During the early 20th century, when Broadway was still Los Angeles’ primary ceremonial thoroughfare, its downtown stretch was regularly decorated for each of the city’s major events and holidays. The top photograph shows central Broadway as it was adorned in the autumn of 1931 for La Fiesta de Los Angeles, the week-long 150th anniversary celebration of the city’s founding. For the occasion, the roadway was nearly blanketed by banners draped above, while American and Mexican flags hung from each of its ornamented street lamps.
In the right foreground is the former Broadway department store building, built in 1914 by retail pioneer Arthur Letts and designed by John Parkinson and Erwin Bergstrom. Amid the dramatic decline of its eponymous street, Broadway-Hale Stores vacated the 500,000-square-foot structure shortly before moving its flagship location to Broadway Plaza in 1973. The eight-story building was left to deteriorate for over two decades until it was purchased by the State of California, which completed its painstaking renovation into a state office complex in 1999.
1. Hebert, Ray. “Downtown meets a megastructure.” Los Angeles Times. 6 Aug. 1973. 3C.
2. Howard, Bob. “$52-Million Rejuvenation of Broadway Building Nearly Complete.” Los Angeles Times. 6 Apr. 1999. 8.
Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “In Downtown Los Angeles facing south on South Broadway at West Fourth Street, the Broadway, and E.W. Reynolds Company in the Metropolitan Building at 315 West Fifth Street – whit-m883.” “Dick” Whittington Potography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/DW-9-3-1-ISLA.