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Spring Street revisited

July 27, 2008 |  8:14 am

Los Angeles Times file photo

When this photo was taken, about 1883, Spring Street took an oblique angle at 1st. We're looking north, possibly from the Nadeau Hotel at what is now the site of The Times Building. The curious angle is somewhat visible in the building on the left, labeled the Schumacher Block.

One of the most prominent details in this photo is the horse-drawn streetcar. Notice that there's only one track. How did the cars get around one another?


Here's how: There was a little "pullout" in the tracks so that one car could get by the other.  Notice that the street is unpaved. Also note that we have a vehicle not staying to the right.


Although there's no street lighting, we have utility poles with overhead wiring. Notice the filigree on the large cable at the top of the image.


More to the point, we find a chaotic jam of wagons outside the dry goods store. Notice that some vehicles are blocking others. I should also point out that the early editions of The Times are full of harrowing stories about runaway horses injuring themselves and their passengers.


And, of course, with horses as the main mode of transportation, there will be horse flop. The Times once noted that unpaved streets were actually preferable in some ways because manure mixed with the dirt and "disappeared" while it accumulated and became an annoyance on paved streets. Email me