Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. The land that now constitutes California once housed the most diverse population of indigenous people in the Western hemisphere, with 150 different Native American tribes inhabiting the area. While the population of these native people decreased significantly in the 19th century due to disease (including malaria and cholera epidemics), there are still over one hundred federally recognized Native American tribes in California. The Photo Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library offers a glimpse of Native Americans celebrating holidays, remembering their heritage, and living their lives in Southern California.

Members of the Golden State Gourd Society (which originated in Maywood, California, in 1971) gather at the first annual Kateri Circle pow wow.

Golden State Gourd Society

Shades of L.A., Native American Community; photograph taken in 1990.

Astronaut Robert Crippen (center), who flew on four space shuttle missions (three as commander), is of Cherokee heritage. Here he is photographed with Native American employees of Rockwell International in Thousand Oaks, California. These employees are of Wichita, Comanche, Choctaw, Cheyenne, and Oto tribe heritage.

Native Americans in the Space Race

Shades of L.A., Native American Community, Comanche Community,
Wichita Community, Cherokee Community, Oto Community,
Cheyenne Community, Choctaw Community; photograph taken in 1981.

Margo, a Native American of Comanche and Wichita heritage, attends a pow wow at the Orange County Indian Center in Stanton, California.

orange county indian center

Shades of L.A., Native American Community, Comanche Community,
Wichita Community; photograph taken in 1980.

Two Navajo girls reenact the age-old practice of grinding corn at the South East Indian Center in Huntington Park, California. The ceremony included singers, feather dancers, and gourd music.

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Herald-Examiner Collection; photographed by Myron Dubee on May 21, 1974.

Father Paul Ojibway, a Catholic priest and member of the Fond du Luc Band of Lake Superior Chippewa of Minnesota, sought to build bridges between Native American Catholics and the wider Catholic community. He served in Native American ministries in California for over twenty years, becoming Director of American Indian Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and also serving as Director of Native American ministries in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Here he is seen serving Mass at a pow wow at St. Francis High School in La Canada.

Father Paul Ojibway

Shades of L.A., Native American Community, photograph taken in 1991.

Navajo artist Kin-ya-onny-beyeh (also known as Carl Nelson Gorman or Carl Gorman) exhibits his artwork in a gallery in Woodland Hills, California.

carl

 

Valley Times Collection; photographed by George Brich on June 20, 1963.

Youngster John Nolan from the Pima Pagago Reservation in Phoenix, Arizona, participates in a Drum and Feather War Dance held at the Burbank recreation hall while Mrs. Fred Gabourie, a Cherokee dancing champion from Burbank, watches.

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Valley Times Collection, photographed by Bob Martin on December 7, 1964.

Carl Fisher, an African American with Choctaw heritage, became an Auxiliary Bishop for the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1987. He was the first African American Catholic bishop on the West Coast and supervised 70 parishes, 53 elementary schools, and 10 high schools in the San Pedro Pastoral Region. Here he poses with Native Americans at his first mass in the Los Angeles area.

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Shades of L.A.: Native American Community; photograph taken in 1987.

Mary Robinson, a young woman of Choctaw heritage, is photographed at 13 years of age practicing her ballet steps. Mary later moved from Salinas, California, to Los Angeles and became a professional dancer and actress.

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Shades of L.A.: Native American Community, photograph taken in 1927.

A dancer from the Tony Purley Tribal Dancers performs at the sixth annual American Indian Artistry program at the County Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park.

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Herald-Examiner Collection; photograph undated.

Navajo students at Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, California, don native dress and ride on the hood of a car displaying Navajo blankets and a Navajo rug during the school’s Indian Day parade.

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Shades of L.A.: Native American Community; photograph taken in 1970.

Filipino American History Month

October is Filipino American History Month (also known as Filipino American Heritage Month). The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) has been observing October as Filipino American History Month since 1991, with California officially recognizing the month in 2006 when the California Department of Education placed it on its celebrations calendar. Filipino American History Month was established to commemorate the first documented landing (over 425 years ago) of Filipinos in what is now the continental United States. The photo archive of the Los Angeles Public Library has an extensive collection of images documenting the rich history and influence of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles.


Members and friends of Kilusan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Organization of Progressive Youth) attend the East-West Community Partnership Forum held at Castelar Elementary School in Chinatown.

Kilusan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Organization of Progressive Youth)

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community,
photograph taken in September, 1996.

Monty Manibog was the first Filipino American attorney to pass the bar and practice law in Southern California. He was also the first Filipino American to serve as councilman and mayor of Monterey Park, holding office from 1976 to 1988.

Monty Manibog

Herald-Examiner Collection, photographed by Paul Chinn, May 22, 1988.

Barbara Gaerlan (Assistant Director of UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, pictured at right) interviews Dr. Virginia Agbayani (Professor Emeritus, Department of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines) at an event held at the Filipino American Library of Los Angeles.

Filipino American Library of Los Angeles

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photograph taken in 1996.

Members of the Philippine American Annak Ti Batac of Southern California enjoy their annual picnic at the Long Beach Naval Station. Annak Ti Batac translates as “Children of Batac”, Batac being a city (the hometown of former President Ferdinand Marcos) in Ilocos Norte, a province in the northern tip of the Ilocos Region in Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines.

children of batac

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photograph taken in 1994.

Filipino American Roman Gabriel (Number 18) was the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams for eleven seasons beginning in the mid-1960s. He was named the NFL Most Valuable Player in 1969 by the AP (Associated Press) and NEA (National Education Association) and also 1969 Player of the Year by the UPI (United Press International).

Roman Gabriel

 Herald-Examiner Collection, photographed by James Roark in 1969.

Joseph Batugos and other prominent members of the Filipino American community in Los Angeles hold a reception for Earl Carroll, president and cofounder of the Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company (Philam Life). Interned in Santo Tomas Prison Camp in Manila from 1942-1945, Carroll was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom for services rendered to American and allied nationals during World War II. He resided in the Philippines for 33 years.

Earl Carroll

Valley Times Collection, photographed by George Brich on January 20, 1964.

Philam Life

Valley Times Collection, photographed by George Brich on January 20, 1964.

A Christmas play is held at a Filipino Christian Church in Los Angeles.

Christmas play at Filipino Christian Church

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed in 1955.

Campers gather around picnic tables at Camp Throne, a summer camp (located in San Dimas) of the Filipino Christian Church.

camp throne

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed in 1955.

Delegates attend the 23rd Annual National Convention of the Filipino Federation of America Inc. at the Moncado Mansion in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. The banner in the background partially reads “Welcome General Moncado, Guest of Honor.” Hilario Camino Moncada, a political activist and mystic, founded the Filipino Federation of America on December 27, 1925, and remained its President until his death in 1956.

convention of Filipino Federation of America

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed on December 28, 1948.

The first annual banquet of the Caballeros de Dimas-Alang, Inc. in Southern California was held at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The Caballeros de Dimas-Alang is a Filipino American fraternal organization which began in San Francisco in 1921.

Caballeros de Dimas-Alang

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed on January 15, 1951.

Philippine National Day, also known as Independence Day or Day of Freedom, commemorates the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.  In this photo, a group of people stand behind a table covered with Filipino food during a National Day celebration held at CSU Dominguez Hills in Carson, California.

Philippine National Day

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed on June 12
(year unknown). 

Friends head out for a dip in the Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach, California.

Filipino Americans go for a swim in Colorado Lagoon

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed in 1945.

A group of first generation Filipino immigrants, all born and raised in the Philippines, pose for a photo in the Los Angeles Harbor area. One of the men, Romy Madrigal (top row, second from right) became President of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles. All the men spoke the same common dialect of Cebu and worked in fish canneries located on Terminal Island.

first generation Filipino immigrants in Los Angeles

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed in 1935.

Reverend Casiano Coloma (seated on the far right), minister of the Filipino Christian Church, poses with friends on a bench outside the Los Angeles Public Library.

Reverend Casiano Coloma and friends at Los Angeles Public Library

Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community, photographed in 1930.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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!

A Tale of Two Ranchos

Rancho Los Cerritos, c. 1890 (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order# 00032266)

Rancho Los Cerritos and the Centinela Adobe are two of a number of historic landmarks dating to the age of the ranchos in Southern California. These historic sites are reminders of a time when Los Angeles was little more than a tiny pueblo with far flung agricultural outposts.

Today both are operated as heritage parks. As such they are nicely landscaped and staged to reflect the best of the rancho era. Images from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection offer glimpses of a past that was as rough and tumble as it was romantic.

Rancho Los Cerritos (little hills) in Long Beach is a remnant of a 1786 land grant from the crown of Spain to its loyal leather-jacket soldier Manuel Nieto. The current adobe was constructed about 1844. After passing into American hands shortly thereafter, the estate transitioned from cattle ranching to sheep ranching. The image above gives a sense of the still desolate surroundings at the turn of the century.

Sheep dipping at Rancho Los Cerritos (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order #00032263)

The American ranchers, the Bixby family, employed Basque sheepherders. This undated photo from the collection shows a flock of sheep readied for “dipping,” a time-honored method of ridding the animals of nasty pests in the fleece. The sheep were led one by one into a trough where they would be immersed in a noxious chemical bath. Despite concerns about damage to both humans and the environment, sheep dipping continues to be a standard practice in many places.

September 19, 1931. Rancho Los Cerritos Adobe, back view with gardens. At this date the home was still occupied by members of the Bixby family. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order # 00032265)

Today the Rancho is owned by the City of Long Beach and operated by the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation.

Docent Laura of the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation gave the author an excellent tour of the adobe.

About 1834 Ygnacio Machado built a home on his 25,000-acre rancho in the area already called Centinela Valley, a place where watchman (sentinals) kept a look-out for pirates along the coast. Some ten years after building the adobe, the lands of Rancho Aguaje de Centinela (the sentinel spring) were formally deeded to Machado by the Mexican government of Alta California. The rancho lands were used variously for cow pasture, sheep grazing, growing wheat and barley, orchards, and raising horses, and even as a riding academy.

Centinela Adobe, c. 1889. Note the hammocks swinging from the veranda posts. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order# 00019908)

Centinela Adobe from the front, 1927. The Adobe, with additions, was a private residence at the time of this photograph. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order #00019909)

The Centinela Adobe, c. 1937. Schultheis earned fame as a photographer and technician employed in Walt Disney’s special effects department. (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, order #00097850)

Today the Centinela Adobe is operated by the Historical Society of Centinela Valley and owned and maintained by the City of Inglewood. In a geographical twist of fate, the adobe considered the birthplace of the City of Inglewood is actually located just outside the city boundary in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles.

 

Centinela Adobe today. Entrance to the park is from the back of the adobe, pictured here. The front faces directly onto the 405 Freeway, built in the early 1960s.

Despite the great difference in size, these adobes share a number of features. Covered porches, thick adobe (mud brick) walls punctuated with wooden frame doors, deep-set windows, patios, and hanging lights fixtures. Each has undergone periods of improvement alternating with periods of decline. Each was rescued from possible demolition by preservation minded individuals in the 1950s.

Both sites are open to the public during published hours.

http://www.cityofinglewood.org/depts/rec/centinela_adobe/

http://www.rancholoscerritos.org/

In future posts we will visit more adobes and heritage sites in Los Angeles County.

 

Sources for this essay include visits to the sites, various websites, and the following:

Iris H.W. Engstrand, Rancho Los Cerritos, A Southern California Legacy Preserved, 2009.

“Centinela Adobe Docent Tour Information,”1972, typescript in the possession of Westchester-Loyola Village Branch Library, Los Angeles Public Library.