Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Los Angeles in 1912

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.22.59 AMI came across the coolest film clip ever yesterday when I was making the rounds on Facebook – this one from my friends at SoCal Historic Architecture. Head over and follow them if you are a fan of LA history. The clip in question features a few views around Los Angeles in 1912. Quite clearly, some things have not changed a bit: traffic is still terrible, pedestrians still wander out into the middle of the street, and bicyclists still disregard all rules of the road to their own peril.  But some things have changed. For example, we no longer have an alligator farm, and as far as I know, ostriches are in short supply – at least within the city limits. As far a public transportation – the 1912 version was first-rate…today we are slowly reclaiming some of that nascent efficiency.

At any rate, I am certain my Angeleno friends will enjoy this film clip as will anyone who has an interest in early-twentieth century urban history.

With compliments,
Keith

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 7.27.31 AMHi all – I would just like to share a few words with my Los Angeles neighbors – and really anyone with a soft spot for LA mid-century architecture.

There seems to be a rising outpouring of sentimentalism and displeasure over the impending razing of the Chase Bank situated on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Blvd…to be replaced by one of the dreaded shop/live/work superstructures that are popping up all over town.

I’ll admit, the unique 1960 structure with its distinctive angular roof is pretty easy on the eyes – and I suppose it will be sad to see it go. But without lamenting the building’s passing or celebrating its demise – I would just like to point out that the construction of the bank in 1959-60 displaced another historical Hollywood landmark of great significance – one that everyone seems to have forgotten.

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The Garden of Allah, once a private residence built in 1913 and later owned by silent film star Alla Nazimova, was converted into a hotel in the 1920s. Famous residents included F. Scott Fitzgerald. This beautiful example of early-twentieth century Southern California architecture came down in 1959…but not before one last Hollywood bash to send it off. Up went the Lytton Savings and Loan (now Chase Bank), and not incidentally – a hideous eye sore of a strip mall.

So, if we are going to shed sentimental tears as the bank passes over to the other side, then let us likewise raise a glass to the Garden of Allah.

With compliments,

Keith

LA Story

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 3.30.38 PMGreetings all – today I have been doing a good deal of reading about my most favorite city and adopted hometown, Los Angeles. This  metropolis, the City of Angeles, emerged, grew, and prospered in the most unlikely of ways. As part of my web-course series, I am in the beginning stages of organizing themes and a narrative that will tackle the history of this great city for a world of viewers…and perhaps offer something instructive for the thousands who move here each month. These few words, penned by writer Morris Markey in 1932, struck me as good a starting place as any:

As I wandered about Los Angeles, looking for the basic meaning of the place, the fundamental source of its wealth and its economic identity, I found myself quite at sea. The Chamber of Commerce people told me about the concentration of fruit, the shipping, the Western branch factories put up by concerns in the East. But none of these things seemed the cause of a city. They seemed rather the effect, rising from an inexplicable accumulation of people – just as the immense dealings in second-hand automobiles and the great turnover of real estate were an effect. It struck me as an odd thing that here, alone of all the cities in America, there was no plausible answer to the question, “Why did a town spring up here and why has it grown so big?”

Big indeed…and incessantly, inexorably  growing. Traffic alone will attest to that. As it were, I have made a three-picture study of LA traffic on Instagram today…just for the visual recognition that the issue seems to have been with us for some time now. At any rate, I believe there is an answer to the riddle of Los Angeles, and I am thus putting together the skeletal framework for the web-course City of Angeles: A History of Los Angeles as I finish production of my American Civil War course. The flesh is on deck…and those of you who are part of the crew will get the first crack at it.

With compliments,

Keith

PS – if you want to get a head start, here are a couple of books worth reading.

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The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850-1930 by Robert M. Fogelson

 

 

 

 

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Southern California: An Island on the Land by Carey McWilliams

Stanton Post, GAR – Angeles Rosewood Cemetery

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 6.15.54 PMGreetings all – today I went to visit the Stanton Post, Grand Army of the Republic cemetery plot at the Angeles Rosewood Cemetery in Los Angeles. One of the older area cemeteries, I found it to retain its antiquated (for LA) charm, but also thought it in need of drastic attention. The grounds are overgrown and the lawns dead in many areas, and a great deal of the stones and monuments are in a grim state of disrepair. This is especially the unfortunate condition of the veterans’ plot – consecrated by the Stanton Post, GAR in 1908. Here rest Union veterans of the Civil War and United States soldiers from the subsequent Indian Wars and the War with Spain in 1898.

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By the way, this is an integrated plot, something that cannot be said of the other early-twentieth century cemeteries in the area.

With compliments,

Keith

Petersburg in The Birth of a Nation

IMG_3607If you are watching The Birth of a Nation and you are wondering why the battlefield near Petersburg does not look much like Virginia it’s because 1) you have a keen eye and 2) it’s Burbank, California.

I was hiking in the Hollywood Hills the other day and came up on a good vista of the area – now Forest Lawn Cemetery. Much of the scene pictured in the immediate foreground was the Petersburg “set,” which stretched for several miles. Griffith oversaw the scenes from a tower and shouted direction – big megaphone in hand: just as you might imagine a silent film director would look, sans the jodhpurs.

So we have Virginia with chaparral – odd to be sure. Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got!

The_Birth_of_a_Nation_war_sceneWith compliments,

Keith