LA as Subject

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Arch and Castle Rocks: Lost Landmarks of Pacific Coast Highway

Posted by Nathan Masters on May 2, 2013

Surfers. Palatial estates. Soul-crushing traffic. Pacific Coast Highway treats motorists to many iconic Southern California views and experiences. But two distinctively shaped rocks have been missing from the Pacific Palisades shoreline for decades, victims of the scenic highway's development.

Read more »

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Majestic Mammoths: A Brief History of L.A.‘s Moreton Bay Fig Trees

Posted by Nathan Masters on Apr 11, 2013

Courtesy of the USC Libraries

It lacks the native charm of the sycamore or oak. It wants for the palm's exotic appearance. It doesn't have the pepper tree's romantic associations with California's mission past. It never enjoyed, unlike the eucalyptus, the passionate advocacy of a forester like Abbot Kinney. But the fig tree… Read more »

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What’s Missing From the Earliest-Known Drawing of Los Angeles?

Posted by Nathan Masters on Mar 14, 2013

Courtesy of the USC Libraries.

Without the handwritten caption reading "Part of Los Angeles," it might be difficult to place the above drawing -- generally considered to be the oldest extant drawing of the city. The Los Angeles that William Rich Hutton saw when he first arrived on July 7, 1847, is virtually unrecognizable… Read more »

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Who Took the First Photo of Los Angeles?

Posted by Nathan Masters on Mar 7, 2013

Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center

Widely considered the earliest photograph of Los Angeles, the origin story of this image remains something of a mystery. Who took the photo, and when? Though the image and the historical record offer clues, they provide no definitive answers. What we do know is that some day in the late 1850s or… Read more »

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When L.A. Was Empty: Wide-Open SoCal Landscapes

Posted by Nathan Masters on Feb 14, 2013

San Fernando Valley in 1930. Courtesy of the USC Libraries.

Early photographs of Los Angeles surprise for many reasons, but often what's most striking is how empty the city looks. Open countryside surrounds familiar landmarks. Busy intersections appear as dusty crossroads.

Southern California entered the photographic record at the cusp of a dramatic… Read more »

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The L.A. That Might Have Been

Posted by Nathan Masters on Jan 31, 2013

Lloyd Wright's plan for the Los Angeles Civic Center. Courtesy of Eric Lloyd Wright.

A spiraling, 1,290-foot tower built of magnesium. A rapid-transit system with hundreds of miles of subways and elevated tracks. A comprehensive network of parks, beaches, and open spaces linked by greenbelts and parkways. These are just a few unrealized visions for Los Angeles featured in an… Read more »

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The Lost Train Depots of Los Angeles

Posted by Nathan Masters on Jan 22, 2013

Courtesy of the Photo Collection - Los Angeles Public Library

 

Before the Jet Age brought safe and comfortable air travel to the masses, most newcomers in Los Angeles arrived by rail. Train depots thus provided tourists' and emigrants' first introduction to Los Angeles, helping shape their ideas about the city. The city's grandest passenger terminal,… Read more »

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How El Camino Real, California’s ‘Royal Road,’ Was Invented

Posted by Nathan Masters on Jan 3, 2013

Photo courtesy of the Photo Collection - Los Angeles Public Library.

Along Highway 101 between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, cast metal bells spaced one or two miles apart mark what is supposedly a historic route through California: El Camino Real. Variously translated as "the royal road," or, more freely, "the king's highway," El Camino Real was indeed among… Read more »

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When Hollywood Boulevard Became Santa Claus Lane

Posted by Nathan Masters on Dec 23, 2012

Hollywood Boulevard as Santa Claus Lane, circa 1950. Courtesy of the Photo Collection - Los Angeles Public Library.

Today, shopping malls hang garland, pipe in holiday tunes, and build showy reproductions of St. Nicholas' polar hideout, attracting customers to their privately owned concourses and encouraging the buying spirit. But before malls, holiday shoppers flocked to Los Angeles' downtown and suburban… Read more »

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Manhattan Beach Celebrates Its Centennial

Posted by Nathan Masters on Dec 13, 2012

1915 view of the Manhattan Beach boardwalk, today known as The Strand. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.

 

This month, Manhattan Beach celebrates its centennial. Known for its lively seaside promenade, the Strand, and for its associations with surf culture, the city has its origins as a coastal resort built atop shifting sand dunes of the South Bay.

Though 2012 marks 100 years since… Read more »

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