An Architectural Treasure Trove — the Historic American Buildings Survey

In 1933, Charles E. Peterson, a young landscape architect employed by the U.S. National Park Service, had an idea. He conceived of a project that would not only provide jobs for the many architects, draftsmen, and photographers unemployed during the Great Depression, but would document the country’s architectural heritage. Funds were obtained from the Civil Works Administration and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) was born. This survey not only produced photographic archives and meticulous records of America’s buildings but brought to light the importance of historic preservation. (Peterson is often referred to as the founding father of historic preservation.) The survey still continues to this day. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) has a huge collection of photographs taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey, with a selection shown below.

NOTE: All photos in this post are included in LAPL’s Historic American Buildings Survey collection with individual photographers credited accordingly.

The Gateway West Building, built in 1963, was designed by Welton Becket, an architect who designed many buildings in Los Angeles and whose popularity saw him working for celebrities such as James Cagney and Robert Montgomery. The building’s twin, Gateway East Building, stood directly across the street from Gateway West Building. These two buildings were constructed on what was formerly part of the 20th Century Fox Studio lot and marked the entrance to the Avenue of the Stars. Gateway West was demolished during the expansion of a nearby shopping mall.

Gateway West Building

Front view of Gateway West Building in Century City. Photographed by Jim Simmons in 2014.

Gateway West Building in Century City

Gateway West Building in Century City. Photographed by Jim Simmons in 2014.

The Westinghouse Electric Supply Company warehouse was designed in the Art Deco style of architecture. Opened in 1930, it consisted of two attached warehouses and served as storage space and shipping point for Westinghouse Electric Supply Company (WESCO), one of the country’s largest electronics companies from the 1930s through the 1980s. With a freight spur (railroad track for loading and unloading) just east of the building, the warehouse received and distributed electrical goods to and from companies throughout the United States, thus playing an important role in the industrial development and history of Los Angeles.

Westinghouse Electric Supply Company warehouse in Los Angeles

Front of Westinghouse Electric Supply Company Warehouse. Photographed by Tavo Olmos in July, 2012.

Westinghouse Supply Company building

Interior of Westinghouse Electric Supply Company Warehouse. Photographed by Tavo Olmos in July, 2012.

The Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles was designed by William and Clifford Balch, who also designed the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles and the Fox Theater in Pomona. The Golden Gate Theater was built in 1927 and designed in the Churrigueresque-style which features lavish adornment in the Spanish baroque style. Theatergoers accessed the theater through the courtyard of the Vega Building which surrounded the theater. In 1987, the Vega Building was severely damaged by an earthquake and subsequently demolished. The Golden Gate Theater remained standing but sat vacant for 25 years. The only building in East Los Angeles listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it was reopened in 2012 as a pharmacy.

Decorative molding and mural of Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles. Photographed by Tom Zimmerman in 2011.

PHOTO 6

Main entrance of the Golden Gate Theater, with clamshell backdrop of the concession stand visible through the middle door. Photographed by Tom Zimmerman in 2011.

PHOTO 7

Chandelier in auditorium of Golden Gate Theater. Photographed by Tom Zimmerman in 2011.

The Stationers Building, built in 1922 at 525 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, was designed by architect and engineer W. L. Schmolle and served as loft space for the York Realty Co. The Stationers Annex at 523 S. Spring Street had been built in 1913 as a loft building for the Realty Fireproof Company; it was designed by Parkinson and Bergstrom, an architectural team that defined the look of pre-World War II Los Angeles. At the time the two buildings were built, the Spring Street district was becoming a high-rise district, with several buildings being ten to 13 stories high. It was believed that these two buildings were to be developed into high-rises, however, both parcels were acquired by the Stationers Corporation and no expansion took place. Through the years, the buildings were stripped of their historic features and eventually left unoccupied. Vandalism, leaking pipes, neglect, and the passage of time weakened them, and they were eventually demolished.

PHOTO 8

North corner cornices on third story of Stationer’s Building and Annex on Spring Street. Photographed by David Greenwood in April, 2005.

stationer's building in downtown los angeles

South end of east façade of Stationer’s Building in downtown Los Angeles. Photographed by David Greenwood in April, 2005.

PHOTO 10

Stationer’s Building and Annex (behind trees) on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. Photographed by David Greenwood in April, 2005.

This is the first of a three-part series, please check back for future installments!

00064425 woman with penguins

In the Swim: The Wild Side

We wrote about swim fashions on Southland beaches in In the Swim. We will now take a look at the must-have accessory for your beachwear — an exotic animal!

In the land of Hollywood the exotic becomes almost commonplace. These photos from the archives of the Los Angeles Public Library show the wild side of California beach fashion. But first, we must add the disclaimer that exotic animals do not normally belong on  beaches and those who do should be left alone. Many of the stunts pictured here should carry the warning: Do not try this at home! (or anywhere else)

00009019 bear cub

Venice Beach is the location for many of our photos. Here a young woman feeds a bear cub from a bottle, 1936. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00009019.

 

00064163 alligator

Yes, there really was an alligator farm in Los Angeles  — until 1953. It was located right next door to the Ostrich Farm. Advertising from the Luna Park  Alligator Farm in Lincoln Heights proclaimed, with a bit of hyperbole, “Here are to be seen hundreds of alligators of all sizes, from little babies, hardly the size of a lizard, up to huge monsters, 500 years old or more. We make a specialty of alligator bags ornamented with genuine alligator heads and claws.” (LincolnHeightsLA.comSecurity Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00064163, undated.

 

00064425 woman with penguins

The photo was taken in Long Beach, “ca. 1920.”  We have no explanation for the penguins. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00064425.

 

00065006 boy with lion cub

This young man, protectively holding onto his lion cub, seems none to happy despite his trophy win at the Venice Beach Pet Show in 1936. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00065006.

 

00066776 seal

Strolling Long Beach with a seal, circa 1920. The young woman wears a beach coat with a nautical flair. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00066776.

 

00067860 baby elephant

An undated photo of a woman, probably a model, with a baby elephant. Her wool bathing costume places the photo in the late 1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00067860.

 

00069336 piglet race

 

Piglets race on Hermosa Beach. The young porkers eagerly await the starting gun — well, perhaps not the one in lane two who appears ready for a nap. Although the photo is undated, the classic belted swimsuits place the event in the mid-1930s. Two girls standing at left appear to be twins. Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Collection, Image #00069336.

 

00066743 sea lion

Watch that shoe! Models feed a “sea elephant” (elephant seal) in an enclosure in Venice, probably mid-1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00066743.

 

00071558 elephants at Long Beach pier

More elephants on the beach. The Long Beach Pier and Sun Pavilion form the backdrop for this photo shoot from about 1930. One of the keepers carries what appears to be a cattle prod. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00071558.

 

00117152 fawn

This 1954 photo from the Valley Times Collection is titled “Cute as a Bug,” probably the headline used in the paper. The caption used read: “Unafraid of children, this spotted fawn can be sweet and gentle but later on would not permit this type of petting without slashing out with razor sharp hoofs made for fighting off coyotes and other predators.”  Wise words. Valley Times Collection, Image #00117152.

 

We’ll end with a more appropriate way to celebrate the wild side of beach season — playing an accordion with a stuffed seagull!

00070574 seagulls

Miss California Bathing Beauty Contest, Venice Beach, 1936. This contestant displays her talent while serenading the wild life.  Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070574.

“Service, Society and Social Change: Post- War Clubs from the Valley Times Newspaper” Opening Reception and Fashion Show

00082775 (1)

 

Thursday, July 07, 2016

6:00pm to 8:00pm

Central Library
History/Genealogy Dept. – LL4

Join us for food, fashion, and FUN as we celebrate the opening of our latest exhibit “Service, Society and Social Change: Post- War Clubs from the Valley Times Newspaper” with a reception and fashion show!

The post-War San Fernando Valley was the quintessential American suburb. With the availability of affordable housing and jobs from the thriving aerospace, aircraft, and manufacturing industries, the Valley’s population boomed. The promise of prosperity inspired new opportunities for leisure time, family life and civic engagement. Membership in social and service clubs soared. Whether people united through shared identities or shared interests in hobbies, civics or philanthropy, the prevalence of club life defined the Valley’s growing community. The Valley Times newspaper, published from 1946 to 1970, documented the changes to the Valley’s physical landscape through suburban development, but also revealed how social networks impacted society. This sampling of images from the Valley Times photo archive, now held at the Los Angeles Public Library, presents us with a unique visual history of the ways people connect to build a community.

Copies of an exhibition catalog will be available for purchase with proceeds going to Photo Friends, who support the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Special thanks to Pinup Girl Boutique, Photo Friends, and Besame Cosmetics, our reception sponsors.

Logos

Full details on the Los Angeles Public Library website. 

Go Forth and Celebrate the Fourth!

The Fourth of July is a time when Americans remember their history, look toward the future, and celebrate the present. As the photo archives of the Los Angeles Public Library show, Southern California takes its celebrations seriously, commemorating Independence Day with solemnity as well as fun and flair.

Less than 100 years after the United States was founded, a Fourth of July parade was held in Ventura, California. The Grand Marshall was Dr. Cephas Little Bard, a prominent physician whose brother, Thomas R. Bard, would become a U.S. Senator in 1899. Ventura had just become its own county one year earlier, having previously been part of Santa Barbara County.

Ventura 4th of July 1874

A Fourth of July parade is held in Ventura, California. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1874).

A parade should have its royalty, and this Fourth of July parade in Santa Ana, California, did not skimp on the princes and princesses!

FOURTH OF JULY SANTA ANA

A horse-drawn wagon carries costumed participants in a 4th of July parade in Santa Ana. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, July 4, 1890).

By the late 1910s, automobiles had been introduced into parades. Here, a group has decorated a vehicle and prepares to take part in Fourth of July festivities in Los Angeles.

FOURTH OF JULY MEXICAN AMERICAN

Marcelo Lopez and friends prepare to take part in a Fourth of July parade. (Shades of L.A.: Mexican American Community, 1918)

One of the essential elements of an Independence Day parade is a marching band. It plays the music that gets spirits raised, toes tapping, and crowds excited. In this photo, a marching band participates in a Fourth of July parade in Monrovia.

FOURTH OF JULY MONROVIA

Frank K. Carothers leads the Monrovia City Band in a 4th of July parade in Monrovia. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, ca 1920).

Wartime does not diminish holiday celebrations. A crowd gathers on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles to view the 1942 Fourth of July parade.

fourth of july downtown

Men of Uncle Sam’s Army march past spectators in Fourth of July parade (Herald-Examiner Collection, July 4, 1942.)

Don’t have a horse? Don’t have a driver’s license? This young American shows his ingenuity in a Fourth of July Parade in San Pedro, California.

FOURTH OF JULY GOLF CART

A boy drives a golf cart decorated for a Fourth of July parade in San Pedro. (Shades of L.A.: Norwegian American Community, ca. 1994)

The Fourth of July inspires family celebrations and home decorations, as this family in Watts proudly demonstrates.

FOURTH OF JULY WATTS

The Cazzara family with dog, flags, stars and ribbons on July 4, 2001, at their home Watts. (James W. Jeffrey, Jr./Los Angeles Neighborhood Collection, 2001)

L.A. and Southern California has a style all its own, and these low riders in Huntington Park show it during a celebration on the 4th of July in the city’s park.

fourth of july low riders

A collection of classic lowrider cars is displayed in Huntington Park for the Fourth of July. (Anne Knudsen/Herald-Examiner Collection, July 4, 1982)

El Sereno residents show their patriotism and panache with Fourth of July celebrations that include parades, celebrities, dignitaries, and fabulous costumes.

fourth of july el sereno

The El Sereno Fourth of July parade kicks off in high style. (Paul Chinn/Herald-Examiner Collection, July 2, 1983)

Space exploration and the use of rockets and satellites for national security were part of American life by the early 1960s, so when the City of Burbank displayed this model of Titan III during its Fourth of July celebration, it drew a considerable crowd.

TITAN ROCKET

Model of deep space probe rocket on display at Fourth of July celebration in Burbank. (Valley Times Collection, June 24, 1964)

Anyone can celebrate! At Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica (an amusement park which closed in 1967), monkeys get in on the celebration with a Fourth of July aerial display. Here they test their equipment.

fourth of july monkeys

Boxco, Salty, and Dinky prepare for the final showing of “Fantasy Over The Pacific”. (Valley Times Collection, July 4, 1961)

Of course, your Fourth of July celebration is not limited exclusively to parades and fireworks. Here, a young group cools off at Venice Beach.

FOURTH AT BEACH

A group of friends at the beach in Venice on the Fourth of July. (Shades of L.A.: Korean American Community, 1931)

A group of friends gathers for a backyard barbecue, a Fourth of July tradition for many.

FOURTH OF JULY BARBECUE

Burcey, Oni, Dutch, Al, and young friend at a Fourth of July backyard barbecue. (Shades of L.A.: African American Community, 1980)

 

LGBT Heritage Month, A Time For Commemoration and Celebration

June is LGBT Heritage Month (also known as LGBT Pride Month), a time to remember the challenges that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community has faced and to commemorate the contributions they have made. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library features many images documenting the struggles and triumphs of L.A.’s gay community in their quest for recognition, respect, and equal rights, as well as showing them as simply our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members.

During the 1940s, Malcolm Boyd was a hot shot junior producer of radio and television. He founded PRB, a production company, with Mary Pickford (America’s sweetheart!) before leaving the business world to become an Episcopal priest. Boyd was prominent in the American Civil Rights movement, participating as a Freedom Rider in 1961, riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge segregation laws. He also actively protested the Vietnam War and was the author of 30 books. In 1977, Boyd came out and became the most prominent openly homosexual clergy person at the time. He became a spokesman for gay rights and served as writer-in-residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Malcolm Boyd

Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers converse with Malcolm Boyd, their TV-radio production partner, who is beginning theological studies, having been admitted as a postulant for holy orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. (Herald-Examiner Collection, May 7, 1950)

The Briggs Initiative, also known as California Proposition 6, was on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978. Named for its sponsor, John Briggs, a state legislator from Orange County, the initiative was designed to ban gays and lesbians from working in California’s public schools. The initiative was opposed by a diverse group of politicians including Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown, Gerald Ford, and then-president Jimmy Carter. It was defeated by California voters.

Protest of Briggs Initiative

Members and supporters of Los Angeles gay community march down Hollywood Boulevard on July 2, 1978, to protest the Briggs Initiative. (Ken Papaleo/Herald-Examiner Collection, July 3, 1978)

In 1970, the first Gay Pride Parade was held in Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard. The parade was so controversial that the city’s police commission tried to stop it for fear that those who participated in it would be attacked. Today, LGBTQ pride celebrations take place in various venues and streets throughout Southern California, with the largest festival, LA Pride, occurring annually in West Hollywood.

Gay Rodeo Float at Pride Parade

A float from the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association is featured in the Gay Parade in West Hollywood. (Paul Chinn/Herald-Examiner Collection, June 23, 1985)

Proud Mom of Gay Man

A mother supports her gay son while participating in the Gay Parade and Festival. (Steve Grayson/Herald-Examiner Collection, June 26, 1989)

In 1979, Norman Laurila and George Leigh opened the bookstore A Different Light at 4014 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles. The store specialized in gay and lesbian literature and publications, often hosting signing tours and reading from LGBTQ writers. A Different Light eventually added locations in West Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York, becoming one of the nation’s largest gay-owned booksellers.

A Different Light bookstore

Two men (unidentified) in the gay bookstore, “A Different Light,” located at 4014 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Silver Lake district. (Gary Leonard Collection, no date)

In 1985, Marine Sergeant Rolf Lindblom, a computer programming instructor at the Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles, petitioned the Corps for an honorable discharge on the grounds that he was homosexual. The 25-year old Lindblom had an exemplary military record, had been named Marine of the Year in Los Angeles, and had two years left of service. The Marine Corps would not consider the petition until Lindblom provided proof of homosexual conduct, proof that Lindblom refused to give as he feared doing so would trigger a court-martial against him. After filing a second request, Corps spokesman said Lindblom had met all requirements for an honorable discharge and such discharge was granted.

ROLF

A crowd gathered outside the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Los Angeles shows support for Sgt. Rolf Lindblom who is seeking an honorable discharge because he is gay. (James Ruebsamen/Herald-Examiner Collection, October 21, 1985)

The 2004 LGBT Pride Parade celebrated gay life with lesbian bikers, Mr. Leather 2004 in a black convertible, stilt walkers, latex wearers, drag queen cheerleaders, and a contingency of Episcopalians quietly carrying signs with a powerful message.

Love is all you need

A group carries the message in the 2004 Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. (Douglas McCulloh/Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, 2004)

Saving Sinners and Skirting Scandal — Aimee Semple McPherson

No history of the City of Angels would be complete without a mention of Aimee Semple McPherson, a woman who came to Los Angeles with a mission and a message and achieved world-wide fame for both saintliness and scandal. Perusing the photo archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, you will learn of the prominent place McPherson holds in the annals of L.A.

Aimee Semple McPherson was an evangelist and philanthropist who first came to Los Angeles in 1918 at the bequest of Pentecostal minister William J. Seymour to participate in a series of revivals. At this point, Aimee had been traveling around and outside the U.S. to preach the word of the Lord for most of a decade. (In 1914, she ceased preaching to concentrate on married life and motherhood. She fell ill, became delirious, and, according to her recollection, heard voices telling her she had to preach or die.) She relocated permanently to L.A. in 1923, founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and built Angeles Temple directly across from Echo Park in Los Angeles. The Temple was McPherson’s base and is still the headquarters for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Angeles Temple

Angeles Temple (William Reagh Collection, 1982).

McPherson’s sermons were well reviewed and well attended and often featured faith healing. Known as an electrifying speaker, she also had a theatrical bent, once giving a sermon on a motorcycle. A savvy businesswoman, she knew how to use the media to maximum effect, publishing magazines and books and broadcasting a radio program from her own radio station, KFSG, bringing evangelism into the modern age. She tirelessly preached a life made better with the Lord and love for your fellow man.

Aimee Semple McPherson preaching

Aimee Semple McPherson preaching (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, no date given).

Sermon at Angeles Temple

Church service at Angeles Temple (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1930).

Radio towers

Radio towers visible on roof of Angeles Temple (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, 1937).

Having been raised by a mother active in the Salvation Army, McPherson’s church placed an emphasis on charitable work. She believed it to be just as important to take care of a person’s physical needs as well as their spiritual needs, and organized food drives, built a commissary, and distributed necessities from blankets to baby clothes.

Angeles Temple Food Baskets

Christmas food baskets to be given to the poor by members of Angeles Temple; arrow points to Aimee Semple McPherson (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1934).

MACPHERSON DINING HALL

Angeles Temple dining hall that provided free meals for destitute men (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1932).

Always interested in making life better for the common man, McPherson supported many civic causes. One cause was the police safety campaign in 1942 aimed at making the streets of Los Angeles safer for pedestrians.

Aimee Semple McPherson pledges pedestrian safety

Aimee Semple McPherson pledges support for the Police Safety Campaign (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1942).

As with any public figure, McPherson was not without her detractors, controversies, and scandals. McPherson’s support of the war effort in WWII alienated those who remained pacifists or uncommitted. She entertained celebrities and loved the camera, which raised eyebrows with more conservative factions. A reorganization of Angeles Temple upset many staff members, with fallout leading to McPherson’s daughter, Roberta Semple, suing McPherson’s attorney for slander.

Aimee in court

Aimee Semple McPherson in court for the defamation of character suit against Angeles Temple attorney, Willedd Andrews, a suit brought by her daughter, Roberta Semple (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1944).

McPherson’s biggest scandal, however, began at Venice Beach, California, on May 18, 1926. McPherson disappeared while swimming and was believed drowned. Five days later she appeared in Mexico just across the border from Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped and tortured before she escaped. Controversy arose when several witnesses reported seeing McPherson with a man during her five-day absence. While many welcomed her return to Los Angeles, others accused McPherson of being involved in an elicit love affair in a cottage by the sea with a married man.

Carmel by the Sea

Lorraine Wiseman-Seilaff, a key figure in the Carmel-by-the-Sea story who accused Aimee Semple McPherson of faking a kidnapping (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1937).

Aimee Semple McPherson died on September 27, 1944. While the cause of death is officially listed as unknown, it was generally agreed by the coroner and other medical officials that Aimee died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Her body lay in state at Angeles Temple for three days while over forty-five thousand people paid their respects and mourned her passing.

Aimee funeral

Funeral for Aimee Semple McPherson (Herald-Examiner Collection, October 9, 1944).

00070538 Rita Bell

In the Swim: Bathing suit fashions through the years

00070532 1914 woman

This blogger set out to write a post about a century of swimwear on Southland waters using images from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection. But where to start? The collection includes hundreds of photos that would lend themselves to any number of angles: Beauty pageants? Swimsuit models? Movie stars poolside? Or how about beach-goers with exotic animals?

That last we’ll likely revisit in a later post, but for now we’ll offer a selection of images focusing on the evolution of the swimsuit.

Perhaps the earliest swimsuit image in the collection dates from about 1914 and depicts a woman in a bathing ensemble complete with tights and laced shoes. Accessories have always been a vital part of the bathing “look.” Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070532.

00012172 Williams Bros 1916

About the same time, these brothers sport two-piece suits. Until the early 1930s male swimmers typically wore outfits that covered their upper bodies (if they wore anything at all!). Modesty was preserved via an A-line top over shorts. The Williams brothers enjoy Seal Beach, ca. 1916. Shades of L.A Collection: the Greek-American Community, Image # 00012172.

 

00070538 Rita Bell

About 1920 Rita Bell, perhaps a model, sports a wool suit much more revealing than that of the gal from 1914. She also wears sheer stockings with ankle-strapped sandals, rocks a swim hat, and deploys a swim robe. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070538.

Young sisters Mary and Imogene Myers wade at Lake Elsinore in 1928 wearing simple woolen tunic-style suits typical for youngsters of the day. Shades of L.A. Collection: the African-American Community, Image #00001791.

By the 1930s, bathing costumes for both men and women were decidedly more revealing. Stockings were left at home. Arms, cleavage, and legs were bared. Suits were more form-fitting. The belted look became popular. Bathing suits began to be a fashion statement.

00003251 woman at Long Beach

In this photo, a young woman poses for a photograph that will become a postcard at Long Beach, 1932. Shades of L.A.: Korean American Community, Image #00003251.

00070467 mother and daughter

A mother and daughter at an unidentied beach, ca. 1937. The woman wears a conical straw topper sometimes referred to, unfortunately, as a coolie hat. A man in the background wears the belted style of suit popular with both men and women. The Herman J. Schultheis Collection, Image #00070467.

00008999 fashion police 1930s

The Fashion Police at Venice Beach, 1930s. The photo collection contains a series of pictures of both men and women wearing badges and measuring suits on those of the opposite gender. Notes with the images inform us that “pretend tickets were handed out when the swim suit was too skimpy.” Here both a man and a woman wear the popular belted style of suit, while the second man appears to have forgotten his belt. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00008999.

00070564 kayaks

Young women with kayaks, ca. 1930. These women sport a variety of bathing suit styles. This was likely part of a photo shoot ordered up by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070564.

00073428 fur coat

The 1940s brought more styles, new elasticized fabrics, and the two-piece suit. The bikini itself was “invented” in 1946, although it would be unrecognizable as such today. Here Annie Jung dresses up her two-piece with a fur coat and heels, February 18, 1945. Harry Quillen Collection, Image #00073428.

00003832 Miss Filipino

The library files includes dozens of beauty queens in bathing costumes, a tradition that has endured for well over a century. Here Miss Filipino Community of Los Angeles, Janet Bernardino, wears a strapless one-piece, along with the requisite pumps, in 1955. Her publicity photo is signed “To a real fine guy, Roy. Love, Janet.” Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community Collection, Image #00003832.

00119601 -- Teenagers 1963

The Valley Times published this photo, dated July 18, 1963, with the caption “Valley teens splash it up at Pickwick Pool, illustrating a few of the activities on this summer’s busy agenda.”  Patterned prints and tailored trunks were clearly in vogue. Valley Times Collection, Image #00119601. This community pool in Burbank was abandoned some years later and the land turned into Pickwick Gardens, with its ice rink and bowling alley.

00085350 - diving board girl

Whatever you wear, it’s all about making a splash: Six-year old Brenda Villa takes the plunge at Camp Commerce (still operated by the City of Commerce), Lake Arrowhead, July 27, 1986. Photo by Leo Jarzomb, Herald-Examiner Collection, Image #00085350.

Photographer’s Eye: Leopoldo Peña’s “Interlude on Broadway”

Photo Eye

Photographer’s Eye: Leopoldo Peña’s “Interlude on Broadway”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
12:15pm to 1:00pm
Central Library, Meeting Room A

Reservations not required. Doors open approximately 15 minutes before the start of the program.

Grab your lunch and join photographer Leopoldo Peña as he presents his series Interlude on Broadway, which he describes as a document “about the early stage of the redevelopment project, which the city calls ‘Bringing Back Broadway. I wanted to create a visual register of everyday life and the subjects, which had been keeping Broadway economically functional but suddenly became unpractical and susceptible to the economic model being used to bring back Broadway. I was interested in creating a series of images not as a denunciation of governmental policy, but a series that would, when seen in hindsight, project an illustration of what determines one susceptible to economic renewal and social removal.”

Sponsored by Photo Friends. Presented by the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

The Eye and the Image – Women Photographers of Los Angeles

As March is Woman’s History Month, it is only appropriate to celebrate some of the women who helped document Los Angeles – big events and small moments – for all to see. The photos below, which can be found in the Los Angeles Public Library photo archives, were taken by female photographers who captured images of the city – its people, places, and proceedings.

Lucille Stewart was a photographer who worked for Mayor Fletcher Bowron (Mayor of Los Angeles from 1938 to 1953) and also for Currie’s Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor with locations throughout Southern California that dished up mile high cones, cherry phosphates, and other cool confections from the 1930s through the late 1960s. Her photos captured civic events, elections, parades, and folks enjoying a treat. Stewart also opened a stationery and camera shop on Pico Boulevard in 1957. She was awarded the Hall of Fame Award from Professional Photographers of California in 1992.

1966 california gubernatorial election

1966 California gubernatorial race featuring residing Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty (Lucille Stewart Collection, June 7, 1966)

LOS ANGELES CENTENNIAL

Centennial celebration in Los Angeles with Mayor Fletcher Bowron (Lucille Stewart Collection, August 13, 1946)

Curries Montebello

Currie’s Ice Cream shop in Montebello, California (Lucille Stewart Collection, October, 1946).

GRAND OPENING

Grand opening of Lucille Stewart’s Stationery and Camera Shop on Pico Boulevard (Lucille Stewart Collection, April 18, 1957).

Carol Westwood, born in Rochester, New York, in 1942, was a photographer whose work included architecture, portraits, and fine art stills. After relocating to California in 1979, she photographed Los Angeles architecture as well as movie and entertainment icons. Just prior to her passing in 2011,  Westwood personally donated a selection of her images to the Los Angeles Public Library.

Beverly Hills Skyline

Beverly Hills skyline at twilight (Carol Westwood Collection, 1980).

CAPITOL RECORDS

Capitol Records building (Carol Westwood Collection, 1990).

CORNERS

Corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard (Carol Westwood Collection, 1980).

 

LIBERACE

Liberace Mausoleum, Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood, California (Carol Westwood Collection, 1996).

Marissa Roth is a freelance photographer and photojournalist based in California whose images have been published in newspapers and other publications throughout the world. Her photos capture celebrations and altercations, bustling streets and empty lots. Roth took part in the Los Angeles Neighborhoods Project of the Los Angeles Public Library which created a visual record of L.A. neighborhoods.

GRAFFITI

Commissioned Graffiti in the Arts District (photo by Marissa Roth for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, May 2000)

DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

Protesters at the Democratic Convention (photo by Marissa Roth for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, 2001).

MUSIC CENTER FOUNTAIN

L.A. Music Center Fountain (taken by Marissa Roth for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, February, 2000).

The photography of Cheryl Himmelstein captures the colorful world of the common man, from scenes of commerce to the Venice boardwalk. Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Himmelstein attended The Art Center, College of Design in Pasadena, California, becoming a freelance photographer who documents social and economic issues.

SANTEE ALLEY

Santee Alley (taken by Cheryl Himmelstein for Industrial Los Angeles Collection, November 29, 2009).

EMPANADA FACTORY

Empanada Factory in Venice Beach (Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, 2004).

DRESSMAKER

Dressmaker in downtown Los Angeles (Industrial Los Angeles Collection, July 14, 2009).

YELLOW HOUSE

Yellow house in Venice Beach (taken by Cheryl Himmelstein for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Project, 2002).

Celebrating Women’s Heritage Month with Some Notable L.A. Women

March is Woman’s History Month, a great time to familiarize yourself with some of the women who helped build and shape life in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library showcases many of these women including:

Charlotta Bass

Charlotta Bass, born Charlotta Spears in 1880, moved to Los Angeles in 1910 and found work selling subscriptions to The Eagle, an African American newspaper founded in 1879 (originally titled The Owl) by John J. Neimore, a former slave. When Neimore fell ill in 1912, she took over operation of the paper, becoming the first African American woman to run a newspaper in the United States. Charlotta changed the paper’s name to California Eagle and focused on issues important to the African American community and other minorities that were often ignored by other publications. California Eagle covered such topics as discriminatory housing policies, segregated schools, and unfair treatment of minorities in the court system. She is pictured here with staff of California Eagle.

Charlotta Bass and Staff at California Eagle

Charlotta Bass with staff of California Eagle (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, no date given for photo).

Bass oversaw publication of California Eagle with her husband, Joseph Bass, until his death in 1934, and then continued to run it on her own until her retirement from the newspaper business in 1951. She then dedicated herself to political activism, becoming a leader in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association). She ran for Congress and was nominated as running mate for presidential candidate Vincent Hallinan of the Progressive Party, becoming the first African-American woman to run for Vice President of the United States. Here she is seen at a rally held during her congressional run.

Charlotta Bass at Rally

Charlotta Bass speaks at a rally during her Congressional candidacy (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, no date given for photo).

Another woman who contributed to getting the news of the day to Los Angeles residents was Agness “Aggie” Underwood, who started working as a reporter for the Los Angeles daily newspaper Herald-Express in 1935 and became its city editor in 1947. She maintained that position until her retirement in 1968, increasing the paper’s circulation and seeing it through its merger with the Examiner in 1962 when it became the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. During her time as a reporter, Underwood interviewed Amelia Earhart, reported on movie star deaths, and wrote a series of articles focusing on the lives of women incarcerated in prison. In 1947, she was covering the [now infamous] Black Dahlia murder case when she was promoted to city editor. As an editor, she was known for her tough but fair attitude, often presenting the human side of criminals, but also keeping a sawed-off baseball bat and pistol at her desk, as shown below:

Aggie Underwood at Work

Aggie Underwood at work as city editor of the Herald-Express, (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1949).

In the photo below, Aggie is seen during an exclusive interview with Louise Peete, a murderer with whom Underwood had conducted several interviews previously, always referring to her as Mrs. Peete. Peete would eventually die in the gas chamber.

Peete and Underwood Interview

Aggie Underwood (right) conducts interview with murderess Louise Peete (Herald-Examiner Collection, December 22, 1944).

For more information and images about Aggie Underwood, see this exhibit page of the Los Angeles Public Library’s website.

Southern California is home for many businesses in the aerospace industry, and many women have helped in the exploration of our final frontier – outer space. The women pictured below performed scientific research and experimentation for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Altadena, helping to build rockets, launch space stations, and promote space exploration.

JPL scientists

Female scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Altadena (Valley Times Collection, June 27, 1960).

Rocketdyne, formerly located in the San Fernando Valley, also employed many female scientists and engineers who worked in the field of rocket and missile design. To view images of these women, visit the Los Angeles Public Library’s blog about the Canoga Rockettes.

And check back with this blog for more photos of fascinating L.A. women!