Ever wonder who to thank that your favorite Los Angeles landmark is still here?
On February 6, we're celebrating eight decades of preservation people and the places they saved for us all to enjoy.
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.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to email or call in as the Los Angeles Times redevelopment project came before City Council’s PLUM Committee. We were happy to log in to the city’s file management system and see 20 pages of emails decrying the impropriety of moving forward with Jose Huizar’s pet project, and a second legal challenge on top of the existing appeal. (These appear under “Communication(s) from Public” for 1/20-1/21-2021.)
We kept a running tally during the hearing, which started late with two of the five PLUM committee members MIA. It was exhausting and the results were terrible for the good guys on every agenda item. Strong arguments were batted away with no debate or justification and accusations of corruption ignored. But it isn’t over yet!
The Los Angeles Times covered the hearing, and went strong on the public corruption angle. This was a happy surprise, since they’ve been wishy-washy on writing about the potential demolition of their historic home.
Disappointingly, the newly elected “reform” Councilwoman Nithya Raman didn’t have anyone from her office call in to speak about a contentious project in her district. This resulted in the disgusting display of both the developer and the community members who are suing insisting they had secured her support. Somebody was lying, but PLUM didn’t care: they voted to let the developer demolish this charming complex. If you live in her CD4 district, let her know you expect her to show up for constituents every time.
You can read what went down (in reverse order) on Twitter or on Facebook. Here’s the transcript and the recording. And here are the project changes (PDF link) demanded by new Councilmember Kevin de Leon—which include a shout out to L.A. preservationists (that’s us!) and might just end up costing the developer so much money in affordable housing and restoration costs that the project no longer pencils out. Here’s hoping!
Tomorrow at noon we’re presenting The Biggest Little Country Store in the World: How Crawford’s Markets Fed the San Gabriel Valley and Transformed The Industry.
If you’re anything like us, being COVID-careful means you’re spending a lot less time in the grocery store. So come with us on a virtual historic Southern California shopping trip, in the company of our fascinating pal Mitchell Crawford. Mitchell is a merchandising consultant—his slogan “make it exciting and unique!”—who grew up in his grandparents’ innovative supermarket chain.
Mitchell has amazing family stories to share, from selling watermelons out of a truck to parking lot amusement rides built by visionary Bud Hurlbut of Knott’s Berry Farm fame. He’ll reveal the surprising origins of the modern check-out station, great moments in San Marino customer service, the best independent neighborhood market in Los Angeles County, and what people-watching in the Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle has taught him. Plus all about the world’s largest Cheddar cheese round, whimsical architecture, offbeat events, unforgettable characters and a little jolt of noirish true crime to keep you on your toes. When you do get back into the grocery store, we promise you’ll see things very differently.
Next Saturday, on January 30, we’re Touring Southern California’s Architecture of Death with historian Nathan Marsak, to tell the stories of the early cemeteries in the heart of pueblo, and the 1910s modernist impulse that brought us the bold and hygienic community mausolea and their stunning stained glass laylights. This webinar will appeal to fans of offbeat history and architectural innovation, and those of you who can’t get enough of the irrepressible Nathan Marsak.
And just announced for February 6, by popular demand we’re finally doing something special for Kim’s birthday week, and it’s a doozy. Esotouric Celebrates Los Angeles Historic Preservation, 1900s-1980s tells the story of generations of preservation people, as they found new ways to protect and to save the places that matter to them. Every 21st century L.A. preservationist stands on the shoulders of giants—so let’s get to know them. From Mission mender Charles Fletcher Lummis to the savior of Olvera Street Christine Sterling, visionary city planner Calvin Hamilton and hard-driving Cultural Heritage Board leader Carl Dentzel, from Heritage Square to Carroll Avenue, the birth of Hollywood Heritage and the Los Angeles Conservancy and so much more. To sign up or read the full description, click here.
Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can watch the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see John Bengtson’s “Silent Echoes in Westlake” Early Los Angeles Film Locations through Saturday night.
George Mann’s Vintage L.A. • Pershing Square 1866-2020 • Cafeterias of Old L.A. • Programmatic Architecture • Angels Flight • Grand Central Market • Ohio River Valley • Bunker Hill • Charles Bukowski • Raymond Chandler • Black Dahlia • Dutch Chocolate Shop • Bradbury Building • Tunnels • L.A. Times Bombing and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for The Biggest Little Country Store in the World: How Crawford’s Markets Fed the San Gabriel Valley and Transformed The Industry.
yours for Los Angeles,
Kim & Richard
Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—The Most Disturbing Item We Ever Discovered While Doing Research at The Huntington Library—A story about brains, knockout drops, family traditions and a bad night on New York City's Tenderloin.
WANT TO SUPPORT OUR WORK?
If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for (or gifting) the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Gift certificates are available for any webinar in our library or upcoming calendar, starting at $10. Printed matter? We’ve got a swell selection of 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... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.
AND WHAT'S THE NEXT TOUR? WHO KNOWS?!
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.
AND FINALLY, LINKS
Laguna Beach sued over new land use policy that would allow rich property owners and developers to decimate precious historic resources.
After 15 years of Jose Huizar, it is disorienting to have a CD14 LA Councilman who is standing up for the vulnerable elderly residents of Sakura Gardens in Boyle Heights. Kevin de Leon's strong letter to the California Attorney General is much appreciated!
Struggling to make sense of his COVID losses, Albany Museum of Art director Andy Wulf thinks back to his time volunteering in a South Central AIDS hospice. "The arts are a saving grace. Humanity is a saving grace. Kindness is a saving grace, if we let it flow." Here’s our podcast interview about the first hospice in Elysian Park.
Eastside Rashomon: we’re updating our post keeping track of what's really going on with El Pino: Jose Huizar associate / property owner Art Gastelum sends Tree People nonprofit to take a peep at ground level & they take their lives in their hands! And the community responds to the professional banners with their own DIY sign campaign. Scroll down here for the latest.
Great moments in Southern California signage: Harold V. Raymond's Chrysler Plymouth dealership adopts the JESUS SAVES crossword styling to great effect. And the stunning portholed streamline moderne building is still standing in Compton—as a thrift shop! If you love this, explore the digital map of stunning postcards from the Tichnor Brothers Collection at Boston Public Library, including some rarities.
New on R.I.P. Los Angeles, the feel-bad blog this city deserves: A Word or Two on Density, in which Nathan Marsak takes on the big YIMBY overcrowding lie, the profitability of claustrophobic micro-units, the death of privacy and the rise of pod people.
Concerns about the future of Paul Revere Williams' First Church of Christ, Scientist (now the Lear Theater) in Reno, as the city-favored nonprofit tenant seeks to develop the property and then some.
Hmm... Netflix made the American Cinematheque an offer it couldn't refuse for the nonprofit's sole asset, the Egyptian Theatre. The AC then gave Spike Lee its annual award, culminating in a pitch for his Oscar-eligible Netflix production, Da 5 Bloods.
New on Frenchtown Confidential: a chat with Jan Gabrielson, who remembers eating at the original Taix as a child in the 1950s, and was the last in-person diner in Echo Park the day Mayor Garcetti shut restaurants down. May her soup tureen never be empty!
In the November 1963 issue (on newsstands in October), Cracked Magazine's John Severin imagined what life would be like in 1968 for a post-Presidential JFK and his long-suffering family. Too soon?
Historic Cultural Monument nomination filed for Dolores Del Rio's Spanish mansion on Outpost Drive. Would love to have seen it before the updates. And a nomination filed by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and our preservation pal Steven Luftman for Sontag Drugs (Wilshire Beauty) on the Miracle Mile. The streamline gem is threatened by a massive tower project.
Preservation alert! Notorious demolishers Wiseman Residential threaten two cool things called out on Survey LA: Air Raid Siren No. 139 (1940) and Capitol Burgers (1960) with a rushed Pico TOC project. We let the city know they lied on their planning documents to say there’s nothing historic on the parcel.
This real estate website is cynical, but we’re not: Why no change will come from Huizar corruption fiasco.
Here's an association copy worth digging dimes out of the sofa to afford: Carey McWilliams' Factories in the Field: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California, inscribed to progressive social housing architect Reginald Johnson! Short-term book fair link.