The top photograph shows Figueroa Street as it last appeared before its decades-long transformation into Downtown Los Angeles’ primary office corridor. The thoroughfare’s increasingly important status was well-recognized by the late 1930s, when the city’s traffic engineers first presented proposals to widen its downtown portion. The original photograph, taken by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is part of a series showing various structures that would have faced demolition to accommodate a wider street.
Large-scale widening plans for central Figueroa Street were eventually abandoned as other road projects throughout the city were given priority. The roadway has instead been widened incrementally between Fifth Street and Olympic Boulevard during the redevelopment of individual lots. In the early 1980s, the west side of the block between Seventh and Eighth Streets was widened by several feet during construction for the Seventh Marketplace mall (now FIGat7th). In 1986, downtown portions of Figueroa and Flower Streets were converted into a one-way couplet, making traffic on Figueroa exclusively northbound between Olympic Boulevard and Third Street.
The only buildings in the original view that have survived up to the present day are the former Barker Brothers Building (far right), Engine Company 28 (right), and the Jonathan Club, mostly obscured by demolition scaffolding covering the Wilshire Grand. The picture’s foreground also prominently features the ground-floor shops and extra-wide sidewalk of the Brownstein-Louis Building, written about previously.
1. “Figueroa, Flower Sts. now partly 1-way.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Dec. 1986. A24.
2. “New traffic plan offered.” Los Angeles Times. 17 Feb. 1938. A2.
3. “New traffic plans outlined.” Los Angeles Times. 16 Aug. 1937. A5.
Original photo: Automobile Club of Southern California. “ACSC-M974 – Street showing old type buildings that would have to be moved for street widening, Los Angeles, 1941.” 1941. Automobile Club of Southern California negatives. USC Digital Library. Automobile Club of Southern California. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll59/id/1470.