Early Los Angeles City Views (1925 +)

Historical Photos of Early Los Angeles

(ca. 1935)^ - "Hollywoodland" sign seen from road with passenger car and truck in foreground. Car seems to date from early 1930's. A large white building is seen below the sign.  


Historical Notes

The sign was first erected in 1923 and originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND". Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. H.J. Whitley had already used a sign to advertise his development Whitley Heights, which was located between Highland Avenue and Vine Avenue. He suggested to his friend Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, that the land syndicate in which he was involved make a similar sign to advertise their land.^*





(1930s)^ - "Hollywoodland" sign with four homes in foreground set along a winding road. Note the large white dot* below the Sign.


Historical Notes

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

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


Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Hollywood (1920 +)




Los Angeles Times

(1934)^ - Scaffolding covers portions of the emerging Los Angeles Times Building as cranes clamp to the top like stick insects. The construction fence advertises "New Home of Los Angeles Times - largest newspaper in the West". A truck delivering construction material is parked by the curb and a ladder extends from the truck to the top of the fence. Next to the Times is the Bryson Building, left. A pharmacy is across the street.  




(1934)^ - View of the intersection of Spring and 2nd Streets, looking toward the United States Bank building on the corner. Beyond it the Los Angeles Times Building on Spring and 1st is under construction, and the old State Building is seen beyond. View is looking north on Spring Street.  




(1939)^++ - View looking north on Spring Street toward 1st Street showing the completed Los Angeles Times Building.  




(1934)**^ - View looking south on Broadway at 1st Street. The old Times Building (3rd Times Bldg.) with its ornate castle-like tower stands gaurd while the new Times Building on First and Spring is still under construction. The new building was completed in 1935.  


Historical Notes

The third Los Angeles Times building opened on Oct. 1, 1912 — on the second anniversary of the bombing of the second Times building. It was used until the new Times Building was opened in 1935. The building was torn down in early 1938.**^




(1937)^^ - The current Times Building rises behind a worker demolishing the paper's previous home.







Historical Notes

In 1935 the Los Angeles Times moved into its current building located on 1st and Spring, its 4th building since it started publishing in 1881.

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


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(1935)^ - A Foster and Kleiser billboard outside of 1158 and 1160 W. 8th Street promotes the 1936 Chevrolet; 8th Street Specialty Co. is at 1158 and a small hotel is at 1160. Photograph dated November 15, 1935.  




(1935)^ - View of Main Street near 1st Street. A multi-lamp streetlight stands in front of the Grand Theatre with sign that reads 10 cents admission. Several storefronts can also be seen.  


Historical Notes

The theatre above is the 1st Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, later the Grand Theatre. It opened December 31, 1894, and inaugurated the Orpheum as a circuit.

There were four theaters named Orpheum. The first at 125 S. Main Street; the second at 227 S. Spring Street; the third at 630 S. Broadway; and the fourth (and present one) at 842 S. Broadway.^



(1935)^ - Exterior view of the 1st Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles located at 125 S. Main Street. Several storefronts can be seen on both sides of the entrance to the forum.  




(ca. 1935)*# - View of Main Street looking north.  Two three-story Victorian-style buildings are pictured at center wedged between commercial shop fronts. The U.S. Hotel is closest to the foreground, while the Leighton Restaurant can be seen farther back. Both buildings feature a tower of sorts, the hotel's sprouting from the flat roof, the restaurant's extending from a column of windows at its corner. The New Palace Cafe and a sign that reads "Shoe Store. Shoes for the whole family" can be seen at right. A sign to the left reads "Victor's". Cars are parked along the sidewalk. Street car cables are attached to the top of a streetlamp visible in the left foreground.  


Historical Notes

The U.S. Hotel was built around 1863 at 170 North Main by Louis Mesmer, then remodeled and expanded in 1886. The hotel attracted a swanky crowd and served the “best two-bit meal in Southern California” in its dining room, according to advertisements and articles published in the Los Angeles Times. *#*^



(1935)^ - View of the west side of North Main Street at Market.  The old U. S. Hotel stands on the southeast corner of Market Street. It was the 3rd hotel built in Los Angeles (1863).  


Historical Notes

By the early 1930s, the U.S. Hotel was still owned by the Mesmer family and lodged only men, many on public assistance.*#*^



(ca. 1937)*# - View looking down from the top of City Hall showing the U.S. Hotel at 170 North Main Street at the southeast corner of Market Street (center of photo). Across the street is the Amestoy Building (left) which featured the Leighton Restaurant on the ground floor.  




(ca. 1938)*# - View showing the U.S. Hotel on the right and the Amestoy Building on the left across Market Street. A sign that reads Dairy Lunch can be seen over the Leighton Restaurant on the northeast corner of Main and Market streets.  




(1939)^ – View showing the U.S. Hotel being torn down.  The old U. S. Hotel stood on the southeast corner of North Main and Market streets since 1863.  It was the 3rd hotel built in Los Angeles (Bella Union and Lafayette hotels were built in the 1850's).  


Historical Notes

A gaunt ghost of bygone gaiety of the early days of Los Angeles, the old United States Hotel is shown as it is being torn down to make room for a more modern building. New sadness accompanied its demolishment when Mrs. Matilda M. Mesmer, widow of its manager for many years, Louis A. "Tony" Mesmer, died. She was the sister-in-law of Joseph Mesmer, prominent pioneer, who was the owner of the historic landmark. Photo dated: March 25, 1939.^


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(ca. 1938)*# – View looking east on 6th Street from Flower Street toward Hope Street.  A streetcar is visible in the center on the tracks which bisect the street.  The Hotel Savoy can be seen in the background.  





Then and Now

(1938 vs. 2021)* - Looking east on 6th Street towards Hope Street.  






(1938)*# - View looking north along Main Street at the many businesses between 5th and 6th streets. The Rosslyn Hotel stands on the corner of Main and 5th.  City Hall is seen in the distance.  Photo by Dick Whittington  





(1939)*# - View looking north on Main Street at 5th Street.  The Rosslyn Hotel an Annex are on the northwest and southwest corners respectively. Several of the legible signs read:  United Cigars, "Money to Loan", All-American Lines Bus Depot, Turquoise Room, and Hotel Barclay. City Hall can be seen in the distance.  



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Oil Wells in Residential Areas

(1937)^ - View of oil wells in a residential district near Glendale Boulevard. Tower and buildings of Belmont High School can be seen in the far background.  


Historical Notes

The Central Oil Field as seen above is situated just south of the largest producing oil field in the history of the Southland called the Los Angeles Oil Field.

The Los Angeles Oil Field is a large oil field north of Downtown. Long and narrow, it extends from immediately south of Dodger Stadium west to Vermont Avenue, encompassing an area of about four miles long by a quarter mile across. Its former productive area amounts to 780 acres.

Discovered in 1890, and made famous by Edward Doheny's successful well in 1892, the field was once the top producing oil field in California, accounting for more than half of the state's oil in 1895. In its peak year of 1901, approximately 200 separate oil companies were active on the field, which is now entirely overbuilt by dense residential and commercial development.

The fortunes made during development of the field led directly to the discovery and exploitation of other fields in the Los Angeles Basin. Of the 1,250 wells once drilled on the field, and the forest of derricks that once covered the low hills north of Los Angeles from Elysian Park west, little above-ground trace remains today.^*




(1933)#^ - Oil rigs on Court Street as seen from Bixel Street.  Click HERE for contemporary view.  



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Exposition Park

(1935)^ - Sunken gardens, also called Rose Garden, at Exposition Park, formerly called Agricultural Park, with State armory building. This photo shows the entire garden area from the State Armory to the museum.  


Historical Notes

Originally named Agricultural Park in 1876, the 160-acre site was developed and served as an agricultural and horticultural fairground until approximately 1910, at which point it was re-named Exposition Park. On November 6, 1913, Exposition Park was formally dedicated, and became the home to a state Exposition Building and the county Museum of History, Science and Art, later broken up and renamed the Natural History Museum.

The Armory Building was designed in 1912 by State Architect J.W. Woollett for the California National Guard 160th Infantry. In 2003 the California Science Center's Board of Directors voted to rename the historic Armory Building as the Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning and Innovation due to contributions toward the renovation and re-invention of the building by architect Thomas Mayne, which reopened in 2004.^




(ca. 1937)^ - The Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art is seen from the Rose Garden in Exposition Park.  


Historical Notes

The seven and a half acre Rose Garden, also called Sunken Garden, evolved from the redevelopment of Agricultural Park, and was completed in 1928. In 1991, the Exposition Park Rose Garden was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.^


Click HERE to see Exposition Park in the early 1900s when it was called Agricultural Park


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(ca. 1935)^ - 6th Street looking west at Olive Street. At right is the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. building. Pershing Square is at close right. In the distance is the Jonathan Club.  


Historical Notes

The Pacific Mutual Building, located at 523 W. 6th Street, are actually three interconnected buildings built between 1908 and 1929. The original structure was designed and built between 1908-1912 by John Parkinson and Edwin Bergstrom. It has undergone many changes since it was built.

In 1974, the building underwent an extensive restoration by Wendell Mounce and Associates, with Bond and Steward, which brought it back to its Beaux Arts revival. And in 1985, the entire building was renovated again by the Westgroup, Inc.^

The Pacific Mutual Building is listed as Historic-Cultural Monument No. 398. Click HERE to see complete listing.

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Pacific Mutual Building.



Hoover Dam Lights Up Los Angeles

(1936)* - Tens of thousands of people jammed the parade route on Broadway on the night of October 9, 1936, as the street became ablaze with light when the first power streaked 266 miles from the Hoover Dam Power Plant to Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

On October 9, 1936, the switch was thrown and electricity generated at the new Hoover Dam arrived in Los Angeles.   Los Angeles threw a big party.  The “Light on Parade” proceeded down Broadway, nicknamed “the Canyon of Lights.”




(1936)##^# - Closer view showing the parade down Broadway (aka "The Light on Parade") celebrating Los Angeles' new source of electricity after the completion of Hoover Dam.  


Historical Notes

Writer Thomas Treanor reported in the Oct. 10, 1936 Los Angeles Times:

Astride the power of 115,000 horses, with burning plumes outspread, the Giant of Hoover Dam–Electricity–rode into Los Angeles last night, casting a heretofore unseen and magnificent glare on more than 1,000,000 persons who crowded the downtown district from end to end.

A tumult of yelling and whistling and screaming greeted the giant with an exuberance and spontaneous feeling that has not been observed since the demonstration the day the World War ended…

On the site of the old Courthouse at Temple and Broadway, a platform had been erected. On the Courthouse grounds sat 10,000 persons in folding chairs.

The speakers had finished their speeches, the massed chorus had ended its song, and the prayer had been said, when the young woman–Miss Elizabeth Scattergood–stepped forward.
She read for a moment in a choked voice, a simple little speech full of feeling. Then she reached out her finger and touched a key. There was a tense moment of quiet.

A sputtering sound as the northeast corner of the Courthouse grounds. Brilliant as an explosion, lavender light washed away the half-darkness. In a great wave it swept across to the City Hall, to the Federal Building and to the Hall of Justice and Hall of Records…

The day after this event, the Electrical Age Exposition opened at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium for a nine-day run.  For the next 50 years the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison operated the Hoover Dam powerhouses. In 1987 they were turned over to the Federal Bureau of Reclamation.^^




(1936)* - The beacon light placed on the top of Los Angeles City Hall (aka Lindbergh Beacon) is lighted when power arrived from Boulder Dam, later called Hoover Dam.  



Click HERE to see more in Construction of Hoover Dam


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(1936)^ - View looking west down Hollywood Boulevard from the intersection with Argyle Avenue. On the left is a Dodge Plymouth motor car dealer, and past that, the Taft Building. Going down the right side of the street we see the Pantages Theatre, and beyond that the Equitable Building and then the Guaranty Building. There are a few cars on the street, as well as trolleys.  





(1936)^^ - Another view looking west toward the intersection of Hollywood and Vine showing the Pantages Theatre, Equitable Building, Taft Building, and Broadway-Hollywood Building.  





Then and Now

(1936 vs. 2022)* - Looking west on Hollywood Boulevard from Argyle Avenue with the Pantages Theatre seen on the right. Note some of the changes…especially the streetcars and streetlights.  






(1936)^#^^ – View showing the filming of a movie in front of Sardi’s Restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard. Click HERE to see more Early Views of Sardi's Restaurant.  



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Fletcher Drive

(1936)*# - Traffic at San Fernando Road and Fletcher Drive, Glendale. Van de Kamp's Bakery with its signature windmill on top can be seen in the upper left of photo. The large building behind the windmill is the Van de Kamp's Bakery Headquarters at 1939 Fletcher Drive.  


Historical Notes

Theodore J. Van de Kamp and brother-in-law Lawrence L. Frank were the owners and originators of the Van de Kamp Bakeries. Fondly known as the "Taj Mahal of all bakeries". Van de Kamp and Frank also founded both the Tam O'Shanter's (1922) and Lawry's The Prime Rib (1938) restaurants.^*




(1931)^ - View showing the Van de Kamp's Bakery's building located on the corner of San Fernando Road and Fletcher Drive, designed to resemble a 16th-century Dutch farmhouse. The Van de Kamp's Bakery Headquarters is to the right (out of view).  





(ca. 1938)^ - Cars drive under the Pacific Electric railroad tracks crossing Fletcher Drive (Fletcher Viaduct), and a large Sparkletts sign can be seen past the bridge on the left. Atwater Village, Glendale, and the San Gabriel Mountains are seen in the center. Photo by Herman Schultheis  


Historical Notes

In 1928, when Fletcher was paved, the original timber bridge was replaced with a steel structure mounted on concrete footings (seen above). The newer structure soared more than 60 feet above the street and remained in place until 1959, when it and the nearby Riverside Drive Viaduct at Glendale Boulevard were demolished.^^^*

Today these concrete footings and bridge pylons are still there and have been designated as LA Historic-Cultural Monument No. 770 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Fletcher Viaduct.




(1938)**^ - View looking down Hill Street from the corner of 9th and Hill.  Cars and streetcars are lined up as a policeman stands in the middle of the intersection waiting for the pedestrians to completely cross the street before redirecting traffic.  




Main and 8th Streets

(1938)* - View looking north on Main Street from 8th Street showing a Los Angeles Railway streetcar. The Cecil Hotel can be seen in the distance.  





Hill and 4th Streets

(ca. 1938)* – Panoramic view looking north on Hill Street toward 4th Street showing a streetcar labeled “Hill St. and Venice Blvd” sitting on the tracks.  The Hotel Sherman is seen on the right (S/E corner).  The building across the street (N/E corner) with the onion-shaped dome is the Brighton Hotel.  The building on the left (N/W corner) is the Black Building.  


Historical Notes

The beautiful two-lamp streetlamps, commonly known as UM-1906's, are still seen in parts of Los Angeles today. Click HERE to see more.




Then and Now

(1938 vs. 2022)* – Looking north on Hill Street toward 4th Street.  


Historical Notes

Perhaps the most noticeable losses in this view are the buildings that occupied the intersection’s corners. The Black Building (1913) on the N/W corner; the onion-shaped domed building, the Brighton Hotel (c.1890) on the N/E corner; Hotel Sherman (c.1890) on the S/E corner; and the Callendar Building (c.1907) on the S/W corner, out of view. All four buildings were demolished sometime in the 1960s.

Perenially starved for office space, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power purchased the Wright and Callendar Building in 1946, and leased much of the Black Building in 1958. The towers were vacated in 1964 when the agency moved to its current Civic Center headquarters. It appears that both buildings were demolished shortly afterwards, and their block of Fourth Street was subsequently widened.*


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LA Motor Coach Co. (Double-Decker Buses)

(1937)^ - This early type of motor coach transportation shows a double-decker bus; the upper deck filled with passengers. This is the Route 82 motor coach that travels from Wilshire to 5th and Hill. A very large marquee atop a building behind the coach reads: "It's in the Examiner", possibly making reference to the Herald Examiner newspaper. Photo taken at Wilshire and Western.  


Historical Notes

Los Angeles Motor Bus (later renamed the Los Angeles Motor Coach Company) was a joint venture of Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway that existed from 1923 until 1949.

It began in 1923 as Wilshire Boulevard's transit service from the MacArthur Park area to La Brea Avenue and was extended further down Wilshire as the service gained in popularity.

Wilshire has an interesting distinction, it was the only street that was banned by the City of Los Angeles from having street rail on it. The elites of early 20th century Los Angeles who built their mansions in the area were the region's first "NIMFYs" (Not in My Front Yard). The clanging bells and masses who rode streetcars were not welcomed on Wilshire, but buses were. #*




(ca. 1937)^ - This double-decker open top sightseeing bus is traveling north on Rampart from Sixth Street. The Big Six Market (550 South Rampart) can be seen on the right just past the light. Note the 'Stop' signal.  





(1930s)^^ - Los Angeles Motor Coach Fageol Double-Deck Bus No. 604 on the Sunset Boulevard Line.  View is looking west on 8th Street west of Grand Avenue with the Morgan Hotel in the background.  





(1938)*# – View looking east on Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue. At right is a double-decker bus on the Los Angeles Motor Coach Wilshire Line and crossing Wilshire is a bus on the Fairfax Avenue line. The building on the right with the rooftop Mobil Gas billboard is the 6030 Wilshire building (later the location of the A+D Museum). The building on the left (NE corner) will be torn down to make way for the May Company Building (built in 1940). Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Miracle Mile.  





(ca. 1920s)^## - This double-decker bus no. 610 was part of the Los Angeles Motor Bus line, built by Fageol in 1924.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles Motorbus Company (later renamed the Los Angeles Motor Coach Company) ordered its first batch of double-deckers in 1924 mainly for their extra capacity.  With 54-64 seats each (depending on the model), the buses could absorb the crowds huddled around bus stops along new, booming commercial corridors like Wilshire Boulevard. That made them attractive to the bus line’s joint owners, the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles railways, who used double-deckers as an alternative to building costly new trolley lines.

And Angelenos loved them. Production companies often rented the yellow-and-red vehicles for film shoots. On summer evenings, young couples flocked to their upper decks for gentle breezes — and privacy. Bad weather did usually mean unused capacity, but the buses continued to dart down Wilshire and Sunset through the 1930s. Eventually, the popular buses went the way of the streetcars they replaced — though you can still find double-decked sightseeing buses cruising the city’s tourist districts.^


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Hollywood Hills

(1937)^ - View of Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, looking southeast with the city down below in the background.  


Historical Notes

3,015 acres of land surrounding the observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Colonel Griffith J. Griffith on December 16, 1896. In his will Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land.

Construction began on June 20, 1933, using a design developed by architect John C. Austin based on preliminary sketches by Russell W. Porter. . The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935.^





(1939)^ - Looking up the palm tree-lined residential area of Normandie and Franklin Avenue. The Griffith Park Observatory can be seen in the far background in the Hollywood Hills.  


Historical Notes

Architects John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley built the Observatory in 1935; it is located at 2800 E. Observatory Road in Griffith Park. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Griffith Park Observatory.


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Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

(1937)^^ – Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round under construction with the new canopy shell already in place.  


Historical Notes

In the early 1900s, Oliver Funk Davis, a master carpenter, took merry-go-rounds to carnivals and fairs throughout California. The machines were built by the Herschell-Spillman Company of North Tonawanda, New York. 

It was Davis and his family who brought the 1926 Spillman/Loof Carousel to Griffith Park. They built the beautiful building niched into the side of the hill as well. Oliver F., Ross R., and J. O. Davis, three generations. In addition to The Griffith Park Carousel, the Davis family are also responsible for the historic carousels at Balboa Park, San Diego; Tilden Park, Berkeley, CA; and instrumental in placing the carousel in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.*



(1940s)^.^ - A busy day at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. Note the ring catcher at left.  


Historical Notes

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round was built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company. Commissioned by the Spreckels family, it was originally housed at the Mission Beach Amusement Center in San Diego but was moved to its current location in 1937. The merry-go-round is comprised of 68 hand-made horses, all of which jump, and a custom-built Stinson 165 Military Band Organ that plays more than 1,500 songs. It’s the only full-size Spillman carousel still in operation today.*




(ca. 1940s)^.^ – Postcard view showing the 1926-built Spillman/Loof Four-Row Carousel at Griffith Park.  Photo courtesy of the Davis Siblings Collection  


Historical Notes

The small carousel, which is tucked away into a quiet corner of the park, served as Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. When his children were young, Walt, a Los Feliz denizen, took them to the merry-go-round on weekends. During one visit, while sitting on a bench watching his kids circle round and round, he was inspired to create a large scale gathering site that the whole family could enjoy. His dream was realized on July 17, 1955, when Disneyland opened to the public.*




(n.d.)^.^ – Close-up view of the Griffith Park Carousel which has become a popular filming location.  


Historical Notes

Built in 1926, this iconic merry-go-round features 68 elaborately decorated horses & an organ.




(1949)* - Seen here is a wide view of the merry-go-round at Griffith Park. Parents and family members watch from the side and wait on benches.  


Historical Notes

Thanks to its nostalgic appeal, the Griffith Park landmark is a wildly popular filming location.  One of its most famous appearances was in Teen Witch. In the 1989 cult favorite, the carousel is where newly-minted witch Louise Miller (Robin Lively) learns how to cast spells to create wind and rain.

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is also where Amilyn (Paul Reubens) turns Grueller (Sasha Jensen) into a vampire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; where Julius and Vincent Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, respectively) ride a carousel with their new wives and babies in Twins; and where Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) hypnotizes a young murder suspect in the episode of The Mentalist titled “Seeing Red.” The site has also popped up in the movies Maxie and Beautiful, episodes of MacGyver, CSI: NY, Rizzoli & Isles, Castle, Alias, Knots Landing, Beauty and the Beast, Law & Order: LA, Mod Squad, Melrose Place, House, and The Whole Truth, and in the music videos for Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s song “Where You Are” and Demi Lovato’s “Don’t Forget.”  The carousel and its surround area is a veritable filming institution.^




(2010s)** – View looking northeast showing the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round which Los Angeles Magazine calls "a time machine, an art lesson, and a thrill ride all in one." Located at 4730 Crystal Springs Drive in Griffith Park.   


Historical Notes

Anyone who’s visited the Griffith Park Merry-go-Round may have noticed a rather nondescript green bench off to one side, but if you were to look really close, you’d easily identify the man in the picture. Walt Disney would occasionally bring his daughters to ride the carousel and would patiently wait on the bench for the ride to finish. There are actually two benches… one still resides in the park, while the other resides at the Opera House lobby in Disneyland.

Inspired by the Griffith Park carousel, Walt Disney wanted something similar for his new theme park: a carousel consisting of all jumpers. A park model Menagerie Carousel was purchased and moved to Disneyland in 1954.*


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(1937)*^## - Looking north on Highland Avenue near Sunset Boulevard. Hollywood High School can be seen at far left, and in the center distance are the Hollywood United Methodist Church and the Hollywood First National Bank Building.*^^  


Historical Notes

The thirteen story First National Bank Building with Gothic/Renaissance elements a la Art Deco is one of a handful of structures in the city that is adorned with gargoyles. It was the tallest building in Los Angeles from 1927 to 1932.^




(1937)^ - View showing a 1936 Packard 120 Straight Eight Coupe making a right turn onto Hollywood Boulevard from Cahuenga. Photo by Herman Schulteis  


Historical Notes

Packard was an American luxury automobile marque built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. The first Packard automobiles were produced in 1899, and the last in 1958.

According to many people the introduction of the Packard 120 (seen above) was Packard's savior in the '30's during the final years of the Great Depression.^*



(1937)^ - Hollywood Boulevard looking east from Sycamore Ave. In the background are First National Bank Building, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Chinese Theatre. First National Bank Building was designed by Meyer and Holler.




(1937)^ - An aerial view looking west down Hollywood Blvd. from the intersection with Argyle Ave. On the left is the Strother Funeral Directors building, and beyond it a Dodge Plymouth motor car dealer, and past that, the Taft Building. Going down the right side of the street we see the Pantages Theatre, and beyond that the Equitable Building and then the Guaranty Building.  



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Hollywood (1920 +)


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Cahuenga and Highland

(ca. 1937)*#^ - Panoramic view looking toward the southeast corner of Cahuenga (left) and Highland Ave (right).  Streetcars and automobiles share the road at this busy intersection. A Texaco service station stands on the corner with the Hollywood Roosevelt Plaza Hotels behind it (Note: this hotel is not related to the famous Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard).  


Historical Notes

This little nestle of buildings was known as the French Village. It was set on a triangular plot of land at the point where Highland Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard converged as they entered the Cahuenga Pass. This puts it roughly across the street from the front entrance of the Hollywood Bowl. It opened in 1920, and throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the French Village was home to a revolving community of actors, writers, costume designers, dance instructors and singing coaches. #**#

To relieve traffic congestion at this busy Cahuenga and Highland intersection, a tunnel was bored under Highland ca. 1937. A large construction boring tractor can be seen at center of photo.




(1938)*# - Looking southeast at Whitley Heights across the intersection of Cahuenga Boulevard shortly after the construction of the new underpass to Highland Avenue. The entrance to the Hollywood Bowl is just beyond the shoulder of the hill on the right.  


Historical Notes

The seriously complicated solution to the traffic pattern was largely eliminated in the coming years through the realignment and widening of Caheunga.*^



ca. 1938)^^^* - View looking northwest showing Cahuenga Pass as it heads toward the San Fernando Valley.  The tunnel at center-right (since closed) extended Highland Boulevard to the north, under the Freeway. The Hollywood Bowl is on left (out of view) on the other side of the freeway.  


Historical Notes

This entire area would change pemanently with the construction of the Hollywood Freeway. The first segment of the Hollywood Freeway built was a two mile stretch through the Cahuenga Pass. That segment opened on June 15, 1940. It was then known as the "Cahuenga Pass Freeway." Pacific Electric Railway trolleys ran down the center of this freeway until 1952.*^



(ca. 1951)^ - Bird's eye view of the Hollywood Freeway through the Cahuenga Pass, looking towards the Valley. The Cahuenga Tunnel under Highland Avenue can be seen at lower center-left. The "Muse of Music" Statue at the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl is visible just to the left of the tunnel as is part of the Hollywood Bowl shell (center-left).  



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Cahuenga Pass


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Westwood Village

(1932)*^#^ - A panoramic view of Westwood Village in Westwood, Los Angeles. The domed building in the center is the Janss Investment Corp., and the road to the right of it is Westwood. Left of that is the University Professional Building, with Crawford Drugs at the corner on the ground level. The spire down the street between Janss and the Professional building is the Fox Theatre. Across Westwood from Janss is the Citizens National Trust & Savings Bank.  On the west side of Westwood in the background is the tower of the Holmby Building. The cross street is now Kinross Avenue, while the street leading to the theater is Broxton.  






(1936)^ - Aerial view of Westwood Village from a blimp. The Fox Theater is on the upper left, Ralphs lower right. At upper center is the Holmby Building, built in 1930 and designed by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann in California Mediterranean style as a retail and office building. It is located on Westwood Blvd. between Le Conte and Weyburn.  


Historical Ntoes

Opening in 1929, the original design of Westwood Village was considered one of the most well planned and beautifully laid out of commercial areas in the nation. Harold Janss had hired major architects and instructed them to follow a Mediterranean theme, with clay tile roofs, decorative Spanish tile, paseos, patios and courtyards. Buildings located at strategic points, including theaters, used towers to serve as beacons for drivers on Wilshire Boulevard. Janss picked the first slate of businesses and determined their location in the neighborhood; the area opened with 34 businesses, despite the Great Depression, had 452 in 1939*^



(ca. 1937)^ - The intersection of LeConte Avenue and Westwood Boulevard, looking southwest. On the far side is the Holmby Building in Westwood Village. It is a retail and office building in the California Mediterranean style.  




(ca. 1937)^ - View of Westwood Boulevard, looking north from south of Wilshire Blvd. On the left, there are several gas and service stations, including a Richfield, Associated, Union 76, and Chevron. On the right are various stores, including a Ralphs supermarket.  




(ca. 1938)^ - View of Westwood Village with four tall sign towers in a row, behind the parked cars. Each tower is used to advertise a different gas station, right to left: Standard, 76, Associated, and Richfield. Click HERE to see more Early Views of LA Gas Stations.  




(1937)^ - Early view of U.C.L.A.'s campus buildings from left to right: Men's gymnasium, built in 1932; Royce Hall, built in 1928-29; Janss Steps; and Powell Library, built in 1927-29. All buildings were constructed in a northern Italian (Lombard) Romanesque Revival style.  




(ca. 1930)^ - Panoramic view of the U.C.L.A. Westwood campus. This is a photograph of a Chris Siemer painting created for a display by the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.    



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of UCLA and Westwood


* * * * *




(1937)^ - Cars fill the intersection of Flower Street and 6th Street, looking north. A few prominent structures are partially visible: the Southland Hotel (left), the Richfield Oil Company Building (upper left), the California Club (center), the Sunkist Building, and Church of the Open Door.  





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


Historical Notes

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



(1937)^ - Detailed view of a two-lamp ornate streetlight (UM 1906) on the Southwest corner of Ninth Street and Broadway.  In the background is the sunlit Eastern Columbia Building (849 South Broadway) and further down the block the May Company (800 South Hill Street).  




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



Click HERE to see more in Early L.A. Streetlights



Olive and 7th Street

(1937)^ – View looking north on Olive at 7th Street showing passengers disembarking from a double-decker bus No. 606.  


Historical Notes

Los Angeles Motor Bus (later renamed the Los Angeles Motor Coach Company) was a joint venture of Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway that existed from 1923 until 1949.




(1937)^ – View looking north showing a bus No. 1003 stopped at the southeast corner of Olive and 7th streets.  





(1937)^ - View looking east on 7th at Olive Street showing a very busy intersection. An overflow of pedestrians fill the sidewalks as far as the eye can see. Note the two different types of streetlights at the intersection. The 1911-built Los Angeles Athletic Club is on the left (NE corner) while the Warner Brothers Theatre is further east on the NW corner of 7th and Hill streets.  


Historical Notes

The building on the left corner is the Los Angeles Athletic Club, located at 431 W. 7th Street. Built in 1911 by Parkingson & Bergstrom, this building was notable at the time for being the first in Southern California to have a swimming pool on an upper floor. Adjacent is the Warner Brothers Downtown Theatre (previously the Pantages Theatre), located at 401 W. 7th Street. It was designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca in the Greek revival style in 1919, and opened on August 16, 1920. On the right corner, the clock for Myer Siegel and Company department store reads 1:11 p.m.




Then and Now

(1939 vs 2022)* - Times have changed! In 1939 we see streetcars, double-decker buses, and people walking.  Today we see just cars. This is Olive Street looking north at 7th Street in DTLA.  




Broadway and 7th Street

(ca. 1937)*# – View looking south on Broadway between 6th Street and 7th Street.  On the east side of Broadway can be seen Desmond's (616 South Broadway), Schaber's Cafeteria, the Palace Theatre (3rd Home of the Orpheum), Brooks, and the Haas Building at 219 West 7th Street.  





(1939)* - Looking north on Broadway from West 7th Street showing the Bank of America, Brooks, the Palace Theatre, Desmond's, Schaber's Cafeteria, Mullen & Bluett, and Roy's.  





(ca. 1939)* - Facing northwest at the corner of Broadway and West 7th Street showing Bullock's which extends all the way to Hill Street on the left. The Warner Brothers Theatre and the Los Angeles Athletic Club can be seen down 7th Street (on the left), while Bullock's, Le Roy's, and Kress can be seen on Broadway. To the left (out of view), on the soutwest corner of Broadway and 7th, stands Loew's State Theatre.  





(1937)^ - Crowds of people fill the sidewalks in front of the entrance to Bullock's in this view of Broadway looking south towards 7th Street. Further down the street is the blade sign for the Loew's State Theatre whose marquee advertises "The Bride Wore Red" starring Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone, and Robert Young, along with "Dangerously Yours."  



Hill and 7th Street

(ca. 1937)^ - A streetcar rushes by just as this shot is being taken so the bottom of the Warner Brothers Downtown Theatre is hidden but both signs are visible, as is an interesting hanging light and the crowds on the sidewalk in this view of Seventh looking west towards Hill Street. Bullock's is on the right and occupies the entire block along 7th Street up to Broadway.  





(1937 vs. 2021)* - 7th and Hill Streets in DTLA. Contemporary photo by Paul Wright  





(ca. 1938)*# - View looking west on 7th Street at Hill. The impressive Warner Brothers Downtown Theatre Building is seen on the northwest corner. The Los Angeles Athletic Club sits just to the west of Warner Bros. on 7th Street.  


Historical Notes

Warner Bros. Downtown Theatre - Vaudeville Theater and Movie Palace - Located at 401 W. 7th St (northwest corner of South Hill and West 7th St). Opening on August 17, 1920, it was originally called the Pantages Theatre, but was renamed Warner Bros. Downtown Theatre in 1930 after the Hollywood Pantages Theatre was opened. The exterior has an imposing domed corner tower, flanked by twin facades on 7th and Hill. Later in the 1960s, it was known as the Warrens Theatre.

Today, the building houses a jewelry mart and most of the chairs have been ripped out to hold jewelry booths, and its Deco luster has worn to a dull throb.




(1940s)* - View looking north on Hill Street toward 7th Street with the Warner Theatre on the NW corner.  






Then and Now

Then and Now* - View is looking north on Hill Street at 7th Street.  






(1938)^ - Cars battle the rain. The movie "Hollywood Hotel" which came out early in 1938 is playing at the Warner Brothers Downtown (previously the Pantages Theatre). Photo by Herman Schultheis.  





(1938)* - Original photo caption reads: Drains could not keep up with rain filling streets in downtown Los Angeles - March 2, 1938.  


Historical Notes

Between February 27 and 28, 1938, a storm from the Pacific Ocean moved inland into the Los Angeles Basin, running eastward into the San Gabriel Mountains. The area received almost constant rain totaling 4.4 inches from February 27-March 1. This caused minor flooding that affected only a few buildings in isolated canyons and some low-lying areas along rivers.

Fifteen hours later on March 1, at approximately 8:45 PM, a second storm hit the area, creating gale-force winds along the coast and pouring down even more rain. The storm brought rainfall totals to 10 inches in the lowlands and upwards of 32 inches in the mountains.  When the storm ended on March 3, the resulting damage was huge.^*




(1938)^ - Heading southeast on W. 8th Street.  Garland Avenue is the next intersection.  



* * * * *




Westlake Area

(1938)*# -   Aerial view looking north over Lafayette Park at Sixth Street and Hoover towards Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Westlake. In the foreground at center-left can be seen the First Congregational Church, and just behind it, at the v-shaped corner of Occidental Blvd. and Hoover Street, is the Precious Blood Catholic Church.  





(1931)^ – View looking north from 5th Street on Occidental Boulevard in the Westlake area.  The Precious Blood Roman Catholic Church is seen on the left behind a palm tree.  


Historical Notes

The church building stands on a v-shaped corner of Occidental Blvd. and Hoover St.  This one of the archdiocese's architectural gems, showing a beautiful rose window above the main entrance. It was dedicated in November 1926.^*




(ca. 1930)^ - View of looking through Lafayette Park showing Wilshire Boulevard as it turns east toward Westlake Park (later MacArthur Park). The two tall buildings in the background are the Bryson Apartments and Arcady Apartments (later Royale Apartments) located at Wilshire and Rampart boulevards.  





(ca. 1937)^ - Cars park along the street by a sanitarium which was replaced by an office building in 1956. The Bryson and the Arcady apartment buildings can be seen in this view looking northeast on Lafayette Park Place towards Wilshire Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

The 1927 Arcady Apartment Hotel, located at 2619 Wilshire Boulevard, later known as the Wilshire Royale Hotel, has been determined eligible for National Register status.

The 1914 Beaux Arts style Bryson Apartment Hotel, located at 2701 Wilshire Boulevard, was designed by architects F. Noonan and C. H. Kysor. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 653 in 1998.*


* * * * *



Westlake Park (Later MacArthur Park - 1942)

(ca. 1930s.)^ - This nighttime view of Westlake Park's (MacArthur Park) artificial lake and boathouse, as well as several high-rise buildings in the background. Included is a building heralding the location of the Westlake Theatre. In the middle of the photo, a couple can be seen relaxing as their canoe floats across the lake, its surface giving a lovely reflection of the boathouse lights and surrounding area.  


Historical Notes

MacArthur Park (originally Westlake Park) dates back to the late 19th century in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the early 1940s, it was renamed after General Douglas MacArthur, and later designated City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #100.

The park was originally named for Henricus Wallace Westlake, a Canadian physician who had moved to Los Angeles around 1888, settled in the area and donated a portion of his property to the city for a park.

In the mid-19th century the area was a swampland; by the 1890s, it was a vacation destination, surrounded by luxury hotels. In the early part of the 20th century, the Westlake neighborhood became known as the Champs-Élysées of Los Angeles.*




(1937)^ - View of MacArthur Park, created in the 1880's under the name Westlake Park, was later renamed in honor of General Douglas MacArthur (1942). A few people are strolling around the lake. The boathouse is visible on the other side, as are several high rise buildings. Included is a building heralding the location of Westlake Theatre.  


Historical Notes

The park, originally named Westlake Park, was built in the 1880s, along with a similar Eastlake Park, whose lake is artificial. Westlake Park was renamed MacArthur Park in May 7, 1942; Eastlake Park was renamed Lincoln Park. Both Westlake and Eastlake (as well as Echo Park) were built as drinking water reservoirs connected to the city's system, Zanja Madre. When the city abandoned the non-pressurized zanja system for a pressurized pipe system, these smaller, shallow reservoirs located at low points no longer provided much benefit and were converted into parks.*




Then and Now

(1937 vs. 2021)* – View of MacArthur Park looking east with the Downtown skyline in the background. Contemporary photo by Howard Gray  






(ca. 1940)*# – View facing east along Wilshire Boulevard towards Alvarado Street and the Westlake Theater with Westlake (later MacArthur Lake) seen at right.  


Historical Notes

Wilshire Boulevard formerly ended at the lake, but in 1934 a berm was built for it to cross and link up with the existing Orange Street (which ran from Alvarado to Figueroa Streets) into downtown Los Angeles. Orange Street was renamed Wilshire and extended east of Figueroa Street to Grand Avenue. This divided the lake into two halves; the northern one was subsequently drained. From the 1940s, the lake featured the rental of electric boats, with the names of comic book animal characters.*




(ca. 1940)##^* –  Postacard view looking southeast showing Wilshire Boulevard as it crosses Westlake Park. The park was renamed MacArthur Park in 1942.  





(1938)^^ - View of Wilshire Boulevard as it passes through Westlake Park (later MacArthur Park). The Westlake Theatre Sign stands out in the background.  





Then and Now

(1938 vs. 2021) - View of Wilshire Boulevard looking East as it passes through Westlake Park (later MacArthur Park). The Westlake Theatre Sign stands out in the background.  






(1937)* - Looking west on Wilshire Boulevard at Bonnie Brae towards MacArthur Park.  The car in the middle with a split rear window is a 1936 Studebaker Dictator Driver.  





Then and Now

(1937 vs 2022)* - Looking west on Wilshire Boulevard at Bonnie Brae towards MacArthur Park. Note that the streetlights haven’t changed.  






(1940)* – Looking West along Wilshire toward Alvarado Street and Westlake Park (renamed MacArthur Park in 1942).  On the right we can see a sign for Sontag Drug Store, which we don’t see any more but back then was a common sight in L.A.  





Then and Now

(1940 vs. 2022)* – Looking West on Wilshire Boulevard at Alvarado Street toward Westlake Park (renamed MacArthur Park in 1942).  






(1958)*# – View looking southeast along Wilshire Boulevard, showing MacArthur Park Lake at right.  The Westlake Theatre at 638 S. Alvarado can be seen in the distance.  



Click HERE to see how Wilshire Boulevard was constructed across Westlake Park





(1960)*# - Aerial view looking down at MacArthur Park.  The Westlake Theatre on Alvarado Street can be seen at lower-left.  Photo by Dick Whittington  




Click HERE to see more early views of MacArthur Park when it was call Westlake in the 1880s.






(1937)* - Exterior view of the Spanish Baroque style West Coast Westlake Theatre, 638 S. Alvarado Street.  


Historical Notes

The Westlake was operated as a first-run movie theater from 1926 until the 1960s. As the neighborhood's demographics changed, the theater was sold to Metropolitan Theatres Corp., which showed Spanish-language or Spanish-subtitled movies. In 1991, the building was sold to Mayer Separzadeh, who converted the theater into a swap meet. To protect the building from drastic changes, the building was declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 546 in September 1991 (Click HERE to see complete listing). The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

The theater was purchased by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles in 2008. The Redevelopment Agency announced plans to rehabilitate the theater as a venue for live theater, film, music and other performances.^*


* * * * *



Wilshire Boulevard

(1938)*# – View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard showing the Gaylord Wilshire Apartments at Kenmore Avenue with Wilshire Christian Church and the KFAC radio transmitter seen in the distance. The Ambassador Hotel is just out-of-frame to the left. At lower-right is a Richfield Service Station and Sally's Home Made Candies.  





(1941)+# – View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard at Kenmore Avenue showing cars lined up bumper to bumper as far as they eye can see.  Photo was taken on Easter Sunday, immediately following the Miracle Mile Easter Parade. The three most identifiable buildings are: the Wilshire Christian Church, KFAC Radio transmitter tower, and the Gaylord Wilshire Apartments.  





(1940s)+## – View showing a stretch of Wilshire Blvd that the Ambassador Hotel (where the palm trees line the street) looked out on. We can see Brown Derby Restaurant, the Chapman Park Hotel bar—called the Zephyr Room. Beyond the Zephyr is the Cord-Auburn automobile dealership, and past that is the tower of the Wilshire Christian Church. Much farther down Wilshire is the dome of the Wilshire Temple, which Louis B. Mayer attended. And the foreground, we have a couple of jaywalking in the middle of Wilshire...and it looks like they’ve been shopping.  





(ca. 1938)^#** - Wilshire Boulevard, looking west near Alexandria, most likely taken from the Gaylord Apartments. The Brown Derby Restaurant can be seen in its new location. In the background stands the tower of the Wilshire Christian Church and the two transmitting towers of KFAC Radio Station.  


Historical Notes

The Brown Derby chain was started by Robert H. Cobb and Herbert Somborn (a former husband of film star Gloria Swanson). Bob Cobb is known as the inventor of the California Cobb Salad. He was also part owner of the Hollywood Stars baseball team.

The Brown Derby was moved in 1937 to 3377 Wilshire Boulevard at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alexandria Avenue, about a block from its previous location (and about a block north of the Ambassador Hotel).^*




(ca. 1940)^ - Cars travel east down Wilshire Boulevard, where it crosses S. Alexandria Avenue (left), right outside the Brown Derby Restaurant. An original "Wilshire Lantern" street light is seen on the corner (Click HERE to see more in Early Los Angeles Street Lights).  


Historical Notes

After being sold in 1975 and renovated, the Brown Derby Restaurant was finally replaced in 1980 by a shopping center known as the Brown Derby Plaza. The domed structure was incorporated into the third floor of the building and accommodates a cafe. A Korean mini-mall occupies the site today.

The Brown Derby chain included restaurants in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and the Los Feliz area. The Los Feliz Brown Derby at 4500 Los Feliz Blvd is the last remaining branch of the chain still extant and in operation.^*




(1939)^ - Looking southwest down Wilshire Boulevard. Visible are billboards advertising Buick automobiles and Calvert Whiskey, as well as a few homes and commercial buildings; in the distance (upper right) is the Wiltern Theatre.  





(1936)^ - Looking southeast across Wilshire Boulevard at Berendo Street towards Immanuel Presbyterian Church and the Talmadge Apartments. Further east is Bullock's Wilshire (far left).  





(ca. 1935)^ - View looking southwest showing the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Berendo Street.  The building on the far left is the Talmadge Apartments, a Renaissance revival apartment house.  





(1938)*# - View of Wilshire Boulevard looking west from Hobart Boulevard past Steven's Quality Ice Creams, Jean Leonard Piano, Newberry's, and the Wiltern Theater at Western Avenue.  




Wilshire and Western

(1937)^ - Looking east down Wilshire Boulevard from just west of where it crosses Western Avenue. Various businesses, including the Wiltern and the Pellisier Building, and billboards are seen throughout.   





Then and Now

(1937 vs 2022)* - Looking east on Wilshire Boulevard toward Western Avenue.  


Historical Notes

Click HERE to see more Early Views of Wilshire and Western when it was the busiest intersection in Los Angeles.



Kenmore Ave n/o 6th Street

(1940)^ vs. (2019)* – View looking north on the 500 block of South Kenmore Avenue (just north of Sixth Street). 1940 Photo by Ansel Adams  






Then and Now – Looking north on Kenmore Ave from just north of 6th Street (1940 vs. 2021).*  




Angels Flight

(1935)* - View looking west toward the Third Street Tunnel with Angels Flight to its left, at intersection of Hill and 3rd streets.  


Historical Notes

Angels Flight, the “Shortest Railway in the World,” opened in 1901 and quickly became a city landmark. Colonel James Ward Eddy was the visionary who convinced City Hall to grant him a 30-year franchise to construct and operate an inclined railway.**





(ca. 1937)^ - View looking west on 3rd Street toward Hill Street showing cars and pedestrians at the busy intersection. On the corner at the bottom of Angels Flight (beside the archway) is a drug store on the bottom floor of the Ferguson Bldg. The Angels Flight rail is still on wooden tressels. To the center-right is the Third Street Tunnel.  





(ca. 1939)^#^^ – View looking west showing pedestrians crossing Hill Street with Angels Flight and the Third Street Tunnel in the background. The Nevada Cafe is now at the bottom floor of the Ferguson Building at left.  





(ca. 1930s)^ - From the station at the top, a view straight down the track, with both cars at the mid-say point. Beyond is 3rd St. with cars and pedestrians.  


Historical Notes

The funicular system of two counterbalanced cars called Olivet and Sinai (named for two mountains in the Bible) served to connect upscale Bunker Hill homes with downtown shopping areas below, moving up and down parallel tracks was an efficient means of transporting passengers along the steep grade between Third and Hill Streets and fashionable Bunker Hill.**





(n.d.)^ - The track for the rail cars is seen in mid-air, from the side, with wooden braces holding it up in the air. The track here goes past commercial buildings.  


Historical Notes

The ride lasted one minute and cost one cent. Over the years operations were transferred to other powers, tracks were re-laid, and the station house redesigned. However, the single-trip fare rose only once, in 1914, to five cents.**





(n.d.)* - The two Angels Flight cars, Olivet and Sinai, shown in storage. When Angels Flight - "the shortest railroad in the world" - first opened in 1901, there was only a small shelter at the top; in 1910, a larger and permanent depot was built. When the funicular was dismantled in the 1990s, the upper station was reconstructed at the California Plaza.  


Historical Notes

In 1959 Angels Flight was destined for demolition as part of Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project but loyal riders and enthusiastic supporters thwarted those plans, at least temporarily. During the next ten years the community of Bunker Hill changed dramatically as apartment houses were razed and residents dislocated by the redevelopment project. Ever decreasing numbers of commuters and tourists and lack of funding contributed to the inevitable. Even the designation of Historical Cultural Landmark could not save Angels Flight and she was dismantled in 1969.**





(ca. 1950)**^* - View of the Angels Flight Terminal at the top of the hill.  


Historical Notes

Angels Flight operated from 1901 until it was closed in 1969 when its location was redeveloped. The railway was relocated and reassembled at California Plaza in March of 1995, and closed again on February of 2001 after a serious accident resulted in the death of a passenger, and the injuries of seven others. The accident occurred when the ascending Sinai cable car suddenly reversed direction and uncontrollably accelerated downhill and struck the Olivet cable car near the lower terminus. The second funicular still exists and reopened in 2010. Angels Flight Railway was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 13, 2000.^



Fore more early views of Angels Flight click the following: Angles Flight (1901+) and/or Angels Flight (1949+)


* * * * *




Los Angeles River

(ca. 1930s)^ - View of an unpaved L.A. River pre-1938. The Fourth Street Bridge is seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

Originally an alluvial river that ran freely across a flood plain, the Los Angeles River's 51-mile path was unstable and unpredictable with the mouth of the river moving frequently from one place to the other.^





(1938)*# - Aerial view of a flooding Los Angeles River at its confluence with the Arroyo Seco at the Southern Pacific Railroad and Figueroa Avenue bridges. The Figueroa Street Tunnels can be seen in the center of photo.  


Historical Notes

Between February 27 and 28, 1938, a storm from the Pacific Ocean moved inland into the Los Angeles Basin, running eastward into the San Gabriel Mountains. The area received almost constant rain totaling 4.4 inches from February 27-March 1. This caused minor flooding that affected only a few buildings in isolated canyons and some low-lying areas along rivers.

Fifteen hours later on March 1, at approximately 8:45 PM, a second storm hit the area, creating gale-force winds along the coast and pouring down even more rain. The storm brought rainfall totals to 10 inches in the lowlands and upwards of 32 inches in the mountains.  When the storm ended on March 3, the resulting damage was huge.^*




(1938)^*^# – View of the Los Feliz Boulevard Bridge from Riverside Drive looking northeast shortly after half of it was destroyed by Los Angeles River flood waters. The Police Officer, left, is unknown. The man on the right is Van Griffith, son of Col Griffith J. Griffith, who gave Griffith Park to Los Angeles.  





(1938)^ - People walk along a cement path that seems to have snapped in half as the dirt below the concrete washed away in the flooded Los Angeles River. Trains and a small building, and part of Taylor Yard can be seen on the right.  


Historical Notes

The great storm of March, 1938 flooded one third of the city of Los Angeles killing 115 people.^





(1938)^^ - Flooding in Southern California killed dozens.  This bus became stuck at 43rd Place near Leimert Boulevard.  





(1938)^##* - An aerial view of Toluca Lake and Burbank as the waters of the Los Angeles River overflow its banks in March 1938. The Warner Bros. Studio is visible in the center of the picture.  





(1938)^ - Aerial view of the Lankershim Bridge in Universal City, that was destroyed by flood waters. People gathered at the ends of the bridge to watch the waters rage past the now destroyed bridge.  


Historical Notes

After the great storm of 1938, due to public outcry, the Army Corps of Engineers began the 20 year project to create the permanent concrete channel which still contains most of the of riverbed today.^



* * * * *




Elysian Valley (aka Frogtown)

(1940)^^*** – View of a mostly unpaved L.A. River as it meanders through Elysian Valley (also known as Frogtown).  


Historical Notes

According to the Mapping L.A. project of the Los Angeles Times, the Elysian Valley neighborhood is flanked on the north by Atwater Village, on the northeast and east by Glassell Park, on the southeast by Cypress Park, on the south and southwest by Elysian Park and on the west and northwest by Echo Park and Silver Lake.^*






(2013)^* – Map showing the boundaries of Elysian Valley, Los Angeles, as delineated by the Los Angeles Times.





Historical Notes

Elysian Valley, also known as Frogtown (originally nicknamed as such for a glut of toads in the riverfront neighborhood) is bounded by the Los Angeles River on the north and east, Riverside Drive on the west and Fletcher Drive on the northwest.^*



* * * * *





(ca. 1938)^ – View showing a welcome sign to Huntington Park on Pacific Boulevard.  It features the city seal and the emblems for many organizations including the Lions, Kiwanis, Rotarians, Optimists, 20-30 club and the American Legion.  


Historical Notes

Named for prominent industrialist Henry E. Huntington, Huntington Park was incorporated in 1906 as a streetcar suburb for workers in the rapidly expanding industries to the southeast of downtown Los Angeles.  The stretch of Pacific Boulevard in downtown Huntington Park was a major commercial district serving the city's largely working-class residents, as well as those of neighboring cities such as Bell, Cudahy, South Gate, and Downey.^*





(ca. 1938)^ - It costs 35 cents to use the auto park for the S. S. Catalina terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. A parking lot attendant sits with a megaphone by the sign.  




(ca. 1938)^ - An employee assists a man unload his luggage from his car (1936/37 Auburn Cord 812 Westchester) which he has stopped in front of the garage at the Santa Catalina Island terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. A sign suggests flying to Catalina.  


Historical Notes

Cord was the brand name of an American automobile company from Connersville, Indiana, manufactured by the Auburn Automobile Company from 1929 through 1932 and again in 1936 and 1937.^*



(ca. 1938)^ - People walk across the street to get to the Santa Catalina Island terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. Canopies cover two passenger entrance doorways.  


Historical Notes

This building, located at the end of Avalon Boulevard, is now the site of a 1995 community center called Banning's Landing (101 East Water Street).^



(ca. 1938)^ - People stand at a line of ticket offices in the Santa Catalina Island terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

In the late 1920's tourist traffic to the Catalina Island was increasing at the rate of 20% annually. In July, August and September of 1929, the S.S. CABRILLO, S. S. AVALON and S. S. CATALINA carried a combined total of 500,000 passengers. The 3 ships offered a total of 5 sailings daily each way.^#^#



(ca. 1938)^ - View of the S.S. Catalina docked at the Los Angeles Harbor.  


Historical Notes

Commonly referred to as the Great White Steamer, the ship was specially built by William Wrigley to serve his Catalina Island as a passenger ferry. She was christened on May 23, 1924. During World War II, she was requisitioned for use as a troop carrier, but in 1946 she resumed her voyages to Avalon.*^*




(ca. 1938)^ - Some people stroll while others sit on board the S.S. Catalina. Hammond Shipping can be seen in the Port of Los Angeles on the right.  


Historical Notes

Among the passengers were movie stars and famous athletes who laughed, danced and drank their way to the island "26 miles across the sea." The S.S. Catalina even hosted 2 United States Presidents at different times. In those days, passengers dressed for the crossing. Gentlemen wore jackets and ties and the ladies dresses and coats, with some carrying umbrellas to protect them from the sun.^#^#



(1920s)^ - View of Avalon Bay across Crescent Bay, on Santa Catalina Island as seen from a mountain top. The Catalina Casino, surrounded by the sea on three sides, is visible at the edge of the bay on the right along with several boats along with the S.S. Catalina, "The Great White Steamer".  


Historical Notes

The S.S. Catalina has been recognized as a Historic-Cultural Monument, No. 213 (Click HERE to see the LA Historic-Cultural Monuments List) and also California State Historic Landmark No. 894 (Click HERE to see more California Historic Landmarks in LA). She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.




(1938)##^* – Postcard view of the Casino and beach as seen from the Hotel St. Catherine in Descanso Canyon on Catalina Island.  



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Catalina


* * * * *


Civic Center

(1938)^ - Aerial view of Los Angeles Civic Center with City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., as the focal point. A portion of the State Building can be seen on the left. To the right of City Hall is vacant land waiting for construction to begin on the new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building. Across from City Hall is the Hall of Records. The Hall of Justice is next to a partially graded hill which still contains houses on top.  




(ca. 1935)^ - View looking southwest showing the old State Building with City Hall's shadow cast upon it. Bunker Hill can be seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

The State Building was completed in 1931 at a cost of more than $2 million. It was dedicated the day before the opening of the 1932 Olympics in a ceremony that featured Amelia Earhart.**##



(ca. 1940)*# - View looking toward the northwest corner of First and Spring streets showing the California State Building.  Further north on Spring can be seen the Hall of Records and the Hall of Justice.  Photo by Dick Whittington.  


Historical Notes

The California State Building sustained damage in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake. In May of 1973 the state authorized an "orderly evacuation" after testing found the building unsafe. The empty building was torn down in early 1976.**##




(ca. 1940)*^#^ – Postcard aerial view looking northwest showing City Hall and the Civic Center.  The State Building and Hall of Records can be seen on Spring Street at center-left.  The Hall of Justice, Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building (built in 1940), and International Bank Building are at center-right on Temple Street (to the right of City Hall). Bunker HIll at upper-left is still covered with residential buildings.  





(1943)+# – Night view looking west toward Bunker Hill as seen from the observation deck of City Hall with the LA County Hall of Records in the foreground.  All the streets are lit up including Broadway (running left to right at bottom), Temple Street (right), and Court Street (running away from the camera at center).  



Broadway and Temple

(1937)^#^^ – View looking north on Broadway toward Temple.  From left to right can be seen the Examiner sign, Broadway Tunnel under Fort Moore Hill, Hall of Justice, Stephen M. White Statue, and the steps to the LA County Courthouse.  





(1939)*# – View looking at the northwest corner of Broadway and Temple Street showing the Women's Christian Temperance Union Building. Billboard on top of building reads: "Prohibition: the Best Method Against Liquor Traffic."  Also shown: the Alhambra Apartments, Riley's Drug Company, and two Los Angeles Railway streetcars, one leaving and another one entering the Broadway Tunnel.  Across the street on the N/E corner (out of view) stands the Hall of Justice.  




(ca. 1940)**^ - View looking north of the intersection of Broadway and Temple with the Hall of Justice located on the northeast corner. A streetcar is in the lower right. The Broadway Tunnel, which runs under Fort Moore Hill, is seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

On June 2, 1949, the Broadway Tunnel was demolished for the construction of the 101 Freeway. The route cut through Fort Moore Hill and made it necessary for a Broadway overpass to be built across the freeway and the old tunnel site.*^


* * * * *




(ca. 1940)^ - View of Los Angeles City Hall looking east from the corner of Temple and Hill streets. A little market stands on the northeast corner with the Hall of Justice seen behind it one block to the east. Photo by Ansel Adams  





(ca. 1939)*# – View looking east on 1st Street toward the LA Times Building from above Hill Street.  A Richfield Service Station is in the foreground on the northeast corner.  Across the street stands Central Police Station, 318 West 1st Street, with police cars parked in front.  





(1939)*#^ – Panoramic view looking east on 1st Street from over Hill Street with the LA Times Building standing tall in the distance.  On the right is the LA Police Department’s Central Division (demolished in 1956). 'Symphony under the Stars at the Hollywood Bowl'.  





(ca. 1939)**^ - View looking south on Spring toward 1st Street with the LA Times Building seen on the S/W corner.  





(1939)*# - Spring Street looking northwest from 2nd Street showing Walts Auto Park on the NW corner.  The LA Times Building can be seen in the background on the SW corner of Spring and 1st Street.  


Historical Notes

The Times Building was originally completed in 1935. In 1948, a 10 story addition, Mirror Building, would be built at the northwest corner of Spring Street and 2nd Street, where the parking lot is seen above.




(1947)**^ – View showing the Mirror Building (then called New Times Building) under construction, located at the NW corner of the Spring and 2nd streets.  The 1935-built LA Times Building is seen on the right, SW corner of Spring and 1st streets). To the left is the Hellman Building (NE corner of 2nd and Broadway) which was demolished in 1959 to make way for the Times Mirror garage.  


Historical Notes

When completed, the Mirror Building would be part of the Times Mirror Square complex consisting of five interconnected buildings, constructed in three phases between 1935 and 1973.  Its most prominent features are the Gordon Kaufmann-designed Los Angeles Times Building and the Rowland Crawford-designed Mirror Building, both of which are located on the Spring Street side of the property.  The property as it exists today was completed with the addition of the William Pereira-designed Times-Mirror Headquarters building in 1973, which was also joined by a six-story parking garage along the Broadway side of the block.^

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Mirror Building.




(ca. 1950)^.^ – View looking north on Spring Street from north of 2nd Street showing the massive Los Angeles Times Building and Mirror Building on the left.  The top of City Hall can be seen in upper-right. Photo courtesy of the PACIFIC ELECTRIC RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY.  



* * * * *



Weller Street (now Onizuka Street) in Little Tokyo

(1933)^.^ - Southeasterly overhead bird's-eye view of Little Tokyo from Los Angeles City Hall. The diagonal thoroughfare is Weller (now Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka) Street, February 21, 1933. Photo Anton Wagner.  


Historical Notes

For most of the 20th century, the hotels, boarding houses, and apartment blocks along the single block of Weller Street housed hundreds of Little Tokyo’s down and out. During the interwar years, the Salvation Army maintained its primary hotel for poor industrial workers at 127 Weller Street, visible on the left of the top photograph. After waves of Japanese families began returning to Los Angeles from interment camps after the war, many of the old buildings served as homes for those needing temporary lodging, and eventually, for those with nowhere else to go.^




(1939)*# - View looking southeast down Weller Street (now Onizuka Street) and First Street in Little Tokyo as seen from City Hall.  


Historical Notes

The original boundaries of Little Tokyo extended east and south of the present location, and covered approximately one square mile. The area was a magnet for immigrating Japanese until the Exclusion Act of 1924 halted any further migration. Shops were along First Street, and vegetable markets were along Central Avenue to the south. Japanese Americans were a significant ethnic group in the vegetable trade, due to the number of successful Japanese American truck farms across Southern California.^*




(1928)*# - View showing the nearly completed City Hall building as seen from Weller Street (now Onizuka Street, Little Tokyo).  Metal scaffolding can be seen in place near the base of the tower. On the left can be seen the Salvation Army.  





(1928)*# - Detail street view looking north on Weller Street toward First Street showing early model cars parked along the curb on the east side of the street.  


Historical Notes

Urban renewal and redevelopment have all but destroyed any testament of the street’s history. All that has been preserved of old Weller Street is a single 3-story building at the intersection with First Street. Most buildings on the east (right) side of the street were destroyed in 1965 during the construction of the 16-story Kajima Building, the neighborhood’s first commercial skyscraper. The handful that remain, with their upper stories removed, bear little semblance to their former selves.*




(1938)**^ - Postcard view looking north on Weller Street in Little Tokyo from Second Street toward City Hall. The Salvation Army is seen on the left and the New Palace Hotel on the right at 118 Weller Street.  


Historical Notes

The west side of Weller Street was fully demolished in 1977, replaced by an 88,000 square foot shopping center named Weller Court, opened in 1980. The development also closed most of the street to car traffic, largely removing it from downtown’s grid.*




(1986)^ - Same view almost 50 years later. The sign of Weller Court shopping mall can be seen on the left, and Kajima Building is on the right. In the center of the photo is Los Angeles City Hall.  


Historical Notes

Little Tokyo is one of only three official Japantowns in the United States, all three of which are in California (the other two are in San Francisco and San Jose). Founded around the beginning of the 20th century, the area is the cultural center for Japanese Americans in Southern California. It was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1995.

In 1986, the community supported changing Weller Street to Astronaut E. S. Onizuka Street.

Ellison Shoji Onizuka was an American astronaut from Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii, who successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-51-C, before losing his life to the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, where he was serving as Mission Specialist for mission STS-51-L. He was the first Asian American to reach space.^*




Then and Now

(1937) vs. (2011)*  





Then and Now

(1937) vs. (2011)*  






(2020)^ - View looking north toward Ellison S Onizuka Street and City Hall from the intersection of 2nd and San Pedro streets. Photo by Howard Gray.  






(2021)^ - San Pedro St and 2nd St intersection looking towards Ellison S Onizuka Street. Photo by Carlos G. Lucero  



* * * * *




Chinatown and Union Station

(1920s)^ - Map of early LA with the Plaza seen just west of Alameda. East of Alameda is the older part of Chinatown that was relocated when the Union Station was built in the late 1930s. Union Station opened in May of 1939.  





(ca. 1930)*# – View of the proposed site for Union Station construction.  This is one of the oldest areas in the City, with the Los Angeles Plaza at center and Chinatown at lower right.  Main Street is seen at lower center running towards the background.  Baker Block is at lower center-right.  





(ca. 1930)*# - View looking northeast from City Hall showing the old part of Los Angeles including the LA Plaza and Chinatown. At left can be seen the ornate Baker Building (aka Baker Block) with its three distinct towers located on the historic 300 Block of N. Main Street. Los Angeles Street runs diagonally from lower-right to upper-left. Aliso Street runs from Los Angeles Street, at center, east and then tunrs diagonally up. The propsed site of the new Union Station would be northeast of the intersection of Los Angeles and Aliso Streets.  


Historical Notes

In 1926, a measure was placed on the ballot giving Los Angeles voters the choice between the construction of a vast network of elevated railways or the construction of a much smaller Union Station to consolidate different railroad terminals. The election would take on racial connotations and become a defining moment in the development of Los Angeles. The proposed Union Station was located in the heart of what was Los Angeles' original Chinatown. Reflecting the prejudice of the era, the conservative Los Angeles Times, a lead opponent of elevated railways, argued in editorials that Union Station would not be built in the “midst of Chinatown” but rather would “forever do away with Chinatown and its environs.” Voters approved demolishing much of Chinatown to build Union Station by a narrow 51 to 48 percent.^*




(1931)##^# - View looking from the top of City Hall showing the Old Chinatown which would mostly be demolished to make room for Union Station. The two streets seen here are Los Angeles Street (lower-right) and Alameda Street (center).  





(1933)*# - Panoramic view showing the Los Angeles Plaza (arrow) and surrounding area including most of Chinatown. The photo has been annotated to delineate the boundaries of the proposed new Union Station.  


Historical Notes

The above photo comes from the September 18, 1933 issue of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.  The article reads:  "Chinatown faces extinction in Los Angeles with erection of the new Union Station on the Plaza site. The area enclosed by broken line will be occupied with tracks and the station. It includes most of Chinatown. Upper left hand line shows where trains enter station area from Southern Pacific bridge over Los Angeles River." ***




(1934)*# - Caption reads:  “Site of new Union Terminal (enclosed by lines), where dirt to be removed from Fort Moore Hill will be used for filling in. This great depot will serve all steam railroads entering Los Angeles. Chinatown is seen in foreground of station site."  





(1935)^^ - Looking northeast from City Hall tower.  Chinatown disappears beneath the Union Station railhead. Baker Block lower left, County General Hospital looms background right.  




(1935)*# - View looking west across Lyon Street near its intersection with Aliso Street. The Union Station construction site is seen at center.  Ridges in the area are fills, where tracks will be laid. In center, under construction, is the pedestrian tunnel to the tracks. Photo Date: August 19, 1935  


Historical Notes

By the early 1950s, the section of the 101 Freeway (Hollywood Freeway) that runs through downtown would go right through where Aliso Street is shown above, running diagonally away from bottom center of photo.




(1935)*# - Panoramic view of the construction of Union Station looking northwest from the top of the Los Angeles Gas and Electric tank, August 27, 1935. The site of the terminal is at right and is a trapezoidal area full of graded dirt. The LA Plaza can be seen in the upper-center left. The Hall of Justice Building stands in the upper left.  




1938 Video of Chinatown & Union Station Construction

Click HERE to see footage near the present location of Chinatown as Union Station was being built on where the original Chinatown stood.





(1938)*# - View looking north toward Union Station, still under construction. The main road going along the left side of the photo is Alameda Street. Aliso Street is at the southern end of the station near where the Hollywood Freeway is located today.  


Historical Notes

When Union Station was opened in May 1939, it consolidated remaining service from its predecessors La Grande Station and Central Station. It was built on a grand scale and became known as "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States.^*




(1939)^ - The shadow of the City Hall tower points to the steel framework of the new Union Station.  




(1939)*# - Crowds watch early model train while celebrating completion of the new Union Station located at 800 N. Alameda Street.  


Historical Notes

Examiner clipping attached to verso, dated May 4, 1939: "Stirring awake memories that had slumbered for more than a century, railroad officials yesterday staged a colorful pageant of transportation that thrilled thousands of Angelenos for two hours. Gayly costumed ladies of the Gay Nineties -- and the years before -- rode stage coaches and horse cars and stuttering, slow-moving trains of another era. Derby-hatted, mustachioed gentlemen in tight coats pumped high-wheeled bicycles -- 'bone-crushers' they were known as in those days -- all to celebrate formal opening of the new Union Station, pictured in background as oldest Union Pacific train approaches the city's newest in beautiful architecture." *#




(1939)*# – View showing Union Station from across its parking lot shortly after the train station's opening. Photo by "Dick" Whittington  


Historical Notes

Union Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It is also listed as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 101.




(1939)+++ – Bird’s-eye night view showing a well-lit Union Station with full parking lot.  Terminal Annex Post Office is seen in upper left corner.   


Historical Notes

The intersection of Aliso and Los Angeles Streets is seen in the foreground. The 101 Freeway would be built along Aliso Street in the early 1950s. Click HERE to see more.


Click HERE to see more on the Los Angeles Union Station


* * * * *



Main and Market Streets

(ca. 1937)*# - View of Main Street looking north toward Market Street.  Two three-story Victorian-style buildings are pictured at center wedged between commercial shop fronts. The U.S. Hotel is closest to the foreground, while the Amestoy Building can be seen farther back. Both buildings feature a tower of sorts, the hotel's sprouting from the flat roof, the Amestoy Building's extending from a column of windows at its corner. The New Palace Cafe and a sign that reads "Shoe Store. Shoes for the whole family" can be seen at right. A sign to the left reads "Victor's". Cars are parked along the sidewalk. Street car cables are attached to the top of a streetlamp visible in the left foreground.  





(ca. 1938)*# – View looking north on Main Street from the east side of City Hall. Crosswalk in foreground leads directly into the police garage. Big, light colored taxi is pulling out of Market Street with the U.S. Hotel on the right on the SE corner and the Amestoy Building beyond the cab. Baker Block is visible up the street on the right.  





(1939)*# - View looking East on Market Street from the front of City Hall across North Main Street, showing both the Amestoy Building (left) and the U.S. Hotel (right).  


Historical Notes

The U.S. Hotel was built around 1863 and demolished in 1939.

The Amestoy Building was built in 1887 and demolished in 1958.



(1939)^#^^ - View looking southeast across Main Street at Market Street as seen from the east lawn of City Hall with the Amestoy Building at left and the U.S. Hotel on the right. This photo was taken shortly before the U.S. Hotel was razed.  




(1938)^ - Aerial view of Los Angeles Civic Center with City Hall as the focal point. The Amestoy Building and U.S. Hotel can be seen at lower right. To the right of City Hall is vacant land waiting for construction to begin on the new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building. Across from City Hall is the Hall of Records. The Hall of Justice is next to a partially graded hill which still contains houses on top. A portion of the State Building can be seen on the left.  




(1938)**^# - View looking south toward City Hall showing a man standing fearlessly on top of steel framing for the new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building. The LA Times Building, built in 1934, is at lower right.  


Historical Notes

Shared by Lauren Frobisher Scanlon: “My grandfather, Frank McGuire built elevators. Here’s a pic of him on a building under construction across from Los Angeles City Hall ..sometime in the ‘30s’. I don’t know what the building was...” **^#



(ca. 1938)*# - View of downtown looking southwest from where Union Station sits today. The new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building is under construction as seen between City Hall and the Hall of Justice. Alameda Street is in the foreground.  


Historical Notes

The area in the extreme foreground is now Union Station. The street in front is Alameda Street, and those buildings ahead of Alameda were knocked down and are now landscaping and on ramps to the 101 Hollywood/Santa Ana Freeway. Old Chinatown started being demolished around 1933, and Union Station opened in 1939.**^

To the right-center of the photo is the Pico House in front of the LA Plaza which is out of view to the right. The old 1877-built Baker Block with it's distinctive three towers can be seen in the center of the photo just below the Federal Courthouse Building. The Baker Block would be demoished in 1942 to make room for the 101 Freeway.

Click HERE to see more on the Baker Block.



(1939)**^ - View of the Plaza with the LA downtown skyline in the background. From left to right stand City Hall, the Federal Courthouse still under construction (completed in 1940), the Hall of Records, and the Hall of Justice.  The old Brunswig Building can also be seen on the other side of the Plaza across from the Pico House. Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Plaza of L.A.  




(ca. 1939)*# - View looking up Marchessault Street with Alameda Street crossing at bottom and Los Angeles Street crossing at mid distance. The LA Plaza is at upper-center left. The old Water Department Building, now occupied by the F. See On Company, stands on the northwest corner of Marchessault and Alameda.  


Historical Notes

In 1939, the first home of the Department of Water and Power was sold to the City to make way for the Civic Center development planned in connection with the new Union Passenger Depot. Located at the corner of Marchessault and Alameda Streets, directly across from the almost completed railroad station, the property was the main office of the municipal water works when the City bought out the private water companies operating here until 1902.**



(1939)*# - Photo caption reads:   "Another Landmark Gives Way to Progress -- Photo shows wrecking yesterday of first home of the Department of Water and Power, recently purchased by the City, to make a wide approach by way of Marchessault Street to the new Union Station. With work being rushed, thousands of persons will occupy the site of this landmark on May 3, when the celebration's parade passes on Alameda Street. The old building was the main office of the municipal water works when the City bought out the private water companies operation here until 1902."  



Click HERE to see more in Water Department's Original Office Building.





(ca. 1940)*# - Aerial view of the Civic Center, Union Station and the LA Plaza. The Plaza is in the upper center-left of photo.  The recently completed Union Station is at center-top and the new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building is seen at center. The flattened lot of the where the old Water Department building once stood can be seen just to the northeast of the Plaza.  





(ca. 1940) - The new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building near City Hall and old Main Street, circa 1940. The signs on some of the shops and offices are in Spanish.  




(ca. 1940)^ - View of the Los Angeles Civic Center, showing Los Angeles City Hall and the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building. Numerous cars can be seen parked along the curb.  


Historical Notes

Built between 1937 and 1940, the United States Court House was the third federal building constructed in Los Angeles. The first, constructed between 1889 and 1892, housed the post office, U.S. District Court, and various federal agencies, but it soon proved inadequate. A larger structure was built between 1906 and 1910 at the corner of Main and Temple Streets. The population of Los Angeles grew rapidly in the early part of the twentieth century, and a larger building was needed to serve the courts and federal agencies. The second federal building was razed in 1937 to clear the site for the existing courthouse.*^



(ca. 1940s)^ - Exterior view of the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building, located at 312 N. Spring Street. The Stephen M. White Statue, which was previously located on the corner of Temple and Broadway on the lawn of the Hall of Records, is now on the corner of 1st and Hill outside the new courthouse, located at 1945 South Hill Street.  


Historical Notes

Stephen M. White was elected Los Angeles County District Attorney in 1882, State Senator in 1886 and United States Senator in 1893. During his term in the United States Senate, Senator White’s most notable accomplishment was his successful leadership of the fight to create the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro as opposed to Santa Monica Bay, the site that was being advocated by powerful railroad interests.

The statue of Stephen White was moved several times before finding a home in front of the new County (now Mosk) Courthouse in 1958.  It would remain there for 30 years.  In 1989, the statue was moved again to its present location, at the entrance to Cabrillo Beach off Stephen M. White Drive, overlooking the breakwater at the L.A. Harbor. Click HERE to see contemporary view.



(1949)^ - View of the Los Angeles Civic Center, showing the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building as well as City Hall, as seen from Fort Moore. Numerous cars can be seen on the streets as well as in parking lots.  




(1940)^#^^ - Aerial view of Los Angeles looking northeast. The newly built Federal Courthouse (completed in 1939) is seen at upper-center next to City Hall. Also, Union Station (completed in 1938) is seen at upper-right.  




(ca. 1939)**^ - Aerial view looking southeast across Fort Moore Hill. The recently completed (1938) Union Station is in view at left-center of photo. Just to the southeast of Union Station, across Aliso Street, can be seen two very large natural gas tanks known as "gas holders".  


Historical Notes

The huge tanks seen above were known as "gas holders" (aka gasometers), and helped supply natural gas to the city. They rose or sank in height depending on the amount of gas being stored.

The gas holders were in fact laughably large and towered over their surroundings. When one gas holder was built in 1906 its 210 foot height was 35 feet greater than the tallest building in Los Angeles. #^^*



(1940)^#^^ - Aerial view of the Civic Center and Union Station looking northeast. The large street running diagonally from center to upper-right center is Aliso Street, future path of the 101 Freeway (Hollywood Freeway). Note the two large gas holders (gasometers) in the upper right corner of photo.  


Historical Notes

Later gas holders climbed higher and wider, reaching up to 300 feet tall (the equivalent of perhaps an 18 or 20 story building) and as large as to hold 10,000,000 cubic feet of gas. #^^*





(1940s)#++# – Panoramic View looking northeast showing a pair of LARy streetcars passing one another near the intersection of Spring and Sunset with the back of the Old Plaza Church at right and the Los Angeles Plaza further back (out of view).  The Terminal Annex building with its twin towers as well as a very large gas tank are seen in the distance.  





(1940s)###^ – Panoramic view looking east at the intersection of Sunset and Spring with two LARy streetcars (side-by-side) in the foreground. Three large gas holders are seen at top-right with the Union Station tower at top-center. The back of the Old Plaza Church is at right with the Los Angeles Plaza (cluster of trees) directly behind it.  





(ca. 1950)*# - View looking west on Aliso Street toward the Civic Center. Three extremely large natural gas holders stand in proximity to the Friedman Bag Company and Brew 102, with City Hall in the background. This photo was taken just a couple of years prior to the construction of the 101 Freeway where Aliso Street is seen above.  


Historical Notes

The largest of the three tanks seen above is a 300-footer that loomed over the corner of Ducommon and Center, east of the Civic Center. It was built in 1912 and it's not clear when it was torn down. Shots of Downtown up through 1960 seem to show these structures in the background. #^^*


* * * * *



West Hollywood

(1939)^ - Sunset Strip looking north-west, west of La Cienega. Photograph taken on November 30, 1939.  




(ca. 1940s)*# - Photograph of an exterior view of Thrifty Drug Store and A&P Market. The one-story Art Deco-style building is pictured on the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. At left, the sidewalk is lined by palm trees. In the right foreground, a motorcyclist makes his way past two parked automobiles.  


Click HERE to see more Early Views of West Hollywood


* * * * *



Universal Studios

(ca. 1930s)^ - View overlooking the studio lot of Universal Pictures Company with the Hollywood Hills in the background.  


Historical Notes

In 1913, the same year the LA Aqueduct was completed, the Universal Company purchased 12,000 acres of land in the San Fernando Valley near the railroad station of Lankershim and about eight miles from Los Angeles.^*#^

A year earlier, on April 30, 1912, Carl Laemmle merged the Independent Motion Picture Company with five smaller companies to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company. After visiting his newly acquired west coast operations of Nestor Studios and Nestor Ranch, he renamed the studio "Universal Studios" and the leased Oak Crest Ranch became the first "Universal City" in the San Fernando Valley.

The first Universal/Nestor Ranch (Providencia Land and Water Development Company property Oak Crest Ranch) is presently the site of Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).

In 1915, Universal moved its operations at the Hollywood/Nestor studio and Universal/Nestor Ranch to its new Lankershim Blvd. location before the official opening of Universal City (Lankershim Blvd).^*




(1939)^ - Ghost town street on the Universal movie lot. Along this famous street at Universal, the roaring life of the colorful West has been pictured in hundreds of thrilling films shown around the world. On this site practically every big western star in motion pictures got his start and played his greatest role.  


Historical Notes

In 1915, Carl Laemmle invited members of the public to watch films being made at the Universal movie lot (in exchange for a 25 cents admission fee). A chicken lunch box was also available for a nickel; the first step towards the Universal Studios theme park we know today.^*#^




(1970s)^ - A tour bus moves through the back-lot western sets of Universal Studios.


Historical Notes

Shortly after Music Corporation of America took over Universal Pictures in 1962, accountants suggested a new tour in the studio commissary would increase profits. On July 15, 1964, the modern tour was established to include a series of dressing room walk-throughs, peeks at actual production, and later, staged events. This grew over the years into a full-blown theme park. The narrated tram tour (formerly "Glamor Trams") still runs through the studio's active back lot, but the staged events, stunt demonstrations and high-tech rides overshadow the motion-picture production that once lured fans to Universal Studios Hollywood.^*



Click HERE to see more Early Views of Universal Studios


* * * * *



Third and Fairfax Area

(ca. 1939)^ - Aerial view looking northwest of the so-called Miracle Mile in Los Angeles along Wilshire Boulevard. The large open space is bounded by Fairfax on the west, Wilshire on the south, and Third Street on the north. The La Brea Tar Pits is the recangular piece of land in the upper left-center of photo.  




(1940)^^*** – Aerial view looking in a northerly direction toward the Hollywood Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains.  The intersection of La Brea and Wilshire is in the lower right-center. L.A.'s Miracle Mile runs along the bottom of photo. In the upper left-center can be seen two stadiums situated near Third and Fairfax in an area that would become Farmers Market. The large empty space at center would become Park La Brea.  




(1939)^ - Aerial view of Hollywood Ball Park (Gilmore Field) and Gilmore Stadium looking southwest. This site later became Farmers Market and later The Grove shopping center, as well as CBS Television City. The Pan Pacific Auditorium can also be seen in this photo. It is the large building just below and to the right of the baseball stadium.  




(ca. 1939)^^^* – Aerial view looking northwest showing Gilmore Field.  A baseball game is in progress and parking lots are close to full.  An empty Gilmore Stadium stands in the background near Fairfax Avenue. Genesee Avenue runs diagonally from lower-left to right-center where it intersects with Beverly Boulevard.  


Hsitorical Notes

Gilmore Field opened on May 2, 1939 and was the home of the Hollywood Stars baseball team until September 5, 1957. The ballpark was located on the south side of Beverly Boulevard between Genesee Avenue and The Grove Drive, just east of where CBS Television City is currently located. A couple hundred yards to the west was Gilmore Stadium, an oval-shaped venue built several years earlier, which was used for football games and midget auto racing. To the east was the famous Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Both facilities were built by Earl Gilmore, son of Arthur F. Gilmore and president of A. F. Gilmore Oil, a California-based petroleum company which was developed after Arthur struck oil on the family property. The area was rich in petroleum, which was the source of the "tar" in the nearby La Brea Tar Pits.^*




(1948)**^ – Aerial view of the area bounded by Beverly, Fairfax, 3rd Street, and Gardner Avenue.  The photo has been annotated and shows the location of Gilmore Stadium, Gilmore Field, Farmers Market, Gilmore Drive-In and the Pan Pacific Auditorium.  




(1949)**^# - View looking southeast of Gilmore Stadium (center) and Gilmore Field (top). The intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard is in the lower left of the photo. Herbert's Drive-in Restaurant can be seen on the southeast corner. Farmers Market is in the upper right.  


Hsitorical Notes

Gilmore Stadium was used for American football games at both the professional and collegiate level. The stadium was the home of the Los Angeles Bulldogs, the first professional football team in Los Angeles. Gilmore Stadium was also the site of two 1940 National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowls. It was opened in May 1934 and demolished in 1952, when the land was used to build CBS Television City.^*




(1951)^ - Major league All-Stars managed by Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker clashed at Gilmore Field, with the big-leaguers beating the Hollywood Stars, 4-3, for charity. Fans thrilled to Gus Zernial's two homers. This view is looking southeast toward Park La Brea Towers which can be seen in the distance.  




(1940s)^ - View showing Gilmore Field (aka Hollywood Ball Park), located near the present-day Farmer's Market in the Fairfax District. This was home field for the Hollywood Stars. The parking lot appears full and there are clusters of people walking out of the main entrance.  




(1940s)#** - Fans line up at front entrance to see the Hollywood Stars play a night game.  




(1949)*^^^ - Night view looking north showing three concurrent venues:  Movies at the Gilmore Drive-In Theatre (foreground), Hollywood Stars home game at Gilmore Field (upper-right), and a football game at Gilmore Stadium (upper-left).  


Historical Notes

In 1958, Gilmore Field was demolished to make room for an expansion by CBS Television City on the grounds where baseball was once played.


Click HERE to see more in Baseball in Early L.A.


* * * * *




Fairfax Avenue

(1937)**^ – View looking north on the 400 block of Fairfax Ave (between Rosewood and Oakwood).  





(2014)##^ – View looking north on the 400 block of Fairfax Ave (between Rosewood and Oakwood). The famous Canter's Deli is on the left at 419 N. Fairfax.  




Then and Now

(1937)**^ – View looking north on the 400 block of Fairfax Ave.   (2014)##^ – View looking north on the 400 block of Fairfax Ave.




Santa Anita Racetrack

(1934)^#^^ – View of a filled to capacity parking lot on Opening Day at Santa Anita Racetrack, December 25, 1934.  


Historical Notes

The 'first' Santa Anita Racetrack was built on Elias Jackson ("Lucky") Baldwin's immense estate of "Rancho Santa Anita" and opened on December 7, 1907, but closed just two years later after horse racing was banned in California due to an anti-gambling bill that became law. In 1933, Hollywood director Hal Roach and San Francisco dentist Dr. Charles Strub formed the Los Angeles Turf Club and raised funds to build a new track. Designed in an Art Deco style by Gordon B. Kaufman, the "new" Santa Anita Park was opened on Tuesday, December 25, 1934 with an attendance of 30,077 visitors paying an admission price of .15 cents.^




(1935)^ - View from the back of the grandstands of the 'first' Santa Anita Handicap on February 23, 1935.  


Historical Notes

The famed Santa Anita Handicap took place on February 23, 1935, just two months after the track opened. The Santa Anita Handicap instantly became one of the nation's top races because it offered a purse of $100,000, which at the time was a huge sum of money; the race became known as "The Hundred Grander". This Handicap (1935) was won by 7-year-old "Azucar" ridden by jockey George Woolf, with a time of 2.02.20.^




(1935)^ - A film crew shooting the horse races at Santa Anita Park with the San Gabriel Mounains in the background.  


Historical Notes

The Santa Anita racetrack has seen some important events since its opening. The famous racehorse, Seabiscuit won the Santa Anita handicap in 1940.^




(1939)^ - View of the Santa Anita Racetrack paddock (foreground) and a packed parking lot (background). Large crowds of people can be seen walking across the pathways surrounding the paddock, as well as sitting on benches along the main entrance. The paddock area is where horses are 'assembled', saddled, and mounted before a race.  


Historical Notes

Today, the 1,100-foot-long grandstand, which is a historic landmark, can accommodate 26,000 guests and is the original facade from the 1930s. The track infield area can accommodate another 50,000 or more guests. The Park also contains 61 barns, which house more than 2,000 horses, and an equine hospital. Santa Anita Racetrack is the oldest racetrack in Southern California, and is located at 285 W. Huntington Drive.^




(ca. 1939)^ - Aerial view of Santa Anita Race Track and vicinity, showing the enormous parking lot that is completely saturated with neatly lined automobiles, as well as the saddling paddock (middle gardens), Art Deco main building (with white roof), clubhouse (to the right), and stables (on the left). Homes can be seen in the foreground and plotted land is visible in the background.  


Historical Notes

In 1942, racing at Santa Anita was suspended due to the Second World War and from 1942 to 1944, Santa Anita was used as a Japanese-American internment center; the racetrack reopened in 1945.^




(1958)^ - Aerial view of Santa Anita Park and Racetrack, located at 285 W. Huntington Drive in the city of Arcadia; view is looking south. The tree-lined street that curves from middle left to upper right is Huntington Drive. Campus Drive runs from upper left to upper right. Santa Anita Golf Course is visible at top left. The winding "thread" is the Arcadia Wash.  


Historical Notes

In 1953, a downhill turf course was added, which added a distinctly European flair; during the 1960s, major renovations included a much-expanded grandstand as well as major seating additions; in 1974, the Westfield Santa Anita Mall was built on the site of the old barns and training track; was host to the 1984 Olympic equestrian events; and in 1997, Santa Anita Park was acquired by Meditrust Corp.; Meditrust then sold the track to Magna Entertainment Corp., which they still own to date.^




(2006)*^ - View showing the Art Deco entrance to Santa Anita's grandstands.  Photo by Ellen Levy Finch  


Historical Notes

The nearly 300 acre site contains numerous features and structures, in addition to the grandstand building, which are integrally linked to the history and significance of Santa Anita Park. These include the main track, track house, several stables, paddock, receiving and saddling barns, and east and south gates.

Santa Anita Park played a pioneering role in the development of the California thoroughbred racing industry. The photographic documentation of the finish was first used at Santa Anita Park in the inaugural season of 1934-35. The “photo finish” is regarded as one of the great contributions of the park to the sport.^^



Japanese-American Internment

(1942)^#^^ - The bus to perdition, 23rd Street and S. Vermont Avenue.  


Historical Notes

Apr. 30, 1942: Busses line street at 23rd Street and Vermont Avenue waiting for group of 600 Japanese to be moved to the temporary internship camp at Santa Anita Race Track. This photo was published in the May 1, 1942, Los Angeles Times. View is looking east on 23rd Street with Vermont Avenue just behind the camera.




(1942)* - Japanese Americans boarding buses destined for internment camps at First and Central, Little Tokyo.  


Historical Notes

Temporary detention camps (also known as 'assembly centers') represent the first phase of the mass incarceration of 97,785 Californians of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Santa Anita Racetrack Park was one of the temporary camps.




(1942)^ - View showing Japanese men, women and children boarding trains and buses as they started their journey at the old Santa Fe station to Internment staging centers and/or camps including Santa Anita Racetrack Park.  


Historical Notes

Pursuant to Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, thirteen makeshift detention facilities were constructed at various California racetracks, fairgrounds, and labor camps. These facilities were intended to confine Japanese Americans until more permanent concentration camps, such as those at Manzanar and Tule Lake in California, could be built in isolated areas of the country. Beginning on March 30, 1942, all native-born Americans and long-time legal residents of Japanese ancestry living in California were ordered to surrender themselves for detention.




(ca. 1942)**^* - Japanese Americans arrive at the Internment staging center at the Santa Anita Park racetrack.  


Historical Notes

Santa Anita was the largest Assembly Center for the Japanese American internment in World War II. About 20,000 Japanese-Americans lived at the racetrack during 1942, in temporary housing in the stable area and in barracks constructed on the site’s parking lot. ^^




(1942)^xx^ - View showing the hastily built barracks at Santa Anita Racetrack Park used to intern over 20,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.  


Historical Notes

Santa Anita was turned over to the Wartime Civilian Control Administration, the government body responsible for oversight of the temporary detention facilities, in March 1942, and army engineers soon after built 500 barracks on the parking lot and converted the horse stables and the area underneath the grandstand into residential "apartments." Inmates began arriving in April, most coming from the surrounding Los Angeles County, and the center's population soon topped 18,000, peaking at 18,719 by August of that year.*^




(1942)* – View showing a Japanese Internment guard tower at the Santa Anita Racetrack.  Photo date: April 6, 1942.  


Historical Notes

The Assembly Center remained open for seven months, and in the meantime, inmates took up jobs in camp at the camouflage net factory, the hospital or various administrative departments, and set up schools to ensure their children's education would not be interrupted. Transfer to War Relocation Authority camps began on August 26, 1942, when 901 inmates left for Poston, Arizona, and over the next month the remaining Japanese Americans were sent to Poston and several other camps. The Santa Anita Assembly Center closed on October 27, 1942.*^


* * * * *



Sawtelle Boulevard

(1939)**** - Opening shot from THE GRAPES OF WRATH looking southward along Sawtelle Blvd. from the corner of National Blvd.  




(2011)##^ – Google street view looking southward along Sawtelle at National.  




Then and Now

(1939)**** -- Sawtelle Blvd looking south at National Blvd.   (2011)##^ – Sawtelle Blvd looking south at National Blvd.


* * * * *




Westwood Village

(1939)^ - Postcard photo of Tropical Ice Gardens, an outdoor ice skating rink in Westwood, where on April 9, 1939 Harry Burnett skated. He was a Yale Puppeteer with Turnabout Theatre in Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

The Tropical Ice Gardens in Westwood Village opened in November 1938. It had a seating capacity for 10,000 spectators and could accommodate 2,000 ice skaters on its year-round outdoor rink. There were conflicting reports that Norwegian ice champion Sonja Henie had acquired the arena sometime in the 1940s and renamed it Sonja Henie's Ice Palace, but her actual affiliation with the establishment remains uncertain. The building sustained considerable damage due to a fire in May 1939, but re-opened shortly after. It was torn down in 1949 to accommodate expansion of UCLA.^




(1949)^ - Exterior view of the Tropical Ice Gardens in Westwood Village.  




(ca. 1940)^ - View of Westwood Boulevard, Westwood Village, showing Crawford Drugs and the Janss Investment Company--the developers of Westwood.




(ca. 1940)^ - Two women are seen walking down Lindbrook Drive (foreground) where it meets Westwood Boulevard (left) right outside of a Ralph's supermarket in Westwood Village. Designed by architect Russell Collins and built in 1929, the market is identified by the words "Ralphs Grocery Co.," seen over the doorway. Various businesses, including Sears, are visible in the background,



Click HERE to see more Early Views of Westwood and UCLA





(1941)****- An aerial view of Westwood and Rancho Park, taken on May 11, 1941. The Pico Drive-In is located at the left center of the picture.  


* * * * *


Beverly Hills

(ca. 1925)*# - View of Sunset Blvd. and Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills. Early model car is seen on an unpaved Sunset.  


Historical Notes

Sunset Boulevard stretches from Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Coast Highway at the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Palisades. Approximately 22 miles in length, the famous boulevard roughly mimics the arc of the mountains that form the northern boundary of the Los Angeles Basin, following the path of a 1780s cattle trail from the Pueblo de Los Angeles to the ocean.

The portion of Sunset Boulevard that passes through Beverly Hills was once named Beverly Boulevard.^*




(1925)*^#^ - A view of Beverly Hills Heights, a development by Frank Meline, shown at the start of the subdivision. A man stands near a parked automobile on a wide, unpaved S. Beverly Drive near what is today Olympic Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

At the time of this photo 10th Street (now Olympic Boulevard) had not yet been cut through to the west. It was originally named 10th Street, but was renamed Olympic Boulevard for the 1932 Summer Olympics, as that was the occasion of the tenth modern event.^*




(1925)*^#^– Panoramic view of a completely undeveloped South Beverly Drive looking north to the Beverly Theater at Wilshire Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

There are still giant eucalyptus trees that once lined the boundaries of the Beverly Hills Speedway to the north behind the Walter McCarty retail development. Those trees would soon be cut down to make way for Charleville Blvd. To the left you can see El Camino Drive is beginning to make its way south and in the upper left hand corner of the photo you will find the "Beverly Crest" real estate sign on the mountain, very much like its sister sign, "Hollywoodland" only a handful of miles away. The area from where the photo was taken was known as Beverly Heights. ##++




(1926)##++ - Honorary Mayor Will Rogers demonstrates the city's brand new Elgin Street Sweeper in front of Beverly Hills’ original City Hall at the terminus of N Crescent Drive and Burton Way.  


Historical Notes

William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers, in addition to being a cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor, was the honorary Mayor of Beverly Hills (1926 – 1928). After the city was incorporated it was run by an appointed city manager. The "mayor's office" was merely a ceremonial one that enabled Will to make more jokes about do-nothing politicians such as himself.^*



(ca. 1928)##++ – View showing Honorary Mayor Will Rogers and the Beverly Hills Fire Department standing outside the city's first City Hall and fire station.  


Historical Notes

The first City Hall building faced south at the end of Crescent Drive, right before Santa Monica Boulevard. It was demolished when the new City Hall was erected in 1932 and its demise made way for South Santa Monica Boulevard to the east and west and Crescent Drive to go all the way through to the South. ##++



(ca. 1935)^ - Looking northeast from the Beverly Hills business district showing Beverly Hills City Hall (built in 1932) and the Beverly Hills Civic Center. The Pacific Electric streetcar tracks of the Beverly Hills line that run down Santa Monica Boulevard are seen in the center. Between the tracks and City Hall is the Beverly Hills Post Office. In the far distance (upper-right) you can make out the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains.  


Historical Notes

In 1930, land was purchased from the Pacific Electric to build the new city hall. Construction lasted from 1931 to 1932.  The building was designed by architects William J. Gage and Harry G. Koerner in the Spanish Revival architectural style (though sometimes also characterized Churrigueresque). When the city hall opened in 1932, it was called by The Los Angeles Times the "largest and most expensive City Hall of any municipality its size in the country." *^



(1933)^ - Panoramic view of Beverly Hills City Hall and surrounding area, looking east. City Hall was built in 1932 on Crescent Drive at Santa Monica Blvd.  




(1934)^ - View looking west showing the Beverly Hills Post Office located at 325 N. Maple Drive between Canon Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard as seen from the front of City Hall. This was the location of Beverly Hills' 1st Train Station.  


Historical Notes

Architects Ralph C. Flewellin and Allison and Allison built the Beverly Hills Post Office in 1932-1933 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, with building in terra cotta and brick.^




(ca. 1943)#^ - View of the Beverly Hills Pacific Electric Station looking east showing a streetcar and three buses all lined up. City Hall can be seen in the background.  





(ca. 1927)##++ – View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard showing a group of men, including Walter G. McCarty, surveying the street and posing for the camera. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is under construction as part of McCarty's developing landscape that once included the Beverly Hills Speedway tract of land. In the distance, the white building with the arched front doorway would soon become the Brown Derby Restaurant.  


Historical Notes

The Beverly Wilshire Hotel was constructed by real estate developer Walter G. McCarty on the site of the former Beverly Hills Speedway. It was completed in 1928 (when the city had fewer than 18,000 residents), and was then known as the "Beverly Wilshire Apartment Hotel".  *^




(1938)##++ - Aerial view looking southeast over the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive showing the historic Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Note all the empty land south of the hotel. Photo: Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives  


Historical Notes

Originally named the "Beverly Wilshire Apartment Hotel” when opened (1928), it was renamed the Beverly Wilshire Hotel by its new owners in the 1940s when it was renovated with a ballroom to accommodate the popular big bands of the day. An Olympic-sized swimming pool was built and championship tennis courts were added, with tennis champion Pancho Gonzalez as tennis director.

The hotel changed hands in 1958 and again in 1961, when it was purchased by a group of investors headed by Hernando Courtright.

The singer Elvis Presley and later the actor Warren Beatty lived several years in the hotel. It was also the home of John Lennon, when he was separated for several months from his wife Yoko Ono. The American socialite and Woolworth department store heiress Barbara Hutton spent her last years in near poverty and poor health in the hotel and died there in May 1979.

Acquired by Regent International Hotels in 1985, the 395-room luxury hotel has been managed by the Four Seasons Hotel since 1992.*^




(1937)##++ – Aerial view of Beverly Hills looking northeast.  The intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Beverly Drive is at center-left where the Moorish-style Beverly Theater stands at the corner. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is seen at lower-left.  





(1930s)^ – View looking east on Wilshire Boulevard at Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. Seen are, left to right, the Beverly Theater, the California Bank Building, and the Warner Theatre.  




(1951)##++ – Close-up view showing the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and N. Beverly Drive showing three buildings with uniquely distinctive architectural styles: the Mughal Revival Beverly Theatre, the Mesoamerican Revival California Bank Building, and the Hollywood Regency style structure connecting them that became Reingold Jewelers.  Photo: Marc Wanamaker  




(ca. 1940)^ - Three women stand on a street corner opposite the Beverly Theater in Beverly Hills. The marquee includes "Fred MacMurray Exclusive."  


Historical Notes

Designed by L.A. Smith, this was the first vaudeville and movie theater to be built in Beverly Hills.^




(1945)##++ - A bird's-eye view from the California Bank Building (Sterling Plaza) of north Beverly Drive with the Beverly Theater directly below.  


Historical Notes

The first building on the west side of the road (left) began as the Victor Hugo Restaurant. It was next occupied by the salon of Adrian (as pictured), the movie costumer and designer of couture gowns for the discerning (and very wealthy) woman. It later became a Lane Bryant store. The building was eventually razed. The parking lot is where the Chase Bank building (originally Bank of America) now stands. The Adrian lot is the site of an office building where MGM is headquartered. ##++




(ca. 1936)^^ – View looking east on Wilshire Boulevard and Dayton Drive.  From right to left can be seen:  J.J. Haggarty, Beverly Wilshire Hotel, California Bank, the dome of the Beverly Theater and the top hat sign of the famous Brown Derby Restaurant.  



Brown Derby (Beverly Hills)

(ca. 1940)##^* –  Postcard view looking east on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.  The Brown Derby Restaurant is on the left (sign above the palm trees) with the Beverly Theater and California Bank in the distance. On the right can be seen the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, W & J Sloane and J. J. Haggarty's Department Stores.  





(1940s)+# – View showing the Brown Derby Restaurant on the corner of Wilshire and Rodeo Drive as seen from the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel.  Today, Louis Vuitton sits on this corner.  


Historical Notes

The Original Brown Derby on Wilshire and the Hollywood Brown Derby on Vine Street got most of the attention but there were two others. This one opened in 1931 at 9537 Wilshire at the corner of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Apparently it was busiest on Thursday nights because that was the traditional maid’s night off. +#



(1950s)+## – View showing a woman crossing the street on Rodeo Drive with the The Brown Derby Restaurant behind her.  Wilshire Boulevard is out of view on the left.  




Then and Now

(2014)++^ - The Brown Derby is gone, but the Louis Vuitton building gives a subtle nod to the past with its brown, hat-like dome. Location: 9537 Wilshire Bouelvard, Beverly Hills  


* * * * *




(1929)+# – Night view of north Beverly Drive showing four spot lights for what appears to be a new store opening which was so typical of the 20s and 30..  At lower right there is a bike casually dropped in the doorway of a hardware store (Beverly Hardware Co.).  




(ca. 1939)^ – Birds-eye view of Beverly Hills looking northwest from the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive.  Beverly Hills City Hall can be seen in the distance (upper center-left).  




(1940s)**^ - View looking east on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills showing I. Magnin at right and Saks Fifth Avenue at center-left.  In front of Saks Fifth Avenue is an attractive little building housing Nobby Knit Shops. In the background is Haggarty's, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a Bank of America and the Warner Beverly Hills Theater.  





(1954)##++ – Aerial view looking east on Wilshire Boulevard where it intersect Santa Monica Boulevard showing the construction of the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the surrounding Beverly Hills area.  


Historical Notes

Conrad Hilton opened the Beverly Hilton in 1954. Architect Welton Becket designed the hotel as a showpiece with 582 rooms.

Since 1961, the hotel's International Ballroom has hosted the Golden Globe Award ceremony, presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.^*




(1957)+# – View of Wilshire Boulevard showing the side of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Wilson's House of Suede anchoring the line of stores to the east of the hotel on the corner of El Camino.  





(1950s)##++ - View looking west near the intersection of Beverly Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard showing a streetcar heading east toward Hollywood. Sign on streetcar reads: HOLLYWOOD - BEVERLY HILLS  


Historical Notes

The Pacific Electric streetcar lines ran along Santa Monica Boulevard through Beverly Hills until 1965.



Click HERE to see more Early Views of Beverly Hills


* * * * *




Downtown LA

(1939)^ - Ernie's .5 Cent Cafe, located at 806 E. 5th Street, where a person could get a meal for a nickel, back in 1939. Signage on the front window, as well as on the marquees displayed reads: "Beef Stew", "Chili & Beans", "Spaghetti Red", "Baked Beef Hash", "Ham Sandwich", "Egg Sandwich", "Hamburger", etc. Everything marked for a nickel. Ernie's opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. and is open on Sundays. The establishment next door offers haircuts for .25 cents.  





(1940s)^ - China City, a Chinese settlement between Spring and Main and between Macy and Ord Streets. Main Street was the main entrance to China City. Note the old-style traffic signal and the "POWER OFF" sign on the overhead lines.  




* * * * *



Court Flight

(ca. 1930)^^ - View of Court Flight, "The Shortest Railway in the World", showing a sandwich shop at its base at 155 Broadway.  


Historical Notes

From 1905 to 1943, Court Flight scaled the eastern flank of Bunker Hill, a few blocks north of the better-known Angels Flight. Billed as the "shortest railway in the world," the 200-foot incline railway began at Broadway between First and Temple, across the street from the LA County Courthouse and Hall of Records.




(ca. 1935)^ - View of parking area and upper entrance to Court Flight cable railway, leading to the Hall of Records, County Courthouse and City Hall below. Next to the railway on the north is New Hotel Broadway.  


Historical Notes

Court Flight connected Bunker Hill residents with North Broadway and the Los Angeles Civic Center. By the 1930s, the clientele changed. Many of the estimated 1,000 daily riders were government workers using Court Flight to connect with cheap parking on Bunker Hill.^^




(1935)^^ - Riders inside a car on the Court Flight Incline Railroad in downtown Los Angeles.  


Historical Notes

An article in the Feb. 4, 1935, Los Angeles Times reported:

For twenty-eight years, operating his little “Court Flight” cable car from Broadway to the heights of Court Street, Sam Vandegrift never saw a motion-picture or attended a ball game.

Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth flourished and waned, and the cinema advanced from the Biograph stage to talking films as he sat behind the control levers of the two fourteen-passenger wooden trams that crawled almost vertically up the slope.

And last week Mrs. A. M. Vandegrift, widow of this Sam who has been dead for two years, received a renewal of her operation franchise….^^

The Sep. 16, 1942, Los Angeles Times reported that with ridership dropping to fewer than 300 a day, Mrs. Vandegrift asked the Los Angeles Board of Public Utilities for permission to close Court Flight.^#^^




(ca. 1943)^ - Looking down the rails of the Court Flight Cable Railway, showing the Hotel Broadway, located next door on the left at 205 So. Broadway.  


Historical Notes

The funicular operated for 39 years, but World War II spelled its doom. Low ridership depressed profits, and the railway struggled to find engineers and conductors in the wartime labor market. In 1943, unable to keep the line profitable, owner Annie Vandegrift closed Court Flight. It would never reopen.




(1943)^#^ – One of the last images of Court Flight before it was destroyed by fire.  


Historical Notes

Court Flight was closed in early 1943. Then on Oct. 19, 1943, a fire destroyed the remains of the inclined railroad.^#^^




(1954)* – About 11 years after Court Flight’s closing.  



Click HERE to see more Early Views of Court Flight.


* * * * *




Bunker Hill

(1937)*# - View looking east toward Bunker Hill with City Hall in the distance. Beaudry runs horizontally in the foreground. You can just make out the 2nd Street Tunnel at center-left.  





(1968)**^* - View looking east toward Bunker Hill from about the same spot as previous photo but 31 years later. 2nd Street Tunnel is clearly visible and the Harbor Freeway now runs across the bottom of photo.  





Before and After




* * * * *




Wilshire Boulevard (near La Brea Ave)

(1937)^ – View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard toward La Brea from in front of the Four Star Theatre. Also visible in this picture are the E. Clem Wilson Building, a neon sign for the Examiner want ads and, just to the right of the sign, a Simon's Drive In (5171 Wilshire Boulevard). "Wilshire Special" streetlights line both sides of the boulevard.  




(ca. 1939)^ - View showing the Simon’s drive-in restaurant, located at 5171 Wilshire Boulevard, with a sign for Halsco out front on the lawn. Nearby are a sign which encourages passers-by to “Read Examiner Want Ads,” the offices for Mutual of Omaha in the E. Clem Wilson Building (upper left, later Samsung), located at 5217 Wilshire Boulevard, and two Wilshire Lanterns (left).  


Historical Notes

At one time Simon's Drive-Ins dominated the Southern California drive-in restaurant craze. The Simon brothers had operated a chain of successful dairy lunch counters in downtown Los Angeles, and in 1935 decided to capitalize on the growing car culture of Los Angeles by opening auto friendly locations in the emerging commercial centers of Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset and Ventura Boulevards. #^*

Click HERE to see more Early Views of LA Drive-in Restaurants.




(ca. 1939)*#^ – Dashboard view looking east on Wilshire Boulevard toward La Brea Avenue.  On the left is an A&P Market (A&P Food Palace).  In the distance is the E. Clem Wilson Building (NE corner of La Brea and Wilshire) and across the street (SE corner) the large Fox Ritz Theatre sign. This A&P later became Roman Foods and is currently occupied by a Staples Store.  


Historical Notes

The A&P stores evolved from the Great Atlantic and Pacific (A&P) Tea Company, founded in the 1800s in New York by George Hartford and George Gilman. In 1912, John Hartford, son of the co-founder, came up with the idea of expanding and forming the A&P Econonmy Store chain which would rely on a business model that included standarization of layout and elmination of credit accounts and delivery. 

The format was wildly successful, and the chain had grown from 585 stores in 1913 to more than 4500 stores by 1920, and to over 15,000 stores all over the east coast and Midwest by 1930. In the early 1930s, the first California stores were opened, adding some credibility to the company name.

By the 1960s, A&P stores were stale, sales were flat, and the midwestern and west coast divisions were struggling. A well-publicized corporate reorganization in 1968 and 1969 did little to stem the decline, and the next two decades were defined by declining sales, closing stores, and failed format changes. Among the stores closed were the entire Southern California operation, in 1969, which eliminated A&P as a contender in the fastest-growing market in the country.^




(ca. 1939))*#^ – Moving closer toward La Brea on Wilshire Boulevard with the E. Clem Wilson Building seen on the NE corner.  





(ca. 1940)*# – View looking east along Wilshire Boulevard with the E. Clem Wilson Building at La Brea and Wilshire in the background. The Dominguez-Wilshire Building is on the right. Sontag Drug Store is on the left.  




(1939)^ - View looking west from the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Cloverdale Avenue. The Art Deco building housing a Sontag Drug Store is seen on the corner. A&P Food Palace is seen futhrer west.  


Historical Notes

Built in 1935, this Art Deco structure has stood the test of time. It was originally the Sontag Drug Store, one of the largest drug stores in America at the time.  It was also one of the first to allow customers to browse and choose their own products rather than requesting them from a clerk behind a counter.

The building still stands, housing “Wilshire Beauty” and looking much like it did more than seven decades ago.***#

Click HERE to see contemporary view.


* * * * *


Wilshire Boulevard (near Lafayette Park)

(ca. 1939)^ - View looking East on Wilshire Boulevard. Bullock's Wilshire stands across the street (South side). Cars are seen traveling east and west on Wilshire Blvd. James Webb, Engraving and Stationery store, is present in the background on the left.  


Historical Notes

The Bullock's Wishire Building was completed in 1929 as a luxury department store for owner John G. Bullock (owner of the more mainstream Bullock's in Downtown Los Angeles). The exterior is notable for its 241-foot tower whose top is sheathed in copper, tarnished green. At one time, the tower peak had a light that could be seen for miles around.

Bullock's Wilshire's innovation was that it was one of the first department stores in Los Angeles to cater to the burgeoning automobile culture. It was located in a then-mostly residential district, its objective to attract shoppers who wanted a closer place to shop than Downtown Los Angeles.

In 1968, the Bullock's Wilshire Building, located at 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, was designated Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 56 (Click HERE to see complete listing).^*



(1939)^^ - View looking west down Wilshire Boulevard from South Commonwealth Avenue with the Town House Hotel and Apartments on the right.  There is a great array of cars and crowds. Bullock's Wilshire Tower is on the left.  Photo by Dick Whittington  




(ca. 1938)^ – Double-decker westbound at Wilshire Boulevard and Rampart.  Lafayette Park is straight ahead and to the right and the Town House Hotel can be seen in the distance. Photo by Herman J. Schultheis  


Historical Notes

Wilshire has an interesting distinction, it was the only street that was banned by the City of Los Angeles from having street rail on it. The elites of early 20th century Los Angeles who built their mansions in the area were the region's first "NIMFYs" (Not in My Front Yard). The clanging bells and masses who rode streetcars were not welcomed on Wilshire, but buses were. #*



(ca. 1935)^ - View of Wilshire Blvd. looking west at Lafayette Park toward the Town House Hotel, also known as Sheraton Town House and Sheraton West, at right, and Bullock's Wilshire department store at left.  


Historical Notes

Designed by Norman W. Alpaugh, in Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and other revival styles, the Town House was once among the most luxurious hotels in Southern California.  It is located on Wilshire Boulevard, adjacent to Lafayette Park in the Westlake district.^*



(ca. 1939)##* – Postcard view looking west on Wilshire Boulevard as seen from Lafayette Park (previously Sunset Park).  


Historical Notes

Clara R. Shatto donated 35 acres of land that now makes up Lafayette Park to the City of Los Angeles in 1899. The land consisted of tar seeps and oil wells and Shatto requested that it be developed into a park. Shatto was the wife of George Shatto, then-owner of Santa Catalina Island.

Canary Island palm trees and jacaranda were planted in the area of what became known as Sunset Park. Local groups requested that the name be changed to commemorate Marquis de Lafayette, a military officer of the American Revolutionary War. The name was officially changed in 1918. A statue of him was erected in 1937, close to the Wilshire Boulevard entrance.^*




(1940)*# - Aerial view of Wilshire Boulevard facing west from Lafayette Park past the Town House, the Bullock's Wilshire tower, towards the Gaylord Apartments and the Ambassador Hotel at Wilshire Boulevard and Kenmore Avenue.  


Historical Notes

Lafayette Park's vicinity has seen the construction of numerous architecturally significant buildings. Several are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: the Sheraton Town-House, Felipe de Neve Branch Library, and Bullock's Wilshire, all built in 1929.^*



(1946)**^* – View looking northeast on Wilshire Boulevard toward Lafayette Park.  The Town House at  2959-2973 Wilshire Blvd. is seen across the street from the park (upper-left). The Bryson Apartments building stands on the other side of the park (upper-right).  




(ca. 1940s)**^# - View from the roof of the Town House looking north toward the Hollywood Hills.  The First Congregational Church, 540 S. Commonwealth, is seen at the lower-right.  


Historical Notes

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the area around Lafayette Park became less desirable and more dangerous. The building was operated for many years as a Sheraton hotel under the name "The Sheraton-Town House" and "The Sheraton-West". It was later converted for use as low-income housing.^*

In 1997, the Town House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1994 it was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 576 (Click HERE to see complete listing).



(1940s)^* - View of Wilshire Boulevard facing east as seen from the top of the Sheraton Town House.  Lafayette Park is on the left. Simon's Drive-in Restaurant is across the street on the right, southwest corner of Wilshire and Hoover Street.  





(1939)^#^^ – Panoramic view looking south from Wilshire Boulevard showing Simon's Drive-in Restaurant with the La Fayette Apartments behind it. Simon’s was located on the SW corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hoover Street. In the 1950s it would become Stan's Drive-in.  


Historical Notes

At one time Simon's Drive-Ins dominated the Southern California drive-in restaurant craze. The Simon brothers had operated a chain of successful dairy lunch counters in downtown Los Angeles, and in 1935 decided to capitalize on the growing car culture of Los Angeles by opening auto friendly locations in the emerging commercial centers of Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset and Ventura Boulevards.

Click HERE to see more Early Views of Simon's Drive-ins.




(ca. 1956)*# - Stan's Drive-in (formerly a Simon’s), SW corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hoover, with the La Fayette Apartments seen at left.  


Historical Notes

Stan's was a chain of drive-in's with at least a dozen LA locations in the late 1950's and 60's.  Many of the original Carpenter’s and Simon’s drive-ins were converted into a Stan’s.

Click HERE to see more Early LA Drive-in Restaurants.


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(1940)^ - BEFORE SMOG CHECKS - Three cars are driving east from Wilcox on Hollywood Blvd., while on the opposite side two streetcars are coming west past Warners movie theater.




(ca. 1940s)^ - A group of people boarding the Pacific Electric Railway car in Hollywood for the Subway Terminal Building via Santa Monica Boulevard circa the 1940s.  




(ca. 1940)^ - Panoramic view of Hollywood looking northwest toward the Cahuenga Pass. The Hollywood Freeway and Cahuenga Pass are visible at the top of the photo, with the San Fernando Valley far off in the distance.  


Historical Notes

The cluster of buildings in the middle portion of this urban jungle are: KNX and CBS Radio Playhouse (short, windowless building mid-photo); Plaza Hotel; Broadway-Hollywood; Hotel Knickerbocker - which are all along the left side of Vine St.; and the Taft Building - across the street on the right side of Vine Street. The three large white buildings running in an east/west direction along Sunset Blvd. are: CBS Television (long horizontal windows on lower right); the famous Hollywood Palladium (semi-domed white roof, lower middle); and NBC Studios (white building with three long, vertical windows) located on the corner of Sunset and Vine.^

By 1940, Los Angeles' population (which includes Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley) was 1,504,277.^*



(1943)*# - View of Cahuenga Pass with light traffic on February 16, 1943.  


Historical Notes

The first segment of the Hollywood Freeway built was a one and a half mile stretch through the Cahuenga Pass. That segment opened on June 15, 1940. It was then known as the "Cahuenga Pass Freeway." Pacific Electric Railway trolleys ran down the center of this freeway until 1952.^*



(ca. 1950)**^# - A Pacific Red Car returning from the San Fernando Valley travels along the Cahuenga Pass toward Hollywood.  



Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Hollywood (1920 +)


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(1940)^^ - View looking west toward the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and South San Vicente Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

The Van de Kamp’s Restaurant at Wilshire and San Vicente shaped like a Dutch windmill was one of the last examples of vernacular LA architecture.




(ca. 1940)^ - View of a section of San Vicente Boulevard, showing some Art Deco buildings. In the background is the Beverly Tower, which is a service station, next to that, in the center of the image, is a little eatery. A painted wooden sign on the left advertises horseback riding lessons.  




(1940)^^ - The Huntington Beach coastline was a forest of oil derricks in 1940.  Oil discoveries in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs in 1920 and 1921 drove massive drilling.  


Historical Notes

Ever since the legendary oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny and his partner, Charles A. Canfield, struck oil northwest of downtown Los Angeles in 1892, extracting petroleum from the land beneath Southern California has been a major part of the Southern California economy and its landscape. That included the beach areas as well.^^^*



(ca. 1930s)*# - People frolic along the Playa del Rey beach, the skyline dominated by oil derricks.  





(1941)^ - Postcard view shows gas prices advertised at the service station. 8 Gallons for $1 with full service! Click HERE to see more Early Views of LA Gas Stations.  





Santa Monica and Beverly Glen Blvds.

(1922)^ - Aerial view of Westwood and surrounding area looking north. Santa Monica Boulevard runs horizontally at bottom of photo while a tree-lined Wilshire Boulevard runs from left to right at center. Beverly Glen, not yet constructed here, will run from lower-left, under Santa Monica Boulevard bridge, up north to the Wolfskill ranch house (seen at center-left) on Wilshire Boulevard.  





(1935)*# – View of Big Santa Monica Boulevard looking east from Pandora Avenue before widening and paving.  This eastward view of Big Santa Monica Boulevard shows the intersection with and the railroad bridge over South Beverly Glen Boulevard. The "Fox Films" sign is placed on Little Santa Monica Boulevard at about Fox Hills Drive.  





Then and Now

(1935 vs. 2021) - Looking East on Santa Monica Blvd toward Beverly Glen.  






(1937)*# - View of Santa Monica Boulevard looking east from Pandora Avenue after widening and paving.  Pacific Electric tracks are on the right between Big Santa Monica and Little Santa Monica.  





(1941)**#* - Inbound Pacific Electric train is passing the 20th Century Fox "ranch" in 1941. This site is just west of the Beverly Hills city limit. Santa Monica Boulevard is on the left of photo and "Little" Santa Monica is on the right.  


Historical Notes

In the 1930s the Santa Monica via Beverly Hills line had the highest patronage of any inter-city or suburban line of the Pacific Electric Railway. Yet it was converted to bus operation in 1941, unlike the various PE suburban lines that survived World War II.**#*

The 20th Century Fox Studio was formerly Tom Mix's ranch.




(1999)**#* - Same view as previous photo but 58 years later. Century City's 9 million square feet of office space was built on the "ranch" site in the late '60s  


Historical Notes

Once a backlot of 20th Century Fox, which still has its headquarters just to the southwest, the Fox studio commissioned a master-plan development from Welton Becket Associates, which was unveiled at a major press event on the "western" backlot in 1957. In 1961, after Fox suffered a string of expensive flops, culminating with the financial strain put on the studio by the very expensive production of Cleopatra, the film studio sold about 180 acres to developer William Zeckendorf and Aluminum Co. of America, also known as Alcoa. The new owners conceived Century City as "a city within a city." In 1963, the first building, Century City Gateway West, was complete, followed the next year by Minoru Yamasaki's Century Plaza Hotel.^*





Then and Now (1941 vs. 1999)





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Downtown LA

(1940)^ - View of the intersection of Grand Avenue (foreground) and Seventh Street, which has been decorated for the Christmas season. Pedestrians, cars and Yellow Cars fill up Seventh Street, one of the most prominent streets in downtown. A police officer is seen talking to the driver of a coupe stopped within the busy intersection.  




(1941)^ - View of East 1st Street in Little Tokyo. Businesses such as: Sukiyaki, the Nelson Hotel, Chop Suey Cafe, Nanka Shu Hotel, Hori Bros. and the Rainier Cafe are visible throughout the image. Automobile traffic has clogged the street, on which a Pacific Electric streetcar is shown traveling in the background. Photo dated: December 8, 1941.  


Historical Notes

The photo above was taken one day after Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of Japanese Americans with Executive Order 9066. Shortly thereafter, the Little Tokyo area was emptied.^*



(1942)^ - View of the north side of East 1st Street, which will soon be empty as Mayor Bowron reported the evacuation plan for Little Tokyo residents. City Hall hovers in the background and some businesses, such as the Nelson Hotel, Chop Suey Cafe, Nanka Shu Hotel, Hori Bros. and the Rainier Cafe, are visible on the street, which reveals various cars and some Pacific Electric streetcar tracks. Photograph dated March 21, 1942.  


Historical Notes

The full caption for this photograph reads: Los Angeles, California. Street scene in "Little Tokyo" near the Los Angeles Civic Center, prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees will be assigned to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.



(1942)^ - View showing Japanese men, women and children boarding trains and buses as they started their journey at the old Santa Fe station to Manzanar Internment Camp in Owens Valley.  


Historical Notes

The Japanese American internment during World War II affected about 110,000 people of Japanese heritage who lived on the Pacific coast of the United States. The U.S. government ordered the internment in 1942, shortly after Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally as a geographic matter: all who lived on the West Coast were interned, while in Hawaii, where 150,000-plus Japanese Americans comprised over one-third of the population, only 1,200 to 1,800 were interned. Sixty-two percent of the internees were American citizens.^*



(ca. 1942)*#^ - Japanese Americans arrive at the Internment staging center at the Santa Anita Park racetrack.  


Historical Notes

In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation said that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.^*



(1942)^ - Vacant and deserted business houses along 1st Street after the evacuation of Japanese people during World War II.  


Historical Notes

For a brief time, the area became known as Bronzeville as African Americans and also Native Americans moved into the vacated properties and opened up nightclubs and restaurants. After the internment ended, the Bronzeville residents mainly moved to other areas.

After the war, due to lack of housing in Little Tokyo, Japanese Americans returning from the camps moved into areas surrounding the downtown, into apartments and boarding houses. Notably, Boyle Heights, just east of Little Tokyo, had a large Japanese American population in the 1950s (as it had before the internment) until the arrival of Mexican and Latino immigrants replaced most of them.^*



(1942)^ - View of the once busy life of Little Tokyo is contrasted by this scene of a quiet street corner at 1st and San Pedro streets on June 17, 1942, following the Japanese evacuation. In the foreground is the newly-named Civic Hotel, formerly the Miyako Hotel, once a "reputed center of Japanese intrigue in Southern California."  


Historical Notes

In the late 1970s, a redevelopment movement started in Little Tokyo as Japanese corporations expanded overseas operations and many of them set up their US headquarters in the Los Angeles area. Several new shopping plazas and hotels opened, along with branches of some major Japanese banks. Although this redevelopment resulted in many new buildings and shopping centers, there are still some of the original Little Tokyo buildings and restaurants, especially along First Street.^*



(1943)**^ - View looking north up the 500 block of S. Hope Street towards the rear of the Central Library. The sign on the upper right indicates that rooms rates at the Hotel Val Demar are: $1 per day or $5 per week. North of the hotel is the Bible Institute (Church of the Open Door).  




(1940s)##+ – Rooftop view looking northeast showing the Bible Institute from the corner of Hope and 6th streets.  In the distance can be seen the Edison Building (top left) and City Hall (top center-right). Note the two radio towers on top of the Bible Institute building.  




(1943)*# - View of the Biltmore Hotel from the corner of Olive and 5th Streets. A man is seen crossing the street toward the hotel while other pedestrians are waiting for the light to change. Notice that the top of the streetlights are blacked-out (during WWII). Click HERE to see more in Early L.A. Streetlights.  


Historical Notes

Upon its grand opening in 1923, the Los Angeles Biltmore was the largest hotel west of Chicago, Illinois in the United States.

In 1969 the Biltmore Hotel was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 60 by the City of Los Angeles. Click HERE to see the LA Historic-Cultural Monument List.

As of 2009, the Los Angeles Biltmore is operated as part of the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels chain as the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. From its original 1500 guestrooms it now has 683, due to room reorganization.^*


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Main, Spring, and 9th Street Intersection

(1938)^^ - Looking north at the point at which Main Street and Spring Street separate as LARy trolley cars and cars clutter the street. Note the island on the right. It enabled passengers to board the streetcars more safely.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles Railway (LARy), was a system of streetcars in Los Angeles between 1895 and 1945.

It operated on 3 foot, 6 inch (1,067 mm) narrow-gauge tracks and connected the city center to neighborhoods in about a six-mile radius of downtown.

There were about 642 miles of track at its peak in 1924.

The system was informally known as the “Yellow Cars,” similar to the Pacific Electric Railway’s “Red Cars” which served more outlying areas.




(1939)^#^^ – View looking north on Main Street at 9th and Spring Streets.  The 810 South Spring Building is straight ahead with the Hotel Cecil on the right. In the foreground can be seen a car closely following a streetcar as several pedestrians are in the middle of the intersection.  


Historical Notes

In the background is Signal's "oomph" billboard with the lady herself, Ann Sheridan.

Note how crowded the sky is with wires here.




(1939)^^ - Main Street looking north at Ninth Street.  Signs for 810 South Spring Street, Hotel Hampshire, Hotel Cecil, Hotel Chandler can be seen.  


Historical Notes

This intersection had so much potential to become an iconic public space in LA, just as Latham Square is in Oakland, or Times Square is in Manhattan. But….that never materialized.




(1948)**^ - Intersection of Main, Spring, and 9th streets looking north in downtown Los Angeles. A traffic officer can be seen standing in the middle of the busy intersection.  


Historical Notes

Once considered the "Times Square" of Los Angeles, the junction of Main, Spring, and 9th streets was one of the most photographed intersections in Downtown LA.

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Main, Spring, and 9th Streets Intersection.



Main and 7th Street

(1948)++# – View looking north on Main Street from 7th Street with the Hotel Cecil (640 S. Main St.) seen on the right.  




Rainy Days in Early LA

(1940)^ - View showing a car driving through the water in the intersection of 12th and Main Streets on December 16, 1940.  




(1940)^ - Cars are shown sloshing through the flooded street in front of Angelus Temple in Echo Park on February 1, 1940. Streets in a number of parts of the city were flooded.  


Historical Notes

Click HERE to see more images of Flooding in Early Los Angeles (1925+).


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Fairfax District

(1940s )#^# - View looking south on Farifax Avenue from Melrose Avenue. The Silent Movie Theatre is one of the few buildings standing on the west side of Fairfax Ave. Fairfax High School is directly across the street from the theater.  


Historical Notes

John Hampton and his brother Gilbert began collecting silent films when they were boys in Oklahoma City. Throughout the mid-1920’s, he and his brother held movie nights at their home for family and friends.

In 1940, John Hampton and his wife Dorothy moved from Oklahoma to Los Angeles. A year later, they bought an empty lot on Fairfax Ave, near Melrose Ave. On this empty lot, Mr. Hampton built his version of an ideal theater – one with “staggered seating, bowl-shaped floor, acoustical sound, and silent pictures.” #^#



(1942)#^# - View of the "Silent Movie Theatre" located at 611 N. Fairfax Avenue shortly before it opened.  


Historical Notes

The theater opened for business in February, 1942. The marquee simply said “Old Time Movies” with “Movie” painted in script between the two windows on the upper floor. The theater had 250 seats. A child’s ticket cost five cents; an adult’s ticket cost ten cents.

By the 1950’s, the theater’s audiences grew smaller as television’s popularity grew. Other silent film theaters folded while the Hamptons were able to keep their theater afloat until 1980 when they had to shut it down. The theater was to stay closed for the next ten years until after the death of Mr. Hampton. The theater reopened 1991 under new management and has since seen a sucession of owners.

Today, the name of the theater remains “Silent Movie Theatre.” It is run by a non-profit organization aptly called “the Cinefamily” and has become the premier site for vintage and experimental film. #^#



(ca. 1937)^ - Exterior view of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, located at 7600 Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax district.  


Historical Notes

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium opened on May 18, 1935. Its green and white western-facing 228 foot long facade featured four stylized towers and flagpoles meant to represent upswept aircraft fins above the entrance.^

With all the many Streamline Moderne houses and structures popping up in the 30s, many say the Pan Pacific Auditorium really was the single most famous Streamline Moderne building in Los Angeles.^*^**



(ca. 1943)^ - Photo of the crowd outside for a Queen for a Day broadcasting, presented by the Mutual Broadcasting System.  


Historical Notes

For 35 years, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was home to a multitude of events, ranging from auto, boat and home shows to sporting events like hockey games, basketball (Harlem Globetrotters included), concerts, and political events like a dinner for Eisenhower and Nixon, and many more.^*^**



(ca. 1970s)**^ - The Pan-Pacific Auditorium in its last days.  


Historical Notes

In 1971, the Los Angeles Convention Center opened and essentially rendered the Pan-Pacific Auditorium utterly useless. By 1972, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium dwindled in use, and, after some small expos in the spring, finally shut its doors for good. It sat empty for many years until it burned down in 1989.^*^**

Today, you can see a re-creation of the Pan-Pacific as the ticket office at Disney's California Adventures.

Click HERE to see more early views of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium.



(1942)*++ – View looking southeast as seen from the northwest corner of Beverly Boulevard and Sierra Bonita Avenue showing (left to right):  the Pan-Pacific Theatre, Pan-Pacific Ice Skating Rink, and the Pan-Pacific Auditorium.  




(1942)*++ – View showing a large billboard sign located at 7600 Beverly Boulevard (S/E corner of Beverly and Sierra Bonita) advertising all the venues found at the Pan-Pacific Village including the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, Ice Follies & Ice-Capades at the World’s Largest Ice-Skating Arena, Bowling Lanes & Cocktail Lounge, Pan-Pacific Theatre, and Home of All Major Expositions, Conventions, & Sporting Events.  




(ca. 1945)^ - View of the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Blvd. At left is the Sontag Drug Store, next to the Fairfax Theatre.


Historical Notes

Fairfax Avenue was named for Lord Fairfax of Colonial America.

Beverly Boulevard was originally named Beverly Farms in 1921 after the Beverly Farms in Massachusetts, 25 miles north of Boston (Farms has since been dropped from its name). This is where President William Howard Taft vacationed in 1900. Burton Green, founder of Beverly Hills, decided that a good way to lure people to his city would be to name it after the resort of Presidents. In 1906 Green had a street named after himself--Burton Way.^*^


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Fairfax and Wilshire

(1939)+## – View looking northwest at the intersection of Fairfax and Wilshire.  Photo was taken just before work started on the iconic May Company Building on the northeast corner. Across the street is Simon's Drive-in restaurant on the site that now has Johnies 50s diner.  




(1939)**^ – View looking east on Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue.  On the left (N/E Corner) can be seen the construction site of the new Wilshire May Company Building.  At right is a large rooftop semi-circle billboard reading:  "MOBIL OIL - Mobilize for Better Mileage"  




(1940)+##– Aerial view showing the May Company Department Store shortly after its opening. To the left of it in this photo, we can see the popular Simon's Drive-in restaurant where the Googie-influenced Johnie's Coffee Shop now stands.  




(1940)+## – View looking southwest showing the newly constructed May Company Building on the northeast corner of Fairfax and Wilshire.  


Historical Notes

The above photo was taken in 1940, the year the May Company  Wilshire opened, and we can see how residential Wilshire still was – almost semi-rural. In the distance, we can see the tower of the iconic Carthay Circle Theater.  To the immediate right of the store, we can see the circular Art Deco drive-in restaurant, Simon's.+##



(1940s)+## – Aerial view of Wilshire Blvd facing east at the Fairfax Ave corner showing the new May Company Building. This intersection was referred to as the western gateway to the Miracle Mile.  





(ca. 1940)^ - Exterior view of the May Company Building, located on the northeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.  A man appears to be standing on top of the May Co. sign. A sign across the street reads: Simon'sSandwiches  


Historical Notes

The Streamline Moderne department store building with its distinctive corner gold tower was designed by Albert C. Martin and Samuel A. Marx and built in 1939-40.^*




(1940s)*#^ - View looking toward the northeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax where the beautiful May Company Building stands. Simon's Drive-in is seen across the street.  


Historical Notes

May Company California was established in 1923 when May acquired A. Hamburger & Sons Co.(founded in 1881 by Asher Hamburger). The company operated exclusively in Southern California until 1989 when May Department Stores had dissolved Goldwater's, based in Scottsdale, Arizona and transferred its Las Vegas, Nevada store to May Company California.^*



(1939)#^#^ - Nighttime view of Simon’s Drive-in, northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax.  


Historical Notes

Simon's Drive-In Restaurant was built in 1935 on the northwest corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Fairfax Avenue. In the 1930s, Wayne McAllister, the originator of the circular drive-in, designed circular Simon's Drive-in Restaurants in the Streamline Moderne style with a three-layer roof and neon advertising pylon; this style was copied throughout the country.^

The DeMille Airfield No.2 (later Rogers Airport) was located at this same Fairfax/Wilshire Simon's Drive-In site in the early 1920s. Today the site is occupied by Johnie's Coffee Shop.



(ca. 1948)^#^^ - Couple of jitter-bugs down at Simon's Drive-In wowing the waitress with their tiger-stripe upholstery. Ah, those were the days!  


Historical Notes

At one time Simon's Drive-Ins dominated the Southern California drive-in restaurant craze. The Simon brothers had operated a chain of successful dairy lunch counters in downtown Los Angeles, and in 1935 decided to capitalize on the growing car culture of Los Angeles by opening auto friendly locations in the emerging commercial centers of Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset and Ventura Boulevards. #^*


* * * * *



(1944)^^ - California Highway Patrol officers check cars funneled into a “stationary” traffic block on Western Avenue south of Sunset Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

The Southern California wide law enforcement crackdown was explained in the Sept. 11, 1944, Los Angeles Times:

In an effort to halt the toll of death and injury in auto accidents, united law enforcement agencies gave citations to 4,545 motorists for motor vehicle law violations in a swift five-hour campaign through 11 Southern California counties which ended early yesterday.

Traffic and safety officials said it was the most extensive traffic check ever attempted in the United States.
In Los Angeles city itself, 1,847 citations were handed out. More than 15,000 vehicles and occupants were inspected.

Almost every type of law enforcement agency took part in the drive. More than 600 officers, including California Highway Patrol, civil police, military police, sheriff’s deputies, police auxiliaries and Navy’s shore patrol operated under the chairmanship of a traffic checks committee headed by Ralph W. Robinson, manager, Greater Los Angeles Safety Council.
Spreading their “safety nets” and road blockades at 9 p.m. Saturday, officers began halting autos at stationary

inspection points on strategic streets, while at the same time roving squadrons of civil police blanketed prearranged areas. The drive enveloped both military and navel personnel as well as civilians.
Officers, funneling traffic into single lanes at the stationary points, checked autos and motorists for everything from proper windshields wipers to the smell of liquor on the breath. If inspectors found automotive faults they waved the cars to the side of the road until imperfections in such things as lighting, brakes, horns and tail-light reflectors could properly be ticketed.

Netted in the traffic drive were:

757 motorists operating cars without driver’s licenses.

1,300 cited for driving with improper lighting.      

25 booked as drunk drivers.

15 arrested as “plain drunks” riding with sober drivers.

300 drivers had no proper evidence of car registration.

Among servicemen cited were an Army lieutenant and a sergeant arrested in Pasadena as being AWOL from their posts. Another Army officer was arrested on a charge of drunk driving. Many were snagged for failing to have proper liberty and leave passes…

This photo by former staff photographer Al Humphreys was published in the Sept. 11, 1944 Los Angeles Times.
Scott Harrison, Framework, November 7, 2013, Los Angeles times archive.^#^^





(1945)^ - Postcard of a crowd looking at the electric billboard on the Taft Building. The view is from the north-west corner of Hollywood and Vine looking south-east. An early traffic sign is in the foreground and in the background the distinctive "hat" of the Brown Derby sign is visible.  





(1945)**^ - "Los Angeles Life Fun Map" distributed by Santa Fe Bus Lines and the Glass House Restaurant. Map highlights all the must see places in Los Angeles during the 1940s (i.e. Brown Derby at upper right-center of photo and the Hollywood Bowl at very top).  





(1944)**^ - A War Bonds event at the Hollywood Bowl.  


Historical Notes

On June 14th, 1944, radio actors and actresses performed at the Hollywood Bowl during a war bond program.  CBS broadcast the event.^

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Hollywood Bowl.


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Broadway and 7th Street

(1943)^.^ – View looking north on Broadway at 7th Street with the Loew's State Theatre seen on the left (SW corner).  There seems to be quite a log jam of streetcars at this busy intersection.  The tallest building in the distance seems to be the Walter P. Story Building (SE corner of Broadway and 6th).  


Historical Notes

When the above photo was taken in 1943, America was in the depth of WWII. Gasoline was strictly rationed and so people were more reliant on public transport. With LA being flooded with war workers and servicemen, there was a lot of bodies to be moved around. Also Broadway and 7th Street was known as the intersection in LA for many years.




(1942)* - A streetcar stops in front of Lowe's State Theatre at Broadway and 7th Street in downtown L.A.  A semaphore traffic signal is seen on the corner in the foreground.  


Historical Notes

The only protection those streetcar riders have from the traffic is that raised platform, which is more than they usually got, if other photos of the era are anything to go by. The State Theatre was a Loew’s house showing mostly MGM movies, but at this time it was playing Joan Bennett picture, and none of her 1942 releases was from MGM. Like most theaters, the State pushed the purchase of war bonds and stamps. During WWII, it also played movies 24 hours a day to accommodate shift workers at the war factories who worked around the clock.




(1944)^ - View of the War Loan Drive Parade at the busy intersection of Seventh and Broadway. Note how the streetlight in the lower right of the photo is blacked-out on top due to the war. Loew's State Theatre is seen across the street on the SW corner.  


Historical Notes

On November 18, 1944, a throng estimated at 350,000 crowded downtown streets to witness the gala spectacle, "Calvacade of the West," which ushered in the 6th War Loan drive.^




(1945)#*^ - U.S. General George S. Patton acknowledges the cheers of thousands during a parade down Broadway in downtown L.A., on June 9, 1945.  


Historical Notes

Shortly after his visit to Los Angeles, Patton returned to Germany and controversy, as he advocated the employment of ex-Nazis in administrative positions in Bavaria; he was relieved of command of the 3rd Army and died of injuries from a traffic accident in December, after his return home. Joe Rosenthal's famous Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph is visible on the war bonds billboard. #*^


V-J Day

(1945)* – Photo caption reads: "Riotous celebration spread through downtown Los Angeles as soon as the announcement of Japan's surrender came. Here, at Seventh and Broadway, thousands have poured out into the streets and cars are unable to break through the walls of rejoicing humanity. Emotions kept pent up through nearly four years of war were released as Angelenos cheered and wept in their happiness." The huge crowd, shown from overhead is gathered on the sidewalks and in the streets, blocking several automobiles and streetcars. In the background is the Loew's State movie theater at 703 S. Broadway. Herald Examiner Collection  


Historical Notes

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and on August 9, 1945 on the city of Nagasaki. These actions shocked the country and prompted Emperor Hirohito to order the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War to accept the terms the Allies had set down in the Potsdam Declaration for ending the war. On August 14, 1945, it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally. Both August 14 and 15 have been known as "V-J Day" or "Victory over Japan Day." The term has also been used for September 2, 1945, when Japan formally surrendered aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.*




(1945)** - Victory over Japan Day celebration at Broadway and 7th in Downtown Los Angeles. LA Daily News Collection  


Historical Notes

The exact date of the war's end is not universally agreed upon. It has been suggested that the war ended at the armistice of August 14, 1945 (V-J Day), rather than the formal surrender of Japan (September 2, 1945); in some European histories, it ended on V-E Day (May 8, 1945). However, the Treaty of Peace with Japan was not signed until 1951, and that with Germany not until 1990.^*




(1945)* - Headed south on Olive just crossing 6th Street, August 14, 1945.  Having defeated Japan, a group of renegade sailors turn their attention to a hapless Plymouth convertible.  LA Times Photo Archive  



* * * * *



5th Street (between Grand and Figueroa)

(1927)^ – View looking at the northwest corner of 5th Street and Grand Avenue with the Ayers Apartments on the right and the Barrone (later Engstrum Apartments) background left. This corner lot would become the future site of the Edison Building.  


Historical Notes

The Ayers Apartments will be demolished with the construction of the Edison Building in 1930-31 and the Baronne, originally the Westonia, will change it's name one last time and become the Engstrum Hotel Apartments.^#^^




(1930)^ - View shows the Southern California Edison Company Building in the final stages of constrution.  


Historical Notes

Located on the corner of Fifth Street and Grand Avenue the building opened on March 20, 1931 as the Southern California Edison Company corporate headquarters.

The Edison Company Building was one of the first all-electrically heated and cooled buildings constructed in the western United States. Now known as One Bunker Hill, the Art Deco building located at 601 W. 5th Street was designed by James and David Allison.^



Then and Now

Then and Now, Fifth and Grand, DTLA.  





(1933)*^#^ - Slightly elevated view, probably from the Mayflower Hotel, looking north across the east library park to the Edison Building, the Engstrum Hotel Apartments, a small slice of the Barbara Worth Apartments, the Wickland Apartments (Rubaiyat), the Santa Barbara Apartments and part of the front of the Sons of the Revolution library. #*  





(1931)*^#^ – View looking northeast from the Central Library showing the 6-story Engstrum Hotel Apartments perched high above 5th Street (lower-right) with Hope Street seen at center-left.  The newly completed Edison Building is also seen on the right, NW corner of 5th and Grand. The three-story building on the left is the Mountview Apartments.  





(ca. 1932)*^#^ – Night view looking southwest from the Engstrum Apartments at upper 5th Street and Hope.  The distinctive little multi-story apartment building at lower-right is the Mountview Apartments.  It will be torn down in favor of the Sunkist Building in three or four years. Lower left is the back wall of the Goodhue Central Library open for business about four years in 1932. Richfield Tower, left background, was completed in 1929, squarish, Jonathan Club with the two main towers (just to the right of the Richfield) and then the tall, white Architects Building on the SE corner of 5th and Figueroa Streets. Brightly lit neon sign of the Monarch Hotel, background right, on the NW corner of 5th and Figueroa.  





(1940)^ - View looking across Flower Street at the west side of the Central Library. 5th Street is seen at lower-left.  


Historical Notes

The above view shows a corner of the California Club in the lower right corner and then on the left-center the white Sunkist Building facing the back of the library across 5th Street.  The Edison Building (later One Bunker Hill Building) dominates the center of the frame with the Engstrum Hotel Apartments below it nearer the camera (looking all the world like three separate buildings), then just to the left the white, slab-sided Edison Annex which faces Hope Street, with the Zelda seemingly perched atop it, the dark, flat-roofed Santa Barbara Apartments peeking out from behind the Sunkist and the white Rubaiyat (now called the Wickland Apartments) behind it. And lastly, the three peas-in-a-pod apartment buildings going left to right from the Rubaiyat to the Zelda, starting with the LaBelle, then the Bronx and finally the Gordon immediately to the left of the Zelda.^#^^




(ca. 1945)*# - Panoramic view of downtown Los Angeles looking northeast. In the foreground a building labeled "Sunkist" is visible, while the "Engstrum Apartments" can be seen at right. Further to the right, an American flag on a large flagpole can be seen atop a large rectangular structure, the Edison Building (later One Bunker Hill Building). In the background at center, a cylindrical construction which appears to be a large gas holder (aka "gasometer") rises above the other structures. In the far background at left, City Hall stands high above its surrounding structures.  





(ca. 1940s)*# - View of the Sunkist Building on the corner of Fifth Street and Hope Street in Los Angeles. The Sunkist Building is at right and is a large building made up of many connected rectangular sections. Large rectangular windows can be seen on the sides of the building, and a tower in the middle bears the name of the company. In the background at right are the Engstrum Hotel Apartments and the Edison Building (later One Bunker Hill Building). In the foreground at right is the front lawn of the Los Angeles Central Library.  


Historical Notes

In 1970, Sunkist traded its downtown land and building for a larger property in Sherman Oaks in a deal valued at about $1.6 million. Before the Sunkist building was demolished in 1972, it sat empty for two years on the approaches to Bunker Hill. In 1981, Wells Fargo Bank was built on the empty land. Five years later, Wells Fargo bought Crocker Bank and moved to South Grand Avenue. Today, the old Wells Fargo Building has become the 48-story Four Forty-Four Plaza, housing about 80 firms.^^


* * * * *




(1940s)^*^# – View looking north on the 700 block of South Hill Street showing mid-day pedestrian traffic.  The large building with high flying flag seen in the distance is the Title Guarantee Building on 5th Street.  




(ca. 1940)^ – View looking north on Hill Street at 6th Street with  Pershing Square seen at left.  The tall Art Deco building in the distance (N/W corner of 5th and Hill) is the Title Guarantee Building. Note the ornate streetlights running up Hill Street.  




(ca. 1945)^ - Postcard view of 6th Street looking west from Hill Street circa the 1940s. Pershing Square is at right, behind which is the Pacific Mutual Life Building, with its clock and motto, "Time to Insure." On the left is the Union Pacific Building. In the distance is the hillside west of downtown, the future location of the Harbor Freeway.  





(1940)* – View looking west on 5th Street from Hill Street showing the Biltmore Hotel and Pershing Square.  That tall light colored building up there in the distance is the Architects' Building at Figueroa and 5th (SE corner).  Click HERE for contemporary view.  





(ca. 1945)^ - Venice is the destination for this Pacific Electric car as it passes in front of the Hotel Portsmouth on Hill St. In the background is Hotel Clark.  


Historical Notes

Pacific Electric carried increased passenger loads during World War II, when Los Angeles County's population nearly doubled as war industries concentrated in the region attracting millions of workers. There were several years when the company's income statement showed a profit, most notably during World War II, when gasoline was rationed and much of the populace depended on mass transit. At peak operation toward the end of World War II, the PE dispatched over 1000 trains daily and was a major employer in Southern California.^*




(1946)#* - View showing packed Pacific Electric Venice-bound streetcars at 5th & Hill streets. The line stopped running just 4 years later.  


Historical Notes

The Venice-bound line has a complex history dating back to 1897, when the portion between Hill & 4th Street to Vineyard (near Pico & San Vicente Boulevards) were constructed as part of the Pasadena & Pacific Railway Company. The line was practically level, and with few curves, it served as a much more direct route to the beaches than did the line through Beverly Hills.

When the resort town of Venice was founded in 1904, the Venice Short Line served as the most popular way for Angelenos to get to the ocean until heavy street traffic, years of deferred maintenance and the rise of competing bus line gradually caused patronage to drop.

In 1911, it took 50-52 minutes to take the line from downtown to Venice. #*



(1946)^ - View of the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in 1946.  




(1946)^ - View of full parking lots located on Grand Avenue at Wilshire Blvd. A few businesses, such as Dawson's Book Shop (right) and Security First National Bank (left), are visible on Grand Avenue. A billboard asking for the re-election of Republican governor Earl Warren is seen above Dawson's and in the background is the Rex Arms.  




(1940s)*# - View looking north on Broadway at 7th Street on a rainy day. Numerous signs can be seen including: Palace; Desmond's; Los Angeles Theatre; Kress; and Roys. Photo by Dick Whittington  




Civic Center

(ca. 1940)^#^^ – View looking northwest showing Fort Moore Hill as seen from the driveway of the recently opened Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building located at Temple and Spring streets.  


Historical Notes

In the above image the back of the Alhambra Apartments is on the left (the Hall of Justice is just out-of-frame to the left) with the back of the Banning Residence,  which numbers at 416 N Broadway, sitting on top of the hill pretty much dead center.  To the right of the Banning house is the back of the Milo Baker house.  Behind the Alhambra Apartments we can just make out the looming framework of the huge 'It's in the Examiner' sign which was mounted above the Broadway Tunnel. The adjacent flagpole was also mounted above the tunnel entrance.





(1946)^*# - Panoramic view of the Los Angeles Civic Center, as seen from Broadway, March 11, 1946.  






(1946)^ - The Hall of Justice, with the U. S. Post Office behind. On the left is the old Broadway Tunnel.  


Historical Notes

The Hall of Justice is the oldest structure in the civic center. It was the centerpiece of the Los Angeles County justice system until it was damaged in the Northridge earthquake. The historic 1925 building was featured on television shows including Dragnet, Perry Mason and Get Smart. More significantly, it was the home of Los Angeles County courts, the Los Angeles County Coroner, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney, and was for many years the primary Los Angeles County jail.

The Hall of Justice was closed shortly after the 1994 Northridge earthquake and is currently being restored.  It is scheduled to re-open as the Sheriff's and District Attorney's Headquarters in 2014.^*




(1946)^ - Exterior of Los Angeles City Hall decorated for the centennial ceremony commemorating the first raising of the American flag in Los Angeles in 1846. The display includes enlarged historic depictions of downtown Los Angeles at 1846, 1886, 1916, and 1946; the last one shows what the city may look like in the future. Twenty-five thousand people attended the event. Photograph dated August 13, 1946.




(1947)* - Photo of the Los Angeles Civic Center taken from the Goodyear blimp. Shown are the State Building, Hall of Records, Hall of Justice, Federal Building, International Bank Building, and City Hall.  




(ca. 1940s)*# - View looking northeast from Bunker Hill showing City Hall and the State Building. To the lower right can be seen 1st Street.  





(ca. 1945)^#^^ - Panoramic view looking east down 2nd Street from west of Olive.  



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Third Street Tunnel

(1944)^#^^ - View looking east showing a construction crew repaving Third Street. In the background is the western portal of the Third Street Tunnel (43 years after it originally opened). Above the tunnel sit multi-story buildings, the largest being the Alta Vista Apartments.  




(1956)+** – View looking east toward Bunker Hill’s Third Street Tunnel.  The white Alta Vista Apartments at 255 S. Bunker Hill Avenue looms above the western end of the tunnel.  


Historical Notes

John Fante lived in the Alta Vista Apartments during the Depression in a room on the bottom left, and later wrote about the place (calling it the Alta Loma) in his 1939 novel, Ask the Dust: "It was built on a hillside in reverse, there on the crest of Bunker Hill, built against the decline of the hill, so that the main floor was on the level with the street but the tenth floor was downstairs ten levels." In 1950 director Joseph Losey shot several scenes inside and outside the Alta Vista for his film noir classic, M. To the right of the building are the park benches at the top of Third Street, which appeared in several movies, including M, Angel's Flight, This Rebel Breed, and Little Shop of Horrors.+**




(1955)*++ – View looking northwest directly above the 3rd Street Tunnel showing the Alta Vista Apartments with palm trees lining the south side of the building. Several men are seen sitting on benches at the edge of the hill on top of the tunnel's western portal. Photo by Leonard Nadel  


Historical Notes

The Alta Vista Apartment building was demolished in the mid-1960s as the CRA slowly cleared the hill for commercial development.




(ca. 1950)^#^^ – View looking east toward Hill Street from the 3rd Street Tunnel.  





(ca. 1975)^ - A view of 3rd Street as it crosses Broadway, looking west towards the 3rd St. Tunnel (built in 1901) showing Bunker HIll with all of its old buildings now gone. The recently completed 55-story Security Pacific Plaza Building stands in the background.  





(1978)^ - View showing the Third Street Tunnel at Hill Street during excavation of Bunker Hill.  





(ca. 1968)**^# - A 1954 Special 2-door Buick Riviera hardtop through Bunker Hill’s Third Street tunnel “like a small white baleen sea creature venturing out of its lair for some grub and adventure!”  


Historical Notes

On June 18th, 1968, the 3rd street tunnel reopened to traffic after a nine month closure in which the tunnel was extended 118 feet. The work was part of $22.8 million in public works projects done for Bunker Hill redevelopment.#^^*




(2007)^** – View of the Third Street Tunnel from the Hill Street side (looking west). Photo by Eric Richardson  


Historical Notes

In 1983 the tunnel again saw a lengthy closure, this time for eight months as work was done to replace the tunnel's center section as part of the construction of California Plaza above.




(2021)^ - Looking out the western portal of the Third Street Tunnel. Photo by Carlos G. Lucero  





Then and Now

(1903 vs. 2022)*- Looking east toward the western portal of the Third Street Tunnel.  



Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Third Street Tunnel (Early 1900s).


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Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor

(1946)^ - View of a troop transport, built and launched at Consolidated Steel Corporation's Long Beach Shipbuilding Division.  


Historical Notes

Consolidated Steel Corporation was formed in 1929 from the amalgamation of Llewellyn Iron Works, Baker Iron Works and Union Iron Works.  It started its shipbuilding operation at a leased shipyard in Long Beach, which was the former Craig Shipbuilding, but built a wholly new shipyard in Wilmington in 1941, with four ways, in the second wave of shipbuilding expansion, with $13mm invested by the USMC.  Four more ways were added in the third wave of shipbuilding expansion and, at its peak, the Wilmington shipyard employed 12,000 people. 

After the war the two shipyards were liquidated.  The Long Beach yard was on the west side of Channel Three of the Inner Harbor, although its full extent is not clear.  The Wilmington yard was where the Port of Los Angeles' TraPac container terminal is now.*###

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



(1947)+++# – With Howard Hughes at the controls, the 'Spruce Goose' begins its first series of taxi tests.  The Long Beach skyline is seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

The Hughes H-4 Hercules was originally contracted by the U.S. government for use during World War II to transport troops and equipment across the Atlantic as an alternative to sea-going troop transport ships that were vulnerable to German U-boats. However the aircraft was not completed until after the end of World War II. The concept for the Hercules was originally conceived by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, who teamed with Hughes to build the aircraft.^*




(1947)^^ - The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during taxi tests in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. Howard Hughes is at the controls.  


Historical Notes

The aircraft made its first and only flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, its critics nicknamed it the "Spruce Goose", despite its being made almost entirely of birch rather than spruce. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history. It survives in good condition at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.^*




(ca. 1947)^ - Howard Hughes getting the feel of the cockpit in his famous "Spruce Goose" seaplane.  


Historical Notes

Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was a  business magnate, investor, aviator, aerospace engineer, film maker and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world. As a maverick film producer, Hughes gained prominence in Hollywood from the late 1920s, making big-budget and often controversial films like The Racket (1928), Hell's Angels (1930), Scarface (1932) and The Outlaw (1943).

Hughes was one of the most influential aviators in history: he set multiple world air speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 "Hercules" (better known to history as the "Spruce Goose" aircraft), and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines, which would later on merge with American Airlines.

Hughes is also remembered for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder and chronic pain. His legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.^*



(1947)^^ - The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor.  


Historical Notes

The Hercules flew only once for one mile, and 70 feet above the water, with Hughes at the controls.^*

Hughes piloted the boat on a course roughly paralleling the shoreline from Terminal Island Navy Base to offshore from Pier A in Long Beach.

In addition to the multimillionaire plane-maker, 30 engineers, technicians and observers were aboard the plywood giant for its first movement under its own power.^^


Click HERE to see more in Aviation in Early L.A.


* * * * *



Drag Racing Under the 6th Street Bridge

(n.d.)* – Ground level view showing the Sixth Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River.  The 1950s saw rebellious teens illegally drag racing at this very location.  


Historical Notes

The L.A. River Bed system was still growing back in the 1950s. As it progressed, many sections started growing concrete making it an ideal spot for a semi-secluded meeting point with long straight-aways. Teenagers from all around met up and pitted their best hot rod against rivals and friends alike.^




(1957)^# – Drag racing under the Sixth Street Bridge.  Long exposure shot by Allan Grant for Life Magazine.  


Historical Notes

It was the mid-fifties and not unlike the streets today when it came to drag racing, the allure of going fast and getting away with it, you and your friends, was hard to resist. And, what could be better than night racing.*




(1957)*^ - Drag racing start under the Sixth Street Bridge. Long exposure shot by Allan Grant for Life Magazine.  


Historical Notes

The law was trying to crack down on drag racing any way they could. They were cruising along side the kids on the street trying to nab them, so the kids came up with the idea to take it off the streets down into the L.A. River Basin. It was called, "The River Road," a wide concrete channel with a trickle of water running down the middle during the summer. It was smoothed out from water running over it for years during the winter, long, wide, and straight, with banked sides, perfect to sit and watch the action below.*




(1977)** - Grease Lightning: John Travolta, as Danny Zuko, raced underneath the Sixth Street Viaduct.  The most famous scene shot under the Sixth Street Bridge is probably the race in Grease, and that’s shot in 1977 but set in 1959.  


Historical Notes

The Sixth Street Viaduct is instantly recognizable from the movie, as the legendary setting for Danny Zuko's race against a rival gang for his group of friends the T-Birds.

The boys turn up at the scene in LA and Kenickie, who is the driver, bangs his head, forcing best friend Danny (John Travolta) to take the wheel.

There is an action packed race with some dirty tricks, but Danny edges in front and finishes at the same place the race starts - underneath the viaduct.




(1984)^^ – The Sixth Street Bridge (viaduct) was featured in the race scene in Repo Man, the 1984 American comedy classic Repo Man, directed by Alex Cox and starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez.  


Historical Notes

The Sixth Street Bridge has appeared in numerous films since it was built in 1932.



Despite its historical status, the bridge was closed for demolition and replacement in January 2016 due to concerns over seismic instability.

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Sixth Street Bridge.




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References and Credits

* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LA Public Library Image Archive

**LADWP Historic Archive

*^Oviatt Library Digital Archives

*# USC Digital Library

+# Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels

^^ LA Times Photo Archive; Spruce Goose; Demolition of Old Times Bldg; Flooding 1938; Huntington Beach Oil Derricks; Sunkist Bldg.

#*MTA Transportation and Research Library Archives

^*#Library of Congress: Panoramic View of Civic Center; Macy Street Viaduct

#*^Theatlantic.com: AP Photo - George Patton

#^*This Moderne Life: Simon's Drive-In

^**Flickr: Enock 1; Eric Richardson

*^#Los Angeles Conservancy: LA Stock Exchange Building

*#*Westland.net: Venice History

*#^Forum.Skyscraperpage.com: Japanese Internment; Cahunega and Highland Intersection ca1937; Central Police Division

**#The California History Room, California State Library: William Reagh

^^#The George A. Eslinger Street Lighting Photo Gallery

*##LA Weekly - Warner Bros. Theatre

##*Boston Public Library: Flickr.com

##^Google Street View

##+Pinterest: Biola Hotel

+^#Beverly Hills Public Works

++^Mentalfloss.com: 12 Postcard Locations Then and Now

^++Facebook.com: Vintage 2

#^#Deadhistoryproject.com: Silent Movie Theater

^^*Early Downtown Los Angeles - Cory Stargel, Sarah Stargel

***Los Angeles Historic - Cultural Monuments Listing

*++Getty Research Institute

+++Facebook.com – Los Angeles Heritage Railroad Museum

+**Los Angeles' Bunker Hill - Alta Visa Apartments

+##MartinTurnbull.com: Fairfax and Wilshire

*^*California Historical Landmarks Listing (Los Angeles)

^*^LA Street Names - LA Times

*^^Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles: losangelespast.com

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; Little Tokyo; Japanese Internment; Hall of Justice; LA Fun Map; Pan-Pacific Auditorium; Gilmore Aerial; Fairfax Ave 1937; Fairfax and Wilshire 1939

****Pinterest:: Vintage Los Angeles: Aerial Westwood - Rancho Park; Sawtelle and National

**^*California State Library Image Archive

***#I Love Los Angeles But...: Sontag Drug Store

+++#Retronaut: Spruce Goose

**#*Santa Monica via Beverly Hills Line - uncanny.net

*^#^Huntington Digital Library Archive

**^#Vintage Los Angeles - Facebook.com: Intersection of Main, Spring, and 9th Streets; Wilshire Blvd - Westlake Theater; Gilmore Stadium and Field; Town House

^^^*KCET: How Oil Wells Once Dominated Southern California's Landscape; History of Baseball Stadiums; Edendale Red Car Line; L.A.'s First Freeways

^#^#S.S. Avalon and S.S. Catalina

**##Blogdownton: State Building

^##*Pinterest: Bygone Los Angeles


^*^#Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

^#**Facebook.com - City of Angels Brown Derby

^#^^Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

*^##OAC - Online Archive of California

#^^*Blogdowntown.com: Gas Holders; Third Street Tunnel

#^#^Los Angeles: Portrait of a City

*###Consolidated Steel, Long Beach and Wilmington

*#*^Historic Hotels of Los Angeles and Hollywood (USC - California Historic Society); U.S. Hotel

##^*Calisphere: University of California Image Archive

##^#Facebook.com: Classic Hollywood-Los Angeles-SFV

##++Facebook.com - Beverly Hills Heritage

#**#The Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society (PERyHS)

^*^**LAistory: The Pan-Pacific Auditorium

^###The Historical Marker Database: Stephen M. White Statue

###^Flickr.com: Metro Library and Archive

^^***Facebook.com: L.A. as Subject

***##KCET: Edendale Red Car Line

^* Wikipedia: Hollywood Sign; Carthay Circle Theatre; Fairfax High School; Park La Brea; San Vicente Boulevard; Etymologies of place names in Los Angeles; Los Angeles Central Library; Broadway Tunnel; Pershing Square; Pacific Electric Railway; Gilmore Field; GilmoreStadium; Union Station; Westwood; 6th Street Viaduct Bridge; Figueroa Street Tunnels; Chavez Ravine; 2nd Street Tunnel; Hollywood Freeway; Los Angeles International Airport; Los Angeles City Hall; Wilshire Boulevard Temple; Egyptian Theatre; The Pig 'N Whistle; Sunland-Tujunga; Van de Kamp Bakery Building; Los Angeles County Art Museum; Los Angeles City Oil Field; Warner Bros.Downtown Theatre; Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel; US Courthouse - Los Angeles; Cord Automobile; Hughes H-4 Hercules; Howard Hughes; History of Los Angeles Population Growth; Bullocks Wilshire; Little Tokyo; Ellison Shoji Onizuka; Japanese American Internment; Hall of Justice; Century City; Brown Derby; World War II; Sheraton Town House; Lafayette Park; Elysian Valley; Universal Studios; Huntington Park; LA Flood of 1938


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