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.