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1961. Black cats show up for a Hollywood casting call accompanied by their owners. The call was held by pop film director Roger Corman, preparing to film the segment “The Black Cat” as part of his feature film “Tales of Terror” (released in 1962). Corman needed a black cat for the starring role and five others to be stand-ins. The film and segment starred Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Joyce Jameson.
2014. Like our featured photo below of 1953 "Rocket Women" at JPL, these were some of the women working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in La Cañada Flintridge, only six decades later. This more recent group worked on building and operating the Curiosity Mars rover. According to JPL, their disciplines ranged from soil science to software engineering, from chemistry to cartography, in duties ranging from assessing rover-temperature data freshly arriving from Mars to choosing where to point the rover's cameras. The photo was taken at the "Mars Yard" at JPL, used for rover testing.
1953. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Computer Group. From 1943 through the 1950s, JPL, located in La Cañada Flintridge, designed rockets for the U.S. Army (JPL joined NASA in 1958). Since electronic computers would not appear until the 1960s, JPL needed human computers to calculate trajectories for rockets. A “computer” originally meant a worker who did complex mathematical calculations. That task was then seen as “women’s work,” so mathematically-inclined young women were hired for this role out of high school or college. By the mid 1950s, about two dozen women formed the JPL computer group under the supervision of Macie Roberts, a former IRS auditor. Even as electronic computers began to appear in the early 1960s, male JPL engineers continued to think of computer work as a female task and left it to the women computers to be the early programmers and coders. Roberts appears in the group photo, first row, eighth from left. Also pictured is Janez Lawson, sixth from left, first African American hired by JPL into a technical position, who went on to become an IBM programmer for JPL.
1954. Corridor filled with men and women tabulating ballots for California's primary election in Los Angeles. In this election, L.A. City Councilman Edward R. Roybal, who, from 1947 to 1962, was seen as the champion for minority groups on the city council, first ran for higher office, seeking California's Lieutenant Governorship. He won the Democratic nomination in this primary election, but, lost in the general election. He was later elected to congress in 1962. Today, he is honored as namesake of the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles.
Circa 1939-1945. African American "Rosie the Riveter" at a Los Angeles area aircraft manufacturing plant during World War II. She was one of almost half a million American women among more than 2 million workers overall who built aircraft during the war. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 10,000 African American families among many other families moved to Los Angeles for jobs in the war industry. As African American pilots flew combat aircraft in the war, African American workers helped to build them.
Circa 1910. Portrait of five African American Los Angeles police officers. The first African American police officer in Los Angeles was Robert W. Stewart, appointed in 1886. In 1919, the Los Angeles Police Department was one of two departments to become the first in the U.S. to appoint an African American woman police officer. As for the officers in the photo above, only their last names are given. Standing L-R: White, Stevens, Watson. Seated L-R: McDuff and Green.
1946. A truancy detail officer gathers a group of girls around her who were truant from school in Downtown Los Angeles. Truancy had become such a problem at the time that a parent-teacher group called for expanding truancy details to outlying areas of the school district in Los Angeles, including the beaches.
1968. Ceola Millner and her five children, from Watts in Los Angeles, wait to board a bus for Washington, D.C. Millner and thousands of others gathered in the nation's capital that spring for the Poor People's Campaign to demonstrate for economic justice for poor people in America. The demonstration was initially organized and led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who sought to bring the faces of American poor before the President and Congress due to waning interest in anti-poverty efforts. Sadly, King was assassinated just before the campaign could kick-off. King's friend and fellow activist, Dr. Ralph Abernathy, however, stepped up to lead the campaign and see it through.
1946. Veteran Jesse Swatton and his family live in a tent due to a serious shortage of housing in California after the end of World War II. During the war, construction of new housing in Los Angeles came to a halt. After the war ended, U.S. servicemen returned home to start new families and they were joined by other veterans who passed through Southern California during the war and decided to return and settle here. There were plenty of jobs to be had, but, the area was caught unprepared to house this influx of new families. By 1946, the shortage pushed desperate families to find whatever housing they could. The late, famed L.A. Times columnist Jack Smith wrote of his own experience during that time.
1942. Due to Presidential Executive Order 9066, a Japanese American family awaits forced "evacuation" (relocation) from Los Angeles to the Manzanar Relocation Center in the Owens Valley.
1973. Youngsters relaxing at a Marina del Rey beach create a Christmas tree from a discarded tree and litter.
1949. A 105-foot, 85-year-old tree, is lit in a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles, surrounded by a crowd of 4,000. The 15-ton white fir, brought to L.A. from the Sequoia National Forest and billed then as the "world's largest Christmas tree" (cannot verify), was lit by then 10-year-old Joan Blair of the Los Angeles Orphanage and Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron.
2017. The Las Posadas Procession at Olvera Street, in Downtown Los Angeles, has been held in the days leading up to Christmas every year since 1930. The procession, featuring costumes, music and singing, is said to be the oldest, continuously-celebrated Christmas event in Los Angeles.
1968. Velma Carlisle on parade as Queen of the Watts Christmas Parade in the Watts community in Los Angeles. The parade, held early in December every holiday season, is a cultural institution in the Watts/Willowbrook community. It was founded by Edna Aliewine and a small number of volunteers in 1964. Aliewine was motivated by childhood memories of the Hollywood Christmas Parade and asking “why isn’t there anybody like me in the parade?” Aliewine also co-created the Watts Walk of Fame. She died in 2011 at age 90. The parade continues to be organized by the Edna Aliewine Foundation and celebrates recipients of the Edna Aliewine Award for their efforts to work for positive change in the Watts Community.
Circa 1925. Christmas trees put up by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce light the night in front of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park.
1937. Food server at Christy's Sandwiches Drive-In at the corner of Olympic and Western in (present-day Koreatown) Los Angeles. Although Texas was where, in 1921, Dallas entreprenuer Jessie G. Kirby introduced America's first drive-in eatery for his "Pig Stand" chain, he later opened a franchise in Los Angeles in 1931. Located at the SE corner of Sunset and Vine, Pig Stand Number 21 became Southern California's first drive-in restaurant. Soon, imitators of the drive-in model joined the fray to feed Southern California's burgeoning new car culture. Along with its sprouting drive-in theaters, the region quickly came to be considered the drive-in capital of the world. Incidentally, after Red's Giant Hamburg (opened 1947) closed in Missouri in 1984 (then reopened in 2019), In-N-Out Hamburger (opened 1948 in Baldwin Park) became the world's longest continuously-operating drive-through restaurant.
1967. Graduates of the Queen of Angels School of Nursing pose with their nursing pins. With them is Sister M. Pauline, Queen of Angels administrator. In 1918, Los Angeles County became one of the first counties in the nation to admit African American students to its nursing school.
Late 1800s. Group portrait of one of Inglewood's first schools and classes. The grammar school stands behind the class. The teacher is unnamed. Note that the class is integrated, a rarity for the time.
1942. At the start of America's involvement in World War II, these were the first women from the Los Angeles area accepted for officers training in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) . Captain Robert L. Woods administers the oath to (left to right) Madelyn Miller, Anna W. Wilson, Dorothea Wilson, Emily Davis, Kathryn Johnson and Emily Hathaway.
1980. Group portrait of the multi-cultural gasoline station night crew at Seventh and Vermont in Los Angeles.
1938. Dr. Frank R. Webb examines human remains from a Los Angeles crime scene with LAPD forensic specialist Ray Pinker looking on. Pinker joined the LAPD crime lab in 1929 as the nation's first civilian forensics specialist, six years after the lab was established as the nation's first public-funded crime lab. Well into the 1930s, Pinker and a single LAPD officer were the entire scientific forensics team for the city of Los Angeles.
1912. Members of the Zeta Tau Alpha chapter at USC pose in costume for a halloween party. Zeta Tau Alpha's chapter at USC was founded just two years before this photo was taken and it remained active until 1961.
2018. A painted young woman poses during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities at Olvera Street in Los Angeles. The holiday, originating from Mexican indigenous observances believed to date back perhaps two to three thousand years, celebrates and honors departed loved ones. It is observed over several days around the same time as Halloween. Although the holiday is now widely celebrated in Los Angeles and throughout the United States, its observance in the Los Angeles Mexican American community had almost disappeared until a cultural reawakening in the 1970s.
1935. Kids pose for a group portrait at a halloween party at the home of the Harrell family in Hollywood.
1935. San Gabriel Fiesta Queen Gabriela Quiroz and princesses Charlene Lugo and Dorothy Martinez at the San Gabriel Mission. The three-day festival was a series of events and entertainment including parades, music and the coronation of a festival king and queen. Known today as "La Fiesta de San Gabriel," the festival has been held annually since 1903 to commemorate the founding of the San Gabriel Mission. The festival ceased holding parades in the 1970s.
1976. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Irma Alvarez on patrol duty. In 1975, Alvarez became California's first female peace officer to have been intentionally shot and wounded in the line of duty. The incident occurred when Alvarez, patrolling alone, made a traffic stop in Pico Rivera, unaware that the two occupants of the car had just committed an armed robbery. Her courage and calm in the face of the violent encounter were said to have ensured a place for female law enforcement officers in patrol work. After recovery, Alvarez returned to patrol duty and her assailants were sentenced to prison. She retired from the Sheriff's Department in 2000.
1980. Teenagers, awaiting help, sunbath on the hood of their disabled car on the shoulder of the Santa Monica Freeway.
Circa 1936. Workers on the automobile assembly line in the Ford Motor Company plant in Long Beach. At its peak, the Los Angeles area was second only to Detroit for auto manufacturing.
Circa 1861. View of Los Angeles Plaza, looking southeast. This may be the earliest known photograph of Los Angeles, taken from Fort Moore Hill, overlooking town. The photographer was not identified. Los Angeles, then with a population of about 4,400 (now 4 million), actually extends further north on the left of this image and further south on the right. At the center of the plaza is a water reservoir, now the location of the Gazebo. The historic Plaza Church, still present and used today, is in the lower left corner. The structures toward the lower right would be replaced by the Pico House. Olvera Street would, much later, begin on the photo's far left center and Union Station would be located in the open field, just beyond the row of adobe structures and clump of trees in the middle of the photo. In the upper distance to the right is “El Aliso,” a giant ancient sycamore tree that died in 1892 but had long been a sacred place for local native people and a city landmark.
Circa 1903. Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, looking south. Then, the city had a population of just over 9,100 people. The Cheesecake Factory, presently located in Old Pasadena, would open 93 years later at the corner on the lower right of the photo.
1923. Contestants in a beauty contest, the Venice-Ocean Park Annual Review, in southern Santa Monica. Two years later, Fred Cole, of what would later be Cole of California in Los Angeles, began revolutionizing swimwear for women.
Circa 1901. Crowded beach scene at the long-gone Long Beach Pavilion and Pier. Note the beach parking lot in the foreground. At the time, Long Beach had just over 2,200 residents and there were 170,300 in all of L.A. County (less than 2 percent of today's population). As they are today, L.A. County beaches were a popular destination, especially during the summer. Yet, by horse and buggy, it would take you about 2.5 to 3 hours to travel from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. A year after this photo, Henry Huntington's Pacific Electric "red car" rail line opened between Los Angeles and Long Beach and cut that travel time to approximately 40 minutes. By the afternoon of the line's first day of operations on July 4, 1902, Long Beach received 30,000 visitors.
1962. U.S. President John F. Kennedy, while visiting the Los Angeles area, decided to take a swim at the beach in Santa Monica. He was quickly surrounded by a throng of admirers, excited to see the President of the United States among them, many even joining him in the surf while still in their street clothes.
1910. Promotional poster for America's first international "air meet" (aviation show), held at Dominguez Field in present-day Carson. The Wright brothers had made their first flight at Kitty Hawk less than seven years earlier, so aircraft were still a new and wondrous technology. The 1910 air meet was among the earliest in the world and first in the United States. It featured 43 aviators from around the country and four from France. They flew propellor-driven biplanes, monoplanes, balloons, and dirigibles. An estimated 254,000 tickets were sold for the 11-day event and each day averaged 20,000 spectators. Aviators competed for prize money as high as $10,000 (about $270,000 in 2019 dollars). The meet inspired the birth of aviation manufacturing in the Los Angeles area, including Allen and Malcolm Loughead in 1912 (Lockheed Corporation), Glenn L. Martin in 1913 (Martin Marietta Corporation, later merged with Lockheed), and Donald Douglas in 1920 (Douglas Aircraft, later McDonnell Douglas). It also inspired young spectators such as John Northrop and James Doolittle who, later themselves, became aviation legends.
1963. Models showing off Cole of California leisure wear as they sail into Avalon Bay aboard the "Great White Steamship" (the S.S. Catalina, the primary ferry between the mainland and Santa Catalina Island from 1924 through 1975). Cole of California appealed to a popular desire for the "California lifestyle" in their swim and leisure wear.
1908. July 4th celebrants gather in front of Alhambra City Hall. That year, Alhambra had only been an incorporated city for five years, with a little less than 5,000 residents (as compared to more than 300,000 residents in neighboring Los Angeles and almost half a million in all Los Angeles County). Within the following decade, Alhambra's citizens, along with the rest of the country, would be enmeshed in a bloodly world war (World War I).
Ca. 1909. Stereoscopic views of a woman photographer on the beach at Avalon Bay on Santa Catalina Island. The pinnacle rock in the distance, farthest on the right, was the now long-gone Sugar Loaf Rock. The top of the rock could be accessed by a steep wooden stairway so that visitors could take in panoramic views. The rock was dynamited in 1917-1918, at the direction of William Wrigley, Jr., to make way for construction of the first Sugar Loaf Casino. As the number of visitors to Avalon grew, the original casino was replaced in 1929 by the larger Catalina Casino that stands there today.
1945. Father leading his child from the water on a Los Angeles beach. From 1941 through 1945, an estimated quarter million men and women from Los Angeles County left to fight in World War II, but, by the end of 1945 and the war ended, many were back home with family.
1983. Family and friends march with LGBTQ loved ones in the Gay Pride Parade (now L.A. Pride Parade) in West Hollywood. Story of the first L.A. Pride Parade, 1970.
1970. UCLA graduates at commencement protest the Vietnam War with peace signs and "Peace Now" armbands. UCLA's tradition of political activism dates back to 1934 when Provost Ernest Moore declared the campus "one of the worst hotbeds of communism in the U.S." Students were quick to protest actions taken by administrators against politically outspoken professors. UCLA students were relatively quiet through World War II and the 1950s, however, in 1967, that changed when students protested Dow Chemical's recruitment of graduates on campus due to its manufacture of napalm for the Vietnam War. Anti-war protests escalated from then on, quieting only after U.S. involvement in Vietnam came to an end. Later, UCLA students rose to protest apartheid in South Africa, lack of a Chicano studies program at the university, Proposition 187, rights for student instructors, ROTC discrimination against LGBTQ students, college fee hikes, and affirmative action rollbacks.
1968. Military escorts salute caskets of servicemen who died in the Vietnam war as they are unloaded from a train at Los Angeles Union Station. From 1965 through 1975, 1,878 servicemembers from Los Angeles County died in the Vietnam War.
June 27, 1887. This image was taken by photographer Edwin H. Hushe from a hot air balloon at about 9,000 feet above Los Angeles. It looks eastward and is believed to be the earliest known aerial image of Los Angeles. The unchannelled Los Angeles River is prominently featured. Then, the city barely had a population of 50,000 (now about 4 million). Note the small, circular, wheel-like feature, center left in the image. That is the Los Angeles Plaza, now part of El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument (including Olvera Street). Also note the farmland closely surrounding the city.
1978. 18 of 20 Samoan players (nine were starters) on Carson High School's football team. The “Great Migration” of American Samoans came in 1951 when the U.S. Navy closed its long-time naval station in Pago Pago, American Samoa, inviting about 1,000 Samoan employees to work at naval installations in the United States. Many of them settled in Long Beach and nearby San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Lakewood and Torrance. Here, football became popular among Samoan American high school boys, offering what had long been difficult-to-obtain scholarship opportunities. Samoan boys found success in football, especially with the help of supportive coaches such as Carson High’s famed Gene Vollnogle. Soon, other families in American Samoa, seeing limited economic opportunities there, sought to join Samoan communities in Southern California so that their sons could also play high school football here and compete for scholarships and potential careers in the NFL.
Circa 1910. A Chinese kindergarten class in Los Angeles. Among the children is future actress Anna May Wong (then Wong Liu Tsong), whose film career, from the 1920s through the 1950s, made her the first Chinese American movie star.
Circa 1890. Portrait of two local Native American women at the Mission San Fernando. The woman on the right was reported to be 130 years old and the the woman on the left was said to be her daughter and 100 years old. If that were true, the older woman would have been a young girl when the Spanish first established a mission (Mission San Gabriel) in the Los Angeles area in 1771.
1964. Auto workers strike at General Motor's plant in Van Nuys as part of a month-long national strike and the last major strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW). At the peak of Los Angeles County's auto manufacturing era, there were more than 15,000 auto workers assembling half a million vehicles per year, almost rivaling Detroit. That streak, however, was not to last. In 1992, the Van Nuys plant was the last of L.A.'s 11 auto plants to close, putting putting 2,600 people out of work and ending L.A.s' 81-year auto manufacturing era. See L.A.'s Auto Manufacturing Past.
1921. About 2,000 people attend the first sunrise service held March 27 at the Hollywood Bowl. Two years earlier, the first Los Angeles outdoor sunrise service was held at Whitley Heights and, in the following year, the second service was held at what was then known as Olive Hill (present-day Barnsdall Park). However, for 1921, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra service would be introduced into the service and a location was needed to accommodate a large crowd and provide excellent acoustics for the orchestra. As the organizers (then Art Alliance and Community Park and Art Association, now Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service Committee of the Hollywood Bowl Association) searched for a location, they came across a site in the Mulholland Hills then known as Daisy Dell that proved to be ideal. It was described to be like a “bowl,” thus giving the location its famous name “Hollywood Bowl.” The organizers purchased the land that year and deeded it to the county in 1924. The iconic shell was added in 1926.
1966. Property owner groups picket outside the Hall of Administration in the Civic Center to protest rapidly rising property taxes in Los Angeles County. As California's population dramatically grew and outpaced housing supply, property values and inflation increased. Long-time homeowners began seeing double-digit percent increases in their property taxes. Taxpayer frustration would ultimately result in voters passing Proposition 13 in 1978.
1934. Opening day for the Los Angeles Farmers' Market at Third & Fairfax, then known as Gilmore Ranch. 18 farmers parked their trucks on the corner and began selling produce from tailgates and booths. The market now features more than 100 shops visited by an estimated 3 million people each year (approximately one-third of which are tourists). Vendors at the market speak about 23 different languages.
1973. One of our "Only-in-L.A." slightly-embarrassing tourist souvenirs are "Star Maps," street maps for self-guided tours to the homes of movie stars. These have been sold from street corners and tourist shops at least as far back as the late 1930s. In 1972, responding to complaints by residents of affluent neighborhoods in Los Angeles, the city council banned all sales of items from sidewalks and driveways. The enterprising boys in this photo, however, simply moved their sales just outside L.A. city limits on Sunset Boulevard.
1908. Girl's baseball team at Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles. The girl second from the right was Mary K. Browne, who later went on to became a professional tennis player and star. She was the top-ranked U.S. player in 1914 and listed among America's top 10 players several years during the 1920s. Browne was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1957.
2016. In honor of the first ever United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, more than 150 women scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada Flintridge pose in the mission control room.
The California Grizzly Bear, the bear in California’s state flag, once roamed throughout California, including Los Angeles County. This was a large and magnificent animal, believed to be as much as twice the size and weight of today’s California Black Bear. The last known California Grizzly Bear in Southern California was shot and killed in Los Angeles County in 1916.
1970. Long before cell phones, a woman on a Los Angeles freeway uses an emergency freeway call box to summon help. The first such solar-powered call boxes in California were installed in 1962 along 10 miles of Los Angeles County freeway. At their peak, there were 4,000 emergency call boxes in Los Angeles County and 15,000 throughout the entire state. During the latter half of the 1990s, however, as more people began using cell phones, use of call boxes dramatically declined. Most have since been removed. Emergency call boxes may now be found only in areas with poor cell reception.
1910. Portrait of a Los Angeles African American family. Parents Jerry and Henrietta, children Jerry Jr., Grace, Sterling. At the time, Los Angeles County's total population was about 504,000, barely 2 percent of which was African American. Today, the county's population is estimated to be more than 10 million, about 9 percent of which is African American.
1970. Students at Bethune Junior High School in Los Angeles celebrate Black History Week with ethnic African garb. Principal Norman Mathers on the left joins them in African garb.
May 1942. Students from Washington High School in Los Angeles learn skills useful to the war effort during World War II.
Ca. 1890. View of the Long Beach Pike amusement park looking west from the Pine Avenue Pier. In the foreground is a car on a tall spiral wooden ride and, beyond that, crowds and bathers along the edge of the extended Pine Avenue Pier. Beyond that is a roller coaster over the water and the famous Hotel Virginia.
1964. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., chats with a little girl during a visit to Nickerson Gardens housing project in Los Angeles. Dr. King visited and spoke all over the Los Angeles area many times, from 1956 until just three weeks before his assassination in 1968.
January 14, 2019. The third strike organized by Los Angeles teachers launched on a rainy Monday. Teachers and supporters converged for a rally in front of Los Angeles City Hall, then marched to school district headquarters. The very first strike by L.A. teachers occurred in 1970 and lasted nearly five weeks. In 1989, L.A. teachers again went on strike. That lasted for nine days.
1974. Although snow hasn't fallen in Downtown LA since 1949, snow has fallen elsewhere in Los Angeles County (besides the mountains) since. Pictured above are people pushing a stalled truck off Magic Mountain Parkway during a snow storm in Valencia in 1974.
January 9, 1847. U.S. forces, led by U.S. Navy Commodore Robert Stockton, fight off Mexican horsemen, led by Commander José María Flores, at the plain of La Mesa (present-day Vernon). After failing to halt the American assault at the San Gabriel River in a larger battle the day before, this was the Mexicans' final desperate, but futile effort to prevent their last stronghold in California, Los Angeles, from falling to the Americans. The scene was sketched by witness William H. Meyers, a navy gunner from one of the ships under Stockton's command.
January 1, 1932. Spectators along the Tournament of Roses parade route in Pasadena in front of the Goodhue Flagpole (corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards). That year would see the summer Games of the X Olympiad in Los Angeles.
1963. Students from Pacoima Junior High School (now Pacoima Middle School) pose in ethnic costume as part of the school's "Musical Holidays" program. Music legend Ritchie Valens (Richard Valenzuela) was a student at the school during the 1950s.
1949. The Las Posadas Procession in Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles, has been held every year since 1930 in the days leading up to Christmas. It is said to be the oldest, continuously-celebrated Christmas event in Los Angeles.
1935. Photo is taken at 7th and Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles as crowds do their holiday shopping on December 21. A week earlier, the legendary Douglas Aircraft DC-3 took off from Santa Monica for its maiden flight. The iconic Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena was also reported to have drawn 20,000 visitors in a single night that month.
1948. A school girl reads the Christmas story at a combined Christmas-Hannukah program at Evergreen Avenue School. In that year, Boyle Heights, where Evergreen Avenue Elementary School remains to this day, had become, over three decades, the largest Jewish community in Los Angeles and the largest west of Chicago. That same year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional "restrictive covenants" that barred Jewish and non-white families from buying homes outside designated neighborhoods (80% of Los Angeles had been under restrictive convenants). With that discriminatory obstacle removed, Jewish families began relocating from Boyle Heights to other parts of Los Angeles (particularly the more affluent westside) and Los Angeles County.
1966. Victorian houses on Bunker Hill with the steel frame of the 40-story Union Bank building rising behind them in Downtown Los Angeles. Two years earlier, the City of Los Angeles declared the house to the right ("Donovan's Castle") a Historical-Cultural Monument. It was one of the two last houses on Bunker Hill. They were moved to Heritage Square in 1969 (see following feature, "Did You Know?"), but shortly thereafter destroyed by a fire.
1908. Pictured are socialist activists in Los Angeles city jail: (order in photo undetermined) Mrs. Dorothea Johns of Los Angeles (a former Polish countess and friend, with her husband, of novelist Jack London), Mrs. Alice V. Holloway of Pasadena, Mrs. Berta M. Dailey of Los Angeles, and Mrs. Helen A. Collins of Los Angeles. That year, members of the Socialist Party in Los Angeles challenged city ordinances barring public meetings and speakers without a permit issued by the ardently anti-union, anti-socialist police commission. Salvation Army preachers were granted permits to speak in public, but unionists and socialists were not. So, on July 1, 1908, thousands of socialists gathered at 7th and Grand to demonstrate. The local party leader was promptly arrested. Demonstrations persisted, including a march down Broadway to city hall, resulting in more arrests (including the women pictured here). Although the Democratic Party did not politically align with socialists, they joined the demonstrations, seeing the issues at stake being free speech and assembly. In the month that followed, jail and court calendars had become so clogged that the city council was forced to repeal the permit ordinance, winning for socialists of that period new political respectability as defenders of constitutional rights.
1942. Beginning in the early 1930s, Harry Carpenter and his brother Charles operated up to seven 24-hour drive-in restaurants in Los Angeles, the first being most famous due to its location in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, just east of Sunset and Vine Street. In 1938, the Hollywood location was demolished to make way for the new NBC Radio City. The restaurant (in the photo above) reopened shortly thereafter just across the street on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine. In 1951, the Hollywood restaurant became a Stan’s Drive-In but was demolished ten years later. It was replaced by the Sunset Vine Tower.
Night photographs of the Los Angeles basin from Mount Wilson in 1908 and 2012 from about the same location. Los Angeles County's population in 1908 was close to 500,000. Today's population is more than 10 million.
1905. People fishing at one of the early piers at Redondo Beach that had been popular for fishing and sightseeing as early as 1895. Two years after this photo was taken, the Redondo Beach waterfront came to be where surfing was first introduced to Southern California.
1965. Having moved from its original location in Exposition Park (at what is now the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) opened that year at its new Wilshire Boulevard location. Pictured is the Ahmanson Building and the Bing Center. The new museum was designed by William L. Pereira (who also collaborated on the design of the LAX Theme Building) and was initially fronted by reflecting pools and fountains. Within a year after opening, however, tar and gases from the nearby La Brea Tar Pits began seeping into the water. Pereira acknowledged the tar pits as a special factor in his planning, but, he did not foresee the extent they would impact the water elements in his design. By 1975, the museum had replaced the water elements with a sculpture garden. The museum has since added the Art of the Americas Building, the Pavilion for Japanese Art, the adjacent former May Company department store building, the Broad Contemporary Art Building, and the Resnick Pavilion.
1923. The Los Angeles branch of the NAACP, the first such branch in California, had been founded only nine years earlier by Drs. John and Vada Somerville, both graduates of USC’s School of Dentistry. The branch quickly went to the forefront fighting discrimination and poor treatment of African Americans in the Los Angeles area. During World War I, the branch achieved national prominence by successfully compelling the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to reverse a policy barring “colored students” from nurse training at the Los Angeles County Hospital. The branch appealed not only to the immorality of racial discrimination, but also to America’s shortage of nurses in the war and the consequent loss of American lives for not allowing additional Black nurses to add their services to the front.
1942. After America's entry into World War II, the aviation industry in the Los Angeles region exploded with new jobs. With many men already enlisting or drafted for military service, numberous industrial jobs opened for women --- the iconic "Rosie the Riveter." Although precise numbers are difficult to find, we estimate that about 200,000 people were employed in L.A.'s wartime aviation industry, about 73,000 being women. Here, a worker at the Lockheed-Vega Aircraft Plant in Burbank (builder of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers) checks aircraft electrical assemblies. The B17 bomber, of which 2,750 were built in Burbank during the war, required the assembly of 25,000 separate parts.
Today, more than 25,000 local and state police officers patrol Los Angeles County. In its early days, however, from the founding of San Gabriel Mission in 1771 through the end of the Mexican Period in 1846, only a tiny contigent of soldiers (about a dozen) kept the peace among the two local missions and the Pueblo de Los Angeles. These soldiers, known as soldados de cuera (leather-jacket soldiers), were equipped with a thick leather jacket for body armor, a lance, a broadsword, an ammo belt, a small shield, and a short flintlock musket. Most of them married local women, raised families and eventually were granted large land tracts as reward for their service. Some of their last names are familiar today to Angelenos such as Dominguez, Nieto, Verdugo and Sepulveda.
1926. Inmates outside the old Los Angeles County Jail across Spring Street from the then newly-opened (and present-day) Hall of Justice. The Hall of Justice (including its new jail) opened that same year. Perhaps the scene is of inmates moving from the old to the new jail.
Circa 1880. Portrait of 19 members of the Ramirez family at "Los Nietos" (presumably Rancho Los Nietos in southeast Los Angeles County).
May 1942. Fifth-graders from Cheremoya Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood say the pledge of allegiance during a War Production presentation. Prior to World War 2, American children commonly saluted with their hands and arms raised upwards (known as the "Belemy salute"). By the 1930s, however, this salute came to be commonly associated with German Nazis and Italian Fascists. With Germany and Italy's declaration of war on America in December 1941, the Belemy salute quickly became unpopular and other salute styles used, such as that in the photo. The "hand-over-heart" salute was adopted as the nation's civilian salute when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.
Circa 1887. Photo of Pascual Marquez's bath house in Santa Monica Canyon (between present-day Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades), the first bath house located there. The area then was experiencing a land boom, attracting buyers seeking recreation and a getaway close to the beach. In front of the bath house stands a stagecoach – the Santa Monica Canyon State.
Circa 1900. Horses pull a Los Angeles city fire engine up a hill on First Street. Los Angeles did not see its first motorized fire engine until 12 years later.
1947. The late bodybuilder Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica lifting a barbell as crowd looks on. At 5-foot-2 and 115 pounds, Stockton, born in Santa Monica, is credited with taking “the image of muscular women out of the sideshow and into the local gym,” according to Jesse Rhodes in Smithsonian magazine. Introduced to weightlifting by husband Les, Stockton became a regular at Muscle Beach and soon a media darling. In 1944, she began writing a column called “Barbelles” for Strength and Health magazine, promoting weightlifting for women for figure toning and improved athletic prowess. She helped to organize the first sanctioned weightlifting contests for women and is considered forerunner of modern women bodybuilders. In 1948, she opened the women-only gym Salon of Figure Development. She carried the nickname “Pudgy” since high school when she had been heavier. She has been titled “Queen (or Venus) of Muscle Beach” and “First Lady of Iron.”
Circa 1870. Reported to be earliest known Los Angeles Police uniforms. Officer William "Billy" Sands, one of the first seven officers hired by the LAPD, is on the right. The photo was taken prior to 1876, when formal uniforms (dark blue surplus U.S. Army Civil War uniforms, thus, the origin of "LAPD blue") were adopted by the LAPD.
Circa 1884. Teacher Grace Bush (later Eads) and pupils in front of the first school in Long Beach. Miss Bush was only 16 years old when hired to be the town’s first school teacher. Her salary was $25 per month (worth $618 in 2018) to teach ten children. Pupils supplied their own chairs and equipment. Although class started in an unoccupied structure at Pine Avenue and Second Street (now Broadway), they lost use of the building two weeks later and had to move into a tent erected at the northwest corner of First Street and Pine. When cold weather came, Bush had the children do calisthenics to keep warm.
1890. Ice Cream and tamale vendor Nicolas Martinez serves two boys near present-day Olvera Street in Los Angeles.
In 1951, Caltech students Stan Wilks and Dave Twining watch the glow of an early morning atomic bomb test at the Nevada Test Site, seen from Mount Wilson, about 300 miles away. During the 1950s, 120 Nevada atomic bomb tests were conducted, about half of them in the dark early morning hours, giving Los Angeles, even though 300 miles away, more than 50 early morning "atomic sunrises."
A 1920 Los Angeles Tuberculosis Association health camp for Los Angeles girls in San Gabriel Canyon, north of Azusa. Much of the camp funding came from the Junior Red Cross. Notice the diversity.
In World War II, the Germans were said to call it der gabelschwanz-teufel (the fork-tailed devil) and the Japanese ni hikōki, ippairotto (two planes, one pilot). It had long range and fearsome firepower and, under best conditions, was one of the fastest fighter aircraft in the world. Here, in 1942, a P-38 Lightning pursuit plane is prepared for delivery to the U.S. Army Air Corps in the test hangar of Burbank's Lockheed aircraft plant. More than 10,000 of these were built in Burbank by the end of the war.
Circa 1930. Shoeshine boys working in the Old Plaza in Los Angeles (now El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument).
Circa 1907-1914. Postcard promoting Southern California's beautiful winter weather and scenery in what would later be known as Lincoln Park in Los Angeles. This image is from our collection of more than 600 vintage postcards about Los Angeles County (1906-1960) that we will soon bring online in a permanent digital exhibit. More information here.
1942. Two women meet on a Hollywood street. Their skirts were a bit shorter than pre-war styles in order to preserve more fabric for the war effort (and cuffs disappeared from men's trousers). Angelenos in 1942 were facing two and a half years of uncertainty and hardships from rationing as America entered World War II. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, however, would become the fastest growing in the United States. Its giant aircraft industry was now flush with government contracts. Women and African Americans were finding industrial jobs in large numbers. Military personnel began streaming into Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Yet, new tensions also flared with the Latino community, stoked by visiting servicemen. Whole neighborhoods disappeared as 80,000 Angelenos of Japanese ancestry were ordered to internment camps by the government (two thirds of all interned Japanese Americans were from the Los Angeles area). More than 5,000 Angelenos would ultimately lose their lives in the war. 1942 Los Angeles was a new boom town, but not without new shame and pain.
1908. At this time, Venice, California, was an independent city (annexed by the City of Los Angeles in 1926). The Abbot Kinney Pier or Venice Pier pictured here opened in 1906 at the foot of Windward Avenue, featuring a dance hall (seen at upper left). By 1910, the pier was an amusement destination with a minature railway, aquarium, game booths, rides and sideshows (such as the "Hugo the Monster" attraction). A ferris wheel and roller coaster were later added. Unfortunately, just days before Christmas 1920, a gas heater in the dance hall exploded, igniting a fire that ultimately destroyed the pier.
1890. Santa Monica Monica Beach visitors. It wasn't until the 1930s that beach swimwear began fully exposing arms, legs, necklines and some portion of the back. Even men did not go shirtless in the water until then.
Circa 1905. A portrait of Chinese laborers in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. At the time, persons of Chinese descent numbered about 4,000 in Los Angeles. About five years earlier, the Boxer Rebellion, a violent anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian revolt in China, was renounced by Chinese in Los Angeles. Also in 1905, Sun Yat-Sen, a physician educated in the U.S. and leader in the campaign to establish a republic in China, visits Los Angeles.
1925. Introduced professionally into Southern California in the early 1890s, baseball went on to be widely played throughout Southern California in the early 20th Century by neighborhood teams such as the Boyle Heights Stars.
1969. Chicano Moratorium Committee demonstrators outside a military recruiting office on Broadway in Los Angeles. Protestors charged that young Latinos were disproportionately dying in the Vietnam War even as grievances of injustice and discrimination continued back home.
1911. California's first all-woman jury in Los Angeles County hears charges against a newspaper editor for printing indecent language.
Circa 1918. Portrait of an unidentified African American family, taken on the steps of their Los Angeles home. African Americans in Los Angeles County, like African Americans everywhere else in the country, faced no small amount of racism, but overt discrimination was generally not as bad in Los Angeles as in most other places in the country. In fact, the first African American elected to a state legislature in the Western U.S., Frederick M. Roberts, was elected from Los Angeles to the California Assembly in 1918 – and not solely by African American voters.
Circa 1944. Rail passengers stream into Union Station in Los Angeles (then known as Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal). Opened in 1939, the station was the latest but last built of America’s great train stations and, not long thereafter, experienced a massive surge in rail passengers during the war years (1941-1945). There were not only large numbers of military personnel transiting through Los Angeles but also new arrivals seeking work in Southern California's bustling war industries.
Circa 1884. An open stage coach parked outside the Pico House in Los Angeles. At the time, Pico House was the most elegant hotel in Southern California. Pico House remains a part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in Downtown Los Angeles.
1942. Two "Rosie the Riveters" lunch together at the Douglas Aircraft Plant in Long Beach. Nacelle parts for heavy bombers are in the background. Among the types of aircraft built by these women were the B-17F ("Flying Fortress") heavy bomber, the A-20 ("Havoc") assault bomber and the C-47 heavy transport plane.
Class of 1895, Los Angeles High School. The high school, founded in 1873, is Los Angeles County's oldest public high school. One young women in the photo, then Alice G. Hall (later Alice G. Harrison), 63 years later left her entire estate to her beloved school. Her legacy trust today continues to support the school and its students.
1942. Newly arrived young woman in Hollywood, possibly aspiring for movie stardom, waiting on the street for a bus.
1914. African American Los Angeles firemen of Hose Company Number 4 pose in front of their station at 129 S. Loma Drive (Westlake).
Circa 1886. Don Antonio Coronel (Los Angeles mayor, 1853-1854) playing guitar to his wife, Dona Mariana Coronel.
1979. Then former California Governor Ronald Reagan and President Gerald Ford meet in the President’s Suite at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
Circa 1884. A group of children pose outside an early private school at the Mission San Fernando near Los Angeles.
Circa 1905. Downtown Los Angeles traffic. The view is on Spring Street, looking north from 4th Street.
From the early mission period through the 1860s, Mestizo and Native American vaqueros managed huge herds of cattle and horses across the ranchos of Los Angeles County. The scene portrayed above is believed by some to depict ranchero Ignacio del Valle at a cattle round-up at his Rancho Camulos that covered what is now Newhall.
1941. Newspapers about Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sold in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles on December 7. Less than three months later, persons of Japanese ancestry were ordered "evacuated" to "relocation" camps.
Circa 1942. Dora Miles and Dorothy Johnson assembling World War II bombers and transports in Long Beach for Douglas Aircraft Company.
1915. Newsboys seven-year-old "Red" (left) and nine-year-old brother on street in Los Angeles near Southern Pacific Depot. The older brother was said to be the "boss fighter of 5th Street.".
1920. Pianist Gertrude Ross and singer Anna Ruzena Sprotte conducted the first music performance at the site that would become the Hollywood Bowl. They arranged for the piano and platform to be trucked into the bowl-shaped canyon that was then called Daisy Dell.
Circa 1930s. First African American Los Angeles County Deputy, Julius Loving, flanked by two other African American deputies (R.C. Robinson and the other unidentified). Appointed in 1899, Julius Loving (center) became the first African American Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy. He also became a jail innovator with a jail store and training and arts programs for inmates.
Circa 1920s. Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles celebrated its 100th Birthday, October 2017.
July 4, 1902. Passengers boarding an electric railcar in Long Beach on opening day for the Pacific Electric Railway.
1942. Because of Executive Order 9066, a Japanese American family waits for a train in Los Angeles to take them to the Manzanar Relocation Center in the Owens Valley.
1904. The entire Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) posing in front of the Old County Courthouse.
Note Lucy Gray in front (dark dress) with daughter Aletha Gilbert. Matron Gray was the first female LAPD employee who primarily handled female prisoners.
1970. Long Beach State students, as part of the growing Chicano movement or El Movimiento, perform anti-war guerilla street theatre.
1925. One of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department "Night Squads.” These detective units responded to early morning major crimes during the 1920s. Old County Courthouse in background.
Visit our Historical Timeline of Los Angeles County for more historical images.