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Bullet of Mystery – Part 4

May 22, 2011 |  3:21 am




July 11, 1901, Lionel Comport lionel_comport_nd_crop


In case you just tuned in, I’m posting a small case study of research I did with Caroline Comport on her grandfather Lionel Comport for her master’s thesis. Researching Los Angeles is a treasure hunt, and every time I dig into the resources I find something new.


Bullet of Mystery – Part 1
Bullet of Mystery – Part 2
Bullet of Mystery – Part 3
 
In Part 2, we looked at some of the resources for online newspapers ,and in Part 3 we examined sites that have property records on the corner where Lionel Comport was shot in 1901. This time we’ll look at Sanborn maps of the neighborhood.  




 

  Sanborn Maps Splash  


The Los Angeles Public Library offers online access to Sanborn maps of Los Angeles to anyone with a library card. These detailed maps were prepared for fire insurance companies and show the footprint of buildings, plus information on stairways, elevators, construction materials, types of windows, etc.

Cities are typically divided into several books, with a street index at the front of each book.  There’s a learning curve to navigating the maps because the pages are large and many of them were broken into two scans.  Be patient and explore them thoroughly.

  Sanborn Map Logo  


Fans of old lettering (you know who you are) this is for you! 

  toberman_20th_sanborn03  


On July 10, 1901, Lionel Comport was shot in the back as he was turning his milk wagon west from Toberman Street onto 20th Street. Here’s our crime scene as it appeared in the 1894 Sanborn maps. Notice that I had to combine two pages to show the entire intersection. Such are the joys of research.

  Sanborn maps, Toberman  

 
And here’s how the neighborhood looked in 1906. All those vacant lots have filled. Let’s get a closer look.

  Sanborn maps, Toberman  


And there’s our 1901 crime scene. Wouldn’t it be interesting to compare it to a satellite map?



  toberman and 20th, satellite  


This is my attempt to combine a Sanborn map with a satellite image from Google Earth. It is more difficult than you might expect. 

  Toberman and 20th, Google Earth  

And finally, this is our 1901 crime scene as seen from Google Earth. Notice the 3-D rendering of some of the buildings. Very cool.

Next: On the frontiers of medicine.
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