Saturday, May 21, 2016

L.A. City Hall, 1950's

Today I have two vintage slides (undated, but perhaps from the late 1950's, or even the early 1960's).

Los Angeles' City Hall is a real landmark... built in 1928, City Hall was the tallest building in downtown L.A. (by law) until 1964, at 453 feet high. I showed this slide to my pal Rich W., and he chimed in with this helpful info:

"This is a wonderful photo! It's looking SE on 1st Street - - that's 1st and Hill in the lower center. Yes, that dirty building to the left (the one with the peaked roof) was the old Hall of Records. It's long gone - along with the law building and the handsome big building in the right-center (I think it was the State  building). At left where the black statue with raised hands is would be the Courts buildings that were finished in the late 1950's."  

He continued: "In trying to date this photo I think the medium blue car (parked just in front of the orange car) along 1st St. is the newest model - and I don't know what it is. Without that blue car I would say that this is about 1958 - but something tells me the car could be 1959 or '60. The photographer was standing up by Olive St. where demolition was taking place".

Thanks Rich!

Here's another shot from the same batch; clearly the photographer climbed up that hill a bit further. Love the Pheonix palm  tree! I tried to get some screen grabs to show what the area looks like today, but there are so many tall buildings that it was impossible.

Of course many of you know that City Hall was destroyed by a Martian heat ray in 1953. Fortunately it was quickly rebuilt!


Nanook said...


From what I can see, Rich got it correct by identifying the blue, 1960 Ford, as the newest vehicle easily identifiable in this image. The orange baby with the white top, parked behind it is a 1955 Chevrolet. And behind that is a dark green 1947 or '48 Pontiac. And sitting behind it is another 1955 Chevrolet. The blue & white two-tone job facing us on the other side of the street is a 1957 Ford.

I love all the dirt and sparse "plants" in the second image. It truly looks like an image following the apocalypse.

Thanks Major (and Rich).

Scott Lane said...

Well it had to be quickly rebuilt so Jack Webb could use it in his tv show. (hey, SOMEBODY had to mention Dragnet)

Chuck said...

That's why the aliens attacked the US Bank Tower in 1996 - they weren't interested in repeating the Martians' earlier accomplishment (plus, they loved "Dragnet" reruns).

Irene said...

When I was growing up in Los Angeles near 89th and Western if I went across the street to my friends house on a clear day (ha!) we could see City Hall very clearly. Having my Dad take me to Downtown Los Angeles on a Saturday was a big thrill and a real adventure. Now I can hop on the Blue Line and explore either walking or using DASH. I understand City Hall has free tours.

K. Martinez said...

City Hall, still my favorite tall building in L.A. Wonderful shots! That post apocalyptic shot as Nanook refers to it is wonderful. I can imagine Charlton Heston roaming the streets as the last man on earth.

Thanks, Major. And thanks to Rich for that extra bit of info.

Unknown said...

Ah heck, That's just a picture of the Daily Planet building. Government offices were only moved in when the paper went out of publication.

K. Martinez said...

Patrick Devlin, I was thinking about the Daily Planet building too. The L.A. landmark seemed to have been a very popular building featured in both film and TV.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, well, it sounds like “early 1960’s” it is! I love the colors on the 1955 Chevy. It may have looked like the apocalypse in these photos, but nowadays there are so many new, huge buildings that I was unable to do a “then and now” comparison.

Kenneth Lane, Jack Webb was a powerful (and grouchy) person, he probably singlehandedly rebuilt City Hall.

Chuck, was that in “Independence Day”? I’ve forgotten most of that Summer fluff of a movie.

Irene, when I was in school I did a photo project in which I showed City Hall when it was tiny and barely visible on the horizon, and then from many angles, until I was right up to it. What I didn’t know as a student is that I could have gone inside and up to the observation level. I still need to do that someday.

K. Martinez, so funny, when Nanook said “the apocalypse” I immediately thought of Charlton Heston and those weird zombies. Such a kooky movie.

Patrick Devlin, gosh I barely remember the Superman TV show. Did they add a globe to the top of City Hall, or was it pictured just as it was?

K. Martinez, it was just up the road from Hollywood, after all; one of the fun things about watching old programs like “The Rockford Files” is when they show a character driving around town, and seeing it the way it was 40 years ago.

Unknown said...

I thought I remembered the show too, Major, but what I remember was the show being shown in syndication in an after-school time slot. The building was just shown from time to time in stock footage.

Chuck said...

Wait - that footage of the US Bank Building blowing up was in a movie???!!! I thought it was in some documentary I saw...

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

The moment I saw that War of the Worlds shot I could hear the death ray sound effect in my head. I never have seen that one all the way through.