The Nelson Flats, 515-519 East Fourth Street, c.1910-2012

c. 1910-2012

At the turn of the 20th century, the eastern area of present-day Skid Row remained largely residential, despite a small but growing industrial presence. At the time, the 500 block of East Fourth Street was occupied by apartment houses and smaller homes, with the exception of a candy factory and fire station which sat adjacent on the north side.

In 1904, the owner of Nelson’s Candy Factory, A. L. Nelson, had the factory and shop space rebuilt on the ground floor of a new apartment building, christened as the Nelson Flats. Designed by A. L. Haley, the three-story structure was designed in a mix of Italianate and Moorish Revival styles that was popular at the time. Though primarily an architect of apartments and small residences, Haley’s best-known work today is likely the Higgins Building at Second and Main Streets.

As the century progressed, many of the neighborhood’s apartment buildings gave way to warehouses as the eastern downtown districts became increasingly dominated by industry, aided by the city’s zoning ordinances. Though the Nelson Flats and several of its neighbors survived into the 1950s, they have long since disappeared, leaving behind nearly no traces of the area’s residential past.

1. “By builders and architects.” Los Angeles Times. 1 May 1904. D2.
2. “Believes in north end; builder of Higgins Block will extend that structure to height of ten stories.” Los Angeles Times. 16 Jul. 1910.
3. Insurance maps of Los Angeles, California: Volume 2. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1906.
4.  Insurance maps of Los Angeles, California: Volume 2. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1953.
Original photo: “CHS-M1571 – Exterior view of the Nelson Flats apartments and candy factory on Fourth Street in Los Angeles.” Title Insurance and Trust/C. C. Pierce Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections.

This entry was posted in Downtown, Los Angeles, Then and now and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Nelson Flats, 515-519 East Fourth Street, c.1910-2012

  1. Bert Green says:

    Amazing contrast from then to now.

  2. rhett beavers says:

    I enjoy your post greatly. I am wondering if, in your wanderings about, you have come across any images of the Gladys (Gladis) Hotel? It would have been in the 400 – 600 blocks of Gladys Street, just southwest of Central Avenue, near where the old Southern Pacific Arcade Depot was.


    rhett beavers

  3. Pingback: The Ponet Square Hotel, northwest corner of Pico Boulevard and Grand Avenue, 1924-2013 | urban diachrony

  4. Thanks for posting this! This was also the headquarters for Ricardo Flores Magon and PLM from 1910-11. The address was 519 1/2 East 4th Street.

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