Friday, May 11, 2007

Your New Favorite Waster of Time

I think I'm going to spend the next week or so digging through the UCLA Library's browsable website of 5,700 images from the three million Los Angeles Daily News and L.A. Times news photographs it owns. I love seeing how the city and the region looked years ago. It's a reminder of how--for better or worse--the area keeps evolving and shifting to meet the demands of its residents.

One of my favorite images is this one of an old Victorian house called "the Castle" that used to sit atop Bunker Hill juxtaposed against the rising behemoth of a skyscraper.

Courtesy: UCLA Library/LA Times

This picture defines much of what goes on in L.A. The old must give way to the young. It's still true today.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I discovered that the downtown I knew, the downtown I used to work at, was a recent development. Little did I know that gorgeous Victorian homes once stood where my old office building was, in an area that used to be the Brentwood of its day prior to the arrival of movie stars. I've seen old pictures of Bunker Hill and it's just about unrecognizable. Modern downtown LA has its charm, but it would have been something wonderful had both the new high rises could have co-existed with the old Victorians. The house shown above was supposed to have been preserved and restored, along with another house from Bunker Hill--the Salt Box, at the newly founded Heritage Square Museum. Both houses were moved with great effort to a park site in Lincoln Heights. Unfortunately, vandals broke in to the museum and carelessly caused both houses to catch fire and burn to the ground. Heritage Square now houses eight other marvelous structures, but none of them are from Bunker Hill.

Here are some other pics I found depicting life in Covina the way I don't remember it:

There was cattle grazing in Covina as late as 1976? I didn't even realize the land was used for ranching. I thought it was all citrus and walnut groves in the area.

I remember this campaign stop. I didn't attend, but it was a huge deal. I was in the fifth grade at the time. It's hard to fathom that this was almost twenty years ago. Sheesh!

It looks like I won't be bored for a good while with 5,700 pictures to sift through. Thanks, UCLA!

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Speaking of preserving local heritage, I attended a book signing tonight at Skylight Books for Chris Nichols's The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister. It's quite an absorbing and beautifully presented book. As someone pointed out tonight, though built for practical, disposable gratification, McAllister's buildings were designed with a great deal of whimsy and personality, a far cry from the sterile, lifeless "leisure architecture" of today. McAllister is best known locally for Bob's Big Boy #6 on Riverside Drive in Burbank. He also designed the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

Photos courtesy of the UCLA Library

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