Friday, January 25, 2013

LA Architecture 5,354


The most famous building in Los Angeles - it "screams" 20th. century.
Los Angeles’s  28-story City Hall was officially dedicated on April 26, 1928.

All Images courtesy "Google Images" with special thanks to
“Water And Power Associates”, "Roman Angels", "The Los Angeles Times" and  
"USC Digital Archives".

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman

With the help of “Google Images” I have been able to look back in time and see how things were in the past.  Of special interest to me is historic Los Angeles and its architecture.  I am fascinated by historical architecture and decided to research some of the older building in LA.  I think that architecture in buildings is the highest tribute human kind can bestow upon ourselves.  As I perused this interest, I discovered a city within a city.  An older version of Los Angeles.  A Los Angeles I was aware of with historical treasures.  Suddenly my Google search was becoming an archaeological quest.  Some of the buildings I turned up are still here with us today and others have long since been replaced.

 The historic streetcar long-served as a popular mode of transportation along Broadway during the early and mid-1900's. In fact the Los Angeles Streetcar system, operated by Pacific Electric, had developed into the largest system in the world by the 1920's and was utilized by residents and visitors alike, opening travel to new areas and allowing access to neighborhoods miles from the city center for the first time.

Just a pile of old black & white photos and post cards you might think to your self, but if we look closer at the smallest of details we begin to uncover how everyday life must have been.  Some points you might find helpful in viewing these vintage prints are:
  • What building materials were in use.
  • How old are the cars and are there earlier modes of transportation?
  • How are the people dressed?
  • Are there trees, street lights, cable car lines and tracks in place?
  • What is the condition of streets and sidewalks?
  • What kind of advertising is visible?
A few words about  picture quality concerning old black & white photos.  We are very fortunate to have these fine examples of photography surviving today.  What is refereed to as "film speed" was very slow back in the day; an ASA (American Standards Association) of maybe 25 would be normal and requires good strong day light conditions.  
An other consideration was the carbon emission and pollutants in the air.  Fossil fuels were the standard for the day and produced a haze which had to be overcome with heavy filtration which slowed down even more to an ASA of 10 or 15.  It was some what difficult to make a good sharp exposure under these conditions.  With these variables under control, archival prints were made and black & white photography can last indefinitely.  These pictures, even though almost a hundred years old will out last many color prints made today  by the most sophisticated means.


Los Angeles, CA has a rich and diverse past.  First founded in 1781 by Spain LA then became part of Mexico in 1821 and then purchased by The United States in 1848 and in 1850 incorporated as a municipality in five months before California became a State.  Nick named “The City of Angels” LA has been the center for many industries – Import & Export (International Trade), Oil (Petroleum) Production, Entertainment (Motion Pictures, Television, Recording and Video Games), Sports, (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Horse Racing, ect.) Air Craft and Aerospace Manufacturing, The Garment Manufacturing District A West Coast Financial Center, Education, Newly Emerging Hi-Techs and most importantly Real Estate.  Both large and small business have contributed to the unique Architecture all drawing from their own rich historical back grounds.

 When Los Angeles’s brand new, 28-story City Hall was officially dedicated on April 26, 1928, it was replacing a building on Broadway between 2nd and 3rd Streets that had been government headquarters since 1889.  (That building had replaced a one-story adobe City Hall, formerly the old Rocha House, on the northeast corner of Spring and Court Streets.)  From the USC Digital Archive, here’s a picture of the 1889 City Hall:  Exterior view of the Old City Hall, located at 226 Broadway. It stood from 1888 until 1928. This was Los Angeles' third City Hall.

 The Inspiration For This Article; "The Hall of Justice"  built during the 1920's. The old Los Angeles County Courthouse and Hall of Justice pictured together in 1930.. The Hall of Justice can still be found at its original location and was the site for the "Perry Mason" television program.  Work on the long-delayed $231 million upgrade to this historic landmark got underway late last year due to damage sustained in the Northridge earth quake in 1994.  It has been closed since that time and is scheduled to reopen again in 2014.

What I was really looking for were views of the city and it’s building when they were new and un-spoiled by the passing years.  Back when the sidewalks and streets were clean.  To see what the surrounding areas looked like.  I thought to myself when I first saw these beautiful old gyms as they formed their silhouette against the city's newest buildings how the older structures must have looked against them when they were first built.  I found what I expected.  The older wooden structures which would eventually make way for the new!  The nineteenth century changing hands with the twentieth century.

(1891) - L.A. County Courthouse, also as known as the "Red Sandstone Courthouse," shortly after its completion. Newly planted palm trees are seen in front. The telephone/telegraph poles and lines have been removed.

The Westminster Hotel. Downtown Los Angeles circa 1900.  Long since gone this hotel
exhibits the nineteenth century tastes in building and would be considered large for it's time.

 Bradbury Mansion on Bunker Hill.  Notice the chimneys and number of high points 
rising from the house it self.  Two different architectural styles seem to have been
used in the homes construction.  Today it could be the perfect "haunted house".

Old LA Times Bldg. Built some time after 1882.  The popular Architectural style of the last half of the 19th. century is "Gothic Renaissance" and is seen in almost of the architecture of this period.

The New “Los Angeles Times” as it looks today.  Several additions have been made to the property at First and Spring Streets.   Designed in the “Art Modern” style the main building was opened in 1935.   

  (1920s) - Exterior view of the Olive-5th streets corner of the Philharmonic Auditorium Building. Auditorium was as also used by the Temple Baptist Church. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra would play in this Auditorium from 1920 until 1964 when it moved into the newly built Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

 Ahead of it's time!  The old Hall of Records built in 1881, Court House and Hall of Justice, March 26, 1927. The Hall of Records is at center and is a very tall building with hundreds of differently sized rectangular windows. Three conical roof sections are visible, and large dormers can be seen near the base of the roof as well. The Court House is visible at right behind the Hall of Records and is a dark, Gothic building with a small tower at center. The Hall of Justice is a tall, light colored Romanesque building in the background at right. In the foreground, several smaller buildings are visible.; Legible signs include, from left to right: "Foster and Kleiser" and "Los Angeles Daily Journal Official Paper for City of and County of Los Angeles Legal Advertising".     

(1923) - People sit in Pershing Square while across the street flag decorated banners hang from the still unfinished Biltmore Hotel. The view at the corner of 5th and Olive shows building materials on the 5th St. side of the hotel.  Also notice the old limousines parked of the street  The Biltmore is still part of the landscape in the Pershing Square area.

  (1915) - View of the eastern entrance of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. The Beaux Arts/Romanesque style building features three large stone arches, a large center dome with two smaller ones on either side, terracotta-tiled roof, fancy ornamental moldings and patterns above the portico entry, and several types of bricks and many different brick patterns forming the walls of this three-story building. Above the stone arches the words "Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum" are etched into the facade.

 Streets and roads are not not normally considered to be "architecture", however they are a part of the cities infrastructure.  This photo seems to predate the introduction of the three-way traffic signal in 1922.  Notice people, street cars, horse drawn wagons and auto.'s are all struggling for the right of way at 7th. ST and Broadway.

 (1920's) - Service station on North Vermont Avenue shows three automobiles parked next to the gas pumps as two attendants fill them up with "filtered gasoline". Other services such as polishing and simonizing are offered at this station, possibly named "Ventura Gasoline".

I've selected this photo for it's simplicity.  It seems to reveal so much about life in the 1920's.  Notice the accents on the building structure itself.  These people were making a statement - even the most common of people were worthy of "Rigel" respect and"the red carpet treatment"!

(1915) - A view of 7th St. as it crosses Spring St., looking west. The buildings of this era all share a simple square or rectangle style and facades are ornate incorporating decorative embellishments.  Everything from brass windows and doors to scrolled Greek and Roman Renaissance accents differentiate one from the other with a combination of brick, concrete and marble building materials.

 (1913) - Panoramic view of Olive Street looking north from 6th Street in 1913 toward snow-capped mountains. At left is the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Building, and at right is Pershing Square. Beyond it is the Auditorium Building. Various other buildings are seen in this view taken from the Los Angeles Athletic Club building on 7th and Olive. The afternoon sun bathes them in a strong light.  A completely different skyline will emerge by the end of the 20th. century. 

(1922) - Exterior view of Loew's State Theatre building located at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Streets. Entrance to the theatre is on the left of this photo. Marquee reads: Now- Flapper week-Doris May in "Gay and Devilish." Occupants of the building also includes a dentist, Headquarters for Moore for Senator campaign, Star Shoe Co. and the Owl Drug. Co. The streets are crowded with pedestrians crossing and standing along the sidewalks. 

  6th Street looking west from 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. A streetcar bears the destination of Bimini Baths. At left is a sign, "Edwards Wildey."

(1923) - Exterior view of Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Los Angeles, located at the southwest corner of 4th and Main Streets. Note the architectural designs on the building. 

(1908) - View of West 6th Street from Pershing Square in 1908, with the Pacific Mutual Building seen on Olive Street.  Notice the woman dressed in early 1900's fashion and see how clean the sidewalks are!  They were probably brand new.

 (1924) - Exterior view of the Elks Club as seen from the park. View shows the architectural designs and statues at the top of the building, the corners and at the very top corners of the building.

 (Above) Built in 1930 this theater is just unbelievably magnificent!  The Los Angeles was to be the final and most spectacular of downtown’s movie palaces.
(Below)  Interior view of this historic theater.  
 S. Charles Lee, the architect, believed the show “began at the sidewalk.” The six floor lobby is a delicious confection that leads into the experience.  This is just too incredible.

(1935) - An exterior view of the west side of Central Library, with lawn and sidewalks extending in several directions across the lawn. Cars of 1930's vintage are parked on the street. 

(1936) - View of Bullock's department store on Wilshire Blvd. from the west. Cars are seen traveling east and west on Wilshire Blvd. James Webb, Engraving and Stationery store, is present in the background on the left.  Los Angeles is beginning its march, extending Wilshire to Santa Monica and the ocean.

Wilshire Boulevard as it stretches west from downtown through MacAthur Park was for decades a center of commerce, with a row of high-rise buildings once occupied by business powerhouses like Union Bank, Texaco, IBM and Getty Oil.     “The LA Times”

Houses of Faith are seen throughout Los Angeles.  
(Above) - The spectacular Immanuel Presbyterian Church (1928), 3300 Wilshire Boulevard.
 Designed in association with C.F. Skilling, was one of Patterson’s last and greatest designs.

(Below)  (1939) - View of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, at 3663 Wilshire Boulevard at Hobart Blvd. People are seen on the steps in front of the temple.

No date is provided for this vintage post card photo of Wilshire Blvd. looking towards the down town area but I would guess it's some time around the early 1930's.  Several landmark high rise buildings have made their appearance and are still part of the skyline today.

 (Above) Bunker Hill 1900.
(Below)  Bunker Hill as seen from the down town area.
What a difference a hundred years can make!

Building styles in early Los Angeles were dictated by the technology and materials of the day and were also mindful of the ravages of fire and earth quake.  For many years LA City Hall was the tallest building in LA.  It's imposing presence could be seen from almost any where in the down town area.  Catastrophic failure of building materials is also another consideration as buildings rise to ever higher structures.  The invention of the elevator was a major stepping stone in moving architecture upwards toward the sky.  Although cities like New York would benefit greatly from the innovations of the “Skyscraper” because of the limited availability of real estate, here in Los Angeles the city has the luxury to grow in all directions.

Expanding outward from the down town city core or Los Angeles proper, the move was on!  Real world Monopoly was a game for all in Southern California.  Build it, rent the office space, sell it and then build a newer bigger one.  By the 1950’s Los Angeles had Freeways moving in every direction leading from the down town area.  Urban sprawl  was afoot.  What I find really unusual about LA is that Skyscrapers have been build on one of the highest points of the city.  Prior to the development of "Bunker Hill" some of the tallest buildings were built in the "Century City" area of LA.

 Development began in the Century City area of LA in 1963.  The real estate had once been part of the 20th. Century Fox studio "Back Lot".  180 acres were sold by the studio and Century City was conceived to be a city with in a city.

The future architecture of the twenty-first century is already beginning to make it's appearance today.  Once again the old is making way for the new as Los Angeles reinvents itself Marble and stone have given way to glass and steel as the preferred building materials but I'm afraid that concrete is still with us.  The square and rectangle forms and shapes of more than a century are now being replaces with many new and wonderful shapes to please the eye and give us a new sense of space!

 There’s always something happening at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. Step inside to star studded culinary favorites and our world famous hospitality!  Major award shows. High profile celebrities. Red carpet events. What else could make Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE more amazing?

The old melds with the new:  Historic Chinese theater with new Hollywood & Highland
 shopping center and the Dolby Theater.

 If you're after a more urban lifestyle, the Ritz-Carlton hotel and residences in Los Angeles could be the perfect choice. There are a variety of luxury residences available in the tower, but the most desirable properties are undoubtedly the 12 penthouses.

 Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, designed by Frank O. Gehry.

This article only begins to showcase the historical gems to be seen here in Los Angeles.  We've seen some of the best examples spanning over a century of growth and  development of building technology as it has developed from the late nineteenth century up until today in the twenty-first century.  I've said it before and I'll say it again; I am so glad we have "Google Images" to reveal the past.  It has been my time machine for this project.  For me at least; I now have a better understanding of how a city grows and why the buildings from the past will eventually give way to the new in the future!

I'm Felicity Blaze Noodleman and you've been with the Noodleman Group on Google Blogger. 

 Los Angeles City Hall today commemorating “September Eleventh (9-11)”.  This landmark is swiftly approaching it’s 100th birthday in 2028.  Newer buildings have grown up around this landmark.

* “The Noodleman Group” is pleased to announce that we are now carrying a link to the “USA Today” news site.We installed the “widget/gadget” August 20, and it will be carried as a regular feature on our site.Now you can read“Noodleman” and then check in to “USA Today” for all the up to date News, Weather, Sports and more!Just scroll all the way down to the bottom of our site and hit the “USA Today” hyperlinks.Enjoy!

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