Leading up to its redevelopment as a modern financial district, the western periphery of Downtown Los Angeles consisted primarily of aging low-rise blocks. The top photograph, taken by Palmer Conner, shows the 700 block of Flower Street lined with two- and three-story commercial buildings, occasionally interrupted by surface parking lots. The Kodachrome slide also provides a rare view in color of the ornate Martz Flats (c. 1890s), located at the southeast corner of Seventh and Flower Streets. Most of the buildings in the original view were demolished during the late 1960s, to be replaced several years later by Broadway Plaza (now Macy’s Plaza). Aside from two entrances to its office tower and department store, the monolithic structure greets most of its long Flower Street sidewalk with a blank brick wall.
In the past few decades, the intersection of Seventh and Flower Streets has become the epicenter of Los Angeles’ modern downtown. It boasts some of the city’s heaviest pedestrian traffic, thanks in part to its location above the busiest station in the Metro Rail system, 7th Street/Metro Center. Nearly forty years after its completion, Macy’s Plaza is now slated for a renovation which promises significant improvements to its surrounding streetscape, including the construction of two stories of new storefronts facing Flower Street.
A more detailed history of the Martz Flats and its owner [Wilshire Boulevard Houses]
Macy’s Plaza renovation details [Los Angeles Times]
Previous writing about Broadway Plaza [Urban Diachrony]
Source: Haynes, Roy. “Progress sounds knell of Downtown Landmark.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Jul. 1965. B16.
Original photo: Conner, Palmer. “Martz Flats at 7th Street and Flower Street – photCL 486 (047).” 1957. Palmer Conner Collection of Color Slides of Los Angeles. Huntington Digital Library. Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15150coll2/id/6255