50 Photos of Iconic Los Angeles, Each with A Story to Tell
1951 Hollywood Cinema in Los Angeles
Los Angeles was a much different place in the early and mid-1900's. Here are 50 Historical photos of Los Angeles. By 1913, Cecil B. de Mille was shooting movies in the area. Soon after, Hollywood was annexed by Los Angeles. Los Angeles became the center of the entertainment industry and oil industry.
Los Angeles has withstood, violent mobs and riots, major earthquakes, natural disasters like the many wildfires, Rodney King beating, 1932 Olympics and so much more. In 1950, Los Angeles' population was 1,970,358 and today the population is 12,447,000.
Many motion pictures have been set in Los Angeles. This theatre was showing "Pagan Love Song" and "Mrs. O'Malley & Mr. Malone." Hollywood Theater was the 2nd theatre and was opened in 1913. Hollywood Theatre was operated for years by Fox West Coast.
Hollywood Theatre was closed in 1991 and remodeled as a Guinness Book of Records Museum. The initial admission price was $0.10, and there were never any interior photos except what we see in the movies. The marquee, vertical, and some exterior detail are the only features remaining.
Women with their children, using various diaper services in 1958.
It was during World War II when mothers started working out of the house, therefore, bringing the need for diaper service. The Diaper service would deliver cloth diapers when needed. They would boil the diapers to get rid of bacteria.
This service was meant to help busy moms. They would pick up dirty cloth diapers, clean them, and then deliver fresh, clean cloth diapers. Disposable diapers just weren't used at this time. The service would help lighten the working mother's chores at home.
Senator John F. Kennedy speaking at the Democratic National Convention.
On July 11-15, 1960, the Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles. This is when Senator John. F. Kennedy was nominated for President and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson for vice president. Kennedy stated, "I am fully aware of the fact that the Democratic Party, by nominating someone of my faith, has taken on what many regard as a new and hazardous risk."
Kennedy delivered his acceptance speech from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In November, the Kennedy-Johnson ticket won 49.7 % of the popular vote against Richard Nixon's 49.6%.
Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, California, 1962
Originally, there were rumors that the structure housed a revolving restaurant, but LAX officials confirmed the restaurant never revolved. The original design for the airport was created by Pereira & Luckman in 1959. In 1961, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the structure.
The building had futuristic qualities and set a standard for futuristic architecture, echoed in the series, the Jetsons. The restaurant hovered 135 feet above the ground and was originally intended to rotate, but that feature was removed due to cost reasons.
View from the stands of LA Coliseum
On November 20, 1954, UCLA's undefeated football team battled it out at a sold-out Coliseum. There were 102,548 fans present. Entering the 4th quarter, the Bruins held only a 7-0 lead. However, in the final 15 minutes, Bruins had four touchdowns and beat the Trojans 34-0.
In post-game defeat, Trojan coach Jess Hill told the Daily Bruin, "They're the best team we've played, but they're not that good. I don't know the statistics...I'll never admit that they're 34 points better than we." The Bruins were later voted national champions.
Fox Movietone Studios, Los Angeles, California, 1929.
This studio was originally opened in 1928 and was known as the newest, largest, and the most equipped studio to produce motion pictures in the world. In 1935, Fox Film merged with Twentieth Century Pictures. The movie "Shirley Temple" was shot at this studio.
"The lot was just full of movie history. I remember one of the first things I saw going to the soundstage was a "Sound of Music" mural with Julie Andrews. You would see things like this all of the time, but it never got old." ----Suzy Mamann-Greenberg
Aerial of complex of intersecting freeways through Los Angeles
The freeway construction boom began in the 1950s, and interstate highways began to appear. This picture shows a helicopter surveying for jamming or crowding on the freeways. At that time, new freeways represented hope for the future.
The freeways provided an alternative means of travel to the aging electric railways and traffic-choked boulevards. Highways are not seen the same now, with all the plastic, twisted metal, debris, and garbage that fill the shoulders and ditches. They no longer represent hope for the future.
Street scene from Warner Brother's film Life
Warner Brothers Pictures Inc was started by four brothers, Albert, Sam, Jack, and Harry in, 1923. "The motion picture can be a great power for peace and goodwill...."-----Harry Warner. The Warner brothers made the first full-length all-talking film, "Lights of New York," and the first all-talking color movie, "On with the Show."
The huge success of those movies enabled Warner Brothers to become a major motion-picture studio. By the 1930s, Warner Brothers were producing around 100 motion pictures a year. Some of the best-known films of the 1940s and 1950s were "Casablanca" and "Rebel Without a Cause."
Pike amusement park, Long Beach, California, 1910
Charles Drake purchased much of the land near the beach and started with a roller rink, shooting gallery, fortune teller, and snacks. In 1908 a ballroom, movie theatre, and auditorium were added. The oceanside stretch was named "The Walk of a Thousand Lights."
In 1910, Charles Loof added a hippodrome, and in 1915 thrill rides were added. Soon vaudeville acts, games, and curio shops were added. The stretch was later named "the Pike." In 1930, The Jackrabbit was replaced by the Cyclone Racer. Although different today, "the Pike" is still there today.
The 28th Annual Academy Awards at the RKO Pantages Theatre.
The 28th Academy Awards were held at the RKO Pantages Theatre on March 21, 1956. The awards were hosted by Jerry Lewis, Claudette Colbert, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Walt Disney won Best Documentary Short Subject, Best Motion Picture was given to Marty-Harold Hecht, and Best Director was given to Delbert Mann--Marty.
Harry Belafonte, Maurice Chevalier, Eddie Fisher, Dean Martin, and Jane Powell all performed at the awards show. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" was given eight nominations each. "The Rose Tattoo" was also given eight nominations.
Lakewood Building Project
The building of Lakewood broke records with empty fields, becoming 17,500 homes in less than three years. The first foundations were poured on February 24, and a new house was completed every 7 1/2 minutes, with an average of 40-60 houses being built in one day.
"I mean, it was just astonishing...up one street and down the other were all these framed houses going up. It was really like seeing a fairy tale take shape in front of your eyes. You just couldn't believe it went up that fast. Then all of a sudden, the grass grew, the trees were planted, and here you were." ----Ruth Smith
1.5 Million Dollar Christmas Tree
In 1955, Upscale department store I. Magnin, located in Los Angeles, CA, had a Christmas tree bejeweled with 1.5 million dollars worth of gems. They had multiple guards keeping a careful watch over the tree.
It was set up so customers could admire it. Joseph Magnin Company was a high-end specialty department store located at the corner of Stockton and O'Farrell streets. The store was owned by Joseph Magnin.
Paramount Pictures In The 1930s
In the 1930s, times were tough for Paramount Studios. It was on the brink of financial disaster and was facing pretty tough competition. Paramount accepted the challenge and created some of the most definitive movies of the decade. Mae West was one of the stars vital to Paramount's success.
Mae West's movies: "Night after Night," "She Done Him Wrong," and "I'm No Angel" were credited with saving Paramount from bankruptcy. Paramount is the second oldest film studio in the United States and the fifth oldest film studio in the world.
The Malibu Fires, 1958
In 1958, two weeks before Christmas, fires swept through Malibu. 18,000 acres burned between Malibu and Zuma canyons. The wildfire destroyed 38 homes. Gale-force winds pushed the fire through Malibu. The wildfires caused so much destruction.
The fires consumed an additional 71 homes in Topanga and Benedict Canyons on New Year's Eve. Destructive wildfires are regular events in Malibu. California has the most wildfires than any other state. California's fire record dates back to 1932.
Mount Lee Tower, 1951
The tower farm on Mount Lee was the location for TV transmitters. Mount Lee is in the Santa Monica Mountains. The famous Hollywood Sign is located on its southern slope. In 1951 all three TV stations at Mount Lee were moved to better sites at Mount Wilson.
Although Mount Lee is no longer the location for television transmissions, it does continue to be the site of various non-commercial radio activities. Mount Lee is at the peak. The elevation is 1,708ft. The flattened top was a result of Mack Sennett's unfulfilled plans to build an elaborate home on the property.
Street Car Graveyard, 1960
Streetcars were once the main mode of public transportation. The Great Depression of the 1930s led to the closure of many streetcar lines. By the 1960s, most North American streetcar lines were closed. City buses were used more often, and automobiles.
The Streetcars began to pile up and became known as the Streetcar Graveyard. They were abandoned and waiting for demolition. In the 1920s, Pacific Electric, which operated the streetcar system, became the largest trolley system in the world.
Poverty-stricken living quarters near Civic Center in Los Angeles. 1920-1940
California's population grew in the 1930s, more than doubling from 3.4 million in 1920. The growth was mainly migrant workers. Extreme poverty caused many families to live without electricity, running water, or shelter.
Affordable housing units were constructed; however, the majority of the people living in these areas could not even afford the low-cost housing. It did nothing for poor individuals. Quite often, five or six families would be living together in a single-family home.
The Sunset Boulevard exit off the 101 freeway at dusk, 1954.
US 101 is possibly the most historic highway in California. It was commissioned in 1926 as one of the original US highways. It originally went from the Mexican Border to Olympia, Washington. This photo showed The Sunset Boulevard exit off of the 101 freeway in 1954.
Known as one of the busiest United States. In 1967, The Hollywood Freeway was the first freeway in California that had ramp meters. The highway is the second oldest in Los Angeles. The plans for the highway officially began in 1924.
Los Angeles Riots
Hours after four LA police officers were acquitted in the beating of an unarmed African American, riots began. The rioters blocked freeway traffic and beat motorists, wrecked and looted downtown stores, and set more than 100 fires. By the next morning, hundreds of fires were burning, more than a dozen people had been killed, and hundreds were injured.
The rioting and violence continued during the next 24 hours. President George Bush ordered military troops and riot-trained federal officers to LA, and by the end of the next day, the city was under control. The rioting lasted 3 days and led to more than 60 deaths, 2,000 injured, 7,000 arrests, and the burning of more than 3,000 buildings.
Los Angeles Lights
The famous nighttime view of Los Angeles began with the arrival of streetlights in 1868. Throughout the early 1900s, night lamps were placed all over Los Angeles. Soon lit up store signs and traffic lights were all added.
When you go above Los Angeles, you can see the whole city lit up. The Griffith Observatory is known to have the best view of the L.A. lights at night. It is about 40 minutes outside of LA but will give you 360-degree views of the entire city.
In 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit, causing more than $5 billion in damages and killing 67 people. The earthquake lasted around 15 seconds and injured more than 3,000 people. A 1.25-mile segment of the Cypress Street Viaduct collapsed, resulting in 42 fatalities.
Because of the damage, communities enacted strict regulations requiring unreinforced masonry buildings to be retrofitted. There are typically about 10,000 earthquakes every year, but most are not felt. There are usually only two or three earthquakes a year that are felt.
Oil Derricks on a Beach in California
California was a state heavily fed on oil. Miss Emma Summers, also known as the Oil Queen of California, had her first oil well dug close to where L.A.'s Dodger Stadium is today. By 1926, California was pumping almost 30% of the oil supplies at the national level.
Oil Derricks sat right up to the shore on pristine beaches and residential neighborhoods. In 1921, Long Beach became home to hundreds of wooden drilling Derricks, owned by independent speculators. The area earned the nickname "Porcupine Hill."
American Migrants Arrive, 1936
The Dust Bowl Migration of the 1930s. Families from Oklahoma and neighboring states made their way to California, looking for a place to live and work. They lost their homes and livelihoods in the Dust Bowl. Even though they were Americans, they were still viewed as intruders by many in California.
Some Californians considered the Migrants parasites who would depend on government relief. As more migrants arrived, Police officers would put up a blockade and would tell them to go away. By 1950, only about 25% of the original Dust Bowl migrants were still working the fields.
Mount Wilson Observatory, 1937
George Hale founded the Mount Wilson Observatory in 1904. George brought the Snow Solar Telescope to Mount Wilson to continue his studies of the sun. It became the world's foremost astronomical research facility.
You can now visit Mount Wilson and view the historic Hooker 100-inch telescope. They offer tours, and you can also visit the small Astronomical Museum on the observatory grounds, the CHARA Interferometry Exhibit, and great hiking.
Los Angeles Landslide, 1952
Heavy rainfall caused flooding throughout Los Angeles in 1952. On January 18th, 3.17" of rain fell in a 24-hour period. The storm and mudslides were responsible for 8 deaths. The rains caused $7.5 million in damage to hundreds of recently-built hillside homes.
A major problem in California were the countless dormant ancient landslides that mantled the region's slopes. They were not properly identified. Landslides have been reported in or near LA since 1865.
1954 Premiere Of 'A Star Is Born'
Jack Warner sent invitations to every movie star in town, weeks before the premiere. Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day, Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall were among some of the biggest named stars at the premiere.
This was the first televised film debut and aired on NBC. "This is a live television broadcast of the world premiere. Described by various participants as the biggest world premiere in memory, even bigger than the Academy Awards."----Karl Holzheimer
Sunset & Vine, 1962
It is a 1.5 mile stretch between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. You could find Dino's Lodge, The Tiffany Theatre, Playboy Club, The Sea Witch, Trip, Mocambo, Trocadero, Le Dome, Ben Frank's, Tower Records, Jerry's, Club Bali, and The Whisky a Go Go.
"Cultural life is rich: concerts, chorales, outstanding art exhibits, and the world's leading motion-picture industry. It is a center of intellectual ferment, inspired not only by great universities but also by a tremendous influx of scientists to its space industries." -----De Roos
Twentieth-Century Fox Studio in 1948
This studio is an American film studio that is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. 20th Century Fox is known for some of the biggest films of all time, including Titanic and Avatar.
Today the name has been changed by Disney to 20th Television. There was no other studio like this one. Some movies produced at this studio in the 1940s were; "The Blue Bird," "They Came By Night," "The Grapes of Wrath," and "How Green Was My Valley."
Will Rogers State Beach, 1920
Will Rogers Beach is named after actor Will Rogers. In the 1920s, Will bought the land and developed a ranch along the coast. He owned 186 acres, now known as Pacific Palisades. Rogers dies in 1935 in a plane crash, and his wife, Betty, died in 1944. After they both died, the ranch became a state park.
The Will Rogers State Beach lifeguard headquarters is the site of the former Port of Los Angeles Long Wharf. Will Rogers was the highest-paid and most popular actor in Hollywood in the 1930s. "Baywatch" and many other numerous television shows and movies were filmed on the beach.
'Miss Control Tower', 1951
This Control Tower was built in the late 1960s and is located at the Brackett Field Airport. This airport originally had only one runway, which was paved and had paved taxiways on each side. Because of increased traffic in the 1980s, a second runway was added.
Since the 1960s, Brackett has been the home base of the Civil Air Patrol. This is a picture showing a car wash employee posing with a beauty contest participant, 1951. The first air traffic control was developed in 1922 after World War I.
Ron Kovic At Peace March
Ron Kovic volunteered for duty and was deployed to Vietnam in 1965. In 1968, while leading his squad across an open area, Kovic was shot. He suffered a collapsed lung and a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Ron began speaking out for peace at anti-war rallies and did interviews.
Paralyzed American Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic attended a Peace March on April 22, 1972. "There is nothing in the lives of human beings more brutal and terrifying than war, and nothing more important than for those of us who have experienced it to share its awful truth." -----Ron Kovic
Los Angeles Central Park, 1914
This park is well-lit, with lamps all along the paths and a Soldier's Monument when you enter. The park is filled with fruit trees and palms. There is a fountain at the center of the park. This park was later renamed Pershing Square.
Central Park held concerts, political events, and many more activities. One of Central Park's charms was the pepper tree-lined avenue. Central Park was located between 49th and 50th streets. The park was hailed by the Times, "pride of the whole Vernon countryside."
Hollywood And Vine, 1958
This district became known in the 1920s for its concentration of radio and movie-related businesses. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is centered on the intersection. Capitol Records Tower is one of the few buildings still standing.
In 1887, Mr. and Mrs. Horace H. Wilcox subdivided their ranch and called two dirt cross-roads Prospect Avenue and Weyse Avenue. Later renamed Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Hollywood and Vine were the second busiest intersections.
Robert Kennedy Campaigning in Los Angeles, CA
In 1968, Mr. Kennedy had flown into the city to campaign in the California Primary. The polls were closed early because every single registered voter had already cast a ballot. After leaving the podium and after giving his victory speech, Mr. Kennedy was gunned down.
Robert Kennedy died the next day, June 6. Sirhan Sirhan was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering the senator. "If I don't win California, I am withdrawing. What do they say in the NBA? Win or go home. That was it."-----Mr. Kennedy
Capitol Records Building
Capitol Studios has been linked with many of the most famous singers, from Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra was the first artist at Capitol Studios in 1956.
Capitol Records Tower is a 13-story tower building. It has been described as the "world's first circular office building." "Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music." -----Paul McCartney
In 1994 there was a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Los Angeles. More than 60 people were killed and more than 9,000 injured, and widespread damage. This Photo shows cars smashed by the Interstate 5 collapse. A portion of the Santa Monica Freeway was also damaged.
The State Highway 14 overpass collapsed onto Interstate 5, killing Police Officer Clarence Wayne Dean. Parts of the Anaheim Stadium collapsed, and California State University, Northridge had heavy damage to their parking structure.
View of Spahn Ranch
This ranch was also known as the Spahn Movie Ranch. It was a 55-acre which had been purchased from Sharon Atkins. The ranch was used for filming movies, especially westerns. When Spahn was 80 years old, he allowed the Manson family to move in, rent-free, in exchange for labor. The family did chores and ran the horse-rental business. The Documentary film Manson was filmed at the ranch.
"I was impressed with George Spahn's hardiness. He was eighty years old and, although his blindness had for five or six years kept him in a world apart, he was mentally still present, living alone and working through all the frustrations of having lost authority in the running of his own business." ----Manson family member Lynette Fromme
Orpheum Theatre, 1932
The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1926. The theatre originally housed 2,350 seats. The theatre cost $1,500,000 and has over 9,000 lamps outside, 17,000 lamps inside. There were a thousand cove lights around the dome, changing colors.
This theatre still holds concerts, movie premiers, and location shoots. The 1928 Mighty Wurlitzer organ is in the theatre and is still in use today. The Orpheum has hosted Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Sally Rand, plus some jazz greats.
Old Los Angeles, 1955
Olvera Street is a historic street in downtown Los Angeles. Olvera Street is home to more than three dozen restaurants. The street was recreated as a tourist attraction in 1930, a romanticized version with the theme of a Mexican marketplace.
Olvera Street was known as "A Mexican Street of yesterday in a City of Today." The street was an instant success as a tourist site. The street was also a part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.
Westlake Park And Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1942
This area was used as a city dump. But within a decade, the site became one of L.A.'s most popular outdoor retreats. It is a saddle-shaped depression between two ridges. In 1934, a causeway extending Wilshire Boulevard through the park split the lake in half. In 1942, the name was changed to Douglas MacArthur.
The park was designated City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #100. The lake is fed by natural springs. "Of all the parks in Los Angeles, there is none better loved by the people than Westlake." -----Belle Sumner Angier.
Main Street, 1897
The first known automobile was on the streets in Los Angeles. Frederick Blechynden creates the first motion picture made in Los Angeles, 25 seconds of traffic on South Spring Street. Most of the 19th-century buildings no longer exist.
Located on Main Street in 1886 were Cosmopolitan Hotel, Farmers and Merchants Bank, Downey Block with Commercial Restaurant. Also present was the Pico House, Lodge 42, Merced Theatre, Plaza House, and Lafayette Hotel.
Universal City Studios, Hollywood, California, 1921
Universal Studios is a television and film studio in California. The lot officially opened on March 15, 1915, on a 230-acre ranch. Later the site was considered the first self-contained community dedicated to making films.
In 1950, the studio increased its overall size to 400 acres. Universal Studios is one of the largest full-service production facilities. American Ninja Warrior has filmed there. Universal Studio facilities are located in various locations around the front of the lot.
Broadway, Los Angeles, California, 1924
Broadway was the city's main commercial street from the 1910s until World War II and is the location of the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District. One of the first streets in LA is Broadway.
It was considered the center of the city, where residents went shopping and went to the theatre. Some of the significant buildings are Bradbury Building, Ace Hotel Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Examiner. The four largest department stores totaled over three million square feet.
Daredevils Playing Tennis on a Biplane
Gladys Roy and Ivan Unger made tennis famous around the world by playing a tennis match on the wing of a biplane. Roy was a stunt woman, and her courage through not fearing to jump from incredible height stunned the whole world.
Ivan was mainly known for the stunt, playing tennis on the wings of a biplane. Roy and Ivan were called to perform exhibitions around the world. Roy was killed in 1927 by stepping down from her plane after taking a picture and unconsciously walked into the propeller.
Guests in the bomb shelter of Hal Hayes's house
Hal Hayes designed his house to withstand or flex against the stresses of an atomic bomb blast. The outer walls are made to resist shock waves, and there is an underground concrete-and-steel fallout shelter and is equipped with bottles of oxygen.
His house also has an underground sanctuary accessed only by swimming underwater. The branches of a big tree reached up through the roof. The heavy green shag carpet could slide up over the windows to block the glass from flying.
Shirley Temple 1936
Shirley Jane Temple was born in 1928 and was an American actress. She was best known for sentimental musicals. Shirley started dancing at the age of three. She starred in many musicals and films; however, it was arguably "Bright Eyes" that propelled her to stardom.
She also starred in "Shirley Temple's Storybook" and "Shirley Temple Show," but they were not very successful. Shirley also was very well known for her song, "Animal Crackers in My Soup." She passed away at the age of 85 in 2014.
Councilwoman Wyman In LA City Hall, 1960
Rosalind Wyman was the youngest person and the second woman ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council. While on the city council, she was the first female acting mayor. The Los Angeles City Hall was completed in 1928.
It houses the Mayor's office. The City Hall building was the tallest building until 1964, and it had an observation deck, free to the public. Rosalind was elected in 1953 at the age of 22, and she was re-elected twice but lost her seat to Edmund D. Edelman.
Whisky A Go Go Marquee, 1974
Whiskey a Go Go first opened in the United States in 1958. It was called the first real American discotheque. They often opened with a live band led by Johnny Rivers. DJ Rhonda Lane would spin records between sets from a suspended cage at the right of the stage.
There wasn't enough room on the floor, which is why the suspended cage was there. It was one of the places that made go-go dancing popular. Whiskey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Billy Graham Revival Tent, 1949
Billy Graham's crusade was supposed to be three weeks but turned into eight weeks. More than 350,000 people attended, and over 3,000 made decisions to convert. Inside, the tent could seat up to 7,000.
"Drained as I was, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I experienced God's unfailing grace in perpetual spiritual renewal. I wanted to campaign to close, but I was convinced that God wanted it to continue. All my personal reserves were used up; I had to put my entire dependence on the Lord for the messages to preach and the strength to preach them. It seemed that the weaker my body became, the more powerfully God used my simple words."-----Billy Graham
Hedren & Neil The Lion, 1971
Hedren, her teenage daughter, Melanie Griffith, and her husband shared a home with a 400-lb mature lion. Occasionally, Neil slept in the same bed as Griffith and had the run of the house.
Hedren was an animal-rights activist and conservationist. She had her Roar Foundation and the animal sanctuary, Shambala Preserve in California. She did admit later that it was "Stupid beyond belief" to put her family at risk.