Early Los Angeles City Views (1800s)

Historical Photos of Early Los Angeles

(1850)^*# - View showing a model of Los Angeles as it appeared in 1850. Looking northeast, the layout of the new city can clearly be seen with the Los Angeles Plaza located in the lower left-center. The large white structure to the left of the Plaza is the Old Plaza Church. The two streets running from bottom of photo to the Plaza are Main Street on the left and Los Angeles Street on the right. Alameda Street runs from the lower right corner diagonally toward the lower center of photo. The L.A. River can be seen running from the lower-right diagonally to the center of the photo, turns left and disappears behind the mountain. At that point the Arroyo Seco can be seen at its confluence with the LA River. The tall majestic San Gabriel Mountains stand in the far background. Vineyards blanket the area between the City and the L.A. River (lower right). The large dark spot in the lower-right of the photo is El Aliso, the historic landmark of the indigenous Tongva people who once lived in the Indian Village of Yangna at that location, adjacent to the Los Angeles River.  


Historical Notes

The City of Los Angeles originated right here. Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781 by a group of Spanish pobladeros (settlers), consisting of 11 families – 44 men, women and children. They were originally led by Fernando Javier Rivera y Moncada (1725-1781), and accompanied by a contingent of soldiers who had set out from the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel to establish a pueblo along the banks of the Porciúncula River at the Indian village of Yangna.*^

In 1841, Los Angeles’ first census shows a population of 141. California’s first discovery of gold a year later (1842) at Placerita Canyon, near Mission San Fernando, prompted LA’s first population boom. By 1850, Los Angeles' population reached 1,610.




(ca. 1850)^** - Photo of a sketch showing the LA Plaza and surounding area as it appeared in 1850. The Old Plaza Church is seen in upper left. The map is based on the 1849 Ord Survey.  



Click HERE to see more in an Interactive Map of Early Los Angeles as it appeared in 1850.




(ca. 1858)* - This is the earliest known close-up photograph of the Los Angeles Plaza. There is a square main brick reservoir in the middle of the Plaza, which was the terminus of the town's historic lifeline: the Zanja Madre ('Mother Ditch'). The reservoir was built in 1858 by the LA Water Works Company.  


Historical Notes

The site of the Plaza today is not the original location. It is the second, third, or maybe even the fourth. One of the earlier plots is believed to be  around where the current Pershing Square sits. It’s also thought that at least one of the first three was washed away in a flood. The current Plaza dates from as early as 1815.^^^#

When early settlers arrived at the Los Angeles River by way of Mission Road, they picked as a nearby gathering point a huge sycamore (upper right-center of photo) that gave them shelter and became a landmark, "El Aliso." That Spanish word for sycamore was later used to name the road carved out near the river (Aliso Street in 1854).^*^ 

El Aliso (upper center-right of photo) sprang from the ground near the western bank of the Los Angeles River in the late fifteenth century, about the same time Columbus arrived in the Americas. As it matured, the sycamore -- located at the juncture of the Los Angeles coastal plain and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys -- became a gathering place for Los Angeles' indigenous Tongva people. Local leaders traveled from their villages across Southern California to confer under the shade of the tree's canopy. By the mid-eighteenth century, the mighty sycamore stood at the center of one of the largest Tongva villages, Yangna. By the 1830s, due to the encroachment of the pueblo, El Aliso had ceased to function as the symbolic center of daily Tongva life as Yangna changed locations twice before dissolving into historical oblivion.^*^*





(ca. 1860)* - One of Los Angeles' first water reservoirs was the brick structure shown in the center of the Plaza. The adobe directly behind was owned by Augustin Olvera. The 3-story building behind was the Sisters of Charity Hospital.* Click HERE to see more in Early LA Water Reservoirs.  


Historical Notes

In 1858, the LA Water Works Co., headed by William G. Dryden, constructed a large brick and wood storage tank in the center of the city plaza. It would remain there for about 10 years and then be replaced by a fountain. Water would continue to be stored in other tanks on the periphery of the plaza as well as in other nearby reservoirs.

In 1876, the Buena Vista Reservoir in Elysian Park was built by the privately-owned Los Angeles Water Co. The LA Water Co., headed by John S. Griffen, Solomon Lazard, and Prudent Beaudry, signed a 30 year lease franchise agreement with the City to run its water system (1868 - 1898).

Click HERE to read more in Water in Early Los Angeles.



(1863)^ - A water wheel on the Los Angeles River at start of Zanja Madre, LA's original aqueduct. The river has been the life-source of Los Angeles since it was settled in 1781.  


Historical Notes

The 40 ft. water wheel seen above was used to raise a portion of the Los Angeles River water supply to a height permitting gravity flow to homes, fields and storage. In 1857, William Dryden was granted a franchise by the City Council to construct a system to provide a water supply. Under this system a brick reservoir was built in the center of the plaza to store the water brought to it by the Zanja Madre. A water wheel was also constructed to lift the water from the river to the Zanja Madre. Water then was distributed to a number of houses along the principal streets through a system of wooden pipes. Click HERE to read more about William Dryden.




(1868)^ - This manuscript map traces the path of the essential lifeline of early Los Angeles: the Zanja Madre, or Mother Ditch, prepared by cartographer William Moore.  


Historical Notes

The Zanja Madre is shown here from the river at the right edge of the map, running along the bluffs in the proximity of current day North Broadway, completely open to the elements. A few years after this rendering, a brick tunnel enclosed the Zanja Madre in an attempt by the Common Council and the Los Angeles City Water Company to preserve the precious water flowing down from the river.  The map includes the Campo Santo cemetery (the second one) at the end of Eternity Street, the water wheel that propelled the flow toward the pueblo, and the homes of pioneers like Jose Sepulveda, Abel Stearns, and Bernardo Wilson.*^^



Click HERE to see more in Zanja Madre - LA's Original Aqueduct





(ca. 1868)^ - The Plaza, looking east, with LA's first above ground reservoir to the right of the picture. The two-story building directly behind the reservoir is the Vincent Lugo Adobe. The building in front of the reservoir with the gazebo-like tower is the 'Old Plaza Church'.  


Historical Notes

The Lugo Adobe, said to have been built in the 1840s by Don Vicente Lugo, was one of the very few two-story houses in the pueblo of Los Angeles. In 1867, Lugo donated this house on the Plaza to St. Vincent's School (forerunner of Loyola University).*^*





(n.d.)^#*^ - Map showing the LA Plaza area as it appeared in 1860. Adobe structures are predominately on all sides.  



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


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(1860)^ - A view of north Broadway from Fort Hill. A small cluster of homes line the unpaved street.


Historical Notes

Fort Hill (also known as Fort Moore Hill) was a prominent hill overlooking the pueblo of Los Angeles. Its commanding view of the city made it a strategic location.

Fort Moore was an historic U.S. Military Fort during the Mexican–American War. Its approximate location was at what is now the Hollywood Freeway near the intersection of North Hill Street and West Cesar Chavez Avenue, downtown. The hill on which it was built became known as Fort Moore Hill, most of which was removed in 1949 for construction of the freeway. The hill was located one block north of Temple Street and a short distance south of present day Cesar Chavez Avenue, between the Los Angeles Civic Center and Chinatown.

The fort is now memorialized by the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial, 451 North Hill Street.*^





(ca. 1860)^ - View of Aliso Street east of Los Angeles Street, looking west from near Alameda Street, circa 1860. At the time this was the principal thoroughfare to the Pueblo. Low buildings, trees, and horse-drawn vehicles are seen.  


Historical Notes

Aliso Street was first named in 1854. When early settlers arrived at the Los Angeles River (El Rio de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles de Porcinucula) by way of Mission Road, they picked as a nearby gathering point a huge sycamore that gave them shelter and became a landmark, "El Aliso." That Spanish word for sycamore was later used to name the road carved out near the river.^*^

In 1860, the population of Los Angeles was 4,385, almost three times what it was 10 years earlier.*^




(1868)^ - View of the adobe buildings on Main Street in from Temple Block in 1868.  


Historical Notes

Main Street was dedicated in 1849. The community's first Calle Principal connected the San Gabriel Mission with the San Fernando Valley and many established ranchos. One section near the Plaza was known as Bath Street after, legend has it, the facilities featuring "scarlet women."

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




(1868)^ - View taken from the top of the U.S. Hotel on Main and Requena streets in 1868. View is looking east from Main. Willow trees in background, are on the banks of the Los Angeles River.  


Historical Notes

Manuel Requena was the first Mexican-American mayor of Los Angeles (only 11 days).  He was instrumental in the building of the first public school at Second and Spring Streets.  Requena Street was named in his honor, but which has since been renamed Market Street.  He is also known for founding the Lincoln-Johnson Club.^




(ca. 1860s)+^ - Panoramic view looking south showing Spring Street School (first public school in Los Angeles). It is the 2-story building with three second-floor windows seen in the upper center-right and located near the northwest corner of 2nd and Spring streets.  



Commercial Street

(1869)^ - Early view of Commercial Street, looking east from Main Street, just north of Temple Street, near the site of the later City Hall. On the right is Polaski and Goodwin's Dry Goods Store, sold to them by I.W. Hellman in 1868, and where the Farmers and Merchants Bank did business for years. Charles Ducommun operated a jewelry and hardware store in the building in left foreground. In the background is Herman Heinsch's Saddle and Harness shop, a newly-erected brick building. A gas street light is in the right foreground.  


Historical Notes

This was Los Angeles’ principal business district.  It was bounded by Commercial Street, which was only one block long and was located between Main and Los Angeles streets; Los Angeles Street, one block north from Commercial to Arcadia and Aliso streets; and Calle de los Negros, which extended north from Aliso to Plaza streets.

Nearly all of the houses were built of adobe blocks, which are made of earth and straw and molded and dried in the sun, of a size twenty inches long, fourteen inches wide and five inches thick.  There were about a dozen brick houses and a few frame dwellings.




(1869)* - Early view of Commercial Street, looking east from Main Street, just north of Temple Street, near the site of the later City Hall. On the right is Polaski and Goodwin's Dry Goods Store, sold to them by I.W. Hellman in 1868, and where the Farmers and Merchants Bank did business for years. Charles Ducommun operated a jewelry and hardware store in the building in left foreground. In the background is Herman Heinsch's Saddle and Harness shop, a newly-erected brick building. On of LA's first gas streetlights* is seen at lower-right.  


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.

*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. Click HERE to see more in Early Los Angels Streetlights. *^




(ca. 1870)^^ - View of Commercial Street (later Alameda Street), looking east from Main Street. The two-story White House Hotel is seen at far right on the southeast corner of Commercial and Los Angeles Streets. At left is one of the first two-story buildings built in Los Angeles, by I.W. Hellman in 1870. Ducommun Hardware is at the first left-hand corner. This was the business center of Los Angeles at the time. Horse-drawn carriages are in the unpaved street.  


Historical Notes

Isaias Wolf Hellman was a German-born American banker and philanthropist, and a founding father of the University of Southern California.*^




(1870)^ - View of Main Street, north of Commercial Street. At left is Theodore Wollweber's Apothecaries Hall at 59, with its symbol on a pole in front, W.M. Buffum's Wines & Liquors, Republican Printing Office, and the S. Lazard & Co. foreign and domestic dry goods store, wholesale and retail, at 53. At left, on the corner of Main and Commercial, is the store purchased in 1865 by I.W. Hellman, 22 years old, from Adolph Portugal. Horse-drawn vehicles are waiting in the street. A gas lamp is behind them.  





(1870)* - Main Street view of the Downey Block, located on the N/W corner Temple and Main streets. Horse-drawn wagons are parked in front of storefronts with their prominent signs displayed high above where everyone can see.  


Historical Notes

Construction on the Downey Block began in 1869. It was named for John Gately Downey, a pharmacist who served as the governor of California for two years (1860-1862) before becoming a real estate developer. Downey was also one of the founders and first president of Farmers and Merchants National Bank. The city of Downey was named in his honor after he subdivided his land holdings there and converted them into farms.*




(1868)^ - View looking south from ‘Poundcake Hill’. Broadway is the main street in the middle of the photo.  


Historical Notes

A completely barren bunker hill before Beaudry's development is on the right. Third Street is the main street off in the distance running from right to left. Broadway is the street in the middle of the photo. Hill Street at the base of Bunker Hill is just a dirt path at best. In later years, this view would be looking right smack at the north elevation of the hall of records. This view today would be looking at the north side of the LA times building complex.^*#




(1868)^ - Same photo as shown above but with buildings and key areas identified by numbers (see below).  


Historical Notes

The numbered areas are listed as follows: #39 Franklin Street (now Court Street); #40 Third Street; #41 Spring Street School; #43 Dan Scheck residence; #44 A.G. Mappa residence; #45 Col. Vineyard residence; #46 Site of Times Building; #47 Fort Street (now Broadway); #48 Billy Buffum residence; #49 Henry Dockweiler property (John Milner used to live here), site of the city jail; #50 Wooden Water Pipeline; #51 Hill Street; #52 Old man Bear home, father of Henry Bear; #53 Central Park; #54 Site of Third Street Tunnel; #55 St. Vincent's College; #57 George C. Tiffany residence; #58 The Hazard's Pavilion; #59 Harley Taft home site; #65 Old Overland Stage Corral; #69 Banning’s Hay Barn.^




(ca. 1870)^ - View of Broadway looking south from near Temple Street. The large building to the right rear was St. Vincent's College, facing 6th Street between Broadway and Hill Street.  


Historical Notes

In 1870, the population of Los Angeles was 5,730.*^


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Los Angeles Plaza

(1869)^ - Panoramic view of the Plaza and 'Old Plaza Church' (Mission Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles). The square main brick reservoir in the middle (partial view) was the water reservoir builit by William Dryden and his LA Water Works Co. Click HERE to read more on Wiliam Dryden.  


Historical Notes

The building in the top right background was the Sisters of Charity Hospital.  The three adobes seen on the north side of the Plaza were owned in 1869 by M. Norton (built 1854), John Downey (shrouded by trees, built 1844) and Augustin Olvera (built 1854). They are all gone now. The first lost to the widening of Main St, the second torn down in 1894 to build the Simpson-Jones Building and the last demolished in 1916 and replaced with the Plaza Methodist Church.

The two gas lamps seen on the corners of the LA Plaza were the first streetlights installed in Los Angeles. Click HERE to see more in Early LA Streetlights.




(ca. 1869)^^ - View of the edge of the Los Angeles Plaza and the entrance to Wine Street (renamed Olvera Street in 1877) looking north from the Pico House. The Avila Adobe is visible on Wine Street. The Olvera Adobe can also be seen on the right. In the foreground running horizontally two fences, a wrought-iron fence and a post-and-rail fence, can be seen on either side of the street.  


Historical Notes

Don Francisco Avila, a wealthy cattle rancher and one-time Mayor of the pueblo of Los Angeles, built the Avila Adobe in 1818. The Avila Adobe, presently the oldest existing residence within the city limits, was one of the first town houses to share street frontage in the new Pueblo de Los Angeles.^




(1850)^** - Map view looking northwest showing the LA Plaza and surrounding area as it appeared in 1850. To the right can seen Olvera Street (Wine Street until 1877) at its intersection with the Plaza, with both the Olvera Adobe and Avila Adobe locations marked with an X. The Old Plaza Church is in the upper left corner.  





(1869)^^ - View of the 'Old Plaza Church' (Mission Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles) with bare hills in the background.  Chavez Ravine, over the church at left, is where Dodger Stadium is now.  


Historical Notes

The 'Church of Los Angeles' was founded on August 18, 1814 by Franciscan Fray Luis Gil y Taboada. He placed the cornerstone for the new church in the adobe ruins of the original "sub-station mission" here, the Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles Asistencia (founded 1784), thirty years after it was established to serve the settlement founding Los Angeles Pobladores (original settlers).

The completed new structure was dedicated on December 8, 1822. A replacement chapel, named La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles - for Mary, mother of Jesus or "The Church of Our Lady of the Angels" - was rebuilt using materials of the original church in 1861. The title Reina, meaning "Queen," was added later to the name. For years, the little chapel, which collected the nicknames "La Placita" and "Plaza Church," served as the sole Roman Catholic church in emerging immigrant Los Angeles.*^




(1870)^ - Close-up detailed view of the front entrance to the 'Old Plaza Church'. Across the street is the LA Plaza.  


Historical Notes

The original 1822-built "Church of Our Lady of the Angels" incoporated a three-bell campanario, or "bell wall" which was replaced by a gazebo-like structure (seen above) when the Church was rebuilt in 1861. The "bell wall" or "bell tower" would once again return when the Plaza Church was repaired/remodeled circa 1901.*^

The 'Old Plaza Church' was one of the first three sites designated as Historic Cultural Monuments by the City of Los Angeles, and has been designated as a California Historical Landmark No. 144. Click HERE to see the complete listing of California Historical Landmarks in L. A.

Click HERE to see more on the Old Plaza Church.




(1869)^^ - View showing the Pico House, Masonic Lodge and the Plaza area from Fort Moore Hill. In the foreground is a community of small houses. Just beyond the community is the Pico House, which faces Main Street. The Plaza is to the left of the Pico House. The Masonic Lodge (or Hall) stands two buildings to the right of the Pico House. A majority of the buildings in view are residential houses.  


Historical Notes

The Pico House, built in 1869-70, was known as the "finest hotel in Southern California," boasted "bathrooms and water closets for both sexes" on each floor. Pio Pico, the last governor of Mexican California, sold his land in the San Fernando Valley to raise money for its construction. It was Los Angeles' first three story building. The hotel had 82 bedrooms, 21 parlors and two interior courtyards. A French restaurant was located on the ground floor.^##^




(ca. 1871)^^ - Photograph of a lithograph of Los Angeles with the LA Plaza and Pico House at center-right. The lithograph shows Los Angeles at an early age where most of the city consists of agricultural land showing orchards and farmland (foreground). Majority of the homes and buildings are clustered closer to the mountains in the background.  





(ca. 1873)^ - View across the Plaza where three people are posing for the photograph. The Plaza Church and the Cape House Restaurant are seen in the background. In the far background can be seen Fort Moore Hill. Note how the Plaza has taken on a different look (compare to previous photos).  


Historical Notes

In 1969 the water storage tank was replaced with a fountain, the Plaza's shape changed from rectangular to circular, and the grounds were landscaped and made into a public park. This was done by a newly formed private water compnay, LA City Water Co., as one of several conditions they agreed to in return for entering into a 30 year franchise agreement with the City.

Click HERE to see more in Water in Early Los Angeles.





(ca. 1873)^ - Main Street and Plaza showing the Pico House, the Merced Theater, and the Masonic Lodge. The first gas works can also be seen in the foreground; the tanks were built in 1867, the Pico House and Merced Theater in 1870 and the Masonic Lodge in 1865.  


Historical Notes

The gas tanks were built in 1867 when the LA Gas Compnay (forerunner of Southern California Gas Co.) installed the city's first streetlighting system consisting of 43 gas lamps along Main Street. By 1873, 136 gas lamps provided the outdoor night lighting for the City.

Things would change in 1882 when electricity was introduced. Click HERE to see more in Early Los Angeles Streetlights.





(ca. 1870s)#*#^ - Close-up view of the Pico House and surrounding area, including gas tanks in the foreground.  


Historical Notes

The gas company's plant, including two large tanks, was located across the street from the Plaza, just south of the Old Plaza Church (see next photo).





(1873)#^#* - Ruxton Survey of the Central Pueblo. This oversize plat shows the plaza area in 1873, including the center of town with the early buildings, the Zanja Madre ('Mother Ditch'), the streets in use and the early owners of many of the properties. The layout of the plaza itself, however, is shown as it appeared before the change in landscaping in the prior two years before it bacame rounded.  



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


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Los Angeles Harbor (San Pedro and Wilmington)

(1800s)^ - View of Timms Point, Los Angeles Harbor. Breakwaters and Deadman's Island can be seen in the background. Railroad tracks shown in foreground.  


Historical Notes

Deadman's Island was one of two islands near San Pedro in the 19th century. The land, sometimes referenced as Dead Man's Island, Isla Del Muerto, and Reservation Point, was dredged away in 1928 as part of a harbor development effort. Rattlesnake Island, the other islet in the area, became Terminal Island.*^




(1870)^ - View of Wilmington harbor in 1870, showing the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad, which had been completed by Phineas Banning in 1869--the first railroad to the harbor. Before that, freight was transported to Los Angeles by ox carts and later by horse-drawn wagons.  


Historical Notes

In 1542, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo discovered the "Bay of Smokes". The south-facing San Pedro Bay was originally a shallow mudflat, too soft to support a wharf. Visiting ships had two choices: stay far out at anchor and have their goods and passengers ferried to shore; or beach themselves.

Phineas Banning greatly improved shipping when he dredged the channel to Wilmington in 1871 to a depth of 10 feet. The port handled 50,000 tons of shipping that year. Banning owned a stagecoach line with routes connecting San Pedro to Salt Lake City, Utah and to Yuma, Arizona, and in 1868 he built a railroad to connect San Pedro Bay to Los Angeles, the first in the area.*^




(late 1800s)^ - View of an unpaved road with horses and carriage in San Pedro; in the distance the harbor can be seen.  





(ca. 1865)^ - View of the Wilmington Exchange building, hotel and stage station to Los Angeles before the railroad on Canal Street (now Avalon Boulevard). In the front of the hotel is a 4-horse stagecoach with passengers.  


Historical Notes

In 1863, the Wilmington Exchange Hotel was built and was the first hotel in Wilmington. Phineas Banning’s first Wilmington home was the single-story building attached to the hotel (as seen above).*^*^

Besides operating a freighting business, Banning operated a stage coach line between San Pedro and Wilmington, and later between Banning, California, which was named in his honor, and Yuma, Arizona.

In 1868, Banning built a railroad to connect San Pedro Bay to Los Angeles, the first in the area.*^




(ca. 1888)*#* - Shipping in San Pedro circa 1888. Port of Los Angeles.  





(1913)^ - The Port of Los Angeles in 1913. The harbor appears to be filled to capacity with steam ships and train cars full of cargo (This is the same view as previous photo but 25 years later).  





(ca. 1899)*#* - View of the Port of Los Angeles circa 1899. Crowds of people are dressed up and appear to be viewing the arrival of a vessel.  



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington


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Los Angeles Commercial Center

(1870s)^ – View showing Don Abel Stearns' Arcadia Block, the first brick business building in Los Angeles, later demolished for the #101 Freeway. Numerous horse-and-buggies are parked in front.  


Historical Notes

In 1858, Abel Stearns constructed a two-story business block on Los Angeles Street and called it Arcadia Block after his young bride, Arcadia.




(1870s)^ - View of the west side of North Los Angeles Street, between Commercial and Arcadia, streets. The Samuel C. Foy Leather Depot stands in the center-right.  In the far left is I.W. Hellman's building, one of the first two-story buildings in Los Angeles.    


Historical Notes

Isaias Wolf Hellman was a German-born American banker and philanthropist, and a founding father of the University of Southern California.

On September 1, 1868, Hellman and Temple founded Hellman, Temple and Co., the fledgling city’s second official bank. In 1871, Hellman and John G. Downey, a former governor of California, formed the Farmers and Merchants Bank, which became Los Angeles' first successful bank. Hellman lent the money that allowed Harrison Gray Otis to buy the Los Angeles Times and Edward Doheny and Charles Canfield to drill for oil.

Hellman was also a major landowner in Southern California and his holdings included numerous city lots and vast swaths of former rancho land. In 1871, he and a syndicate bought the 13,000-acre Rancho Cucamonga. In 1881, Hellman and members of the Bixby family purchased the 26,000-acre Rancho Los Alamitos (now home to Long Beach and Seal Beach). He also purchased the Repetto Ranch (now Montebello) with Harris Newmark and Kaspare Cohn. Hellman and Downey also bought up swaths of Rancho San Pedro from the Dominguez family. Hellman also owned much of Boyle Heights with William H. Workman.

At his death in 1920, Hellman was considered the leading financier of the Pacific Coast. His son (I.W. Jr.) and grandson (Isaias Warren Hellman) later became presidents of Wells Fargo Bank; and the Union Trust Company was merged with Wells Fargo after his death. His original Farmers and Merchants Bank would later merge with Security First National Bank.^*




(1860s)^ - Exterior view of S. C. Foy saddlery shop, housed in a one-story, brick building with a portico. The store sign reads "Saddle & Harness Maker, Leather Depot" and has a silhouetted prancing horse on top. Tack and saddles are displayed on the front and several men are posing for the camera.  


Historical Notes

Samuel Calvert Foy moved to Los Angeles in 1854 and operated a successful harness business at 217 Los Angeles Street, which was the oldest business establishment in the city at the time of his death. He also served as the city's Chief of Police for a time.

In 1872, Foy built a house at the corner of Grasshopper (now Figueroa) and 7th Streets.  The house was reportedly "the first three-story building in the city." At the time the Foys built their house, the site was considered to be "way out in the country."

Foy's daughter, Mary Foy, was the city's first woman librarian from 1880-1884, a leader in the California Women's suffrage movement, a leader of the Democratic Party, and the first woman to be a member of one of the major parties' national committees.^*




(1871)^ - View of the corner of North Main Street at Arcadia Street in the Plaza area in 1871, showing at right the residence of the wealthy merchant, trader, and government official, Don Abel Stearns. This residence was a virtual mansion at the time, with fourteen beautifully-decorated rooms. It was the social center of the pueblo. Later it became the site of the Baker Block. A number of low-lying adobe and brick buildings are seen in this panoramic view.  


Historical Notes

In 1829 Abel Stearns came to Monterey, California, then settled in Pueblo de Los Angeles, present day Los Angeles. He obtained a concession to build a warehouse in San Pedro. Later, he established a stagecoach route connecting San Pedro Bay with the Los Angeles pueblo. In 1831, he built a three-story flour mill on North Spring Street, Los Angeles. Soon Stearns became one of the most prominent and influential Californian citizens of the pueblo.

Abel Stearns represented Los Angeles under American military rule, 1848-1850. He was a delegate to the 1849 California Constitutional Convention, representing the district of Los Angeles; later he was California State Assemblyman, and a Los Angeles County Supervisor and Los Angeles City Councilman.*^

In 1858, Stearns constructed a two-story business block on Los Angeles Street nearby and called it Arcadia Block after his young bride, Arcadia.




(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. 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. ++#




(1868)+^ - Composite panoramic view looking southeast showing Los Angeles’ 1st City Hall & Jail at center-right.  John Temple's 1858-built Clocktower Market/Courthouse building is on the left.  


Historical Notes

Los Angeles' the first City Hall and Jail was located on the northwest corner of Spring and Jail St, (which later became Franklin St.). This building was established in 1850 and located directly opposite of where City Hall stands today. It was originally built as a residence by Antous Jose Rocha, who had come to L.A. from Portugal in 1815. Los Angeles, an extremely violent city in 1853, reported one death a day from fights or assassinations. Law enforcement was practically non-existent as they were often the victims of the violence. ++#

The yard behind the jail is where gallows were erected to hang condemned prisoners.  Some prisoners were lynched by vigilantes from the gateway at the rear of the jail yard (and elsewhere).  The 10-foot-high fence around the jail yard was built to keep vigilantes out, not to keep prisoners in. +^

Click HERE to see more views of Los Angeles' First City Hall and Jail.




(ca. 1869)^^ - Left panel of a panoramic photograph/sketch of downtown Los Angeles looking southeast from Bunker Hill with each property annotated and listed at top. The photographer, S. A. Rendall, can be seen standing in his own photo (#14).  


Historical Notes

The above photo was taken from a section of Bunker Hill called "Poundcake Hill", the future site of the old Los Angeles High School (1873) and later the location of Los Angeles' second County Court House (1891).

It was this time that Los Angeles began growing faster than anywhere in the country. By 1870, the City's population increased to 5,730, a 350% jump from when it was incorporated as a municipality in 1850.  By 1900, LA's population would mushroom to over 100,000 people.*^




(ca. 1869)^^ – Closer view of S. A. Rendall standing on the hillside with the St. Athanasius Episcopal Church (First Protestant Church in LA) directly below him at center (No. 8).  





(1869)^^ – Closer look at the left panel of Rendall’s panoramic view of early Los Angeles as seen from Court House Hill showing the Griffin and Tomilson Lumber Yard at lower-right.  





(ca. 1869)^^ - Right panel of a panoramic photograph/sketch of downtown Los Angeles looking southeast from Bunker Hill with each property annotated and listed at top. The location of the camera was at the top of a hill called ‘Poundcake Hill’ the future site of Los Angeles High School (1873) and the 2nd L.A. County Court House (1891).  


Historical Notes

S. A. Rendall, the photographer of the amazing panoramic photo seen above, is mentioned in a 1911 publication titled: OUTPOSTPreserving Historical Data by W. S. Broke.

“Remembering that no city in the United States has had a rate of growth commensurate with that of Los Angeles, the preservation of historical data becomes of pressing importance. Much of the photographic material illustrating the early life of the city has been preserved but as far as can be ascertained little of this immediately available for all comers.

… There does not appear to have been any systematic attempt to preserve photographs of the city prior to the early 80s.  The late S. A. Rendall, whose children now reside in Los Angeles, was a photographer who did much toward preserving the appearance of the early Los Angeles—the city of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  What has become of most of his negatives is not known, although they would be of immense historical value were they now available.  Perhaps the best thing that he left behind is a bird’s eye view of Los Angeles taken in 1868 from the site of the present court house.  This photograph is the property of George W. Hazard, who has it covered by copyright, and who has it on sale.  It is a remarkable photograph in every way.” #*




(1871)^^ - Photograph of a lithograph showing Los Angeles as it appeared in 1871 with Poundcake Hill at top.  Also seen and highlighted are: St. Athanasius, Downey Block, Temple Block and the Clocktower Market/Courthouse.  


Historical Notes

In 1873, Los Angeles High School (1st high school in the Southland) would be built on top of Poundcake Hill.

Fort Street (upper left) would be extended horizontally to cross Temple Street.  It would also be renamed “Broadway” in 1890.




(1873)^ - Old Los Angeles High School, looking east from the hill on North Broadway at Court Street. The building in the center, occupying the 2nd site of the County Court House (1891-1932), is the old school house. The Temple Block stands to the right of the school. Broadway, first known as Fort Street, was cut through the bushes in the foreground.


Historical Notes

Construction on Los Angeles' first high school, which was also the first and only one in Southern California for a number of years, began on July 19, 1872, at the former site of Central School on what was then known as Poundcake Hill.  It was located at the southeast corner of Fort Street (later Broadway), which the front of the school faced, and Temple Street, with the back of the school to New High Street (later Spring Street). As it was on the hill, a few hundred feet from the streets below, steep wooden stairways led up to the schoolyard.

The first graduating class, in 1875, consisted of seven students.*^




(ca. 1870s)^ - The first Los Angeles High School was built in 1873, with Dr. Lucky as principal. The corner stone was laid July 19, 1872. Cost was $19,000. A horse can be seen standing by a fence in the left foreground.  


Historical Notes

In 1886, the decision was made to move the high school building to Sand Street (later California Street, now part of the Hollywood Freeway), just to the west of North Hill Street and below the south side of Fort Moore Hill, in order for the Los Angeles County Courthouse to be built on Poundcake Hill. The contractor, Mr. Hickam, said he could do the job with scaffolding, rollers, horses and workmen. But his bid turned out to be too low. He lost a considerable amount of money because of his elaborate preparations, including the high wooden trestle which carried the building over the intersection of Temple and Fort Street.*^




(ca. 1873)^.^ - View showing the newly built Los Angeles High Schoo, the Griffith, Lynch and Company lumber yard and St. Athanasius Episcopal Church. New High Street is in the foreground and the intersection with Temple Street is at the left center edge.  


Historical Notes

This photograph was taken by pioneer Los Angeles photographer Henry T. Payne about 1873 and shows the newly built high school on Poundcake Hill.




(ca. 1874)^^ - Los Angeles High School atop Poundcake Hill, circa 1874. The St. Athanasius Episcopal Church can be seen in the center of the photo.  


Historical Notes

Built in 1864, St. Athanasius was the first Episcopal church in Los Angeles. In 1881, the church was renamed St. Paul's. Two years later, this church building was sold to Los Angeles County, and a new St. Paul's Church was built where the Biltmore Hotel now stands at Pershing Square.^

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the St. Athanasius Episcopal Church.




(ca. 1875)^ - Main and 1st streets looking northwest, showing buildings in foreground and Los Angeles High School on top of Poundcake Hill in the upper left.  





(1875)^ - View of Court Street looking west toward North Spring Street in 1875. Seen is what seems to be a printing house, and the Preuss-Pironi Drugs & Medicine store. Behind, on Poundcake Hill, is the original Los Angeles High School.  





(1875)^ - View of Spring Street near Court Street. On thie right is F. Adam, Tailor; and the top of the building has sign "City of Paris?" Los Angeles High School sits Poundcake Hill behind these buildings.  





(ca. 1875)^ - Stereoscopic view of Fort Street (later Broadway) looking south from Fort Hill, at Temple Street. Los Angeles High School sits on Poundcake Hill on the left.  





(ca. 1878)^^ - Panoramic view of Fort Street (later Broadway) from the edge of Bunker Hill as seen from First Street and Hill Street, looking northeast. At center, a group of at least six buildings can be seen with some type of vegetation between some of the homes. LA High School is seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

First Street can be seen in the extreme foreground, descending past the picket fence of the house to the left with two dormers. The street angling slightly upward from the middle right (before disappearing behind the houses) is Broadway, proceeding north from its intersection with First Street. The first Los Angeles High School can be seen located atop Poundcake Hill. The school has a square cupola, with a clock on three of its four faces (all but the west). Some other buildings discernible in the photo include: in the middle, at the very right, the Peoples Store can be seen located at the west side of Spring and Court Streets, with an illegible white writing on its side; just to the left, the Masonic Lodge is visible located at the west side of Spring and Market Streets. Also visible are: the Temple Block, located between Main and Spring and Temple and Market Streets; the Downey Block and the Allen Block (both at Spring and Temple Streets), and the upper right portion of the Mirror Printing Office located at Temple and New High Streets. Temples Market and Theater (later, the first Los Angeles County Courthouse) is just out of frame to the right of the Peoples Store. In the extreme background, a mountain range extends from left to right. Earlier version of the record reads: "Sheriff Barns' house on corner".^^




(ca. 1883)^^ - View of Los Angeles High School atop Poundcake Hill as seen from the Nadeau Hotel on 1st & Hill Street.  


Historical Notes

Los Angeles High School was founded in 1873 and is the oldest public high school in the L.A. Unified School District. Construction on this building began on July 19, 1872 at Temple and Broadway (the current site of the Los Angeles County Court House), and the school opened in 1873. In 1891, L.A. High School moved to its second building at a new location on nearby Fort Moore Hill, located on north Hill Street between California (now the 101 Freeway) and Sunset Blvd (now Cesar E. Chavez Ave). In 1917, the school moved once again to what would be its present location at 4650 W. Olympic Blvd.^





(1871)^ - View of North Main Street, looking north from Temple with the Downey Block on the N/W corner (left). On the far right hand side is the last building of the Bella Union Hotel. A multitude of horse-drawn wagons are seen in the congested foreground.  





(ca. 1870)^ - View of North Main Street taken after erecting Pico House, but before completion of Merced Theater. The Bella Union Hotel can be seen at right-center of photo.  


Historical Notes

The Bella Union Hotel was considered the first hotel in Los Angeles. It became the Clarenden in 1873 and the St. Charles in 1875. Pico's Building, to the left, was the original home of Farmers and Merchants Bank, later merged into Security Pacific Bank.^




(1871)^ - A 4th of July parade on North Main Street of the Veterans of the War of 1812. Men are seen in two lines standing in the street, horses and carriages waiting and people on the sidelines. The Bella Union Hotel in the background is partially obscured by trees.  


Historical Notes

The area in front of the the Bella Union Hotel was long used as a social and political center. Here, on October 7, 1858, the first Butterfield Overland Mail stage from the east arrived 21 days after leaving St. Louis. Warren Hall was the driver, and Waterman Ormsby, a reporter, the only through passenger.*^*

The Bella Unioin Hotel site was designated California Historical Landmark No. 656. Click HERE to see more in Califronia Historical Landmarks in LA.




(1871)^ - View shows a 4th of July celebration in the street in front of the Bella Union Hotel. A crowd is gathered, some standing, some on horses, or in carriages, several playing instruments. The Bella Union Hotel in the background is obscured by trees.  





(1870s)^ - Rendering of how the Main Street scene was in the 1870's. On the left, the St. Charles Hotel, originally the Bella Union Hotel. The Bella Union became the Clarenden in 1873 and the St. Charles in 1875. On the right, rear of Pico's Building, which was the original home of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, later merged into Security Pacific Bank. Next to Pico's Building are the Merced Theatre and Masonic Lodge #42.  





(ca. 1875)^ - View looking southeast on the 300 Block of N. Main Street showing the St. Charles Hotel, originally the Bella Union Hotel. Horses and buggies are lined up along the street. In the foreground a sign reads, “Rifle and Pistol Shooting,” a reminder that Los Angeles was a Western frontier town.  


Historical Notes

In its early years, Los Angeles was a city of violence.  Murders, riots, slaughter on the highways, and crimes of passion were daily occurrences.  During the years 1834 – 1874, the first and last recorded lynchings in the city, the citizens resorted with distressing frequency to vigilant actions.  During the 1850s, almost every issue of the local press noted several murders.  Death by violence seems so common that these crimes seldom received more than a few lines.  Even in the 1870s, when the local paper was daily, most issues carried items about assaults, cuttings, and, less frequently, a murder. ++




(ca. 1875)* - Exterior view of the St. Charles Hotel (Slightly different angle than the photo above).  





(ca. 1870s)^ - View of the Lafayette Hotel, located on the west side of Main Street opposite of the St. Charles Hotel. The same "Rifle and Pistol Shooting" sign can be seen here but from a different angle.  


Historical Notes

The Lafayette Hotel was built sometime in the early 1850s and was the second city hotel after the Bella Union (the U.S. Hotel was the third).  It was renamed the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  In the 1870s it was known as the best hotel in Los Angeles.^#^




(ca. 1880)^ - Closer view of the La Fayette Hotel. Several men sit and stand in front of the hotel entry way. The street is unpaved and two horses and carriages are seen in front of the building, one near the "Insurance and Real Estate" sign.  


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Calle de Los Negros

(1870s)^^ - Lafayette Hotel stagecoach near the adobes in Calle de los Negros, presently Los Angeles Street and Arcadia Street. The old Antonio Coronel adobe is in the background. Numerous horse-drawn wagons and carriages are parked along the street. The above area was the scene of a Chinese massacre in 1871.  


Historical Notes

The stagecoach in the foreground was owned by the Lafayette Hotel, the second Los Angeles hotel (after the Bella Union), owned by C. Fluhr (Fleubul?). Calle de los Negros is at the extreme right of the image and ran north from Los Angeles Street toward Aliso Street, ending where Dr. Gelsich had an apothecary shop.

The two story brick building at the extreme left corner, on Arcadia Street, was occupied mainly by Caswell and Ellis grocers (or General Merchandise store of Harris Newmark?). In the corner was a saloon run by Marjett. He sold the first 5-cent beer. Marjett also owned a ranch in Antelope Valley to which the name of "Cinco Centavos" was given on account of his 5-cent beer. A son of Marjett later lived in Ocean Park. The open space in the foreground of the image is the end of Los Angeles Street. The hat on the stagecoach driver is a typical French cap of the time.^




(1850)^** - Map view looking northwest showing the LA Plaza and surrounding area as it appeared in 1850. The intersection of Aliso Street (later Arcadia) and Calle de Los Negros is seen at lower center-right with the Antonio Coronel Adobe on the northwest corner.  


Historical Notes

The Pico House (center-right) wasn't built until 1870.

The section of Aliso Street seen above was renamed Arcadia Street in 1872.




(ca. 1870s)^- Closer view of the Coronel adobe with its covered sidewalk, located on the northwest corner of Arcadia Street and Calle de Los Negros (later Los Angeles Street). The back part of the Pico House (built in 1870) across Sanchez Street is on the left and the LA Plaza (out of view) is at center-right.  


Historical Notes

Antonio F. Coronel, was a state treasurer and former Los Angeles mayor who owned the main block of rundown adobe stores and apartments in this area. The Coronel house was the scene of the beginning of the Chinese massacre of 1871. #^#^

Once home to the town’s most prominent families, the neighborhood had deteriorated into a slum by the time Los Angeles’s first Chinatown was established there in the 1860s.*^




(ca. 1882)^ - View of Calle de los Negros. On the left is the adobe of Antonio Coronel; behind the adobe and with belltower is the Plaza Firehouse; center with a gable roof is the Vincent Lugo Adobe (facing the plaza on Los Angeles Street); and right with columns is the Antonio Maria Lugo adobe, which he willed to his son, Dolores del Carmen Lugo. View is looking toward the plaza from the east.  


Historical Notes

There was no area more colorful than Los Angeles’s Calle de los Negros, a short dirt thoroughfare located just off the eastern edge of the historic Plaza and considered to be the center of the town’s “red light” district. Saloons, gambling dens, brothels, and other entertainment venues were said to proliferate on the Calle; the same could also be said for crime.**^




(1886)^ - View of "Calle de los Negros," which became part of Los Angeles Street.  


Historical Notes

Los Angeles Street was first named in 1854. Before the first official survey of the area in 1849, most of this thoroughfare was called Calle Principal (Main Street). Other sections were known as Calle de la Zanja (Ditch Street), Calle de Los Vinas (Vineyard Street) and--much to the south--Calle de los Huertos (Orchard Street), which is now San Pedro Street. These formed the principal highway running south to the Embarcadero of San Pedro. At its northern end, near the Plaza, a 500-foot stretch was known as Calle de Los Negros, which had a racially diverse population.^*^




(ca. 1882)#^ - View of Calle de los Negros, one of the roughest streets in town. The tower of the Old Plaza Firehouse can be seen in the background. This was Chinatown’s center when eighteen Chinese imigrants were massacred in 1871.  


Historical Notes

The Chinese massacre of 1871 was a racially motivated riot on October 24, 1871 in Los Angeles, when a mob of over 500 men entered Chinatown to attack, rob and murder Chinese residents of the city. The riots took place on Calle de los Negros (Street of the Negroes), also referred to as "Nigger Alley", which later became part of Los Angeles Street. A total of 18 Chinese immigrants were systematically killed by the mob, making the so-called "Chinatown War" the largest incident of mass lynching in American history.*^




(ca. 1886)^ - View of Calle de los Negros, running south of the Plaza along what is now the east side of Los Angeles Street.   


Historical Notes

Calle de los Negros was situated immediately northeast of Los Angeles’s principal business district, running 500 feet from the intersection of Arcadia Street to the Plaza. The unpaved street took its name from the dark-complexioned Californios (pre-annexation, Spanish-speaking mixed-race Californians) who had originally lived there.*^




(1886)^^ - View looking east from Aliso Street at the entrance to "the alley".  


Historical Notes

In 1886, the extension of Los Angeles Street eliminated the alley and today the site adjoins the Hollywood Freeway.


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Sonora Town

(ca. 1869)^^ – View of north Broadway (then Eternity Street) in Sonora Town looking north from Fort Hill. Rocks cut in from the left foreground, obscuring some of the view of the town, which is comprised mostly out of craftsman-style houses arranged more or less each on their own block.  


Historical Notes

The part of the city called Sonora Town was an old adobe village north of the Plaza and Church of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels. It was Los Angeles' first Mexican quarters, or barrio. The area was named for the numerous miners and families who came from Sonora, Mexico, and may have still been around in the 1930s. Now part of it is Los Angeles' Chinatown District.**




(ca. 1870)^^ - Photograph of the drawing "A Flower from the Golden Land" by Ludwig Louis Salvator depicting north Broadway from Hill Street south of Sunset Boulevard in Sonora Town. Sonora Town is shown from above, its blocks filled with residences and buildings arranged around courtyards. A set of streetcar rails can be seen in the middle of the street, which curves in from the right towards the mountains in the distance and which groups of pedestrians can be seen on. A grassy hill is partially visible in the left foreground.  





(ca. 1871)^ - Early view of Eternity Street in Sonora Town, northeast of Fort Moore Hill. An arrow points to the adobe home of Don Jose Aguilar.


Historical Notes

The Calle Eternidad (Eternity Street) extended from the foot of the hill where Calle Alta intersected it to the Campo Santo, or Calvary Cemetery.  The name was fitting.  For half a century the dead of the pueblo were carried over it to their eternal rest Campo Santo, the location of LA's first cemetery.

Later the name was changed to Buena Vista Street and it was extended to the river. Forten Street (Fort Street), changed to North Broadway, was tunneled through the hill into Buena Vista Street.*#



(1871)^ - View of Los Angeles, "Sonora Town" in 1871. Photo was taken from Gen. Phineas Banning's residence on Fort Hill. View is east of North Broadway (then Buena Vista), from the hill over where North Broadway tunnel was later put in. Southern Pacific Railroad shops can be seen in the distance.  


Historical Notes

Broadway was officially dedicated in 1890. Part of it was first called Calle Fortin--Fort Street--because it passed through the hilltop Ft. Moore. Another section was known as Eternity Street, because it led to a cemetery; Downey Avenue, after Gov. John G. Downey, and Buena Vista Street, whose "good view," as legend has it, was the view from the hillside of the women's bathing pools (where the senoritas wore bathing dresses).

City officials eventually decided to rename Fort Street because the area's many German citizens had trouble with the pronunciation--it would come out "Fourth Street," causing confusion with a thoroughfare by that name. By 1910, all sections were dedicated under the one name, Broadway.^*^



Click HERE to see more Early Views of Sonora Town


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Broadway and 1st Street

(ca. 1874)^^ - View looking south southwest down Fort St (renamed “Broadway” in 1890) between Temple (behind the camera) and 1st Street (beyond the first cut).  Los Angeles High School is out of frame on the left (east) on Poundcake Hill. The steep slope spilling onto unpaved Fort Street is the future site of the Court Flight incline railway. The hill to the right was named "Bunker Hill" by developer and future LA Mayor, Prudent Beaudry (See Below).   


Historical Notes

In 1867, an enterprising French Canadian immigrant named Prudent Beaudry bought the land atop Bunker Hill -- at the reported cost of $51. Beaudry constructed a system of pipes and steam-powered pumps to deliver water to the hilltop from a reservoir below. He also built roads to connect the hill to the developed flatlands below and laid out streets atop the hill. One of them, which Beaudry named Bunker Hill Avenue in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Revolutionary War battle fought in Boston, eventually lent its name to the entire hilltop community.*#*

In 1868, Prudent Beaudry and his two partners, John Griffen and Solomon Lazard, formed the private Los Angeles Water Company. They would go on and sign a 30 year lease franchise agreement with the City to run its water system (1868 - 1898).

Prudent Beaudry also served as the 13th Mayor of Los Angeles from 1874 to 1876.

Click HERE to read more in Water in Early Los Angeles.




(ca. 1874)^^ - View looking southwest at the intersection of 1st and Fort Street (later Broadway). The LA Times Building would be built on the northeast corner in the lower right. The sign on the wooden shed reads: Livery and Feed Yard.  





(1886)^^ - A view of the northwest corner of 1st & Broadway. Horses and carriages were common as were the stables and liveries. The J. G. De Turk Livery Feed & Sale Stable seen here later became the Tally Ho Stables. Later the first home of the Chamber of Commerce was located here.


Historical Notes

In the lower right hand corner of the photo is an excavation for the LA Times Building which was completed in 1887. At the upper-left, the 3-story building at the northwest corner of First and Hill is the Highland Villa.


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Los Angeles Plaza Area

(1876)^ - Panoramic view of the Los Angeles Plaza on a very clear day. The Pico House is the prominent 3-story white building at the center of the photo. To its right stands the Merced Theatre. The LA River can be seen in the background.


Historical Notes

Pío Pico constructed the Pico House in 1869-70. The first three-story hotel built in Los Angeles, it had about eighty rooms, large windows, a grand staircase, and a small interior courtyard.^*

In 1880, Pio Pico would lose the hotel by foreclosure. Also, between 1892 and 1920, the hotel would be known as the National Hotel.^#^

The Pico House (Hotel) was designated as California Historical Landmark No. 159. Click HERE to see California Historical Landmarks in LA.



(1870s)^ - The Merced Theater sits between the Pico House and the Mason Lodge. This was the "first business block on Main Street".  


Historical Notes

The Merced Theatre, erected in 1870 on North Main Street next to the Pico House, was the first building built expressly for theatrical purposes in Los Angeles. It was built by William Abbot, a cabinetmaker, and named in honor of his wife Merced Garcia.*^*

The theater was built in an Italianate style and operated as a live theater from 1871 to 1876. When the Woods Opera House opened nearby in 1876, the Merced ceased being the city's leading theater. Eventually, it gained an "unenviable reputation" because of "the disreputable dances staged there, and was finally closed by the authorities." *^

The Merced Theatre was dedicated as California Historical Landmark No. 171 (Click HERE to see complete listing). It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



LA's First Streetcars

(1874)^^ - A horse-drawn streetcar of the Spring & Sixth Railway in front of the Pico House (Note: the photo indicates 1870, however, that date does not align with historic records indicating first streetcar in 1874).  


Historical Notes

L.A.'s first streetcars ran under horsepower. Steam locomotives were considered too dirty and dangerous for use on city streets still teeming with easily spooked horses, and cable car technology was still new and expensive. Electric-powered traction railways, meanwhile, remained more than a decade off.

On July 1, 1874, the modest, horse-drawn cars of the Spring and Sixth Street Railroad became the first streetcars to roll down Los Angeles streets. Founded by lawyer Robert M. Widney, the Spring & Sixth operated a regular schedule, running cars hourly on weekdays between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. For a ten-cent fare, passengers could ride the one-and-a-half-mile route from the intersection of Temple and Spring south to Sixth, and then west to Figueroa.

Soon, L.A.'s streetcar network expanded as new railways opened and existing lines extended their tracks across the city. The Plaza functioned as a central hub for the city's growing streetcar network, with lines radiating out in several directions.*^^*

Click HERE to see more on horse-drawn streetcars.




(ca. 1877)^## – View looking southeast toward the Pico House with the LA Plaza on the left. Streetcar rails are seen on the dirt road. Note the gas street lamp on the left.  


Historical Notes

In 1867, Los Angeles saw its first street gas lamps.  A total of 43 were installed along Main Street. 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.

Things would change in 1882 when electricity was introduced. 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 gas street lamps would see their last days.**

Click HERE to see more in Early Los Angeles Streetlights.




(1878)^ - The Pico House, sometimes called "Old Pico House", built by Pio Pico in 1869-70. Seen here from the Main St. entrance of the Plaza. The road in front and to the side of the building is dirt, and a set of tracks runs down the middle. The railway tracks were part of the East L.A. and San Pedro Street Railway. (Same as above but shows a portion of Main Street).  


Historical Notes

The East Los Angeles & San Pedro Railway Company was founded by Judge Robert M. Widney (also one of the founders of the University of Southern California), this line was incorporated on May 1, 1875 but did not begin construction until March 1876. This horse car driven system ran north from Fourth Street and was intended to lay track to the new Southern Pacific depot.  It reached only to College Street and North Broadway.*##

The Pico House was designated California Historical Monument No. 159 (Click HERE to see complete listing). It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places: NPS-72000231.

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


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300 Block of North Main Street

(ca. 1878)^^ - View of the 300 block of N. Main Street looking south from near the LA Plaza. A horse-drawn wagon with two men in it is parked in front of the Pico House near the Merced Theatre on the left. The road is unpaved and a streetcar track runs down the middle. Both sides of the street are lined with imposingly large buildings. At center on the left side of the street is a very large ornate building topped by three prominent towers. It is the historic Baker Block.  



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


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Temple Block

(ca. 1850s)^^# - Sketch of John Temple’s original two-story adobe at the intersection of Spring, Main and Temple, which became known as Temple Block.  


Historical Notes

In 1827, Jonathan Temple moved to the Pueblo de Los Angeles, where he opened the pueblo's first store, a business he operated for almost thirty years.

Temple Street (Los Angeles) was developed by him as a modest one-block dirt lane in the 1850s.^*




(ca. 1872)^ - Temple Block exterior view looking south toward Temple Street from some point on the Main Street side of the buildings. John Temple's original two-story adobe can be seen as part of the Temple Block.  


Historical Notes

The view above shows John Temple's 1858 Clocktower Market/Courthouse building and the first three buildings on the rest of Temple block. The original Temple Block structure is the two-story adobe at front (see photo above) at the intersection of Spring, Main and Temple. It was demolished by FPF Temple ("Tempelito"), John's half-brother, to build the new Temple Block building in 1871. "Temple Block" seems to be used to identify all of these buildings and also, only the one in front, facing the intersection (whether the old adobe Temple Block or the new Italianate Temple Block).^*#




(n.d.)^^ - Temple Square (Temple Block) appears at the bottom-center of this photograph of a model of old Los Angeles. John Temple's 1858 Clocktower Market/Courthouse building is also identified. This would become the future site of the current City Hall.  


Historical Notes

Spring Street was realigned when construction of the new City Hall began in early 1927. Spring now runs parallel to Main, and intersects with Temple where the current 28-story City Hall building is now located.


Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Original Temple Block


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Temple Street

(ca. 1870)^ - Stereographic card showing an unpaved Temple Street, looking west from Main Street. In the right foreground is the Downey Block located on the northwest corner.  


Historical Notes

In 1827, Jonathan Temple moved to the Pueblo de Los Angeles, where he opened the pueblo's first store, a business he operated for almost thirty years. Temple Street was developed by him as a modest one-block dirt lane in the 1850s.*^




(n.d.)^^ - Downey Block was located on the northwest corner of Main and Temple streets, highlighted at the bottom-center of the above model of old Los Angeles. Temple Street starts at the intersection of Spring and Main from where the Temple Block was built.  





(1880s)^ - View of an unpaved Temple Street, looking west as seen from the second floor of the Temple Block on Main Street. Horse-drawn carriages and wagons are parked along the street. In the right foreground is the Downey Block, housing the Crystal Palace, wholesale and retail sellers of crockery and china ware. Behind it is the Temple Street Stables. At left-center with ptiched roof and circular window is the St. Athanasius Episcopal Church located at the southwest corner of Temple and New High streets. Poles strung with electric/telephone wires are seen in the foreground.  





(1870s)^## - View looking northeast from the top of Poundcake Hill showing the Downey Block (center) at Temple and Main streets. The building with the pitched roof in the foreground is St. Athanasius Episcopal Church. Across the street is the Temple Street Stables (lower-left). Also seen is the Temple Block at center-right. The Los Angeles River runs horizontally across the top of the photo and the wide street at upper left is Aliso Street where the 101 Freeway runs today.  





Then and Now

(1884) vs. (2021)* - Temple Street looking west from Main Street.  






Main Street

(1873)^ - View looking north on Main Street with the Downey Block on the left at the N/W corner of Main and Temple streets.  


Historical Notes

The second floor of the Downey Block housed the photo studio of Henri Penelon, who settled in Los Angeles in 1853. Next, with chimney, is the Lafayette Hotel. In the far background is the Plaza Church belfry. 1873 saw the organization of the Chamber of Commerce and the opening of the first public library on the site of the later Federal Building.^




(1873)^ - View of Main Street looking south from Temple Street showing a Fourth of July parade.  



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Downey Avenue Bridge

(ca. 1883)^ - View looking toward Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles from the hill north of Bishop Street at North Broadway. The Old Downey Avenue Bridge (now North Spring St.) across the Los Angeles River is seen at center.  





(1886)^^ - View showing the flood damage to the Santa Fe tracks on the old Downey Avenue Bridge (later North Broadway) during the Los Angeles flood of 1885-1886. Several people are standing in front of a lumber pile and shed, near the washed-out Santa Fe tracks on the banks of the Los Angeles River. In the foreground, two large ropes cross the tracks and continue down to the river, where one rests on a pile of debris. Across the water, the damaged Downey Avenue Bridge can be seen, and a streetcar is at the extreme right of the picture.  


Historical Notes

In 1886, the LA River washed out the adjacent tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad. The Downey Avenue Bridge, visible in the background, was also destroyed.

Click HERE to see more in Los Angeles River the Unpredictable.



Boyle Heights

(1877)*^ - Drawing by E.S. Glover showing Boyle Heights with the Los Angeles River across the center and Los Angeles city in the background. The Aliso Street Bridge can be seen at center with the Macy Street Bridge to its right.  


Historical Notes

In 1858, Andrew Boyle purchased land on Paredon Blanco, planted vineyards, and built a home on what became Boyle Avenue. The area was once called Paredon Blanco (White Bluff) when California was part of Mexico.

In 1875, William H. Workman subdivided the area east of the Los Angeles River for residential development and named it "Boyle Heights" in honor of his father-in-law, who he inherited the land from.**^^



(1877)^*^* - Detail of previous drawing, showing the city's first bridge, Macy Street Bridge on the right and the later Aliso Street bridge on the left. The view looks west toward downtown Los Angeles from Boyle Heights.  





(ca. 1880)^ - Engraving of the "Villa de Paredon Blanco," Residence of J.E. Hollenbeck, in Boyle Heights, 1-1/4 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

In 1874, John Edward Hollenbeck and his wife visited Los Angeles. The community was growing rapidly, and businesses were investing heavily in anticipation of the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad. While visiting California, Hollenbeck, who made his wealth in Nicaragua, purchased several parcels of real estate and deposited funds in Temple and Workman Bank. Hollenbeck soon closed out his Nicaraguan businesses and made his final move to the United States.

Arriving in Los Angeles early in the spring of 1876, Hollenbeck purchased land on the east side of the Los Angeles River, and built a large residence with broad verandas and a tower on extensive grounds on Boyle Avenue. He made twenty-seven acquisitions of property by 1880; spending $108,875 for a total of 6,738 acres. The real estate holdings included 600 acres south of the city limits, much of which was planted in vineyards. In the San Gabriel Valley, he owned orchards of oranges, lemons, and grapes; and invested in 3,500 acres of Rancho La Puente — a grain and stock ranch. In 1884 he purchased and developed an urban business district, known as the Hollenbeck Block, within Los Angeles.

Hollenbeck was elected to the Los Angeles Common Council, the governing body of the city, on December 3, 1877, for a term ending on December 6, 1878.

In 1878 Hollenbeck became a stockholder in the Commercial Bank of Los Angeles, and was elected its president. In 1881, he and other investors organized and established the First National Bank.*^


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Main, Spring, and 9th Streets

(ca. 1873)^^ - Drawing of Los Angeles as it appeared circa 1873. View looking North from the junction of Main, Spring, and 9th Street.  


Historical Notes

The junction of Main, Spring, and 9th streets, seen at lower-right, has beeen one of the most photographed intersections in the City. Click HERE to see more.




(1868)^ - View of Ozro Childs' orange orchard in 1868 at the corner of Main and 12th Streets. The Childs Residence was located at 1111 S. Main Street.  


Historical Notes

Ozro W. Childs obtained the contract to build an extension of the Zanja Madre, a canal system to bring water to the fields south of the pueblo. He was paid in land in that area – all now within present day Downtown Los Angeles - from Sixth to Ninth, and Main to Figueroa Street. Click HERE to see more in Zanja Madre - LA's Original Aqueduct.

This property was the foundation of his fortune. He built a substantial house at 10th and Main, then a half-mile from town center, and on his property took up planting. In his day, Ozro Childs was Los Angeles’s most prominent plantsman, with a Plant nursery.

Childs was also involved in philanthropic work. When Judge Robert Maclay Widney set out to create a university in Los Angeles in the 1870s, he received assistance from donors including Childs. In 1879, Childs contributed a considerable amount of land to the founding of the University of Southern California, which opened in 1880.*^


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Early Downtown

(ca. 1874)#^ - View looking south on New High Street in downtown Los Angeles, towards the intersection with Temple Street. The steep roof of St. Athanasius Episcopal Church can be seen at the intersection with Temple Street at right and the side of a two-story building with the sign "Furniture & Bedding" can be seen, located on Spring Street. Further back can be seen a large building. This was Congregation B'nai B'rith, LA's first Synagogue.  




(1874)^ - View looking south on Spring Street from the Temple Block. The large building in the distance is the the first Jewish Synagogue in Los Angeles. At lower left hand is the first office of the Evening Express in the Temple Block. Note the tracks running down the center of Spring Street.  


Historical Notes

1873 marked the dedication of Los Angeles' first Synagogue, erected by Congregation B'nai B'rith on Fort Street (now Broadway) between 2nd and 3rd Streets. The site now is marked by a commemorative plaque.*+




(1874)+^ – Close up wide-angle view looking south on Spring Street.  To the right of center is a building with a steep roof and a sign that says “Mercantile Law Collection Books.”  The building immediately south of that, on the northwest corner of Spring and Franklin Streets, is the first Los Angeles City Hall, a building the city and county shared.  The taller building in the distance, near the top center of the photo, is the City's first Synagogue, built in 1873.  


Historical Notes

In August 1853, an adobe home that had been built in the 1820s at the northwest corner of Spring and Franklin Streets – a site now under the current city hall – was sold by John Temple to the city and to Los Angeles County for a city hall and courthouse.  The city owned a one-quarter interest in the property, and the county owned a three-quarters interest.  A brick jail used by both the city and county was constructed behind the adobe in 1853-54, the first (non-adobe) brick building built in Los Angeles.+^

Click HERE to see more early views of Los Angeles' first City Hall & Jail.




(ca. 1875)^ - View looking south on Main Street from near the Bella Union Hotel showing Temple Block and the Downey Block at the junction of Main Street with Spring and Temple streets (upper-left). Livery stables appear on both sides of Main Street in the foreground. The tracks of the Main Street and Agricultural Park Street Railroad run down the center of the street.  


Historical Notes

The Main Street and Agricultural Railroad was the first suburban line in Los Angeles and was chartered in November 1874. The line operated through the city on Main Street to Washington Boulevard and extended to Agricultural Park (now Exposition Park), traveling by way of Washington, Figueroa, and Wesleyan (now University Avenue).*##

Financed by John Downey, Isaias Hellman, William Workman, and others, the Main Street and Agricultural Park Street Railroad connected the city's business district near Temple Street to Agricultural Park, a haven for gamblers and vice-seekers. The park, outfitted with a racetrack, saloon, and brothel, was rechristened Exposition Park in 1913.*^^*




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


Historical Notes

In 1873, about 136 gas lamps provided the outdoor night lighting for the City of Los Angeles. That would change in 1882 when electricity was introduced and Los Angeles saw its first electric streetlights being installed (Click HERE to see more in Early L.A. Streetlights).


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Vermont and Melrose

(ca. 1874)^ - Farmer Dennis Sullivan farms a section of land where L.A. City College presently stands, on Vermont Ave. The location was the site of UCLA until the university moved to Westwood. Click HERE to see more Early Views of UCLA.


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Los Angeles and Independence Railroad Company

(1875)^ - 3rd Street, looking east in 1875. There is a small residential area, beyond which are farms and orchards. In the right distance can be seen the newly built Los Angeles and Independence Rail Road Terminal at Fifth Street and San Pedro Street.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles and Independence Railroad Company was incorporated in January 1875 with Francisco P. Temple, John P. Jones, Robert S. Baker, T. N. Park, James A. Pritchard, J. S. Slauson, and J. U. Crawford, as directors. Col. Crawford was the engineer and general manager.

The 16.67 miles of track between Los Angeles and Santa Monica were privately built without government subsidies or land grants, all in a little over ten months - primarily using 67 Chinese laborers imported for the task. Right-of-way between Los Angeles and Santa Monica was given by local ranchers who were anxious to have access to a railroad. The line opened October 17, 1875, with two trains a day running between Santa Monica and Los Angeles; the fare was fixed at $1.00 per trip, freight at $1.00 per ton.*^




(1875)^^ - View of a steam locomotive in front of the Los Angeles and Independence Rail Road Terminal at Fifth Street and San Pedro Street, 1875. Two lavishly decorated brick towers extend from the main building to either side of its entrance.  





(1876)#^ – View showing Locomotive No. 1 and passenger cars of the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad on train tracks next to the railroad's terminal at Fifth Street and San Pedro Street in Los Angeles. The train is full of passengers and is about to leave for Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Opposition to continued construction east of Los Angeles by Southern Pacific Railroad's refusal to allow crossing of their main line tracks, and the unexpected depletion and closure of the Panamint silver mine in 1877 (owned by John P. Jones), led to severe fiscal difficulties for the young steam line. On July 4, 1877 the Los Angeles & Independence was acquired by Southern Pacific.*^

Click HERE for more on the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad.


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Santa Monica

(1875)* - View of Santa Monica and bay showing the road and wharf of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad, about 1875. The wharf was completed in 1875 and sold in June 1877 to the Southern Pacific Railway Company, This print was photographed from an old lithograph.


Historical Notes

The new railroad made Santa Monica accessible to Angelinos. Tourists began to visit and the town grew and prospered. By November 1886, the electorate went to the polls and voted 97 to 71 to incorporate Santa Monica.^#**




(1880)* - View of the pier and beach in Santa Monica in 1880. People are walking on the boardwalk, sitting on the beach, and enjoying the surf. This was considered casual attire in the 1800s.  


Historical Notes

In the mid-1880s, tourism in Santa Monica was booming. Roughly 2,000 to 3,000 tourists visited Santa Monica in the summer of 1887.*

This was not the same pier as today's Santa Monica Pier. Several others would be built after this one.*


Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Santa Monica


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Sisters of Charity

(1860)^ - Photo of a watercolor painting of the first school (and Sisters of Charity Orphanage) in Los Angeles, made in 1860 by a student.  


Historical Notes

The school faced Alameda at Macy Street. It was called Los Angeles Charitable Institute, later the Los Angeles Orphan Asylum, but in Spanish, Casa de las Hermanas. The Sisters bought the old Benito Wilson frame house at the right, which had been shipped in pieces around the Horn. The property included about twelve acres and sold for $8,000. The house was demolished, and the brick building constructed with materials also brought around the Horn in a sailing vessel. The sale took place in 1856, the building was completed in 1858, and it was used until 1891. It opened with about 20 girls enrolled. Don Francisco Coronel (father of Don Antonio Coronel) and his two daughters were the teachers. One daughter later married the historian Bancroft. Later this became the site of the Post Office.^





(1875)^ - Panoramic view of Sonora Town as seen from the Pico House in the 1870s. The large 3-story building in the background is the Los Angeles Charitable Institute run by the Sisters of Charity.  


Historical Notes

In the foreground of the above photo is the courtyard of Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles, showing the padres' kitchen, bishop and padres' quarters, parochial school and courtyard planted to citrus orchard. To the left of this, a low white adobe, is the bakery of Pierre Domegue and his Indian wife, who baked sourdough French bread. Behind this on the next block are two square buildings, the Bath Street (later Olvera Street) Public School. In the rear is a three-story building at Alameda and Macy Streets, the Los Angeles Charitable Institute run by the Sisters of Charity. Just behind the bakery is the Pelanconi Winery, later La Golondrina Restaurant. Also shown, behind the church facilities, is the adobe residence of Mr. and Mrs. John Jones, parents of Mrs. Lankershim.*



Antonio Mario Lugo Adobe

(ca. 1875)^ - Early view of the Plaza surroundings, including Antonio Maria Lugo adobe, built in 1820, and located at San Pedro near 2nd Street. The Lugo adobe is indicated by a star (middle right), and the large towered building seen in the center distance is the Wallace Woodworth residence.  


Historical Notes

Antonio Maria Lugo (1775-1860) was born at the San Antonio de Padua Mission near Monterey. A Corporal in the Spanish army, he received his discharge after seventeen years and was granted 29,514 acres of land as a reward for his faithful service to the King of Spain and the military. He named this tract of land Rancho San Antonio, after his birthplace. Lugo maintained a beautiful adobe home in the pueblo, located in the exclusive Plaza and across from the church.

In 1816 Lugo was appointed Alcalde (Mayor) of Spanish Colonial Los Angeles, and served until 1819. Don Antonio Maria Lugo, or "El Viejo Lugo" - an endearing title bestowed upon him, gradually added vast properties, and was the owner of much of what is now the city of Los Angeles; it was said he could ride from San Diego to Sonoma, a distance of nearly 700 miles, without once leaving his own land. After Don Antonio's death in 1860, the rancho was divided among his children: José María, José del Carmen, Vicente, Jesus, and Merced.*





(ca. 1885)^^^ - Exterior view of the home of Don Antonio Mario Lugo located on San Pedro Street, near Second Street, Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

The Don Antonio Mario Lugo adobe was built in 1820. The single-story house has extended roof supported by beams at about every ten feet. A wooden fence encloses the perimeter to the right of the house. Trees are visible in the background. Picture file card reads: "1st house with wood floor?" ^^*


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Bunker Hill

(ca. 1875)^ - View is toward the west on Temple Street looking across Horticultural Hill. Olive Street is in the foreground. The Agricultural Pavilion on Temple Street is at upper right. The Hollywood Hills are faintly seen in the background. One can make out the tallest peak, Hollywood Peak, near where the Griffith Observatory stands today.  


Historical Notes

The Horticultural Pavilion is the largest and tallest structure appearing in the upper right of the photo. A grand staircase would later be built from the pavilion down to Temple St. Directly across the pavilion on Temple St. was the first Los Angeles home of Sarah Bixby Smith ("Adobe Days", 1931). In her memoir of early Los Angeles she describes the Horticultural Pavilion as "a barn-like, wooden building" which was the venue for "county fairs, conventions and operas".

In 1880, President and Mrs. Hayes visited Los Angeles, the first President to visit California. After speeches from a grandstand set up in front of the Baker Block, the guests adjourned to the St Elmo Hotel for tea. In the evening a public reception and formal dinner were held for the First Couple in the Horticultural Pavilion.

The Horticultural Pavilion was lost to fire a few years later.  Its function was replaced by Hazard's Pavilion (1887) at 5th and Olive streets.

Also in the photo is an early home of J.W. Gillette, who built Angels Flight for Col. Eddy. It's near the center of the photo, with a walled backyard. It faces on Temple.




(ca. 1895)#++ – View of the 200 block of South Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles showing beautiful Victorian homes.  


Historical Notes

Similar homes can be seen today on Carroll Avenue in Angelino Heights, just outside of downtown.



Macy Street Bridge (LA's 1st Bridge)

(1877)* - Detail of a drawing by E.S. Glover of Los Angeles, showing the city's first bridge on the right and the later Aliso Street bridge on the left. The view looks west toward downtown Los Angeles from Boyle Heights. Los Angeles High School can be seen in the upper right on top of Poundcake Hill.  


Historical Notes

A furniture company named Perry and Woodworth built Los Angeles' first permanent bridge, a covered bridge, in 1870. Its construction was considered a major civic achievement; people came from as far away as San Diego to witness the bridge's opening.

A covered bridge reminiscent of those in New England, the wooden span carried Old Aliso Road, a segment of El Camino Real later known as Macy Street and now named Cesar Chavez Avenue, across the Los Angeles River. Where wagons once forded the tame summer river -- or simply turned around when winter storms transformed the stream into a torrent -- a bridge now connected the growing city of Los Angeles to the agricultural land on the river's east bank.*




(ca. 1870s)^ - Stereographic photo of the covered bridge over Old Aliso Road (Macy Street).  


Historical Notes

Without this lengthy span, it would not have been possible to have had the subsequent eastward expansion of the town, which was then embarking on it first significant growth spurt, which began shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War.

In 1873, local power brokers created the subdivision of East Los Angeles, later renamed Lincoln Heights, and this was followed in 1875 by the trio of William H. Workman, Isaias W. Hellman and John Lazzarovich's development of Boyle Heights.^

L.A.'s first bridge was resilient, withstanding several severe floods in the 1880s while others failed. But eventually, time wore away at the wooden structure, and by 1895 it was in poor condition. The city engineer recommended replacing it with one of a more modern design, and in July 1904 the bridge finally came down. "One of the old landmarks of the city," the August 1, 1904 Los Angeles Times reported, "has disappeared during the past week, and the Macy-street bridge...is a thing of the past. It has been pulled down to make way for a splendid modern structure which will accommodate traffic for years." *

Click HERE to see the 2nd Macy Street Bridge.


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San Fernando Mission

(1873)^ - This is the first known photograph of the San Fernando Valley as seen in 1873. View is looking to the south, showing San Fernando Rey de España Mission in the center of the photograph. Apart from the mission, the vast land appears to be completely deserted. Mission San Fernando Rey de España is located at 15151 San Fernando Mission Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

In 1821, after the successful Mexican War of Independence from Spain, the Mission San Fernando became part of Alta California, Mexico. In 1834, the Mexican government began redistributing the mission lands. In 1846, the Mexican land grant for Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando was issued by Governor Pío Pico. It was bounded on the north by Rancho San Francisco and the Santa Susana Mountains, on the west by the Simi Hills, on the east by Rancho Tujunga, and on the south by the Montañas de Portesuelo (Santa Monica Mountains).*^

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





(ca. 1875)#^ – Panoramic view of the San Fernando Mission looking south across a largely unimproved San Fernando Valley.  In the distance are the Hollywood Hills with Cahuenga Pass (low point on the horizon in the upper-right) and the back of Mount Lee (highest peak and ridgeline). #^*  


Historical Notes

Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando was a 116,858-acre Mexican land grant in 1846 by Governor Pío Pico to Eulogio de Celis. The grant derives its name from the secularized Mission San Fernando Rey de España, but was called ex-Mission because of a division made of the lands held in the name of the Mission — the church retaining the grounds immediately around, and all of the lands outside of this were called ex-Mission lands. The grant encompassed most of the present day San Fernando Valley.*^





(ca. 1870)^^ - Exterior view of the Mission San Fernando, ca.1870. Two dirt paths enter in from the foreground, intersecting at the adobe cloister of the mission, which stands to the right of center. A collection of archways holds the eaves of the terracotta-tiled roof up over the cloister's patio. More adobe buildings can be seen to the left, with two-story adobe building standing to the left of an older cloister whose roof has collapsed.  


Historical Notes

In 1874, after the death of Eulogio de Celis, the family sold their northern half of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando to northern Californians, California State Senator Charles Maclay and his partners George K. Porter, a San Francisco shoe manufacturer, and his cousin Benjamin F. Porter. The Porters’ land was west of present day Sepulveda Boulevard including most of Chatsworth, and the Maclay land was east of Sepulveda Boulevard. Roscoe Boulevard was the border on the south, with a syndicate led by Isaac Lankershim acquiring the southern half of the Valley.*^





(1800s)^ - View of the Convento Building, also known as the "Long Building". Two families stand next to their horse-drawn carriages, which have stopped along the road that would eventually become "El Camino Real".  



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


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Catalina Island

(1887)^^ - View of Avalon Bay, Catalina Island, showing a Ferndale steamboat and a Ruby schooner. The schooner is visible on the water at center, a small flatboat with two people visible in front of it. Farther to the left of it, a second sailboat can be seen. The steamer is pictured flying an American flag off of its stern at right. A mountain ridge and large hill are pictured in the background.  


Historical Notes

The first European to set foot on Santa Catalina Island was the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sailed in the name of the Spanish crown. On October 7, 1542, he claimed the island for Spain and christened it San Salvador after his ship. Over half a century later, another Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, rediscovered the island on the eve of Saint Catherine's day (November 24) in 1602. Vizcaino renamed the island in the saint's honor.*^





(ca. 1888)#**^ - View of a steamer at the dock in Avalon Bay and the Hotel Metropole in Avalon, Santa Catalina (aka Catalina Island or just Catalina).  


Historical Notes

The first owner to try to develop Avalon into a resort destination was George Shatto, a real estate speculator from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Shatto purchased the island for $200,000 from the Lick estate at the height of the real estate boom in Southern California in 1887. Shatto created the settlement that would become Avalon, and can be credited with building the town's first hotel, the original Hotel Metropole, and pier. His sister-in-law Etta Whitney came up with the name Avalon, which was taken from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Idylls of the King," about the legend of King Arthur.*^





(ca. 1890s)^^ - View showing Avalon Bay from the hillside behind the Hotel Metropole (center).  A steamboat is seen in the middle of the bay just beyond the hotel.  A Multitude of house-tents are seen throughout and Sugarloaf Point is stands on the left.  


Historical Notes

To expand Avalon's tourist base, Shatto used steamships he leased from the Bannings to ferry tourists to and from the mainland. Some island tourists arrived to purchase lots in Avalon, which Shatto auctioned off for $150 to $2,000 depending on location and size. Those who purchased one were then free to set up tents or build summer cottages. However, Shatto racked up some hefty bills and defaulted on his mortgage payments only after a few years and the island went back to the Lick estate.^^





(ca. 1890s)#^*^ - Panoramic view looking southeast showing Hotel Metropole and steamer Hermosa. The large boat is docked at the pier with smaller boats in the water. Tents are visible close to the beach as well as buildings. Women are wearing high collared long sleeved dresses and gloves. On the right can be seen a windmill and clothes hanging on a clothesline.  


Historical Notes

The sons of Phineas Banning bought the island in 1891 from the estate of James Lick and established the Santa Catalina Island Company to develop it as a resort. They had a variety of reasons for doing this. They wanted Catalina's rock to build a breakwater at Wilmington for their shipping company. They had also just built a luxurious new boat, the Hermosa, to bring tourists to the Island. If tourism failed, this investment was at risk. By owning Catalina, they would not only get their rock, but also money from tourists for their passage as well as everything on the Island.*^





(1891)#^*^ – Panoramic view of Avalon Bay on Santa Catalina Island.  The rock formation called Sugarloaf Point is at upper-right. The steamship S.S. Hermosa makes its way out toward the ocean away from a pier which is located near where the Hotel Metropole stands. House-tents can be seen all along the beach. At right stands a large Victorian-style home (Holly Hill House) with unobstructed views of the bay. The house still exists today and is Avalon's oldest remaining structure.  



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Catalina






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References and Credits

* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LA Public Library Image Archive

**LADWP Historic Archive

^^USC Digital Library

*# Publications of the Historical Society of Southern California, Volume 9: Eternity Street

#* OUTPOSTPreserving Historical Data by W. S. Broke

#^ Huntington Digital Library Archive

+^ Old Los Angeles and Environs blogspot

*+ The Jews of Los Angeles: Urban Pioneers

++ Vigilantism in Los Angeles (1853 - 1874)

^**UCLA-DWP Library Collection: Map of the City of Los Angeles as it Appeared in 1850

***Los Angeles Historic - Cultural Monuments Listing

*^*California Historical Landmarks Listing (Los Angeles)

*^#Public Art in LA: Campo Santo

^^#CSULB - A Visit to Old LA: Main Street

^*^LA Street Names - LA Times

*##Metro.net - Los Angeles Transit History

^##California State Library Image Archive

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

++#Views of Early Los Angeles

*#*KCET - Inventing LA: Port of Los Angeles; A Brief History of LA Bridges; LA's First Streetcars

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

^^*LA Fire Department Historical Archive

^^+UCLA Digital Library

^*#Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com

^#^Historic Hotels of Los Angeles and Hollywood (USC - California Historic Society): Bella Union Hotel; Lafayette Hotel

#^*Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

#++Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

*^^Los Angeles Magazine: Zanja Madre 1868

*^*^Wilmington Historic Society

**^^Boyle Heights History Timeline

^^^#Big Orange Landmarks

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

*^^#Boyle Heights History Blog

^#**Santa Monica History Museum

^#*^ElPueblo.lacity.org: Plaza Map

^##^El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monuments Listing

^*^*KCET - El Aliso: Ancient Sycamore Was Silent Witness to Four Centuries of L.A. History

#**^LA County Library Image Archive

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

#^#^Chinese Los Angeles in 1870-1871 - Scott Zesch

#^*^Calisphere: University of California Image Archive

#^#*Picture Gallery of Los Angeles History

*^ 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; Los Angeles and Independence Railroad; Phineas Banning; History of Los Angeles Population Growth; Ozro W. Childs; The Church of Our Lady the Queen of Angels; Fort Moore; Santa Catalina Island; San Fernando Valley; Chinese Massacre of 1871; The Church of Our Lady the Queen of Angels


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