Main, Spring and 9th Street

 
(ca. 1873)^^ – Panoramic sketch looking north toward downtown Los Angeles showing mostly undeveloped land.  At lower-right can be seen the junction of Main and Spring streets at a point where 9th Street will one day intersect.  Hill Street and Fort Street (later Broadway) are on the left.  The Verdugo Hills and snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains can be seen in the distance. Photo of a lithograph, courtesy of the California Historical Society.  

 

Historical Notes

In the mid to late 1800, Los Angeles began growing faster than anywhere in the country. By 1870, the City's population increased to 5,730, a 350% jump from when it was incorporated as a municipality in 1850.  By 1900, LA's population would mushroom to over 100,000 people.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1873)^^ – Detail view showing the intersection of Main and Spring streets as it appeared in the late 1800s.  

 

Historical Notes

Most of the land east of Main Street between 6th and 9th Street was owned by Ozro W. Childs.

Childs obtained the contract to build an extension of the Zanja Madre, a canal system to bring water to the fields south of the pueblo. He was paid in land in that area – all now within present day Downtown Los Angeles - from 6th to 9th, and Main to Figueroa Street.

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

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

 

 

 

 
(1900)^^ – View looking north on Spring Street from 9th Street, with Main Street on the right (out of view). Horse-drawn carriages make their way down the paved street, and a streetcar can be seen in the far distance approaching the camera along its tracks. Pedestrians are visible to the left, on the sidewalk next to a large pile of soil that stands in front of the entrance to a three-story brick shop building. Similar buildings line the street to either side, riddled with signs. A lot full of trees is cordoned-off by a wrought iron fence farther in the foreground along the left sidewalk. Legible signs include: "The English Steam Dye Works / Dry Dyeing & Cleaning Processes", "Barker Bros. Furniture [...]", "Williams Bros. General Merchandise / Wood Coal Hay Grain", and "Wm. H. Hoegee [...]".  

 

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(1906)* - The traffic island in the middle of the street divides Spring St. (on the left), and Main St. (on the right). This view looks north from 9th Street. A young girl, holding possibly a black puppy or kitten stands next to an ornate streetlight post. Behind her, a partial company name is visible, it reads: "Anheuser" with a picture of an eagle, wings spread open, and the capital letter "A". This building possibly being the Los Angeles headquarters of what would later become Anheuser-Bush, Inc.  

 

Historical Notes

Anheuser-Bush, Inc. originated in St. Louis, Missouri; the first brewery opened in 1852 and was incorporated in 1875. Today, Anheuser-Busch is the largest brewing company in the United States.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)* - Looking north towards Spring (left) and Main (right) from 9th St. The traffic consists of mainly horse and buggies interspersed with electric Yellow Cars and bicycles. Business signs include, left to right, Powell's Bakery; Wilson Whiskey, That's All!; The English Steam Dye Works; Los Angeles Furniture Co.; and Anheuser-Busch. The circular tower with flag (center of photo) is the Copeland Building, aka Armory Building, located on the NW corner of Spring and 8th streets.  

 

Historical Notes

The less romantic-sounding Yellow Cars carried three times as many riders than the Pacific Electric despite serving only a six mile radius around their downtown headquarters (1050 South Broadway). In their heyday, LARY had twenty lines, with 1,250 cars that rolled along on 642 miles of track.^

 

 

 

 
(1912)^^ - View showing the Marsh-Strong Building (later the Rives-Strong Building) on the southwest corner of Ninth Street and Main Street. Two policemen (or streetcar conductors) stand in the intersection of the two streets, facing the Victorian-style Marsh-Strong Building, which is covered with advertising signs. Other commercial buildings line the streets to either side of it, the Hotel Rose visible to the right. Streetcar rails make a lattice through the street.  

 

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(1913)* - An aerial view taken where Spring and Main streets split at 9th Street. Looking north we have Spring St. on the left and Main St. on the right. At center-left can be seen the Copeland Building (aka Armory Building), located on the NW corner of Spring and 8th streets.  

 

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(1917)^^- Looking north up Spring Street (left) and Main Street (right) from 9th Street in downtown Los Angeles. Note the new billboard-like structure on the diamond-shaped block between Spring and Main (compare to previous image).  The Argyle Hotel can be seen at lower-right.  

 

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(ca. 1917)^^ - View looking north from 9th Street showing Main Street and Spring Street beginning to span outward creating a triangular shaped block (center). There is a fountain in the island situated in the middle of the large multi-directional intersection.  Trolley, and tracks of the Los Angeles Yellow Car streetcars are seen in the pavement.  Note the kiosk at center of photo.  

 

Historical Notes

In the early part of the 1900s, elevated booths were used by the Los Angeles Railway and the Yellow Cars as a switchman’s tower to control the flow and path of streetcars through the intersection.

 

 

 

 
(1920)* – Street view showing trolley tracks in the street splitting at 9th St., just like the street which splits into Spring (going left of the center island) and Main (going right). Both streets continue north from 9th St.  

 

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(1920s)* - Main and 9th Streets intersection, where Spring Street also joins, at a time when both horses and cars were on the streets. A concrete island is in the middle of the streets. On the southwest corner is the Rives-Strong Building.  

 

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(ca. 1925)* – View looking at the west side of the intersection of Main, Spring and 9th Streets, showing the Rives-Strong Building on the SW corner.  A streetcar control kiosk stands on the NW corner in front of McColloch Drug Store.  

 

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(ca. 1925)* - Several cars and a motorcyclist wait for their turn to cross the intersection of 9th and Main streets. A traffic control booth is perched above the street on the corner, with a man at the helm changing the traffic signals. McColloch Drug Co. is open for business offering a soda fountain as well as lunch. Take a closer look at the motorcycle in the lower-right.  The sidecar looks suspiciously like a coffin.  

 

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(1930)* - Looking north from 9th Street where Spring Street (left) and Main Street (right) split. The streets are shown bustling with the activity of pedestrians, automobiles and streetcars. Note the elevated kiosk at the corner.          

 

Historical Notes

In the early part of the 1900s, elevated booths were used by the Los Angeles Railway and the Yellow Cars as a switchman’s tower to control the flow and path of streetcars through the intersection.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - View looking north from 9th Street to where Spring and Main converge.  A uniformed man sits in a booth on top of a pole in the foreground of this corner as pedestrians walk by underneath.  Signs visible include the Los Angeles City Club (833 South Spring) and the California Bank in the 810 South Spring Building.     

 

Historical Notes

To get cars and commerce moving through the downtown business district, Los Angeles installed its first automated traffic signals in October 1920. 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.

 

 

 

 
(1938)^^ - Looking north at the point at which Main Street and Spring Street separate as trolleys cars and cars clutter the street  

 

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(1939)^^ – View looking north at the intersection of Main, Spring, and 9th streets.  Signs include:  810 South Spring Street, D.R. Wong & Company, Hotel Cecil, Garland Building, Pacific Rock, Roseland Roof Dancing, Lane Mortgage Building, and Occidental Life.  Photo by "Dick" Whittington  

 

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

 

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(1939)^^ - Main Street, at intersection with Spring Street, Roosevelt Theatre, Hotel Chandler, cleaners.  Photo by "Dick" Whittington  

 

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(1939)^^ - View from the corner of Main Street and Spring Street, including the Hotel Hampshire, Bee-Hive Shoe Repairing, Hotel Cecil, and the Hotel Chandler.  Policeman is seen standing near the center of the intersection at center-left.  

 

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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ Wikipedia

^^ USC Digital Library

 

 

 

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