The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: July 27, 2008 - August 2, 2008

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Dodgers win in ninth: Aug. 2, 1958


1958_0802_garand02 Take a look at the little arsenal you could make for yourself 50 years ago. An M-1 Garand for $125 ($910/96 USD 2007). You could probably pick up half a dozen Victory Model Smith & Wesson .38s while you were at it.


Above, the U.S. Embassy demands the release of two Marines being held by Iraq.  


Dodgers win in the ninth over the Reds. Read the jump page below.
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Spring Street revisited

Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

This picture shows the later stages in the realignment of Spring Street. Demolition workers have sheared off the fronts of several buildings.


One of the most recognizable downtown landmarks--the Hall of Records (1908-1973).


Barely visible behind the Hall of Records is the courthouse, demolished after the Long Beach earthquake, and the Hall of Justice at Temple and Broadway, which has survived. Today, of course, Spring goes just east of the Hall of Justice.

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I missed this the first few times I looked at the photo. Here's a fellow in the middle of the picture next to an older style streetlight. Recall that by 1928, when City Hall opened, the streetlights looked like this. These 1920s style streetlights also appear in the 1920s farther south on Spring.

According to the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting, this is a five-globe Llewellyn, a style that was installed about 1900.

Interestingly enough, the bureau's website includes a photo of a carbon arc light from 1882 to 1885. The bureau says about 30 of these lights were installed on 150-foot poles. I'll have to reexamine some of the photos I have posted to see if I can find any of them.
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Here's another view of Spring, published May 19. 1929. Notice that we now have the newer style streetlights--and that one of the buildings has disappeared.


Here's a better view of the Hall of Records.


What else do we find in 1929? Aha! At left, traffic semaphore (and you thought they only existed in cartoons). And above, a crosswalk. I do not recall seeing a crosswalk in any earlier pictures I have examined of Spring, Broadway or Main. I'll have to do a little more digging. 


For a moment, I was thrilled because I thought these posters were advertising Erich von Stroheim's "Greed" (wouldn't that be cool?). Unfortunately, no. These posters are advertising auto dealer Perry H. Greer, who was running for mayor in 1929. Note the posters for the other candidates: Porter and Quinn.

At left, Perry H. Greer, local Hupmobile and Chrysler dealer who wanted to bring his business skills to city government. Greer ran fourth in the May 1929 primary, after John C. Porter, William Bonelli, John R. Quinn.

Porter was elected mayor in June 1929. Bonelli went on to write a little book called "Billion Dollar Blackjack."

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Spring Street revisited

Moss Photographer, 315 W. Pico St. WE stmore 2301, Los Angeles, Cal.

Unfortunately, The Times' Spring Street photo file has nothing that shows the transition at 1st Street in the critical period of the 1900s to the 1920s. Suddenly, we go from horses and buggies to what we recognize as a modern streetscape with vestiges of the past.


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And for comparison, here's Spring Street today via Google maps' street view.

The most prominent feature in our photo is City Hall, which opened in 1927. The city government formally transferred operations to City Hall on April 16, 1928. (A note on the back dates the photo to 1928).


Whatever the date, we find stacks of lumber in the street that could be for scaffolding or a reviewing stand.
Notice that Spring Street still has a kink in it. The Bank of Italy, 225 N. Spring, just past of City Hall, skews off at an angle. (Bonus fact: The institution merged with the Bank of America of California in 1930).

According to The Times, demolition of the buildings between Temple and Sunset Boulevard to allow realignment of Spring Street got underway in late 1930. The buildings to be torn down included the old Hall of Justice and an old County Jail being used as a storehouse. The Times predicted that realignment of Spring would improve the flow of traffic.   



Notice that by now we have street lighting on Spring. There are similar streetlight fixtures on Spring today, but without the long extension at the top.

Above, a roadster convertible with the city seal and a large spotlight. Note that cars are lined up on both sides of Spring despite the "No Parking" signs.


The most striking element of the photo: Buildings blocking the street. Well, not for much longer. I haven't been able to identify these structures. After the Phillips Block burned in 1912, a large hotel was proposed for the site, but clearly it wasn't built.

Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

I was surprised to see just how decrepit and seedy Spring Street had become by the mid-1920s. This is the 100 block of South Spring, about 1926. Email me

July 31, 1958


A car made in ... Japan? Built by some outfit called Toy-o-ta? You can't be serious. Hm. "33 m.p.g." I wonder what that means. Email me

Spring Street revisited


Above, the Nadeau Hotel (sometimes called the Hotel Nadeau) at Spring and 1st streets (now the site of The Times Building), in an undated drawing.


An early ad for a business in the Nadeau, 1889.
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Demolition of the Nadeau Hotel, 1932.


Times columnist Lee Shippey writes about the sad farewells to the Nadeau, 1932.


Dropcap_s_1915_2 peaking of Spring Street, here's a bit on the Nadeau Hotel, a Los Angeles landmark built by Remi Nadeau in 1882 as the Nadeau House. 

Nadeau was a Canadian who came to Los Angeles about 1867. He began in the freight business, hauling bullion from mines in Inyo County to Los Angeles and hauling goods from Los Angeles to the miners in Inyo County. According to The Times, Nadeau had a 2,400-acre vineyard, which the paper called one of the largest in the world. 

The hotel went through some difficult times after Nadeau died in 1887. It closed for several weeks in 1912 while it was in receivership and was again in receivership in 1916.

Over the years, it was the site of countless luncheons of political and social groups, and fraternal organizations, and occasionally the site of crimes and accidents, notably an employee who was crushed by the elevator.

Bonus fact: The site of the Nadeau Hotel was previously owned by Louis Roeder, a German immigrant who operated a blacksmith shop there. At his death in 1915 at the age of 80, he still owned an adjoining lot, The Times said.

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Mystery photo

Los Angeles Times file photo


Some people have asked for another clew. Fair enough, how's this?
I thought I'd take a break from the obscure starlet genre. Who is he? (And in response to a frequent question, if nobody guesses the mystery man/woman, the picture goes into the pile to be posted again in a few months. Of course, I could simply reveal whom these folks are, but what fun is that?)

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  • Harpo Marx? Interesting guess. But no (and a hard-boiled egg).
  • Is that Ann Sheridan on the left wearing the hat? (Rotter) Yes it is! Very good.

July 30, 1938



Dropcap_t_1933 he search is on for a candidate to face Mayor Frank Shaw in the recall election. The Times story mentions Councilman Stephen W. Cunningham, but more important, it says that Judge Fletcher Bowron and Supervisor John Anson Ford "have indicated their unwillingness to enter the race."

Also note the story about the Police Department establishing a sex crimes unit and pay particular attention to the comment that "a psychiatric examination will be made of all sex offenders with the object of recommending to the court the proper correctional as well as the punitive procedure for their rehabilitation."

If you know anything about LAPD history, you are going to think of Dr. Joseph Paul De River, the police psychiatrist and author of several books, including "The Sexual Criminal." De River interviewed virtually every sex criminal in Los Angeles and played a role in the Black Dahlia case.

At left, there are some wonderful details about early Los Angeles in a story about the retirement of city Treasurer Ned T. Powell.

And scaffolding is removed from Union Station.

Below, a 300-pound burlesque queen.
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Spring Street revisited

C.C. Pierce & Co. Photographers, Los Angeles, Cal., U.S.A.

An undated photograph of the Phillips Block, 1887-1912.

Dropcap_a_1901 After looking at the old photos of Spring Street over the last few days, I wanted to learn more about the Phillips Block, a seemingly lovely building north of 1st Street. The Phillips Block, designed by R.J. Reeve looked wonderful--but even before it was finished there were problems with the construction, see story below left.

In December 1888, developer Louis Phillips denied charges that, for example, "in Chicago or New York this building would be condemned in 20 minutes. He also denied that "the building is nothing but a shell and a very light earthquake might bring the whole thing to the street."

The Times lavished praise on the People's Store, which opened in the building in July 1888.


Above, books on sale at the People's Store, in the Phillips Block.



Above, in the final days of the Phillips Block, after most of its tenants had left, including the Hamburger Brothers' store, it housed an auctioneer.
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By 1912, however, the Phillips Block was considered a deathtrap and the worst fire hazard in the city.

Below, possibly my most favorite fact in a very long while: In 1911 "mice and matches" were blamed for 12 fires in the city of Los Angeles.


A few months after the 1912 article was published, the building, in fact, burned in what was believed to be arson. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze, which drew enormous crowds, The Times said. 



Nuestro Pueblo


Below, Ducommun and Garey streets, the general area where this picture was drawn, via Google maps' street view. 

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Lovers' death pact at downtown hotel


The Hotel Ramona on Spring Street.

I stumbled across this story while researching something else and it's too good not to post. From The Times, Dec, 28, 1891. Email me


Spring Street revisited

C.C. Pierce & Co. Photographers, Los Angeles, Cal. U.S.A.

This picture was taken from Spring and 2nd streets about 1895, and shows the reverse angle of Spring and 1st, which we looked at yesterday.


One of the most prominent buildings in this photo is the courthouse, which was at Fort (later renamed Broadway) and Temple.


Above, the courthouse, which was torn down in 1935 after being badly damaged in the Long Beach earthquake, a phenomenon I call "seismic Darwinism." (Thanks to Brady Westwater, I now know that the 1888 cornerstone is outside the Criminal Courts Building). By the way, the two brass cannons that used to be at the courthouse, originally from Ft. Moore,  were to be installed in a park in Montebello to commemorate the Battle of Paso de Bartolo, according to a 1941 Times story.


The Nadeau Hotel, now the site of The Times Building, at 1st Street and Spring. The Nadeau was built in 1882 by Remi Nadeau and demolished in 1932. Note that the gingerbread decoration at the top is false front and disappears in later photos.


We also have a better view of the Phillips Block, 1886-1913
. A Times article reviewing major Los Angeles buildings for 1886 attributed the Phillips Block to architect R.J. Reeve. The Times gives the dimensions as 120 feet on Spring Street, 131 feet, 6 inches on Franklin Street and a height of 120 feet at the main center of the building. Construction materials were brick, granite and iron, and the cost was $125,000 ($2,850,281.51 USD 2007). Stay tuned for more on the Phillips Block.

And finally, we get a good view of the crazy angle in Spring Street. Today, of course, Spring has been realigned so that it's straight, and it's been widened.

And why was there a kink in Spring Street? The answer is complicated. At one time, Spring (originally Primavera when Los Angeles' streets had Spanish names) went in a straight line from the early plaza. Instead of taking a bend at 1st Street as it went south, Spring originally angled through the site of the Nadeau Hotel, the corner of what is now Broadway and 3rd Street, Hill and 4th Street, and Olive and 5th Street.
Below, thumbnail histories of Los Angeles' streets from 1896, including an explanation of why they were 28 feet wide. Warning: This story describes a bullfight in Los Angeles and refers to Calle de los Negros, later known as "N-word Alley."   Email me


Spring Street revisited


C. C. Pierce Photographer, 1572 W. Pico, Los Angeles

This photograph of Spring Street, looking south from Temple, is slightly later than the one in the previous entry and was taken about 1896. 


Notice that our single-track, horse-drawn streetcars have vanished. Instead, we have parallel tracks for cars powered by--what's this? A cable! Also notice that Spring has been paved with bricks.
According to The Times, the City Council granted a franchise to the Los Angeles Cable Railway Co. in 1887. The route began at Spring 200 feet south of 1st, went along Spring to Main, Upper Main Street, Alameda and San Fernando streets, and Downey Avenue to the intersection with Workman. The fare was not to exceed 5 cents per passenger ($1.14 USD 2007).   

At left, an 1889 accident involving a buggy that was caught in the tracks for the cable car. Notice that the team of horses ran away and one of them broke a window before being caught.


Another detail from the photo shows the Nadeau Hotel at 1st and Spring (now the site of The Times Building). To the left is Jevne's grocery store. Also notice the tower at the center of the picture.

The tower visible in the center of the picture is City Hall, then located on Broadway. The building was demolished for a parking lot, but the annex remains as the Victor Clothing building.

I think this pedestal clock is a wonderful detail from a 19th century streetscape. London Clothing Co. later became Harris & Frank.

The unhappy fate of photographer Lemuel S. Ellis, who worked for C.C. Pierce and died in 1902.

This imposing building is the Phillips Block and the location has an interesting history. Los Angeles' first City Hall was located here in what was known as the Rocha House, an adobe on Spring between Temple and 1st on an unnamed street.

In 1853, Juan Temple sold the house and lot to Los Angeles County, which in turn sold a share of the building to the city, according to a 1930 Times story. Because a building on the property was used as a jail, the unnamed street became known as Jail Street and, after neighbors' protests, was renamed Franklin Street in 1872.

According to the 1930 Times story, criminals were hanged from the portico of the Rocha House, including a murderer and his two companions on Nov. 21, 1863.

In 1883, the city sold the Rocha House to Louis Phillips and used the money to build another City Hall at Spring and 2nd.  Phillips demolished the Rocha adobe to make way for his five-story Phillips Block. The building, which housed the People's Store, was destroyed by a spectacular fire in 1912 and torn down in 1913, according to The Times.

And finally, we find a young boy being led, presumably by his father. Are they headed for London Clothing to get a new outfit? We can only wonder.

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