Posts Tagged ‘USC Digital Archive’

IMAGERY – The Mighty LA River, 1895-1920

©USC Digital Archive

Two men standing near a water ditch at the bank of Los Angeles River, north side of Griffith Park.

I’m happy to say that our sold out Los Angeles River tour is this Sunday and there are actually upwards of 30 people on the waiting list for another one! Wow. There’s been a lot of discussion on our Facebook page about the revitalization of the river and its reputation as a drainage ditch this week, so I decided to make another dip into the ol’ USC Digital Archive to see what kind of imagery I could find. This 51 mile river that explorer Gaspar de Portolá named El Río de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula in the year 1769 didn’t always look the way you might imagine. Although it changed course many times over history, the river shown below was the reason that the 44 Los Pobladores chose to stop and create a settlement here… The LA River is the reason that Los Angeles exists.


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IMAGERY – The Celery Merchants of Venice

You might not know this… but Venice, California was once a landscape of fields called “The Venice Celery District.”

CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEWS (Note: The captions you will see below were the original captions written for the photos when they were archived.)
©USC Digital Archive

Photograph of the ideal field of summer celery in the Venice Celery District, just before applying blanching paper, April 12, 1927. The rows of thick leaves of the celery plants form a congested square at center with a dark irrigation ditch in the foreground. A darker field lies on the far edge of the celery field on the right while another field lies on the far left. Hills stand in the background on the right while electrical poles spot a clearing of grass in the background on the left. “Note the regularity of the plant foliage.” (more…)

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IMAGERY – The Los Angeles Wheelmen

Angelenos have had a passion for bicycling for longer than you might think. The image below was taken in Boyle Heights in 1893, about ten years after the bicycle chain was invented. Reformed in 1945, the Los Angeles Wheelmen bicycle riding club is still going strong, with multiple rides every week. There are far more than eleven members now. And don’t worry, I doubt they’re still wearing that fancy uniform. :)

The club’s ride schedule is here.

From their site:

“We are a group of bicyclists who enjoy the pleasure of riding with friends. We are not a racing club, and we welcome members of all abilities. We offer easier, moderate and difficult rides. We hold some multi-day trips, and in late June we offer the Grand Tour, a 24-hour ride of 120+, 200, 300 or 400 miles. At our social events, we make up for all the calories burned while riding. Our monthly newsletter, “The Gooseneck,” contains a descriptive ride schedule and much other news. Newcomers are welcome to try a few of our rides before deciding whether to join. Helmets are mandatory on all rides.”

©USC Digital Archive

Photographic portrait of the 11 Los Angeles Wheelmen posing as a group in cadet type uniforms at the East Side (Boyle Heights) track, October 3, 1893. “The Los Angeles wheelmen on the track include, left to right, standing — Jack Winters, John S. Thayer, Faye Stefenson, Phil Kitchen, W.J. Allen, E.S. Pauly, Tracy Hugh Rall, W.A. Tufts, and Walter Tyler; seated — Lord Gattensbury, A.D. Cummings, and Ernest Steuart, Paully.”

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IMAGERY – Buying The Lakers

The Lakers’ franchise was founded in Detroit Michigan in 1946. Upon moving to Minneapolis, the team got its official title from the state’s nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” After thirteen years, on April 28, 1960, attorney and trucking magnate Bob Short announced that the failing Minneapolis Lakers team would be moving to Los Angeles.

Below is a photograph of a deposit check written by Bloomingdale heir Alfred S. Bloomingdale in an attempt to purchase the team from Short for $700,000. Although this offer was refused, in 1962 Bloomingdale purchased 29% of the Lakers while Short still kept the majority share. The club was later sold to Jack Kent Cooke for $5 million in 1965.

“Letters and check, 3 April 1961. Negatives show a copy of an offer to buy the Los Angeles Lakers basketball club; Also a check for $100,000.00.”


©USC Digital ArchiveThe letter reads:

March 15, 1961

Mr. Alfred Bloomingdale
900 North LaCienega Boulevard
Los Angeles 46, California

Dear Mr. Bloomingdale:

Thank you for your letter of March 7. We are complimented to learn of your interest in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Your offer was carefully considered by those who hold a majority of the outstanding stock of the Corporation. Their position has not changed. The Lakers are not for sale. In the event that we are of a different mind at a later date, you will be contacted.

Your check is herewith returned. Thank you for your interest.

R. Short

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IMAGERY – Compton Boulevard, circa 1885

©USC Digital Archive

View of Compton Boulevard looking west from Alameda Boulevard in Compton, ca.1885

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IMAGERY – The Old Chinatown Blacksmith, 1899


Photographic portrait of “The Old Chinatown Blacksmith” in Chinatown, ca.1899. The blacksmith is at center and is dressed in traditional Chinese clothes. He is standing to the left of a brick building with several doors and windows in it, as well as a large key painted on it. There are awnings covering the walkway where the man is standing. There is another man walking in the background; he is dressed in Western clothes, including a jacket and hat.

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IMAGERY – Easter Sunrise, 1938

1938 Easter Sunrise Services at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park

©USC Digital Library ©USC Digital Library ©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library

Have a wonderful Sunday…
whether Jesus and bunnies are involved or not! :)

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IMAGERY – Passover Seder, March 1928

Photo of a Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering
Home for the Aged
in Los Angeles, ca.1928

“Jewry to celebrate festival! — A typical Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering Home for the Aged in this city. This Jewish festival will be held at the home next Thursday night, with many prominent Hebrew residents of the city in attendance. This symbolic dinner is one of the features of the Passover holiday” — Examiner clipping attached to verso, dated, “Mar 31, 1928″ Image ©USC Digital Archive

According to an April 2003 LA Times article:

“Today, as Jews prepare to observe Passover… Southern California has the nation’s second-largest Jewish population (currently over 650,000). By contrast, the overwhelmingly Catholic pueblo of Los Angeles of 1854 had fewer than 200 Jewish residents and no kosher bakery or butcher shop. A lay rabbi slaughtered animals, carefully observing rabbinic laws, so that Jews might have kosher meat. The aroma of matzo — unleavened bread — wafted from a bakery owned and run by a Catholic. In the hinterlands — the Gold Country of Northern California or the outlying reaches of Southern California — men were often the ones who prepared the Passover seder because there were no women around.

“Despite such accommodations to necessity, historians say a common thread of faith and tradition is woven through the fabric of Jewish history in the West.”

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IMAGERY – Poor Mrs. Pauline Paulson


On the glorious evening of March 10th, 1952, after watching her beloved film favorites depart the Hollywood Pantages Theater (where the 1952 Oscar ceremonies were held), 80-year-old grandmother Pauline Paulsen fell in between the rows of bleachers and was rushed to Hollywood Receiving Hospital. Ouch!!! Sure looks like Pauline is the star of the show in this shot! (more…)

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IMAGERY – Barbecuing in Montrose, Feb. 22, 1913


©USC Digital Library

Photograph(s) of an aerial view of a promotional land sale barbeque in Montrose near Glendale, February 22, 1913. A group of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages are parked at the center of a clearing, while pedestrians walk around towards the barbeque tables pictured in the left distance where a small shack can be seen to the side of a dirt road, and in the right foreground, surrounded by temporary fence. A road lined by utility poles curves behind the gathering from the left of the frame towards the mountains in the background, with an even smaller second shack stands near piles of gravel. A sign near the dirt road reads “Montrose Holmes-Walton Realtor Co.”

Images ©USC Digital Library


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FLASHBACK – Racing Thru The Clouds in Venice

©VirtualVenice.infoOnce upon a time, the first roller coaster ever built on the West Coast reached towards the Venice, California sky. The ride was called Race Thru The Clouds and when it opened on July 4, 1911, even with only half of its cars on line over 25,000 people rode it. Yes, in one day. Roller coasters soon became such a popular attraction in Venice that fourteen were built in between 1904 and 1925. In the early 1920′s, visitors to Venice had a choice of six different rides: three on the Venice Pier, one on the inland lagoon and two on the Ocean Park/Lick Piers.

Although the first coaster is long gone, you can still find evidence of Race Thru The Clouds nearby if you look… architect Steve Ehrlich themed a nearby commercial building after its curves. I think my favorite tribute is this, though: a Folsom Prison inmate named William Jennings-Bryan Burke once spent over a decade erecting a replica of the ride made entirely out of toothpicks! AWESOME! (He actually built entire carnivals from toothpicks. I’m not kidding.)


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IMAGERY – Traffic on the Cahuenga Pass, 1897

Welcome to the original 101 Freeway.

Photograph of two cyclists on the Cahuenga Pass, Los Angeles, circa 1897. The man to the right walks his bicycle on the unpaved road, looking at his companion riding to the left, on whose back is strapped a briefcase of some kind. The terrain surrounding them is comprised entirely of grassy hills. Caption on photoprint reads: “Cahuenga Pass — connecting Hollywood and San Fernando Valley — as it was in 1897.”

Click on image for larger view.
©USC Digital Archive

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IMAGERY – LA’s Whistling Birds of the 1920s

Prior to television, people found such fascinating ways to entertain themselves. I have never even *heard* of a Bird Whistling Chorus before, but I imagine it probably sounded something like like this. I so wish I could’ve watched these women perform… although probably not for more than ten minutes or so. (More photos after the jump. Click for larger views.)

bird whistling 1923Apparently someone didn’t get the telegram about wearing all white…

1923 – Photographic group portrait of America’s Bird Whistling Chorus in Los Angeles. Four rows of women in light-colored dresses sit facing the camera, with one woman in a dark-colored dress to the right of center. A woman in the front row holds a conductor’s baton. The group is posed in front of an indistinguishable background, possibly a stage. (more…)

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IMAGERY – Origins of Smog

Celebrated books have been penned to discuss how Los Angeles’ problem with air quality first developed. Commonly, the blame has been put on the local munitions factories of World War II (one of which my grandma worked in, btw), but a photo of the *real* perpetrator has been discovered.

It’s visible after the jump. (more…)

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