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When the past makes news

October 23, 2008 |  7:00 am
Photograph by the Los Angeles Police Department, Dec. 4, 1950

D.R. No. 324-936. The photographer didn't initial his work.

Photos give a glimpse into LAPD history

An archive of images spanning from the Prohibition era to Woodstock -- which was once slated for destruction -- exhibits the evolution of the city and policing.

By Andrew Blankstein
Times Staff Writer

Photograph by the Los Angeles Police Department

Investigators stand with a body in the Los Angeles River, Feb. 17, 1955. Note the D.R. number (547-627) and the initials of the photographer, R.Rittenhouse.

A man lies on the tiled floor illuminated by the afternoon sun as blood streams from a head wound, out an open door and onto the sidewalk.

The grisly incident, immortalized by one of the Los Angeles Police Department's crime scene photographers, was shot inside a dark hallway in July 1932, after a deadly shooting at a Vermont Avenue jewelry store.

Another vintage black-and-white image, circa 1955, shows several detectives in fedoras and overcoats standing over a dead body in the rain-swollen Los Angeles River.

Still another offers a tight shot of a sofa and blood-stained newspaper, leaving the clear impression that an unseen victim met an untimely end.

The prints are part of an immense photographic archive discovered earlier this decade that was tucked away in a corner of the LAPD's downtown evidence storage facility.

Once slated for destruction, the collection of nearly a million pieces -- the majority of them film negatives -- span from the Prohibition era to Woodstock, a period of prolific growth in Los Angeles.

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A Los Angeles Times clipping on the Gordon Northcott case.

'Changeling' revisits a crime that riveted L.A.

The Walter Collins case would end up becoming the O.J. Simpson drama of its day.

By Rachel Abramowitz
Times Staff Writer

One of the most notorious crimes of Jazz Age Los Angeles began quietly enough with a lost boy.

But the Walter Collins case would end up becoming the O.J. Simpson drama of its day, a horrifying crime that inspired a media frenzy and captivated the Southland. What started as the real-life tale of a missing child would eventually take on a much larger significance in the then-burgeoning city. Though the details may have faded into the miasma of time, its commentary on corruption and abuse of authority, on female empowerment and on the ultimate price of justice, continues to echo throughout the canyons of L.A.'s collective memory.

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Siqueiros mural restoration targets 2010 completion

Photograph by Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times
By Augustin Gurza
Times Staff Writer

Every time I revisit the saga of the Siqueiros mural at Olvera Street, I always discover something new. This time, while reporting an update for my Culture Mix column on plans to once again exhibit the long-lost mural, I discovered that the famed Mexican artist had actually started work on a replacement for “America Tropical,” which had been whitewashed soon after completion in 1932.

Hollywood director Jesus Trevino had visited David Alfaro Siqueiros in Mexico for a documentary he did in 1971, inspired by the desire to restore the mural to public view.  The director remembers Siqueiros Mural_2 saying: “Before you start spending all this time refurbishing, why don’t you just let me do a new one?” So the artist started “America Tropical 2,” working in his Cuernavaca studio where the mural panels could be ingeniously raised and lowered through the floor so he didn’t have to climb on scaffolding the old-fashioned way.

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Modernist architecture: feeling the pinch too?

Homes by Lautner, Neutra aren't fetching the prices they once brought.

Lautner Tim Street-Porter
Lautner's 1949 Schaffer house.
By David Hay
Special to The Times

Classic houses by Modernist architects -- once relatively immune to swings in the real estate market -- are no longer able to fetch the premiums they once commanded, if recent prices are any indication.

John Lautner's 1949 Schaffer residence in Glendale, originally listed at $1,958,000 in the spring and then reduced to $1,775,000, has been reduced again, to $1,573,000.

The architect's 1947 Gantvoort house in La Cañada Flintridge, which sold for $2 million in 2004 and again in 2007, recently dropped its price to $1.65 million. It has been on the market since February.

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