Archive: History

Entries in this category going back awhile

Jue Joe Ranch in the middle of the Valley (photos)

jue-joe-barn-side.jpg An old barn and packing shed remain from an asparagus ranch where a Chinese immigrant family thrived before the San Fernando Valley became the suburbs.

First grave in the LA veterans cemetery

lanc-flags-long-52415.jpg My post for Memorial Day includes a book excerpt and a visit to Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Personal OC media stories 40 years after Saigon

tracy-wood-1973.jpg Tracy Wood, now at Voice of OC, learned lessons about official corruption covering the Vietnam War that keep coming into play in her coverage of government.

23 years after LA riots, a project for Vermont and Manchester

vermontvillage.jpg Groundbreaking is set today for a $200 million retail and entertainment center to be built on the site of a swap meet burned down in the 1992 riots, which began on this date.

The Angeleno who would be president of Armenia

armenian-march-for-justice-fb.jpg Raffi Hovannisian grew up in LA, a member of the Armenian diaspora in California. His son, the director of "2015," explains why Hovannisian went back to the homeland.

Los Angeles used to hunt mountain lions

california lion copy-thumb-600x408-91421.jpg Before wild animals had cute Twitter accounts, the sighting of a cougar in the hills of LA caused a much different response.

Pico Union Project is more than a women's mosque

pico-union-project-jj.jpg LA's oldest Jewish synagogue building is now used for prayer by many kinds of congregations. That's not by accident.

Sawtelle Japantown is now official

sawtelle-japantown-signage.jpg The city's first blue signs for the new district were unveiled on Sunday.

Doing business on historical properties in LA

the-bloc-sign.jpg Wayne Ratkovich says that getting a historic designation on a building can be a good thing. He should know.

HistoricPlacesLA website is ready for you now

griffith-obs-hpla.jpg The site provides information on and mapping of hundreds of City Hall-designated historic-cultural monuments and other places that might be designated someday.

When Martin Luther King spoke in Los Angeles

MLK-ucla-janss-steps.jpg Three more of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches in the Los Angeles area are in the news this MLK Day.

Just where is downtown Los Angeles anyway?

traffic-pattern-map.jpg Defining the borders of downtown remains an uncertain task, writes KCET's Nathan Masters.

1939 Los Angeles County org chart*

county-org-chart-1939.jpg Los Angeles County was a much different place in 1939. Boy was it.

Why 'drank the Kool-Aid' is offensive, especially here

jonestown-massacre.jpg A former reporter argues that everyone should stop using the phrase and remember the tragedy that spawned it. A congressman and three California journalists were among the 918 dead in Guyana 37 years ago today.

Original, intact model of Garden of Allah located in the Valley*

garden-of-allah-model.jpg Alison Martino's Vintage LA community on Facebook has turned up another gem. It has been seen before, but check out the video.

City archive photos put to immediate good use

pe-viaduct-fletcher.jpg Image database we posted about yesterday includes this 1928 view of the corner of Riverside and Fletcher drives, showing a long-gone Pacific Electric Red Cars viaduct.

Photos from the LA city archives now online

lachs-1st-street-bridge-1890s.jpg The Los Angeles City Historical Society has put a growing database online of selected official photographs from the Los Angeles City Archives. More than 600 images now, and the project's Anna Sklar tells me more are coming.

Dodgers' most notorious historical moment reexamined

marichal-roseboro-annotated.jpg In a pretty remarkable piece at Deadspin, Los Angeles author David Davis annotates the famous photo of the Juan Marichal assault of John Roseboro in the summer of Watts and fills in the backstory.

If you're working Paul McCartney, plan to go vegan

beatles-stadium-1966.jpg IATSE workers are first told "NO ONE is to bring meat of any kind" to Sunday's McCartney show at Dodger Stadium. The tone has softened a bit, but because McCartney is vegan the menu will be too.

Harry Shearer: Nixon prepares to resign (video)

harry-shearer-nixon.jpg On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon delivered a live TV address from the White House revealing he would resign. Harry Shearer reenacts the final minutes.

Hamlet in Encino

hamlet-in-encino.jpg Los Encinos State Historic Park, as I've said before, is my favorite history-drenched enclave of Los Angeles. So why not Hamlet on the grass?
krenwinkel-nyt-videograb.jpg Krenwinkel, now 66, has been in prison for 45 years for her part in the Manson family murders. She appears on video for the first time since 1994.

30 years ago: Joan Benoit enters the Coliseum (video)

joan-benoit-chinn.jpg My favorite moment of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics came on the first Sunday of the games. Turn up the sound and listen to the roar of the crowd. Plus: Who can forget Gabriela Andersen-Schiess finishing the women's marathon.

30 years ago today: 'Rhapsody in Blue' in the Coliseum

1984-opening-ceremony.jpg During the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, a dramatic moment came when 84 grand pianos appeared in the peristyle of the Coliseum and began to play George Gershwin.

Historian of the Valley hangs up his tour shoes

fernand-vncityhall.jpg Richard Hilton guided his final walking tour of old Van Nuys on Saturday -- so I just had to go along.

Desert ghost town where Hollywood got fake snow

midland-bldgblog.jpg Out near Blythe in the lower desert, the abandoned industrial settlement of Midland has been empty for nearly half a century.

Reporters remember talking to O.J. back then

ojsimpson-bronco.jpg Linda Deutsch of AP was the reporter Simpson felt he could talk to and be treated fairly. Jim Newton of the LA Times thought he was going to get into a fistfight when he interviewed Simpson. Plus more.

D-Day radio broadcasts from KFWB found and restored

kfwb-dday-grab.jpg A disc containing some of the news that went out over the air on KFWB on June 6, 1944 about the invasion of Nazi-held France have been found at USC — broken in half — and heard again.

Mystery LAX disruption traced to legendary old spy plane

u-2-usaf.jpg The U-2 was developed and built at Burbank Airport and played a major role in the Cold War. CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers, shot down over the USSR in 1960 and swapped for a KGB spy, later died flying the KNBC news chopper.

Legendary Zanja Madre revealed in Chinatown dig

zanja-madre-william-bolling.jpg A portion of the "Mother Ditch" that supplied the pueblo of Los Angeles, later encased in brick, has been uncovered and will be removed.

Old Sunkist sign emerges from rubble of packing house

sunkist-sign-upland.jpg Inland Valley Bulletin columnist David Allen spotted the faded Sunkist logo that reappeared during demolition of a century-old packing house in Upland. "This sign was like an apparition, the Ghost of Citrus Past."

LA's first carmageddon: building the freeways

405-swath-wla.jpg The freeway building boom that began with the Arroyo Seco Parkway in the late 1930s and continued for three decades made the city of four million people possible, but the damage done to neighborhoods and whole communities across Los Angeles was painful and, as we now know, permanent and scarring.

Red Cars waiting to be crushed

red-cars-george-mann-vla.jpg Vintage LA on Facebook is posting images released for the first time by photographer George Mann. This cropped photo shows Pacific Electric cars piled up on Terminal Island in 1963

Huntington acquires photo collection of Ernest Marquez

sm-beach-visitors-marquez.jpg This is pretty awesome. Ernie Marquez, a member of the land-grant family that owned Santa Monica Canyon, grew up in the canyon himself and later in life became an LA historian and collector of historical photographs.

The story behind Heritage Square and its Victorian homes

haleatheritage-curbed.jpg There are now eight historic structures at the museum -- in various stages of continuous repair -- built between 1876 and 1899. They offer "a fascinating look into an infantile Los Angeles without an architectural identity."

Searching for the lost arroyo of San Pascual

san-pascual-alhambra-creekfreak.jpg The blog LA Creek Freak may be closing in on the location of the natural drainage that used to flow — and maybe still does? — through what became the cities of Pasadena, San Marino and/or Alhambra.

Susan Peters (and more Hollywood stars) ride bikes *

susan-peters-acp.jpg Putting stars on bikes: good idea. I had never heard of Susan Peters and her story until the 2012 book, "Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling With the Stars," by Philadelphia film critic Steven Rea and my friends at Angel City Press.

The Beatles' 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' at 50 (video)

beatles-hold-your-hand-cover.jpg On December 26, 1963, Capitol Records released an American record from a band that was creating great excitement in the United Kingdom and Europe, but not so much in the United States. Something clicked.

Nice history of LAPL's 'Shades of LA' project

shadesofla_9.jpg Two decades ago, librarian Carolyn Kozo Cole found, time and again, that vast swaths of the city's people and ethnic story were not represented in the LAPL's photo collection. Out of her exasperation grew a project to copy thousands of family photos and take oral histories. It remains a signature achievement of the LA Public Library.

JFK arrives by copter at Ambassador Hotel (video)

jfk-ambass-tight.jpg Senator John F. Kennedy's helicopter lands on the front lawn at the Ambassador Hotel, possibly in 1960. (The Ames Brothers are on the marquee at the Cocoanut Grove.)

Did Patriotic Hall have a different architect?

Clubhouse Rendering (c1915) copy.jpg Los Angeles historian Jim Beardsley, a scholar in the work of architect Ross G. Montgomery, says his man produced a rendering for the hall ten years before the building opened.

Crumbling historic Wilshire chapel may be at risk

va-chapel-with-stairs.jpg A unusual chapel facing Wilshire Boulevard on the VA campus in West Los Angeles looks worse every time I check in on it. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was built with separate Protestant and Catholic chapels and is one of the oldest structures on Wilshire Boulevard.

LA Aqueduct observances can wind down now

cascades-whitewater.jpg For months now, Los Angeles media, historians and civic officials have been thinking and talking about the city's water link to the Eastern Sierra and what it all means. It has been a good and useful exercise. Tuesday's reenactment was itself pretty cool.

Book excerpt: The Valley rises as Mulholland falls

water-comission-lapl.jpg Part 2 of an excerpt adapted from "San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb" for the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Part one: LA and its Owens Valley water

cascades-crowd-watches.jpg A couple of the chapters in my book on the San Fernando Valley deal with the Los Angeles Aqueduct and how abundant water changed the city and the valley. It holds up, I'm pleased to say. For this week's anniversary, here's an adapted version.

Anniversary party at La Brea Tar Pits off by a few years

tar-pits-excavation-20s.jpg The way the online world, the media and local institutions abuse both the subject of LA history and the generally lazy news trope of anniversary stories, it's surprising this doesn't happen more.

Three LAFD firefighters taken to a hospital from 1890s church*

crouch-church-burned.jpg All three are expected to be OK. The church built in the 1890s is located within the 27th Street Historic District in South Los Angeles.

Bill Eppridge, photographer of iconic RFK image was 75

rfk-shot-eppridge.jpg The Life photographer took the most remembered image of Robert Kennedy in a pool of blood on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel pantry on June 5, 1968.

Oct. 2, 1971: Soul Train debuts from LA (video)

soul-train-dancers.jpg After starting in Chicago, Don Cornelius migrated "Soul Train" to Los Angeles and national syndication. This clip with the theme from "Shaft" is from Oct. 1971.

Hometown honors Davey Moore, boxer killed in Dodger Stadium match

Fifty years ago, the death of boxer Davey Moore after a match at Dodger Stadium was a big story in Los Angeles. His opponent, Sugar Ramos, traveled from Mexico City to Ohio for a statue unveiling recently.

Photo: Venice Beach [not] in 1947 *

venice-beach-1947-mb.jpg Historian Michael Beschloss posted this image to Twitter and said it was Venice in 1947. It looks to actually be in Santa Monica. Inside: UCLA under construction around 1928.

On this day in 1939, a tropical storm hit LA

tropical-storm-long-beach-noaa.jpg The cyclone out of the Pacific is the only recorded tropical storm to make landfall in the Los Angeles area. It came ashore in Long Beach.

San Fernando Valley Relics museum to open

white-horse-inn-sign.jpg Tommy Gelinas, the prolific collector of memorabilia, photos, signage and documents related to the San Fernando Valley, plans to put some of his collection on display in Chatsworth on October 12.

Hidden Clifton's Cafeteria sign

cliftons-sign-7th-street.jpg On the back of a classic Los Angeles address on 7th Street, visible only across a parking lot, is a reminder of the once popular Clifton's cafeteria empire.

Time travel: Broadway in Los Angeles in 1902 1906*

broadway-1902-beschloss.jpg Posted to Twitter by historian Michael Beschloss, without explanation. Click to see it big.

Tiffany Theater sign will be saved Monday morning

tiffany-theater-sign-letter.jpg Two of the busiest Los Angeles communities on Facebook, Alison Martino's Vintage Los Angeles and Tommy Gelinas' San Fernando Valley Relics, are joining forces to collect and preserve the old sign from the facade of the former Tiffany Theater on Sunset Strip. They invite supporters to come out Monday and help take it down.

Leaving out LA's history of car manufacturing

nhm-car-tourist.jpg The Wall Street Journal calls the 1902 Tourist the only car ever manufactured in Los Angeles. We disagree.

Jurgensen's sign a Westwood history artifact

westwood-1931-huntington-geab.jpg Several LA Observed regulars knew right away that the mystery Jurgensen's Grocery sign posted last week can be found on Glendon Avenue in Westwood Village. There's nothing quite like the Jurgensen's chain in LA today.

The Ronettes' 'Be My Baby' is 50 years old this month (video)*

ronettes-youtube-grab.jpg Brian Wilson calls "Be My Baby" the "greatest record ever produced. No one will ever top that one.” It came from Phil Spector's Wall of Sound studios in LA with girls from Spanish Harlem whose lives were never the same. The NYT weighs in.
rfk-hearse-back-lapl.jpg Three photos from the Los Angeles Public Library collection show the emotion of the morning that Robert F. Kennedy died, a day after winning the California primary election and probably the Democratic nomination for president.

This may be the first aerial photo of LA

first-aerial-la.jpg This photograph of the fledgling town of Los Angeles apparently was taken from a hot-air balloon in 1887, part of a stunt by William Randolph Hearst and his San Francisco Examiner. Nathan Masters explains.

Ernest Marquez is a treasure from LA's past

ernest-marquez-grab.jpg Ernest Marquez likes to say that his family lived in three countries — Spain, Mexico and the United States — without ever leaving home. Their home was in Santa Monica Canyon, before the artists and the actors arrived. Nice profile in the LA Times and video of the family's hidden cemetery in the canyon.

Becoming LA opens at Natural History Museum

downtown-model-nhmla.jpg The Natural History Museum unveils to the public the new and much-anticipated Becoming LA exhibit hall on Sunday. It's must-see for students of Los Angeles history, but it should be interesting for just about anyone.

This may be LA's oldest palm tree

oldest-palm-tree.jpg There is reason to believe this solitary fan palm near the Coliseum on the edge of Exposition Park is the oldest palm tree in the city. History writer Nathan Masters has tracked the tree through a series of moves.

Lost Einar Petersen mural from Rosslyn Hotel on eBay

rosslyn_lobby.jpg A 1915 mural of a stagecoach scene that used to hang in the lobby of the Rosslyn Hotel in downtown Los Angeles has shown up for sale on eBay. Part of a set that was removed when the Rosslyn was remodeled, the mural is by long-ago LA muralist Einar Petersen.

Whoa: Ray Richmond has a heck of a story about his mom

cliftons-brookdale-facade.jpg The longtime LA scribe writes at the LA Weekly today about his mother's affair with Clifford Clinton, the reform-era City Hall rabble rouser who ran the popular Clifton cafeteria chain. They met when Clinton patronized Mrs. Richmond's shop across Pico Boulevard from the Fox studio where men would show up seeking, and receiving, certain paid services.
hendrix-newport-69.jpg Mark Robinson organized the biggest and best rock and roll show to be held within the city limits of Los Angeles. He's now a Newport Beach lawyer. We look back at the first weekend of a historical summer.

When the Herald Examiner named the 'Night Stalker'

night-stalker-caught;herex.jpg Throughout the history of American newspapers are examples of editors and headlines affixing catchy names to notorious crimes and criminals. This is one of the few things that newspapers do that can fairly be attributed to the impulse to "sell papers."
sgt-pepper-album-cover.jpg The Beatles album "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released in the United States on June 1 in 1967. Music writer Chris Morris: "LIke every other 17-year-old in America...we turned the lights down and listened in awe as the last sustained piano chord in 'A Day in the Life' reverberated and died."

When The Doors played LA high schools and clubs

doors-at-birmingham.jpg If you lived in Los Angeles in the 1960s and were inclined toward rock and roll, you might have seen Ray Manzarek and The Doors play at Sunset Strip clubs, at Ports O'Call in San Pedro — or at your high school. Memories are flowing on social media.

Battle of the French Dip sandwiches (video)

philippe-sign-lit-lao.jpg Dutch journalist and maker of LA-centric videos Joris Debeij has posted a four-minute exploration of the rivalry between Philippe and Cole's over the origin story of the French Dip sandwich. Animation included.

Last-place Dodgers turn to the past for help

hahn-omalley-wyman.jpg Rosalind Wyman will throw out the first pitch before tonight's game with the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Roz Wyman was the youngest member of the Los Angeles City Council in 1957 when she joined with Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley and county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn to bring the team to LA.
tropical-ice-gardens-village.jpg The National Hockey League made it official and announced that Dodger Stadium will host an outdoor, night game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks next January 25. But in the 1940s, there was hockey at the Tropical Ice Gardens in Westwood Village — including at least two matches involving the Montreal Canadiens.

Magazine asks: why isn't prolific serial killer dead?

Kraft Opener.jpg Randy Kraft was arrested almost 30 years ago with the body of his latest victim in the front seat of his car, and photos of many other victims under the Toyota's floormat. The computer programmer was convicted of 16 murders and linked to 65 others. He's still languishing at San Quentin, now 68 years old.

Check out the rarely seen Million Dollar Theatre on Broadway

million-dollar-balcony-seat.jpg Before he shifted his sights to Hollywood, early motion picture impresario Sid Grauman built his first movie palace on Broadway at 3rd Street, beside the Grand Central Market and across the street from the Bradbury Building. The former Grauman's is now the Million Dollar, and I wandered around inside recently. It's open for tours this Saturday , but that night's showing of "Blade Runner" on the big screen is sold out. Pics inside.

Cary Grant's signature from Earl Carroll Theatre

earl_carroll_cary_grant01.jpg A slab of concrete that is billed as bearing the signature of old-timey movie star Cary Grant from the wall of the legendary 1940s Hollywood nightspot is up for sale on eBay. Bidding starts at $5,000 — so it better be real.

Idea: Designate Tower Records a cultural landmark

tower-records-small.jpg Domenic Priore, the author of "Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood,” wants the city of West Hollywood to designate the former Tower Records store on Sunset Boulevard (across from Book Soup) as a Strip-themed cultural resource center.

Time travel: Car racing on Wilshire Boulevard (video)

wilshire-races-crash-grab.jpg From 1909 until 1919, a big winter road race was held in Santa Monica that attracted top drivers and thousands of spectators. Former Huell Howser producer Harry Pallenberg is posting a series of video documentaries on SoCal's racing history, and right now his website features the Wilshire Boulevard races.

Lost train depots of Los Angeles

la-grande-station.jpg I intended to post on this a couple of weeks ago, but it slipped with the whole cold/flu/whatever thing. Nathan Masters has done a really nice piece at KCET's website on the train stations that dotted Los Angeles before rail service was consolidated at the "union" station in 1939.

Guess which other big catastrophe awaits California (again)

sacramento-flood-1862.jpg We know about the deal we make with earthquakes, but the biggest catastrophes through time in California have actually been storms. There's only been one on the epic scale since statehood, but a story in the new Scientific American says the next time will be worse for us.

Harry Carey Jr. remembered as the last Hollywood cowboy

Thumbnail image for harry-carey-jr-rifleman.jpg Director Peter Bogdanovich wrote a short tribute for Saturday's memorial for the actor Harry Carey, Jr., who had been the last surviving member of director John Ford's company of western actors. "A solid professional, but also a brilliantly deadpan, hilarious raconteur of the days of the giants in pictures."

Beatles party in 1964: now more video *

beatles-color-beck-telegrap.jpg Raw news footage from 1964 shows the teenage frenzy and celebrity arrivals outside the private party held for the Beatles during their first trip to Los Angeles. Also: we have a new venue for the event.

Confirmed: '64 Beatles photo is from LA

Thumbnail image for beatles-color-beck-telegrap.jpg Last night I asked if a color candid photograph of the Beatles chatting with fans outdoors could have been from the private party held in August 1964 in the Beverly Hills backyard of Alan Livingston, then the president of Capitol Records. By this morning, LA Observed readers had provided the answer.

'Gangster Squad' gets the LAT wrapper treatment - with a twist

gangster-squad-grab.jpg The fake stories and byline on the latest front page wrap around the Sunday LA Times are actually real, just old. 'Gangster Squad' grew out of a Times series, and the screenwriter is a former LAPD homicide detective.

Rare color photos of Beatles in LA to hit auction *

beatles-color-beck-telegrap.jpg From the Beatles first tour of the United States in 1964, most of the published photographs have been in black and white. Now color slides found in the collection of a late inventor include shots from a private party the Beatles attended here in 1964.

Documenting where in LA the Three Stooges filmed

la-brea-stooges.jpg What is it about non-Angelenos becoming so obsessed with old filming locations that they spend years tracking down obscure shots and facts — then write books about their discoveries that become chronicles of LA history? When you grow up in Los Angeles, you get used to seeing familiar sights in the background of movies and TV shows. You just stop thinking about it.

Harry Carey, Jr., character actor for John Ford was 91

harry-carey-jr-rifleman.jpg The son of cowboy star Harry Carey was born on his father's ranch near Saugus and went on to ride horses in the westerns directed by pal John Ford and act in many other films and TV shows. Through Ford, Carey also was part of an exclusive San Fernando Valley club of Hollywood men that's now mostly forgotten.

Media buzz of 1978: a new Los Angeles alt-weekly

new-west-731978.jpg Former New West staffer Michael Kurcfeld found this clip from July 3, 1978, disclosing plans for a new alternative newspaper to fill the void left by closure of the Los Angeles Free Press. Working title: L.A.Weekly.

Big things that were never built in Los Angeles

civic-center-wright.jpg Imagine if Disneyland had been built in Burbank, or if LAX lay west of the corner of Balboa and Roscoe. A major new exhibit will look at the city that never happened — a cool video inside invites you to support the project on Kickstarter.

Cooler (local) legend than the Mayans: Burro Flats pictographs

Iron-Mountain-Trail.jpg By legend and observation, today is when the sun lines up with a target-like pictograph in a cave in an area of the Simi Hills called Burro Flats. Hopefully, you will never find this place.

Story behind the photo: JFK swims in Santa Monica

jfkswim600-uclalat.jpg Who is that woman exchanging grins with President John Kennedy in 1962 on Santa Monica Beach? The LA Times photo blog tells us.

Baca agrees to release unredacted Ruben Salazar files to filmmaker

salazarstamp.jpg Phillip Rodriguez will have access to unredacted autopsy and investigative documents, and coroner's photos, for his documentary on the 1970 death in East Los Angeles of journalist Ruben Salazar.

Hollywood Reporter digs into its role in the blacklist