Looking west on Eighth Street from Hill Street, 1923-2011


Today, the three commercial buildings by the northeast corner of Eighth and Olive Streets (photo right) offer a rare glimpse of their downtown neighborhood’s scale at the turn of the 20th century. At the end of the block is the reddish three-story building opened as the Hotel Rookwood in 1904. Though not particularly remarkable in its design, it was one of the earlier local works by architect John Parkinson. Work began in 1906 on the adjacent six-story Hotel Woodward (now Bristol), designed by the primarily residential architect Frederick R. Dorn. It appears that the small apartment building on the right of the photo (now Hotel Lindy) was also completed shortly before 1906.

By some strange luck, these structures were left untouched by the city’s growth, even as tall commercial buildings began to cluster around Broadway and Spring Street in the 1910s and 1920s. At the left of the original photograph is the construction site for the Commercial Exchange Building, a thirteen-story office tower completed in 1924. Since then, dramatic decay and renewal in the area now known as South Park have obliterated all but a handful of pre-war buildings along Eighth Street west of Olive Street.

1. “Classified Ad 1 – no title.” Los Angeles Times. 20 Jan. 1904. p. 2.
2. “Complete business structure.” Los Angeles Times. 18 May 1924. D4
3. “Doings of builders and architects.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Jun. 1903. A1
4. Insurance maps of Los Angeles, California. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1906.
5. “The Hotel Woodward.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Nov. 1906. V1
Original photo: “Obstructions in 8th Street between Hill & Olive, Los Angeles, 1923 – acsc-m166.” 1923. Automobile Club of Southern California engineering notebook photoprints. USC Digital Library. Automobile Club of Southern California. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/AAA-EN-204-5.

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