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Random Shot -- Update

February 10, 2009 | 11:00 am


Marsh_strong_semaphore
Los Angeles Times file photo
I received a couple of interesting notes about the photo of the Marsh-Strong Building. Although the photo isn't dated, it's evident the building hadn't opened yet, so I would place it about 1913.

Marsh_strong_kioskRetired LAPD Officer Max Hurlbut writes:

Call Box Sam (SAM FLOWERS) & I have been communicating regarding your excellent photos of the Marsh-Strong Building at the triangle of Spring/Main Streets, between & 8th & 9th.

I asked SAM about the street car semaphore signal on the N/E corner of Main & 8th in your photo.  He pointed out the control kiosk/tower across the street.

Downtown horse & auto traffic, by 1911, was horrendous.  The 34-man Traffic Squad of Sergeant J. L. BUTLER used the "whistle system" (one blast for east/west traffic & two for north/ south) to keep things moving.

The Acme Traffic Signal Company (located in 621 Marsh-Strong) convinced the City they could coordinate heavy traffic with the world's first connected system of mechanical traffic devices.  The "Acme" used moving semaphore arms like railroad signals, a red & green light, and a gong to sound changes.

The first five were installed along Broadway in 1920 and, by 1926, expanded to 100.  The Acme monopoly ended in 1931 with tri-light signals installed along Wilshire Boulevard.  (I have the last Acme, pulled from North Main Street at the Plaza in December 1956).

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