Friday, July 25, 2014




(ca. 1890) - The Los Angeles Plaza, around 1890. The one story building on the left is the former residence of Don Augustin Olvera. The large two story on the right is the former residence of Don Vicente Lugo. The LA City Water Company building is at the northwest corner of Marchessault and North Alameda (at the center of the photo). (ca. 1892) - Aerial view of the Los Angeles Plaza, circa 1892. The adobe to the left is the former residence and occasional courtroom of Judge Augustin Olvera. 

The large two-story building on the right is the former residence of Don Vicente Lugo and the first home of St. Vincent's College. The Los Angeles City Water Company has a painted sign, and is visible on the northwest corner of Marchessault and North Alameda Street. El Pueblo: The 1781 birthplace of the City, El Pueblo de Los Angeles is today a 44-acre historic park. Originally a small community near the Los Angeles River centered around a central plaza – La Plaza de Los Angeles – El Pueblo is home to La Placita Catholic Church, Olvera Street, the Chinese American Museum, and other landmarks. The State began buying property at El Pueblo in 1953, but abandoned the project in 1990. The 1982 General Plan for El Pueblo has yet to be carried out.

* Special thanks to "Google Images", "Water and Power Associates", "USC Degital Archives", "New York Times Photo Archive", "The Los Angeles Times", 
and "" among others!

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman
Los Angeles, CA

The inspiration for this weeks article literally came from Los Angeles rich history itself.  Now how can that be you may ask yourself?  All of today's photographs were made years ago; in some cases, well over 100 years ago!    Most of the scenery has long since disappeared with only a hint here and there of what the area must have looked like before today.  You see, while much of the country was only emerging to become the America of the Twentieth Century, Los Angeles was already there and setting the example for what a modern metropolis should be.

The gilded age was in full swing and would be soon become the art deco styling of the Twentieth Century.  We are captivated by the transformation taking place.  The photographs left behind tell the story of what was here before.  What life must have been like for those Angeleno's who lived here.  These are only a few of at least hundreds, maybe thousands to survive as memento's for posterity.

Los Angeles, at night, 1920. 518 S. Broadway
Opened: July 30, 1914. The L.A. Times reported that over $10,000 had been spent preparing Quinn's SuperbaSeating: 700 is one figure. Moving Picture World before the opening in 1914 gave capacity as 900.
Quinn’s Superba Theatre was located on the site where the Roxie Theatre is today on S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
Quinn’s Superba Theatre was next to the Cameo Theatre (formerly Clune’s Broadway Theatre) and the Pantages Theatre (later Arcade Theatre).
Date 1920 SourceThe New York Times photo archive, via their online store, hereAuthorUnderwood & UnderwoodPermission
Reusing this file)Public Domain,_1920.JPG#file

(ca. 1915) - Exterior view of the front of Quinn's Superba Theatre, with a view down the street where signs can be seen for the Pantages Vaudeville.  
Historical Notes
Quinn’s Superba Theatre was located on the site where the Roxie Theatre is today on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. It was next to the Cameo and the Pantages.

Looking west on First Street from Main to its corners with Spring, Broadway, and Hill.

Gone are the days when derricks might have populated your front yard. First Street, Los Angeles City oil field circa 1900, courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles Museum of Natural History.

We look back at the east face of the south 100s block of Spring. All those wires! The corner of the Bryson Block looms darkly at extreme left.

This bucolic scene was Los Angeles in the 1890s, Third Street looking west, past Hill Street. A church on the northeast corner is within walking distance of the residences. That’s the Crocker Mansion at the top of Bunker Hill, a landform that effectively cut off this part of the city from growth to the west.
[Image is from the University of Southern California archives.]

Looking South East down 3rd Street across Hill Street, 1876

MacArthur Park, then named Westlake Park, circa 1892. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Park-poor Los Angeles: perhaps it's no surprise that many of the city's earliest parks were born of refuse lands. Flush with public land inherited from California's land grant days, Los Angeles was practically giving away real estate in the latter half of the nineteenth century, donating lots to private individuals or auctioning off tracts to fill the city's coffers. But some lands eluded buyers.

(ca. 1895) - View of Spring Street looking north from 2nd Street. The courthouse can be seen at upper-center and the Nadeau Hotel in center of photo.  
Historical Notes
The Nadeau Hotel stood on the southeast corner of 1st and Spring Streets until 1932, when it was demolished to make room for the current Los Angeles Times building.

(1924) - Hotel Rosslyn and Hart Brothers Rosslyn Hotel Annex, Los Angeles  
Historical Notes
In 1923, as a result of the prosperity enjoyed by the Rosslyn and the surrounding district, the Rosslyn Annex was built across 5th Street, and today is still called the Rosslyn Hotel. The two buildings were connected by an underground marble tunnel, portions of which survive to this day.
Both buildings were designed by architect John Parkinson, who was one of the most prolific architects in Downtown Los Angeles, responsible for much of the area's finest architecture, including Union Station, Bullock's Wilshire, the Title Guarantee Building, the Continental Building, the Alexandria Hotel, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, Security Bank (now the Los Angeles Theatre Center), the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and Los Angeles City Hall.

(1916) – View of the Merritt Building located at 8th and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.  
Historical Notes
Hulett C. Merritt, described by the Dec. 11, 1910 Los Angeles Herald as a "millionaire and financier" in an article about the planned Merritt Building in downtown Los Angeles.  At the time, Merritt was pushing city leaders to waive building height restrictions from 180 feet to 233 feet.  Merritt is reported as saying he would scrap plans for the Italian Renaissance-style monument to his family unless he was allowed the height variance, otherwise "its beauty will be marred and I want to build for the artistic value more than for any profit I may get out of it."  Originally from Minnesota, Merritt had sold his interests in the Merritt - Rockefeller syndicate in 1891 for more than $81 million.
When the Merritt Building opened in 1915 it looked quite nice. Merritt’s request to construct a 23-story edifice was turned down by the City Council. He scaled back his plans and ended up with a ten-story design that set a rendition of Minerva's Temple on top of a three-story base.*^#*

"Engine Company 9 On A Run"
The era of the horses began in 1877 with the purchase of two horses for the volunteer company Hose Company 1 and ended July 19, 1921, when Water Tower 1, (the Gorter Water Tower), assigned to Engine Co. 24, was taken out of service and sent to the shops to be motorized.

Source: Los Angeles Fireman's Relief Association
Engine Company No. 28

644 South Figueroa Street 

Circa 1913
OpenedJuly 15, 1913Cost of Land $ 37,750.Cost of Building$ 65,110.ArchitectJ. P. Krempel &

W.E. ErkesContractorKuhach & Co.Sq.Ft.  Site 50x156 7,800Sq.Ft.  Main Bld.20,831.

(1913 to 1969)

Several airports around the LA area serviced air transportation – Glendale and Burbank along with Los Angeles Municipal Airport (Mines Field) located southwest of downtown L.A. (ca. 1928)* - Administration building in foreground and hangars in background at Mines Field (later to become the L.A. International Airport)

Ryan manager of the King Eddy examines of the murals from the basement speakeasy days of the King Eddy. The Eddy was moved beneath the ground floor to the basement. The former saloon was leased out to a piano store. Patrons would knock on the back door of the store, give a password and then enter the 2,000 square foot basement to enjoy a drink in Los Angeles. The King Eddy basement had a 130 foot long tunnel that connected to a network of service and utility shafts across downtown Los Angeles – perfect for deliveries of bootleg liquor. The eleven miles of tunnels were built in 1910 for the hotels in the area to avoid street congestion in downtown's growing business district.

While the rest of the country was forced to go dry, underneath Downtown Los Angeles the party never stopped.  Despite prohibition laws, 11 miles of service tunnels became passageways to basement speakeasies with innocuous fronts above ground. Patrons were able to move about under the city, boozing it up without a care in the world, while the Mayor's office ran the supply of hootch.

King Eddy Saloon, an establishment that has been alive and kicking on 5th and Main since the 1900s, hid in plain sight fronting as a piano store. Luckily, local officials took no issue with King Eddy's sudden interest in music, and the business not only survived, but prospered. Now an official saloon once more, its basement still remains part of the tunnel system, littered with crumbling brick lines and graffiti murals.

Aside from the service tunnels, there are also abandoned subway and equestrian tunnels from the days before personal vehicles began clogging up LA's city streets. There are stories of these tunnels being used by police to transport prisoners, bank security to move large sums of cash safely, and both coroners and mobsters to store bodies. Now they are mostly closed off, but some are still accessible and are used as film locations, easy shortcuts by city employees between buildings, and a place for runners to train on the rare occasion of bad weather.

Nov. 30, 1925: An old horse-drawn car makes a trip during grand opening ceremonies for the higher-tech Pacific Electric subway, the city's first subway, which stretched a mile between 1st Street and Glendale Boulevard and Hill Street between 4th and 5th streets. This photo was published in the Dec. 1, 1925, Los Angeles Times.

Angelenos practice an air raid drill in the former Pacific Electric subway in 1958.

Rare Images Of Los Angeles’ Forgotten Lost Subway By Dorothy Tan, 03 Jan 2013

Los Angeles-based blogger Alissa of Gelatobaby went on a tour of the city’s former subway terminal building and captured these intriguing and little-seen pictures of an abandoned segment of the subway network.

A secret underground world of dark tunnels and vintage signage, the dilapidated condition of the lost subway makes it look like a set out of a horror movie.

After being used as a fallout shelter, the subway tunnel was sealed up in the 1960s—see more rare and haunting beautiful pictures of this forgotten subterranean space below:

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