For much of the 20th century, the areas east of present-day Little Tokyo formed the upper end of Los Angeles’ expansive Wholesale District. The light industrial center’s early development had largely been made possible by the Southern Pacific Railroad, whose tracks ran along the center of Alameda Street. A relatively quiet corner of the district is pictured in the top photograph, which shows a number of warehouses, a storage yard, and a distant passing train.
The tallest building in the original view is the Haas-Baruch Company warehouse, long one of the area’s largest landmarks. Designed by Morgan, Walls, & Morgan, the five-story building housed offices and storage areas for the grocery wholesaler, as well as shipping and packing facilities linked to its railroad spur. At the time of its completion in 1912, the building boasted the largest automatic sprinkler system in Southern California.
During the past several decades, the neighborhood’s industrial trappings have slowly faded, giving way to renewal and redevelopment in Little Tokyo and the newer Arts District. The shorter warehouse structure next to the Haas-Baruch Building was replaced in 1980 by Honda Plaza, a small Japanese-American retail and office center. Although the Haas-Baruch building survived until at least the late 1980s, it eventually made way for an auto-oriented Office Depot, completed in 2001. Construction began in 2003 on a large apartment complex facing the 100 block of South Alameda Street. Now known as the Savoy condominiums, the building’s southern facade is on the right side of the present view.
Gallery of the vacant Haas-Baruch Building in 1988 [Echo_29 on Flickr]
A quick primer on Los Angeles’ early railroads [KCET]
1. “Commercial, office plaza slated for Little Tokyo.” Los Angeles Times. 9 Sep. 1979. H32.
2. “Great block for old firm.” Los Angeles Times. 17 Sep. 1911. VII.
3. Iritani, Evelyn. “Japanese American Group Opens Bank in Little Tokyo.” Los Angeles Times. 11 Nov. 2002. C2.
4. White, Ronald D. “Little Tokyo Project Raises Big Expectations.” Los Angeles Times. 22 Sep. 2003. C1.
Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “Intersection East 2nd Street and Rose Street, Los Angeles, CA, 1932 – DW-1932-06-03-25~01.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll170/id/38409