Style and Strength — Historic Los Angeles Architecture

The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library contains many photos taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the nation’s first federal preservation project. HABS created an archive of drawings and historical reports plus black and white photos documenting the country’s buildings and built environments. The following photos (with captions below each photo) display examples of the unique architecture to be found here in Los Angeles.

KEHE/KFI Radio Broad Studio

The KEHE/KFI studio was built in 1936 and designed in the Streamline Moderne (also referred to as Art Moderne) architectural style, utilizing long lines and aerodynamic curves to create a streamlined and modern look. The KEHE studio was originally constructed for Hearst Radio, Inc. but was sold in 1939 to Earle C. Anthony who took KEHE off the air and ran station KFI in the studio until 1975. The building served various purposes for the local Koreatown community before it was demolished in 2003. (Note: The scrolled grilles over the windows and doors were not an original part of the building but were added in later years for security purposes.) All photos of the radio station were taken in 2004 by photographer and Photo Friends Board Member Tom Zimmerman for the Historic American Buildings Survey.

KEHE/KFI studio

Southeast corner of KEHE/KFI radio broadcast studio on North Vermont Avenue

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Main entrance and tower of KEHE/KFI facing northwest

habs-3

Southern side entrance of KEHE/KFI studio facing westward

OLIVE SWITCHING STATION

Located on San Fernando Road, the two-story Olive Switching Station was built between 1916 and 1917 at the mid-point of the electric transmission line that ran from San Francisquito power plant No. 1 to the central receiving station in Los Angeles. This facility of the LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) made it possible to repair single circuits without disrupting or diminishing electric service, thus providing reliable utility service to the greater Los Angeles area. The original station has been demolished. All photos of the Olive Switching Station shown below were photographed in 1994 by photographer Bill Agee for the Historic American Buildings Survey.

olive switching station

View of the northeast side of the Olive Switching Station
from the north side of San Fernando Road facing southwest 

habs-5

View of the east corner of the Olive Switching Station
from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power lot

habs-6

View of first room on the first floor and main control panel
of the Olive Switching Station

Swan Hall, Occidental College

Architects Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers laid out the original master plan for Occidental College in 1914, with an emphasis on healthy and comfortable living. The campus featured many open air spaces, verandas, fireplaces, and assorted greenery. (It was said that Hunt would walk around the campus dropping eucalyptus seeds as he walked.) Swan Hall was designed and built as a men’s dormitory. In 1960, Swan Hall was remodeled and converted from living quarters into administrative offices. In 2011, Swan Hall underwent an expansion that more than doubled its size. The photos below were all taken in 2011 by photographer and Photo Friends Board Member Tom Zimmerman for the Historic American Buildings Survey.

 

swann-1

East facade of Swan Hall (with fence surrounding building
during maintenance) as viewed from the northeast

 

North entrance on Swan Hall‘s east facade

This is the third part of a three-part feature on the photos of the Historic American Buildings Survey.

All Hail the King – Or, More Accurately, The Ambassador

It is no small surprise that the Ambassador Hotel was a prominent subject of the Historic American Buildings Survey. The hotel was a part of both Los Angeles and world history. The Los Angeles Public Library photo archive has a number of photos of the hotel.

But first, some history:

Designed by renowned architect Myron Hunt (whose architectural masterpieces include the Rose Bowl Stadium, Occidental College, and Caltech), the hotel opened in 1921 boasting 500 rooms and occupying 23.7 acres at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard. While it eventually sat empty (except for occasional filming) for 15-plus years before its demolition in 2005, it had a glorious heyday. The Ambassador Hotel saw every form of celebrity, from film stars to foreign dignitaries. Bob Hope hosted the 1939 Academy Awards ceremony in its glamorous nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove. Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford competed in the Grove’s Friday night Charleston contests. Nikita Khrushchev stayed at the hotel during his time in America in 1959. Jean Harlow had a residence there for a time, as did Howard Hughes. A young model posed by the pool, she would later become Marilyn Monroe. Bing Crosby started a singing career there, and Sammy Davis and Frank Sinatra performed in the Cocoanut Grove often. Seven presidents including Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, and Richard Nixon stayed there. Haile Selassie, then Emperor of Ethiopia, ate lunch there in 1954. The hotel housed the jury for Charles Manson’s murder trial for nine months in 1971. Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy was shot in the hotel’s kitchen in 1968 after delivering a speech. (He would die the next day in Good Samaritan Hospital.)

Even if you’ve never been to Los Angeles, you have probably seen the Ambassador Hotel. It has been photographed extensively and used in many television shows and films. It appeared in episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch, Dragnet, and Murder She Wrote. Musicians including Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Tom Waits, and Beyonce filmed videos there. Its impressive movie portfolio includes Nightmare on Elm Street, Foxy Brown, Lady Killer (with James Cagney), Scream 2, and Forrest Gump. Arnold Schwarzenegger rode a horse through its lobby in True Lies. Richard Gere played a piano in its main ballroom in Pretty Woman. The high school reunion in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion occurred at The Ambassador. And most famously (or infamously), The Graduate’s Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) conducted their affair in a suite at The Ambassador. (Cue Simon and Garfunkel.)

All of the photographs below (except for the menus shown in separate end section) were taken between January and March 2005 by photographer and Photo Friends Board Member Tom Zimmerman for the Historic American Buildings Survey. Captions are beneath the image.

ambassador hotel embassy ballroom

Ambassador Hotel, Embassy Ballroom. 

ambassador hotel main lobby

Ambassador Hotel, main lobby. 

ambassador hotel honeymoon cottage

Ambassador Hotel, honeymoon cottage interior

AM-4

Ambassador Hotel, interior of hotel bar (Note: This is not the Cocoanut Grove.)

ambassador hotel casino level

Ambassador Hotel shop interior, casino level

ambassador hotel and cocoanut grove

Ambassador Hotel and the Cocoanut Grove

ambassador hotel and fountain

Ambassador Hotel and fountain

ambassador hotel cabana

Ambassador Hotel cabana

ambassador hotel southern entrance

Ambassador Hotel southern entrance

 

Would you care to see a menu?

Interested as to what you might have eaten for lunch, dinner, or at a banquet at the Ambassador Hotel? Visit the Menu Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. For a preview, look below:

AM-10

menu for banquet at ambassador hotel

Menu showing what was served at banquet honoring Secretary of War and various governors; banquet was held at Ambassador Hotel circa 1933.

 

a la carte menu at ambassador hotel

a la carte menu for ambassador hotel

A La Carte Menu at Ambassador Hotel

 

cocoanut grove menu cover

Front cover of menu for Cocoanut Grove, autographed by Fred Martin (date unknown; Fred Martin and his orchestra played the Cocoanut Grove numerous times from the 1930s to the 1970s.)

AM-15

cocoanut grove menu

Menu for Cocoanut Grove (menu dated December 16, 1944)

Note: This is the second part of a three-part series on the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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!

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).

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!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, February 8, 2016, marks the beginning of the Year of the Fire Monkey; in the Chinese calendar the year is 4714. The Chinese New Year bring celebrations that include firecrackers, parades, fish, dragons, lions, and lucky money in red envelopes. The Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection contains images of such holiday celebrations held in Chinatown and other areas of Los Angeles.

Chinese New Year Parade, Monterey Park

Miss Monterey Park waves to the crowd during a Chinese New Year parade in the San Gabriel Valley. (Shades of L.A. collection; photo by Steven Gold, 1992 [Year of the Monkey])

Dragon in Chinese Parade

A golden dragon rings in the Year of the Boar in L.A.’s Chinatown. (Herald-Examiner Collection, January 30, 1971 [Year of the Pig])

Clown in Chinese New Year Parade

Wally the Clown leads children at a New Year festival in Chinatown. (Harry Quillen Collection, February 15, 1958 [Year of the Dog])

Man and niece enjoy Chinese New Year

Eugene Yee and niece Susan celebrate Chinese New Year with balloons and firecrackers. (Herald-Examiner Collection, photo taken by Howard Ballew, February 13, 1964 [Year of the Dragon])

Beauty queens in Chinese New Year parade

Beauty queens in Chinese New Year parade. (Gary Leonard Collection, 1995 [Year of the Pig])

Flute and Fiddle for the New Year

Chung Fook (left) and Luke Chan (right) play music to usher in the Chinese New Year. (Herald-Examiner Collection, January 27, 1941 [Year of the Snake])

Family enjoys Chinese New Year

The Wong family prepares to enjoy a traditional Chinese New Year’s feast. (Herald-Examiner Collection, February 5, 1965 [Year of the Snake])

Lion of Good drives away evil spirits

Tsweje, the Lion of Good, drives away evil spirits during this celebration of the Chinese New Year. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, January, 1925 [Year of the Ox])

A stroll through L.A. gardens . . .

Los Angeles boasts a number of beautiful gardens and with winters being much milder in Southern California than other parts of the country, you can take a garden stroll anytime. That said, there will be times you can’t get to the garden – bad cold, sick kids, a backlog of work. If you’re stuck indoors and dreaming of relaxing amongst lush foliage, fragrant flowers, or spiky cholla, the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library can help you escape. As with everything in the City of Angels, Los Angeles gardens (present and past) boast plenty of variety.

Japanese Gardens

SuihoEn (garden of water and fragrance), situated on the grounds of the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, is an authentic Japanese garden designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana and fashioned after the stroll gardens built during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese feudal lords. It features a karesansui (dry Zen meditation garden), a wet garden featuring waterfalls and ponds, and a chashitsu (tatami mat teahouse).

Japanese Garden in Van Nuys

Japanese Garden at Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, California (Photo taken by Stephen Callis, 1991)

The Botanical Gardens on the grounds of the Huntington Library in San Marino also feature a Japanese garden, complete with koi ponds and an authentic Japanese House considered to be one of the best examples of early twentieth Japanese architecture in the United States.

Huntington Japanese Gardens

Japanese Garden at Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino (Photo taken by Herman Schultheis, ca. 1937)

The Bernheimer Estate, built overlooking the ocean in Pacific Palisades in the early 1920s, featured Japanese gardens with a pagoda housing the vast collection of Oriental art acquired by Adolph Bernheimer. The Bernheimer Gardens were a popular tourist attraction until 1941, when public opinion changed due to Pearl Harbor and World War II. The property suffered erosion and two major landslides and was vacated in the late 1940s; the structures were demolished in the 1950s.

Bernheimer Bronze Elephants

Bronze elephants stroll through the Bernheimer Japanese Gardens. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1939)

Cactus Gardens

The weird and resilient beauty of the cactus is on display in the Desert Garden of The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, which showcases more than 2,000 species of desert plants in one of the largest cactus gardens in the world.

Huntington Gardens Cactus Gardens

Visitors from Detroit admire the many varieties of cacti in the Desert Garden  at Huntington Botanical Gardens (Herald Examiner Collection, ca. 1965)

Will Keith Kellogg,(commonly known as W.K. Kellogg), the breakfast cereal magnate, bought acreage in Pomona, California, in 1925 on which he established an Arabian horse ranch. The land has passed through many owners (including the University of California system and the U.S. War Department) and is now the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The grounds have changed over time, but a stroll down memory lane will show its beautiful gardens, including a huge cactus garden.

Kellogg Cactus Garden

Cactus garden at Kellogg Arabian Horse Farm (WPA collection, ca. 1930)

The Kellogg estate gardens also featured a pond complete with water flowers and water fowl.

Kellogg Garden Duck Pond

Garden and pond at Kellogg Arabian Horse Ranch in Pomona (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, date unknown)

Rose Gardens

If you are aching to smell the roses, Exposition Park Rose Garden (located just south of the campus of University of Southern California) is open to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. Unfortunately, you will have to wait for spring as the Rose Garden is closed from January 1st through March 15th every year for maintenance (time to prune the roses!)

Exposition Park Gardens

Roses in Exposition Park in Los Angeles (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, ca. 1937)

Expo Rose Garden seen from Museum steps

Rose Garden as seen from the steps of the Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, ca. 1937)

French-born artist Paul de Longpre?, who painted flowers and floral scenes in watercolor, came to Hollywood in 1899 and had a home built on three acres close to what is now the intersection of Cahuenga Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. (A nearby street, De Longpre Avenue, was named after him.) He maintained a garden on this property that at one time boasted 4,000 roses. The residence, which included art galleries in addition to gardens, became a popular destination for tourists and local visitors before being demolished in 1927.

de Longpre Rose Garden

Rose Garden at estate of artist Paul de Longpre (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, date unknown)