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kznyc2k Aug 20, 2009 4:50 AM

Best thread on SSP right now! This non-native has probably quadrupled his (admittedly limited) knowledge of the city thanks to it.

JDRCRASH Aug 20, 2009 3:21 PM

Yeah, this thread has made me appreciate the history of Los Angeles more.

ethereal_reality Aug 20, 2009 10:51 PM

below: Angels Flight Sept. 7, 1959 arriving at the top of Bunker Hill.
excabby41 picasa

ethereal_reality Aug 20, 2009 11:41 PM

The following photographs are of Bunker Hill circa 1960.
A few years later, everything was leveled including the actual hill.

below: 219 South Grand Ave.
cal state archives
cal state archive
cal state archive
cal state archive
cal state archive
cal state archive

below: The Alta Vista Apartments.
cal state archive

ethereal_reality Aug 21, 2009 12:12 AM

below: Bunker Hill 1969.
cal state archive

sopas ej Aug 21, 2009 2:36 PM

Cool Bunker Hill shots!

I had this pic in my East LA photo thread, but I thought I'd include it in here because of the film noir connection.

This is Whittier Blvd. in 1928, in what is now Pico Rivera. The billboard you see is advertising Gay's Lion Farm in El Monte, which was a tourist attraction featuring live lions. Reading about it on Wikipedia, it opened in 1925 and closed in 1942 because of WWII meat shortages; it never reopened. But anyway, an incident happened there which was an indirect inspiration for the classic film noir "The Postman Always Rings Twice."
From USC archive

This is what that section of road looks like today.
Photo taken by me.

ethereal_reality Aug 21, 2009 10:12 PM

^^^Excellent before and after sopas_ej!

You should do more of these before and after photos sopas_ej.

BrandonJXN Aug 21, 2009 10:16 PM

They closed a lion farm because of meat shortages? Did they eat the lions?

sopas ej Aug 21, 2009 10:51 PM


Originally Posted by ethereal_reality (Post 4418257)
^^^VERY cool.

You should do more of these before and after photos sopas_ej.

That would be fun! I'll see what I can produce. ;)


Originally Posted by ThreeHundred (Post 4418261)
They closed a lion farm because of meat shortages? Did they eat the lions?

Hehe! Well according to Wikipedia, because of meat rationing during WWII, it was impossible to get the ton of horse meat required to feed the lions daily, so the lions were loaned to zoos around the country. After the War ended, Charles Gay (founder of the lion farm along with his brother Muriel Gay) was too ill to reclaim the lions, and he retired to Balboa Island in Newport Beach-- oooh, according to Wikipedia he's buried in San Gabriel Cemetery. That's not far from where I live... hmm...

ethereal_reality Aug 21, 2009 11:25 PM

I couldn't resist. :)

I'm curious about 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' inspiration (albeit indirect).
I'll try to Google it I guess, or you could spill the beans sopas_ej.

sopas ej Aug 22, 2009 1:48 AM

Another cool pic, ethereal_reality!

Reading the Wikipedia article, apparently three lions tried to escape while being transferred between two cages, and in the process the farm manager was killed. One of the lions was killed by getting shot in the head by the trainer, another lion got caught alive just by walking into an open cage and the trainer was able to lock it in, but the third lion got shot in the leg and started menacing a cow, a cage of baby lions and arriving police officers. That third lion finally died in a hail of bullets from the many guns. This incident somehow inspired author James M. Cain to write a short story called "The Baby in the Icebox," which then inspired him to write his novel "The Postman Always Rings Twice," which of course was adapted into the 1946 movie starring John Garfield and Lana Turner. Hehe I'm not sure how a lion dying in a hail of gunfire would inspire a story about a drifter and woman having an affair and conspiring to kill the woman's husband, but according to the Wikipedia article, that's what happened.

In the pic you posted above, if you look at the entrance to the Lion Farm, you can see a statue of a lion. That same statue is now in front of El Monte High School, their mascot being of course, a lion.

ethereal_reality Aug 22, 2009 2:31 AM

^^^Very intriguing about James M. Cain and the martyred lion.
It's quite an enigmatic connection.

I love that the Lion statue is now at El Monte High School.
I wonder how many students know the history.

Here's one more pic.

sopas ej Aug 23, 2009 12:33 AM

Ah, the MGM Lion was a resident of Gay's Lion Farm? Interesting!

sopas ej Aug 23, 2009 1:20 AM

Before and after...

Alhambra, California. A suburb of Los Angeles, founded in the late 1800s, incorporated as a city in 1903. Was mostly a working-class white city, now has a heavy Chinese population, followed by Latinos.

I'm sure the Garfield Theatre, which opened as the Garfield Egyptian in 1924, showed its share of films noir. According to posts on, it had a balcony, a Wurlitzer organ, a smoking lounge and cry room for people with babies.

Somewhere along the way, it looks like the top story or attic was removed, probably after a major earthquake.

By the 1980s, the theater had become run-down, and was showing Chinese language films, catering to the many Chinese that had started living in Alhambra. Here are two views of the theater building from 1983; what I find interesting is the faded painted sign that probably dates from the early days of talkies, mentioning the "Movietone" and "Vitaphone" sound systems.

In the late 1990s, I believe, the theater went out of business. In 2001, the auditorium was demolished, and the facade of the building was kept and restored, and turned into a strip mall. The movie magic is now gone. You now can't even tell that this ever was a theater.
Photo by me
Photo by me

The backside. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a Yogurtland, a Chinese bank and some handicapped parking spots.
Photo by me


Here's a view just east of the theater, looking west, in 1938. Notice the Van de Kamp's bakery windmill on the left, and the Garfield Theatre on the right.
From USC archive

Here's a similar view today. Literally today, when I took the photo myself. I originally wanted to stand in the middle of the street but there were too many crazy Alhambra drivers out. I didn't wanna get killed.

The windmill and tower are gone, but the building that formerly housed the Van de Kamp's bakery is still there. That answers my question as to why it was built in that faux Dutch style. You see structures like that here and there in older parts of the LA area, makes me wonder if they were Van de Kamp's franchises or whatever at one time.
Photo by me

What was once the Van de Kamp's now houses a restaurant called Savoy; I took the photo around noonish, and already there was a line forming to get in. As you can see there's also a Maria's Fashion and Saigon Optical, among other businesses.

sopas ej Aug 23, 2009 8:38 PM

Sometimes when I look at this thread, I play this song. Corny, I know, but that's me. ;)

Cue Doris:
Video Link

Here's the LA Times bldg. circa 1939. I love this shot.
From USC archive

1st Street between Spring and Main, across the street from LA City Hall, 1930s.
From USC archive

Notice the dollar a day hotel. For the longest time I knew this block as just the other building, with the site of the dollar hotel being a surface parking lot with a burger stand. This site is now where the new LAPD Headquarters Building is, scheduled to open this fall. But notice the streetcar tracks, and the curve, and compare it to this 1963 photo:

Notice the same curve in the tracks, but it dead ends. I assume that's because whatever streetcar line that was, was discontinued by then.

ethereal_reality Aug 23, 2009 11:01 PM

Kudos to you sopas_ej.

You didn't waste any time providing some great 'before' and 'after' photos.
(By the way, I'm glad you didn't stand in the middle of the street)

The Garfield Theater photos were very interesting. It's amazing how long the 'ghost' signage survived over the years
citing 'Vitaphone' and 'Movietone'. Geez, what kind of paint did they use back then?

I also love the photos of the Times Building, and like you said, especially the first one.
I've spent over a month now in the USC archives.....and that's the first time I've seen that particular photograph.
I somehow missed it. So I'm very grateful you posted it.

You also have a good eye in noticing the details in your photographs.
For example, the tracks ending at the curve in that last photo (also great).

Keep up the good work sopas_ej. Again, thanks!

I'll add some more photos soon.

sopas ej Aug 24, 2009 4:41 PM

Thanks for your words of encouragement!

Yeah, I'm amazed at that old paint taking a long time to fade. You see that on some old buildings in downtown LA, too.

ethereal_reality Aug 25, 2009 7:47 PM

below: Here's a great building from 1913, The Trinity Auditorium.
The auditorium seated approximately 2500 spectators, and was the first home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
There were 330 rooms for single men from the fourth to the ninth floor.
It had a roof garden, ladies parlor, social halls, and a library.

Later, it became the Embassy Hotel and Auditorium.

It survives today, and is located at 851 S. Grand Ave.
USC digital archives
unknown. found at
unknown. found at

below: You can pick out the Trinity Auditorium in this vintage photo.
It's the building with the dome on the lower left hand side.
The other building with a dome on the right hand side is still a mystery to me.
Does anyone have a clue?
USC digital library

sopas ej Aug 26, 2009 3:05 AM

:previous: Great pics, ethereal_reality!

I never made the connection of "Trinity" Auditorium; I noticed the cross on top of that pediment, I assume it had some sort of church connection at one time? I've always known this building to be called the Embassy Hotel and Auditorium. There are plans to turn this building into a boutique hotel, but I don't know if the plans have fallen through. I think this building was also used in an episode of "Moonlighting."

Oh, and I did a bit of detective work, hehe. ;) By looking at that old aerial photo you posted, I figured that the other building with the dome is/was the old RKO Hillstreet Theater on the southwest corner of 8th and Hill.

According to the caption, it opened in 1922 as the Hillstreet Theatre as part of the Orpheum Circuit, but in 1929 it was renamed the RKO Theatre. But because of the popular usage of the earlier name, it was renamed the RKO Hillstreet Theatre. It closed in 1963 and was demolished not long after.

ethereal_reality Aug 26, 2009 7:32 PM

Great detective work sopas_ej.

I looked everywhere trying to find some information on the other domed building.
So now we know. Needless to say, I'm sorry it's gone.

In my earlier post I failed to mention that the first three floors of the Trinity Auditorium
was used by Trinity Church. So you're correct about the religious connection.


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