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LAWALK_090801_057.JPG: LA Times building
LAWALK_090801_082.JPG: Los Angeles Times:
For more than a century, no other single dynasty, no one enterprise shaped Southern California's growth like the Chandler family and the Los Angeles Times.
Water for a desert city. A port for a landlocked city. A music center for a city short on culture. The aerospace and movie industries. Major league baseball. Future presidents of the United States. Using its news columns and its boardroom clout to promote clauses the Chandlers favored made those happen -- and made enemies and friends in the process.
The dynasty put down roots here in 1882, when a man named Harrison Gray Otis started working for $15 a week as an editor of the fledgling Los Angeles Daily Times. Within a year, he bought a share in the paper for $6,000. Three years later, he owned it all. The Times was not the city's only newspaper, but it would become its most enduring.
Otis, a Civil War veteran who later earned the rank of general for service in the Spanish-American War, always referred to the earlier Times building as the Fortress. His staff was the Phalanx, his name was the Bivouac and his vacation spot in Hollywood was the Outpost. Characteristically, he kept an ornamental cannon mounted on the hood of his car.
The present-day building at First and Spring streets is the third site of the Times, the one the paper's founder did not live to see. It was built by Otis' son-in-law and successor. Harry Chandler, an ingenious businessman and the brains behind his father-in-law's bluster. Where Otis was always ready to duke it out either with his fists or with his newspaper, throwing epithets at presidents and governors, lawyers and labor leaders. Chandler never sought the spotlight, but was always looking for the next big chance.
LAWALK_090801_086.JPG: By 1900, Otis, Chandler and other rich and influential Angelenos had organized to spearhead a secret plan to bring water 250 miles south from the Owens Valley to serve Los Angeles' growth. They also brought up barren San Fernando Valley land at bargain prices, to enrich themselves in real estate ventures when the water finally arrived in 1913.
A Battle Ended By a Bomb:
Otis saved his fiercest battles for organized labor, and labor fought back. Early in the morning of October 1, 1910, a huge explosion tore apart the Los Angeles Times building, killing 20 men. The anti-union Times rushed to press, blamed the fire on organized labor's leaders in a makeshift edition that screamed "Unionist Bombs Wreck the Times."
The bombing was a disaster for the Times, but far ore so for the city's labor movement. The confession of two brothers, Jim and John McNamara, both ironworkers union leaders, discredited labor's fight against the open shop. The Times building was rebuilt on the same site, with a plaque commemorating the men who died. When that building was torn down in 1938, the plaque went into storage.
In 1934, as the present Times building was being built -- on a spot where the U.S. Army had briefly corralled camels in an ill-fated experiment before the Civil War -- Chandler ordered that for every batch of sand and cement used in construction, an extra bag of cement be added. No one, Chandler, declared, could ever again bring down the Times with a bomb.
Money, Muscle and Influence:
Where Otis has railed successfully in print against President Grover Cleveland's re-election in 1888, his successors used the newspaper's influence to propel a young California congressman named Richard Nixon into the vice presidency. Nixon would later become the first president from California.
Over the years, the newspaper and its owners both engaged and enriched Los Angeles, promoting aviation interests that
LAWALK_090801_088.JPG: eventually put Southern California in the forefront of aerospace, reluctantly welcoming the movie industry, and boosting city deals that brought a major league baseball team named the Brooklyn Dodgers.
harry Chandler's eldest son and successor, Norman Chandler, was a handsome and charming man who brought the newspaper to undreamed-of prosperity. But almost a decade before he took over in 1944, his father was concerned that the son might have little interest in the day-to-day running of a newspaper. So in 1935, Harry Chandler accepted a $16 million offer to sell the paper to Robert McCormick, the indomitable editor of the Chicago Tribune, and his cousin, Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson, publisher of the New York Daily News, according to the memoirs of Los Angeles Superior and Appellate Court Judge Isaac Pacht.
Pacht, who brokered the deal, said Chandler's wife, Marian, the daughter of Gen. Otis, overheard the negotiations and put her foot down, saying her father would roll over in his grave if The Times were sold to a union newspaper.
It was Norman's son, Otis, who followed his father into the publisher's suite in 1960, and who changed the newspaper from a conservative regional publication to a nonpartisan and highly regarded journal of record with a national and international profile, a flagship of the nationwide newspapers.
More than a century of Chandler ownership ended at the cusp of the new millennium, when the newspaper and its sister publications were acquired by Chicago-based Tribune Corporation.
LAWALK_090801_091.JPG: The building is
dedicated to the
cause of true
under the law
LAWALK_090801_131.JPG: Los Angeles Superior Court
LAWALK_090801_184.JPG: Joseph Scott
"Mr. Los Angeles"
Beloved citizen -- Distinguished lawyer -- Civil Leader
Practices law in Los Angeles from 1894 to 1958.
Established Knights of Columbus in California in 1902.
Served as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Board of
Education, Community Chest, Boys' Week and Draft Board.
Stalwart champion of Americanism and militant foe of Communism.
Lifelong crusader for recognition of the Irish Republic.
Nominated Herbert Hoover for President of the United States.
Recognized by church and state with highest honors many times.
LAWALK_090801_198.JPG: This statue was given to Supervisor Kenneth Hahn
by Sculptor Robert Merrell Gage and was placed
at this location by order of
The Board of Supervisors on September 13, 1988.
The unveiling was held on April 24, 1989.
LAWALK_090801_248.JPG: Grand Avenue:
Belying its name, Bunker Hill is not a single hill, but a long crest of high ground, rising like downtown's backbone for many blocks -- a kind of urban continental divide that has both intrigued and confounded developers and designers for decades.
Nowadays, the lofty length of Grand Avenue and its parallel street, Hope, are aglitter with culture and commerce. Yet where million-dollar businesses and skyscrapers now stand, millionaires themselves once lived. More than a century ago, this was the residential heart of rich, Victorian Los Angeles. But by the end of World War I it had already begun to change into what demographers call a "transitional neighborhood," at last descending step by step from mansion house to apartment house to rooming house to flophouse and, occasionally, to whorehouse.
Many architects have turned a speculative eye to Bunker Hill's possibilities. Bertram Goodhue, who would one day build the Central Library, considered Bunker Hill a potential "acropolis" for august government edifices, like the Athenian hill crowned by the Parthenon.
Indeed,after "old" Bunker Hill was effectively scalped by urban renewal in the 1960s, the first new building to put its footprint there was a civic monument of a sort: the 1964 Department of Water and Power building, whose moat of forecourt fountains has often been dry, shut off to conserve water.
Opposite the DWP building, at Grand Avenue's northernmost end, stands the Music Center, Los Angeles' statement to the world that it will be a serious cultural presence. The modern buildings flank a bronze Jacques Lipchitz fountain, "Peace of Earth." Across the street, the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall is still both a fund-raiser and a work in progress; characteristically for Los Angeles, the car came first -- Disney Hall's underground garage was the first and for years the only part of the plan actually constructed.
The auto theme makes itself known as well at Fourth Street beneath the Grand Avenue bridge, where Lloyd Hamrol's bumper-to-bumper "Uptown Rocker" is a perpetual traffic jam of crayon-bright steel car cut-outs in a curve of concrete.
LAWALK_090801_255.JPG: Art on the Hill:
The Colborn School of Performing Arts, which for years operated at the fringes of the USC campus, recently cast its lot with the Grand Avenue culture corridor when it opened its new home, a facility expected to draw several thousand students each year.
Behind walls of deep-red India sandstone, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the creation of Arata Isozaki, is a partly hidden treasure set deep into the hilltop. Its indoor exhibits complement the outside works of art in the plazas and courts and atriums scattered among Bunker Hill's high-rise offices and restaurants and condominium towers.
Alexander Calder's red-painted steel "Four Arches" stands in the Security Pacific plaza (named for a venerable bank chain swallowed up, like others over the years, in a series of bank takeovers and buy-outs). Jean Debuffet's painted fiberglass sculpture "Le Dandy" and Robert Graham's bronze athletes are found around the Wells Fargo Court -- formerly Crocker Bank plaza, another defunct bank. Nancy Graves' "Sequi," colorful bronze birds, have alighted nearby as well, as has Joan Miro's "La Caressa d'un Oiseau." Elsewhere in the Bunker Hill corridor are worked by Louise Nevelson, Frank Stella, and Alexander Liberman.
In the lobby of the Inter-Continental Hotel, the first hotel to be built downtown since the 1920s, is an East Coast artist's modern sculpture "Yellow Fin,"
LAWALK_090801_259.JPG: but throughout the hotel are the works of California artists Carlos Almarez and Richard Serra. In the same spirit, some of its floors and suites and meeting rooms are named for the prominent families whose mansions once stood on the hilltop, among them Crocker, Bradbury, and Widney, and for the streets of downtown itself.
One local street no so honored is recent to city maps. The street off Grand Avenue is not Los Angeles' shortest, but locals like to say it takes about as long to climb its two-block length as it does to say its name, Gen. Thaddeus Kosciusko Way. Its namesake was a Polish general who was also an architect, a painter and a composer, a man who fought in the Continental Army in the American Revolution who earliest battles included... Bunker Hill.
LAWALK_090801_285.JPG: Bunker Hill Steps:
The 103 Steps:
Locals christened it "Cardiac Hill," and to scale it, to get to the top of the lofty, near-inaccessible crest of Bunker Hill, took a daunting climb on strong legs.
At the south end of Bunker Hill, where once a blank, forbidding concrete wall rose up like a fortress, there now stands a staircase, the Bunker Hill Steps. Its 103 steps wind and turn for five stories among terraces and vistas, along a burbling watercourse, elevating pedestrians slowly from the bustle of Fifth Street to the bright Hope Street hilltop and such pleasures as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Watercourt.
The Bunker Hill Steps, modeled in theory on the Spanish Steps in Rome but more pleasingly asymmetrical in execution, opened in 1990, part of a redesign that included the restored and revamped Central Library and the Library Tower. The steps rise where the mid-Depression masterpiece, the Sunkist Building once stood, crowned with roof gardens and ornamented with paintings and sculpture.
The steps project was the work of innovative urban landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, whose credits include plazas and public spaces throughout the West, among them San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square. Halprin's work joined that of sculpture Robert Graham, with whom Halprin would later collaborate on the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC.
Graham's sculpture for the steps, "Source Figure," is a 40-inch bronze statue of a nude woman atop a three-tiered, ten-foot column at the head of the stairs. Her cupped hands convey both welcome and nurturing from the sculptor flows a waterway that meanders through a streambed adorned with chunks of cement carefully shaped to look like river rocks.
LAWALK_090801_288.JPG: High Steppers and Casual Strollers:
Like the water, people, too, stream down the stairs -- and up them, although an escalator was installed for the hurried or the faint of heart. In a city with a reputation for being pedestrian-hostile, the steps were an instant hit. At the opening ceremony for the steps in 1990, Halprin explained, "Great cities are not made by automobiles, freeways and high-rises.
Basically, they are made by open spaces and the people who use those open spaces.
People-watching, at midday especially, finds messengers and library-bound bibliophiles, courting couples and business-suited sungazers and brown-baggers -- all of whom have found that the steps are both esthetically pleasing and an answered prayer to the "you can't get there from here" conundrum that plagued downtown workers confronting the hill's heights.
LAWALK_090801_291.JPG: Out of the Flames, Into The Sky:
What stimulated much of the interest in reviving the area was a tragedy -- the 1986 arson fire that devastated the grand but aging Central Library. it renewed public interest in the building, and in a complicated agreement that involved $50 million toward the library's restoration and construction of the Bunker Hill Steps, the firms of Maguire Thomas Partners and Pacific Library Tower received city permission and air rights to build the First Interstate World Center, known as the Library Tower -- at 73 stories and 1,017 feet, the West Coast's tallest. Designed by Henry N. Cobb and Harold Fredenburgh of I.M. Pei & Partners, it was built in 1989. On a skyline that for decades was kept to a 13-story maximum and ruled by the unmistakable outline of City Hall, the Library Tower quickly became both dominant and in its own way as distinctively recognizable as the low, pyramid-topped Central Library it helped to rebuild.
LAWALK_090801_304.JPG: Bunker Hill steps
LAWALK_090801_341.JPG: Something you won't see very often.... an empty street.
LAWALK_090801_345.JPG: Bunker Hill:
When Women Carried Parasols:
The gleaming skyscrapers of Bunker Hill that now symbolize Los Angeles' towering ambitions are the modern incarnation of the hilltop's first buildings -- the elegant, gingerbread mansions that made the hill famous in the days when women carried parasols, men wore derbies, and loud traffic meant whinnying horses.
In 1849, in a burst of optimism, the naming of streets in the town of Los Angeles included three atop a bare hill a half-mile from the pueblo. They were named Faith, Hope, and Charity, the three Christian virtues.
Eighteen years later, a man named Prudent Beaudry exhibited one of those virtues -- hope -- when he bought the 20 hilltop acres at a sheriff's auction. But the $517 he spent for them didn't appear to be much of a bargain; the newspapers derided the land as a "howling coyote wilderness." Undaunted, Beaudry had, by 1875, piped water uphill, plotted the lots, planted trees and grandly named the place for the nation's big event that year; the centennial of the Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill.
The "howling coyote wilderness" quickly became the flossiest neighborhood in a growing city. Its scroll-frilled Victorian mansions, its lawns and gardens, stately trees along quiet streets, all accessible by a quaint cable railway named "Angels Flight" soon was called home by the city's new leading families bearing names like Crocker, Bradbury, and Widney. The city's non-Latino residents were already translating Spanish named to English in their usage, and the wealthy residents petitioned the city to formally change their street name from "Charity" to "Grand." "Charity" in Spanish meant "Christian love," but to the Yankee ears, it sounded unpleasantly like handouts. Faith simply became Flower Street.
Riches to Rags:
Bunker Hill flourished for a half-century, until the city's westward growth sent the wealthy elsewhere and sent this fashionable neighborhood into decline. By the 1940s, many of the furbelowed mansions had become rooming houses -- cheap
LAWALK_090801_349.JPG: housing for the throngs of wartime newcomers whose numbers only increased after the war.
Kindly newspaper accounts called it a "topographical bulge"; more critical ones, pointing to the ramshackle residences turned dens for drug addicts and thieves, called Bunker Hill a "festering sore -- a cancer that has to be wiped out."
Yet Bunker Hill's dimly lit streets and dark alleys were perfected suited to the new film noir sense of the city. In 1948, actor Edward G. Robinson hurried down the long stairs paralleling Angels Flight in "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes," and in 1954, actor Jimmy Stewart walked slowly up the same stairs in "The Glenn Miller Story."
Writer Raymond Chandler, who monitored the heartbeat of L.A. in his provocative detective stories, described Bunker Hill's eclectic demographics in his 1938 novella "The King in Yellow;" "you could find anything from down-at-heels ex-Greenwich-villagers to crooks on the lam, from ladies of anybody's evening to Country Relief clients brawling with haggard landladies in grand old houses with scrolled porches. It had been a nice place once..."
Finally, the city had enough of fired and of crime -- and of criticism for letting it go on. "Urban Renewal" was
LAWALK_090801_352.JPG: in vogue, so on a misty May morning in 1961, after the city had designated all 136 acres as blighted, and had bought out its last 9,000 residents, bulldozers toppled the haggard skeleton of the once-spectacular, five-story 1904 Hillcrest Hotel.
Preservation and Images Preserved:
In the midst of redevelopment, artist and illustrator Leo Politi, himself a Bunker Hill resident for 30 years, captured the hill at the peak of its charm; 26 of his elegant watercolors of the imposing Victorians appear in his 1964 book, "Bunker Hill."
In knocking down landmark buildings and slicing 30 feet off the hilltop to make room for glittering skyscrapers, the urban renewal of Bunker Hill ironically sparked what would become, in time, an ardent preservationist movement in the city, a wish to keep the city's architectural legacy while integrating it with the new and progressive.
LAWALK_090801_356.JPG: I frequently take pictures of empty lots, curious what they'll look like in 10 years.
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