Few sections of Downtown Los Angeles’ Historic Core have been as cruelly ravaged by urban decay as the blocks of Fourth Street in this view. Save for the former Broadway department store, whose corner peeks out at the left edge, all of the buildings in the original photograph have been either razed or partially demolished.
The center-left of the top image shows two of Broadway’s oldest towers at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway. The building with the rounded corner is the Grant Building, completed in 1898. At the time of its construction, its corner windows boasted some of the largest plates of curved glass yet manufactured in the United States. Originally built to three stories, the Grant Building was enlarged by four floors in 1902, to plans prepared by John Parkinson. Coincidentally, Parkinson also designed the 7-story tower at the intersection’s northeast corner, the O.T. Johnson Building (c. 1903).
The histories of the two low-rise buildings in the top view seem to be largely unknown; however, it appears that they were replaced by a parking lot sometime before 1985. Sadly, the Grant Building and O.T. Johnson Building have both been demolished above their second floors, presumably due to earthquake damage or in response to the city’s 1981 earthquake safety ordinance. In 2007, what remained of the O.T. Johnson Building was ravaged by a large fire of unknown origin. Despite apparent plans to demolish and redevelop the property, the structure currently remains in its ruined, abandoned state.
1. “A big thing in glass.” Los Angeles Times. 16 Feb. 1898. 12.
2. “Business blocks.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Jan. 1898. 69.
3. “Doings of builders and architects.” Los Angeles Times. 4 May 1902. A1.
4. “Johnson’s skyscraper menaced by strikers.” Los Angeles Times. 26 Feb. 1903. A1.
5. Reitman, Valerie. “Fire reveals a last look at historic L.A.” Los Angeles Times. 6 Feb. 2007. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/feb/06/local/me-fire6.
6. “Two new blocks by O.T. Johnson.” Los Angeles Times. 4 Dec. 1901. 11.
Original photo: Conner, Palmer. “4th Street west of Spring Street – photCL 486 (437)” Palmer Conner Collection of Color Slides of Los Angeles. Huntington Digital Library. The Huntington Library. http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15150coll2/id/8670/rec/12.