Up through the 1960s, the southern end of Downtown Los Angeles’ modern Financial District maintained a diverse building stock whose functions and styles reflected several periods of the city’s growth. Although the Sixth Street vicinity had seen the construction of some Modernist office towers, a variety of commercial structures remained from the earlier part of the century. This included a cluster of older hotels along Sixth Street, three of which are pictured on the right of the top photograph.
The hotel buildings were each completed around the time that Los Angeles’ business district began to expand west of Pershing Square. The oldest of the three is the five-story Hotel Lee (1910) at the center of the view. Just behind it is the Southland Hotel (1910), a Renaissance Revival building easily recognized by its tiled-roof corner turret. The largest of the three structures is the nine-story Gates Hotel, completed in 1912. The 300-room building was notably designed by the San Francisco firm of William C. Curlett & Son, whose titular son, Alexander Curlett, later founded the influential firm of Curlett & Beelman. The three establishments were followed by several others in the rest of the decade, creating a hotel district along Sixth Street that stretched from Grand Avenue to Figueroa Street.
The Gates, Lee, and Southland hotels were also the final holdouts of their cohort before they ultimately made way for the Financial District’s growing footprint. The Southland Hotel met its end in 1971 and was replaced by the William L. Pereira-designed Pacific Financial Center. Despite its relatively short 18-story height, the Late Modernist office tower maintains an impressive vertical presence due to its slim alternating columns of pale granite and dark-tinted glass. The Gates Hotel and Hotel Lee made way for Linder Plaza (1974), a more modest building designed by Honnold, Reibsamen & Rex. The backside of its 14-story tower is notably hugged along its base by a two-story wing with a rooftop garden, partially visible from its Sixth Street side.
A 1912 view of the Southland Hotel (aka Hotel Snow) [Huntington Digital Library]
A brief history of the Southland Hotel in pictures [Skyscraperpage Forum]
An elevated view of the Gates Hotel and its neighbors [USC Digital Library]
Linder Plaza [Los Angeles Conservancy]
1. Hebert, Ray. “$12 million building to replace dowdy hotel on 6th Street.” Los Angeles Times. 2 Mar. 1971. A1.
2. Hebert, Ray. “New building will replace landmark.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Apr. 1972. E2.
3. “High rentals paid.” Los Angeles Times. 7 May 1910. II2.
4. “Huge sum from east to build big hotel here.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Jul. 1916. II1.
5. “Linder Plaza rises on Gates Hotel site.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Aug. 1972. O26.
6. “New fireproof hotel leased.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Dec. 1910. V14.
7. “Plans big ‘L’ shaped hotel.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Jun. 1913. VI1.
8. “Ten-year hotel lease brings half million.” Los Angeles Times. 22 Nov. 1912. II1.
Original photo: Conner, Palmer. “6th and Figueroa Streets looking east – 410999.” Palmer Conner Collection of Color Slides of Los Angeles. Huntington Digital Library. The Huntington Library. http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15150coll2/id/8563/rec/7