Looking west from Third and Hill Streets, 1959-2010

1959-2010

No view of old Bunker Hill was more iconic than the one from Third and Hill Streets, which offered a dramatic perspective of the neighborhood that seemed to have mysteriously risen from the earth. The city’s mid-century leaders however, were quite unmoved by nostalgia in their relentless determination to “clean up” the aging district. Large-scale demolition work led by the Community Redevelopment Agency began in late 1961, and had virtually obliterated any existing buildings west of Hill Street by 1966. Angels Flight, the landmark funicular railway, was dismantled in 1969, and reopened slightly to the south in 1996.

The new Bunker Hill that rose from the rubble was of course, shockingly banal. In 1980, a massive senior citizens housing project, Angelus Plaza, opened along the west side of Hill Street, straddling the Third Street Tunnel. The complex’s oppressive scale and bland design highlight how largely uninviting, if not inaccessible, Bunker Hill has become to pedestrians.

Sources:
1. “Angels Flight to make final run May 18.” Los Angeles Times. 8 May 1969. D2.
2. “Demolition job begun on Bunker Hill.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Sep. 1961. B1.
3. Hebert, Ray. “Fabled Bunker Hill finally hits bottom.” Los Angeles Times. 12 May 1966. A1.
Original photograph: Paegel. “Third Street looking west from Hill Street – examiner-m13586.” 1959. Los Angeles Examiner Negatives Collection. USC Digital Library. University of Southern California University Archives. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/search/EXM-N-12647-001~4.

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One Response to Looking west from Third and Hill Streets, 1959-2010

  1. jk2001 says:

    While the new construction is bland, it’s been functional. It’s functioning as senior housing, which is a euphemism for pubilc housing for the elderly. It’s been there over 30 years. Some of the articles at On Bunker Hill seem to indicate that after BH’s initial growth as an elite enclave, it converted to a largely rental / hotel community by the 1940s, and by the 1960s when it was torn down, it was inhabited by lower income seniors, poor folks. For better or worse, it was considered some kind of slum.

    The 1950s perspective, and our current perspectives must differ. Development today happens at a slower pace, and there’s more aesthetic value put on old construction. We’re not in a period of intensive growth, constant new construction, and constant demolition to allow the new construction.

    The developers who ripped up Bunker Hill were probably not that different from the developers who are building or renovating in downtown today. They had the ear of City Hall, and promised to fix the city, and cleared out some poor people.

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