LA as Subject

Collectively preserving, archiving and sharing the rich history and culture of Los Angeles

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How Santa Monica’s Third Street Became a Promenade

Posted by Nathan Masters on Feb 4, 2015

King of the road? Since 1965, the pedestrian rather than the private automobile has reigned over a three-block stretch of downtown Santa Monica. Today, the Third Street Promenade is one of the Southland's best-known examples of a public space that prioritizes pedestrians over cars.

But while… Read more »

Topics: KCET

When Anaheim’s Flying-Saucer Arena Touched Down Near Disneyland

Posted by Nathan Masters on Oct 27, 2014

Had one of Tomorrowland's flying saucers gone missing? When the Anaheim Convention Center's arena opened in the summer of 1967, it looked as if a spacecraft from another world had touched down directly opposite Katella Avenue from Disneyland.

Designed by Los Angeles-based architects Adrian… Read more »

Topics: KCET

Was Western Avenue Originally L.A.‘s Western Boundary?

Posted by Nathan Masters on Oct 15, 2014

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

It seems logical enough -- Western Avenue, as the oft-repeated explanation goes, is so named because it once formed Los Angeles' western boundary. But is there any truth to this just-so story?

Some streets did once mark L.A.'s western city limit. Most notably, West Boulevard's name dates to… Read more »

Topics: KCET

When Oxnard Beach Became ‘Hollywood-by-the-Sea’

Posted by Nathan Masters on Aug 4, 2014

Never mind that Tinseltown was five or even fifty miles away. By the mid-1920s, the Hollywood brand was so strong that communities across Southern California were affixing it to their names. Toluca became North Hollywood. Sherman became West Hollywood. And in distant Ventura County, Oxnard Beach… Read more »

Topics: KCET

The Lost Towns of Los Angeles County

Posted by Nathan Masters on Jun 6, 2014

Entire towns have vanished from the Southland.

The street grid of Morocco once stretched across the same gilded real estate occupied today by Beverly Hills. The ruins of a town named Minneapolis lie beneath Atwater Village. The independent city of Tropico melded with Glendale.

In an earlier… Read more »

Topics: KCET

How ‘Golden Apples’—Oranges, That Is—Sold the Golden State

Posted by Nathan Masters on Mar 21, 2014

Courtesy of the David Boule Collection

Call it an early version of viral marketing. Promoters of two products -- a fruit and the region that grew it -- created hundreds of images of oranges, orange trees, and orange groves during the reign of Southern California's Orange Empire. They then leveraged the social network of the time --… Read more »

Topics: KCET

Photos: When L.A.‘s Most Popular Streets Were Dirt Roads

Posted by Nathan Masters on Oct 17, 2013

Like some of the very people who drive on them, a few Los Angeles streets have achieved the height of fame. Sunset Boulevard lent its evocative name to Billy Wilder's classic film noir. Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard appears on millions of television screens each New Year's Day as the route of the… Read more »

Topics: KCET

Hooray for…Colegrove? Remembering Hollywood’s Forgotten Neighbor

Posted by Nathan Masters on Oct 1, 2013

Glance at an old map of the Hollywood area like the one above and two things stand out. First,the land is remarkably empty. There are few roads and even fewer structures. Second, two separate towns appear where we would expect one: Hollywood, destined for stardom, and Colegrove, destined for… Read more »

Topics: KCET

Incline L.A.: Catalina’s Island Mountain Railway (Episode 3)

Posted by Nathan Masters on Aug 22, 2013

The year was 1892, and Catalina Island was in foreclosure.

Its owner, George Shatto, had envisioned a resort town on the island but had built few tourist amenities apart from the three-story Hotel Metropole. When the island finally slipped from Shatto's hands, its new owners purchased it for… Read more »

Topics: KCET

Incline L.A.: The Lost Residential Railway of Mt. Washington (Episode Two)

Posted by Nathan Masters on Jul 11, 2013

Mount Washington: a hill more than a mountain, the landform in northeast Los Angeles is home today to leafy streets and artists' bungalows. But just a century ago, Mount Washington remained carpeted in chaparral, its hilltop land inaccessible to real estate developers and homebuyers. Ultimately,… Read more »

Topics: KCET