Looking east on Second Street from Olive Street, 1957-2013


The top photograph shows the border between Bunker Hill and the Civic Center in 1957, just as both neighborhoods were being profoundly reshaped by urban renewal and redevelopment. While the full destruction of Bunker Hill was several years away, the building of the modern Civic Center was about to hit its peak. The left side of the picture shows the demolition of the Union League Building (1911) at the northeast corner of Second and Hill Streets, soon to be replaced by the backside of the State Office Building (1960). Behind it in the distance is the now mostly-demolished Wilcox Building at Second and Spring Streets.

The tallest building in this view is the former Public Service Building at the center of both photographs. Completed in 1928 at 316 West Second Street, the municipal office building housed the central offices for the Bureau of Power and Light. Designed by the now obscure architect Roy D. Smith, the thirteen-story tower became one of Downtown’s northernmost structures to be built to city’s former height limit. The building was sold by the city in 1964, shortly before its occupants were transferred to the modern Water and Power Building. As the tower and its neighbors were subsequently converted into law offices, an unsympathetic renovation covered their original façades with flat, dark-hued panels.

The right edge of the top photograph shows a portion of the ten-story Northern Hotel (1913), eventually replaced by the northern end of the Angelus Plaza senior housing complex (1980). The sloped portion of Second Street above the Second Street Tunnel has since been closed to traffic, and is currently used as a parking lot.

A Charles Cushman kodachrome with the opposite perspective [urban diachrony]

1. “Big north end hotel opened.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Jan. 1913. VI2.
2. “Block one of city’s finest.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Jul. 1911.
3. “Ceremony will mark finish of remodeling.” Los Angeles Times. 24 Sep. 1967. I7.
4. “Civic Center Building being remodeled.” Los Angeles Times. Jun 2  1968. N2.
5. “Civic Center Building sold for $200,000” Los Angeles Times. 26 Jun. 1964. A3.
6. “DWP starts movein of employes friday.” Los Angeles Times. 9 May 1965. M2.
7. “Many projects planned” Los Angeles Times. 5 Oct. 1924.
8. “Union league’s pile going up rapidly.” Los Angeles Times. 5 Nov. 1910. II1.
9. “Water, Power Building set.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Aug. 1959. B1.
Original photo: Conner, Palmer. “Looking down 2nd Street at the Hotel Astor – photCL 486 (033).” Palmer Conner Collection of Color Slides of Los Angeles. Huntington Digital Library. Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15150coll2/id/6239/rec/31

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

One Response to Looking east on Second Street from Olive Street, 1957-2013

  1. Have you seen the Prelinger Archives movie footage that starts here, above the 2nd Street Tunnel. There is a link to it in my post about the landmarks visible during the movie. https://silentlocations.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/stan-ollie-and-harold-a-drive-through-bunker-hill/

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