The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: July 20, 2008 - July 26, 2008

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Mystery photo

Los Angeles Times file photo

Well, who is she?
  • Joan Davis? Alas, no.
  • Tempest Storm? I'm afraid not.
  • Lucille Ball? Sorry, no.
  • Hedy Lamarr? Alas, no.
  • Susan Hayward? I'm afraid not.
  • Paulette Goddard? Alas, no.
  • Martha Vickers? I"m afraid not.
  • Florence Rice or Madge Evans? Sorry, no.
  • Bette Davis? Sorry, no.
  • She is sort of a Lilli Palmer type. (Alexa Foreman). Yes, this is the former Mrs. Rex Harrison (one of them, anyway) in a 1937 photo. Congratulations!

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July 21, 1958


Dropcap_r_ironworks_3 ather than even make an attempt to explain what's going on in the Mideast in this period, I'll defer to Robert G. Neumann, below. I can only echo what Hanson W. Baldwin said Feb. 21, 1958, when he referred to the  "military and political quicksand of the Middle East."

Here's a quote from Neumann's piece:

"... but all the other Arab countries, with the qualified exception of Lebanon, live under dictatorships, certainly Egypt above all others. Nor is democracy a meaningful concept among the Arabs."

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Spring Street revisited

Photograph by Munsey Studios, winter 1900


Dropcap_i_fairbanks_2 found another image of the Ramona Hotel on Spring Street from about the same era as the earlier picture.  Unfortunately, I scanned it at such great resolution that my computer can't handle the whole thing so I have to crop it down to smaller pieces. Here's a lovely detail from the overall shot showing a wagon and a streetcar. And I've solved a mystery! The utility poles support the overhead cables for the streetcars. (In later times, the cables were attached to large metal rings in buildings. The streetcars may be gone, but the rings are still visible in many older buildings, including The Times). And I'm so happy to have found the little child sitting on the lap of the man driving the wagon. No car seats in the good old days.

And here's a photo especially for the Daily Mirror readers who like the streetcars. Isn't this a wonderful photograph? Notice the utility pole for the streetcar cable. You can even make out the motorman and a man riding backward to the left. All aboard for Pico Heights!  And I just know that someone is going to send me the history of LARY Car 111. Email me

Nuestro Pueblo


The 400 block of Jackson Street no longer exists. It's in the middle of this complex, as shown on Google Earth:

I found something really wonderful in researching the temple: A 1950 Sanborn map with an overlay of Little Tokyo from 1940. It's from Pease Press.

Spring Street

Photograph by Munsey Studios

The Hotel Ramona was on the southwest corner of Spring and 3rd streets (305 1/2 S. Spring) on the Ramona Block. It apparently went out of business in 1912, when its furnishings were auctioned off. By 1917 it was replaced by a Beacon shoe store.

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Spring Street from Google maps' street view. Notice that the building on the northwest corner of Spring and 3rd is still there.

Dropcap_o_baker02 ne thing I enjoy about going through the old photos is that I never know what I'm going to find. Here's a historic picture of South Spring Street. I am assuming that it's a contact print from a glass negative because there is incredible detail that's only visible in a large scan.

For example, there's the family at left, on the sidewalk just about to walk out of the frame. And there's a fellow leaning against a carriage waiting for something or someone. Notice the sharp shadows, indicating that the photo was taken in the afternoon. 
Ramona_standard_sewing Adding to the clutter of the street are some large crates or boxes left by the curb. Notice that the back of the buggy advertises Standard Sewing Machines.

Here's a detail of the photo. Note that Spring takes an oblique angle at 1st Street. Obviously it hadn't been realigned yet. We can also see that the sidewalks are crowded and traffic is a little more chaotic than we might expect from the overall picture.
1901_0810_campbell Fortunately, almost every building has signage, so we can make out Campbell's Curio Store and Eaton Music Company, narrowing the date of the photo to about 1900. We also find signs for Mrs. Keiffer Employment, Reynolds Photo, Dr. Seaton the Chiropodist, and "Tub Baths and Massage."

Speaking of traffic, notice that we have electric streetcars (the last horse-drawn streetcars didn't disappear from the city until about 1903).

But in addition to the streetcars, we have wagons, buggies, coaches and bicycles. Suddenly Spring Street is starting to seem a bit busy.

Below left, a bicyclist and another bike leaned against the curb. In fact, there are several bicycles that have been left against the curb on both sides of the street. In this era, businesses made heavy use of bike messengers and they were often described as young hoodlums.

And we have pedestrians, crossing in the middle of the street, presumably after the northbound streetcar has passed. One thing that's missing is crosswalks. Notice the ghost of one shadowy bicyclist who was apparently in motion when the picture was taken. I would guess that our photographer used a fairly slow shutter speed, a tight aperture with the focus set for infinity.

There's no such thing as underground cables at this time, so we have utility poles strung with electrical wires.

What else is missing besides crosswalks? How about streetlights? I don't see any lighting except for this curious object outside what appears to be the Orpheum Theater at 235 S. Spring.
1900_0205_autos Here's what else is missing: Automobiles. "The day when the horse is to be a thing of the past on our streets is not yet in sight," The Times said on Feb. 5, 1900.

"The advance of the automobile, while not very rapid in this country, will be sure, but before it can come into general use the price will have to come down considerably, as at present these horseless carriages are practically out of the reach of people of moderate means."

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