View Single Post
Old Posted Oct 26, 2011, 10:03 PM
Those Who Squirm!'s Avatar
Those Who Squirm! Those Who Squirm! is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: In my specially built chair
Posts: 364
Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
Old Plaza Firehouse, early 1950s

(pictures deleted--see quoted post)
USC archive

This picture fascinates me, not only for its run-down, film noirish qualities, but also for the fact that the old late 19th Century firehouse at this point became a dumpy cafe. Talk about adaptive reuse! It was always my assumption that this building used to be a firehouse, and was just later abandoned (and of course is now a museum). But in fact, the old Plaza area was still a living, working part of town.
(Emphasis mine)

Sadly, this is what was lost. When the County took over in 1953, the merchants and whatever residents there might still have been were sent packing and the buildings were padlocked. I consider it likely that the local storefronts and inhabitants were thought to represent the quintessence of urban blight--poor, transit-dependent people renting rooms in the Pico House and depending on cheap cafes, stores, and other businesses in the area. More so on Bunker Hill, but also to a definite extent in the Plaza, the urban renewal projects of the 1950s and 60s might better be termed suburban renewal, because it was largely a suburban aesthetic that was imposed. In the Plaza area, most of the historic buildings were cleared away not only for parking lots, but also simply to be replaced by bits of greenery here and there whose siting made them anything but inviting--but if you knock down an old building you have to put something in its place anyhow.


I like the Plaza today for the fact that it's where the city of LA began, and that it's all fixed up, but now, it just has that museum look to it, artificially frozen in time, apart from Olvera Street (which isn't what it once was either).

Compare the above photo with this:

1968 (See original in linked post above)


And this:

Recently I brought an out-of-town colleague to La Golandrina, and as we drove past the Plaza he asked if there was a street festival going on. Of course there wasn't; it was just the ordinary summer evening rush, so I guess we can be grateful that the area does yet live, in spite of everything that's been done to it.
Reply With Quote