Like many other of Charles Cushman’s Los Angeles photographs, the top view shows a beleaguered block of Main Street on the verge of its demise. Completed in 1894, the white building at 227 South Main Street was the longtime home of the Peniel Mission, one of the city’s most prominent Christian rescue missions at the turn of the century. According to Sanborn insurance atlases, the two buildings to the left were completed shortly before Peniel Hall, while the French Revival building on the right dates from the early 20th century.
Like most areas south of the Civic Center, the present block was largely dominated by low-end businesses by mid-century. Cushman’s picture shows a number of ground-floor shops which include a shooting range, music store, cafeteria, and three pawn shops. The two buildings on the left were gone by 1953, while Peniel Hall was torn down in 1957 when the mission moved closer to Skid Row. The building on the right was likely demolished at the same time, leaving a “ghost building” in the irregular window patterns on the Higgins Building. Much of the destroyed block was consolidated into a single parking lot, which operates to this day.
West side of Main Street north of Second Street, 1952-2011 [Urban Diachrony]
1. “At the churches.” Los Angeles Times. 22 Oct. 1894. 4.
2. “Old Downtown building razed.” Los Angeles Times. 20 Oct 1957. F8.
3. Insurance maps of Los Angeles, California; Volume 1. New York: Sanborn-Perris Map Company, 1894.
4. Insurance maps of Los Angeles, California: Volume 2. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1953.
Original photo: Cushman, Charles. “200 block of South Main St. Los Angeles on Sunday – P05734.” 1952. Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection. Indiana University Archives. http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/archives/cushman/P05734.