Southwest corner of Ninth and Main Streets, 1912-2011


The two-story Italianate frame building in the top photograph appears to have been built during the 1880s, when Ninth Street was roughly the southern boundary of developed Los Angeles. With five ground-floor storefronts and offices above, it was also one of the largest and most elaborate buildings in its primarily residential section of the city. The top photograph, taken in 1912, shows the building and its surroundings largely intact in their Victorian-era scale, over two decades after their original development.

Nonetheless, change came with a dramatic entrance that same year when the corner building was torn down to make way for a 12-story office tower known as the Marsh-Strong Building, designed by Frederick R. Dorn and completed the following year. Developed by Robert Marsh & Co., one of Los Angeles’ largest real estate firms, the reinforced concrete building was an imposing presence at the southern end of the city’s ever-expanding central business district.

Today, the former Marsh-Strong Building is known as the Apparel Mart Building, and is primarily occupied by small textile industry offices. It seems likely however, that it may soon enough find a new use as it nears its centennial anniversary. The corner of Ninth and Main Streets once again finds itself at the periphery, this time of Downtown’s rebirth as a high-rise residential loft district.

1. “Great Building for West Ninth.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Apr. 1912. VI.
2. “In New Offices.” Los Angeles Times. 16 Nov. 1913. VI.
3. Insurance Maps of Los Angeles, California: Volume 1. New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Company, 1888.
Original photo: “Exterior view of the Marsh-Strong Building on the southwest corner of Ninth Street and Main Street, 1912 – chs-m650.” Title Insurance and Trust/C. C. Peirce Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections.

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