While clicking around on the Internet Archives website for some useful film footage I stumbled across this great six-minute film plate of a drive through Bunker Hill and Downtown Los Angeles in the 1940s. Studios would shoot shorts like these for background footage in feature films. Most of the apartment buildings, retail structures, and Victorian homes are long gone – though I did catch a glimpse (at 2:20) of City Hall in the distance. There is no sound on this film so you will have to use your imagination. And if you pay attention, you will see that the film crew is being followed by a pair in a black sedan. I wonder who was in it…
As far as I know – this is the first aerial shot of the City of Angels. Taken on the afternoon of June 26, 1887 from a hot air balloon at 9,000 feet by photographer Edwin H. Husher, the image was a publicity stunt orchestrated by young newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst – meant to sell advertising. From what I gather after a little Internet poking, this stunt caused quite the stir below…residents gathered on their rooftops to have a look at the lofty spectacle.
But more interesting is the city itself. By 1887 it still remained somewhat rough and tumble – not yet rivaling it’s northern metropolis sister, San Francisco. This image captures LA in its formative years – the 1880s were the height of a Southern California boom cycle…and here we can see the outline a future urban behemoth. I can imagine the construction below on Bunker Hill…Victorian mansions overseeing a growing city. The mansions are all gone now, which is a shame. But if you want to have a look at a few at the end of their lives, have a look HERE.