The top photograph by Charles Cushman offers a stunning close-up view of an old stretch of Main Street in its dying days, and is a good representation of the decidedly seedy atmosphere that had taken hold of the oldest sections of Downtown Los Angeles by mid-century. The two buildings on the right side of the photograph seem to have been built in the 1880s, while the Romanesque Revival building on the left was completed around 1894. By 1952, they would be some of the last to remain standing on their block, after its northern half was demolished at the beginning of the decade. They too eventually made way for the State Division of Highways Annex, finished in 1960.
The site is now occupied by the new headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department, which despite its monolithic scale and excessive plaza space, preserves the ground-floor street wall on Main Street with two sidewalk-fronting retail spaces. Unfortunately, due to a bout of legal wrangling, the larger restaurant space (pictured above) has yet to open, nearly two years after the building’s completion.
Previous writing about the same block [Urban Diachrony]
1. Insurance Maps of Los Angeles, California: Volume 1. New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Company, 1888.
2. Insurance maps of Los Angeles, California; Volume 1. New York: Sanborn-Perris Map Company, 1894
Original photo: Cushman, Charles. “100 block of South Main St. on Sunday Los Angeles – P05736.” 1952. Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection. Indiana University Archives. http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/archives/cushman/P05736.