Beneath the streets of Los Angeles, such mysteries await you

announcing an immersive webinar exploring fascinating tunnel lore

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

Tomorrow at noon, we’ll go back to our Los Angeles storytelling roots, as we host a webinar about the Black Dahlia murder, the unsolved 1947 case that inspired Kim to launch her 1947project blog in 2005.

We didn’t set out to start a tour company, not at all. The blog was a curiosity, a way to share discoveries while Kim was researching a book about the culture of 1947 Los Angeles, viewed through the lens of crime reporting.

But the popular blog took on a life of its own, and its readers were hungry for something more than daily vintage crime reports and virtual visits to the scenes as they appear today.

After 1947project contributors Kim and Nathan Marsak appeared in glossy pages of the Los Angeles Times magazine, fans insisted we organize a bus tour. And we soon found that exploring the city with fifty of our newest friends was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. The Black Dahlia case was central to our earliest outings, and when we decided to launch a tour company, The Real Black Dahlia became Esotouric’s flagship tour.

For Saturday’s webinar, we’ll be joined by our longtime crime buddy Joan Renner as we peer under the hood of the tour we’ve given more than any other, and share rare insights into our research and road trips to piece together the landscape which reveals the experience of transplants and seekers in postwar Los Angeles. Our crime tours aren’t gory, so join us, do!

Next week, our focus will be master detective novelist Raymond Chandler, and the new discoveries we’ve unearthed over 13 years of touring the places that figure in his fiction and screenwriting. The previously unknown comic operetta penned in collaboration with the man who called Ray’s beloved bride his own is just the tip of the noir iceberg.

And just announced is the October 24 webinar, “Los Angeles Underground: Sleuthing Tunnels Lost & Found,” a cultural history of subterranean development in heart of the city. Tunnel construction brings out the nuttiest aspects of the Angeleno character, and we’ve got some wild tales to tell… and maybe a treasure hunt for the more daring among you to take on.

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember that if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can tune in to the recording for one full week. There’s still time to go “Inside the Dutch Chocolate Shop” through Saturday night, “Inside the Bradbury Building” is now available On-Demand, and we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for “Black Dahlia Days: Sleuthing out Beth Short’s Southern California.”

Need to know more? We went Facebook live this evening to preview all three upcoming webinars, and to direct some well deserved snark for LACMA's administration as we appear as the voice of reason in the latest issue of The New Yorker for our preservation advocacy. Confidential to architect Peter Zumthor: run!!!!

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Leafing Through UCLA Special Collections' Eclectic Southern California Menu Holdings—rare artifacts from Walt Disney's Commissary, The Garden of Allah, Googie's, plus fried chicken, streamlined survivors and rose-hip soup. Not a subscriber? Sneak a peek here.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history and would like to say thank you, please consider signing up for the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Looking for something L.A.-centric to enliven your collection? We’ve got a swell selection of local history books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon. Or you can reserve a gift certificate to join us for a tour once we're back on the road (tour gift certificates will also be redeemable for the lower priced ticketed webinars while tours are on hiatus)... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.


We're dark until public health officials determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to weekly webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.


RoadTrip! Although public bus tours are on hiatus, we still get around on our social distancing road trips around our beloved Los Angeles. Be a virtual backseat companion when you click the #esotouricroadtrip hashtag, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

A beautiful farewell to Koreatown's 24 hour Nak Won diner from Eater LA's Matthew Kang. Multiply this tragedy times a thousand, for all the homey, honest family restaurants that we've already lost, and those hanging on by their teeth.

The Santa Monica Conservancy forms a working group to explore how to preserve buildings of note in the age of mass demolition and development. We'll be watching the policy developments of the 21st Century Task Force with great interest.

In 2019, the Los Angeles County Supervisors turned to Brad Pitt for advice on the best architectural path forward for LACMA, and voted to demolish good, though neglected, Pereira buildings. Now Brad's pet project is toxic landfill.

Is NASA using cultural heritage law to weasel out of cleaning up the rocket waste at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory?

October 15 is a day for community preservation advocacy (you can call in live, or email before the hearings). At City Hall’s PLUM, WAHA appeals demolition of a grand 1905 house by master architect Charles F. Whittlesey. (See the agenda for details on item 12.) And at the Cultural Heritage Commission: a battle for the soul of Echo Park, as out of state developer Holland Partner Group tries to halt community driven landmarking of Taix French Restaurant! Plus, will Sister Corita's art studio be demolished for market parking? (See the PDF link to the agenda here.)

UCLA Special Collections, which holds most of Raymond Chandler's papers, is closed to research due to COVID-19. But researchers can see his papers at Oxford's Bodleian Library, which is how The Strand magazine comes to publish this lost comic essay.

Worrying Reddit post from Brent Underwood, face of the consortium that bought Cerro Gordo ghost town, and immediately lost a major landmark building to fire. Amateur explorers were allowed to roam the mines alone, and vandalized the site. It needs an experienced nonprofit steward before it's too late.

Queen Mary fans have known something isn’t right with current management for quite some time. The money men were just busted in Singapore, and now the city of Long Beach is exploring how to protect the landmark attraction.

Gladstone's, owned by former mayor Richard Riordan, gets the valuable concession to anchor the new development replacing San Pedro’s Ports O’ Call. This raises serious ethical questions, after so many independent businesses with better food and service were displaced.

So a foreign company bribes city councilman Jose Huizar, then pays a paltry $1,050,000 to make prosecution go away. Useful that Shenzhen Hazens is cooperating with the prosecution, but we want the Luxe Hotel property forfeited and used for the public good.

New from the Getty Research Institute: 12 Sunsets, a portal to more seamlessly explore Ed Ruscha's photos through time. Love that space bar cross the street option! Here's our blog post about the archive.

Another shake up at the former Silent Movie Theatre / Cinefamily aka Fairfax Cinema: new management for the seemingly accursed site is the streetwear brand Brain Dead Studios.

After five years, there's news in our campaign to Save the Port of Los Angeles Archives! Do you have a Master's in Library Science? You could be this important and neglected collection's new caretaker.

SPACES checks in on the Watts Towers preservation project, which revealed more structural problems than anticipated. As LACMA's relationship with the site comes to an end, future stewardship is in question. (Check out our 2013 podcast about restoring the towers.)

Songs for a Southern California weekend: The Miracles' "Ain't Nobody Straight In L.A." from their 1975 concept album City of Angels. Plus, Mike Nesmith's "Cruisin'" is the greatest music video ever made about skating down the Walk of Fame and making friends for life, and if you're an L.A. kid, you get it.