahuenga Peak; Angelino Heights; LA's Oldest Palm Trees; Cathedral of Saint Vibiana; Harris Newmark

 

< Back