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Los Angeles in the 1930s

Los Angeles in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the City of Angels

INTRODUCTION BY DAVID KIPEN
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 504
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnt9t
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  • Book Info
    Los Angeles in the 1930s
    Book Description:

    Los Angeles in the 1930sreturns to print an invaluable document of Depression-era Los Angeles, illuminating a pivotal moment in L.A.'s history, when writers like Raymond Chandler, Nathanael West, and F. Scott Fitzgerald were creating the images and associations-and the mystique-for which the City of Angels is still known. Many books in one,Los Angeles in the 1930sis both a genial guide and an addictively readable history, revisiting the Spanish colonial period, the Mexican period, the brief California Republic, and finally American sovereignty. It is also a compact coffee table book of dazzling monochrome photography. These whose haunting visions suggest the city we know today and illuminate the booms and busts that marked L.A.'s past and continue to shape its future.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94886-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. LIST OF MAPS
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xiv-xviii)
  6. The WPA Guide to Renaissance Florence, or A Writer’s Paradise
    (pp. xix-xxx)
    David Kipen
  7. Preface 1941
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
    John D. Keyes
  8. General Information
    (pp. xxxiii-xl)
  9. Hotel and Other Accommodations
    (pp. xli-xlii)
  10. Restaurants
    (pp. xliii-xlvi)
  11. Night Clubs
    (pp. xlvii-l)
  12. Recreational Facilities
    (pp. li-lvi)
  13. Calendar of Annual Events
    (pp. lvii-lxviii)
  14. PART I. Los Angeles:: A General Survey

    • The Contemporary Scene
      (pp. 3-9)

      LOS ANGELES, the metropolis of southern California and of a vast adjoining area, is frequently regarded as one of the newer American cities, as an outgrowth of the motion-picture industry and as a creation of the real estate promoter. Actually, however, it is almost as old as the nation itself, having been formally founded and “subdivided” in the year the Revolutionary War ended—more than half a century before Chicago was incorporated. Over Los Angeles have waved the banners of royal Spain, imperial and republican Mexico, of the Bear Flag Republic, and, since 1847, the stars and stripes of the...

    • Natural Setting
      (pp. 10-23)

      IN VARIETY of scene, southern California is richer than many vastly larger areas of the globe. It is a region where rugged mountains, cleft by deep gorges, tower in peaks 10,000 feet above sea level; a region of forests and wide deserts, of rolling foothills, fertile valleys, and seasonal rivers that sweep to the sea; a region with craggy shores, strands, capes, bays, and verdant islands washed by the Pacific Ocean. So diversified is the terrain that motion-picture studios film stories laid in African deserts, Alpine peaks, the South Seas, and a dozen other “foreign” places, without going more than...

    • Metropolitan Aspects
      (pp. None)
    • Pueblo to Metropolis
      (pp. 24-60)

      THE history of the Los Angeles area abounds with the gargantuan, the fantastic. Settled more than sixteen miles inland from a shallow, unprotected bay, it has made itself into one of the great port cities of the world; lying far off the normal axes of transportation and isolated by high mountains, it has become one of the great railroad centers of the country; lacking a water supply adequate for a large city, it has brought in a supply from rivers and mountain streams hundreds of miles away. In little more than half a century lots listed at a tax sale...

    • Education
      (pp. 61-66)

      UNTIL after the American Occupation in 1847, the Los Angeles area had few schools. Education had no part in the colonization policies of the Spanish or Mexican governments. The purpose in establishing the first missions was twofold. The Spanish Crown, customary with its policy throughout New Spain, sought to elevate the native Indians of California from a state of savagery to that of peaceful, law-abiding, and, more particularly, tax-paying and revenue-producing subjects. The Franciscan fathers, while in accord with this program, were interested primarily “in saving the souls of the unfortunate benighted heathen.”

      At no time during the occupancy of...

    • Religion
      (pp. 67-72)

      THE multiplicity and diversity of faiths that flourish in the aptly named City of the Angels probably cannot be duplicated in any other city on earth. With churches and meeting houses of all the major Christian denominations and many of the minor ones, with Jewish and non-Christian temples and shrines, Los Angeles is also the birthplace and headquarters of several denominations of her own. These include such denominations as Aimee Semple McPherson’s International Foursquare Gospel Evangelism, the Church of the Nazarene, the Hebrew Evangelization Society, the Christian Fundamentals league, and others which have come into being here.

      This profusion of...

    • Architecture
      (pp. None)
    • The Movies
      (pp. 73-97)

      LONG before Hollywood stirred from its pastoral quiet, the slopes of Edendale, a few miles to the east, were loud with the antics of actors who doubled as roustabouts or carpenters and did their own laundry. On the lots facing that part of Alessandro Street later renamed Glendale Boulevard people from the garment trade spouted through megaphones and “made up” stories as they went along, goading themselves and their players to commit artistic felonies. Picture making went on in whirlwind haste, and without formality—cowboys chased Indians, cops chased robbers, and robbers chased misfit cops. Here, between November, 1909, and...

    • Radio
      (pp. 98-102)

      RADIO broadcasts are as popular in Los Angeles as elsewhere, perhaps more so. Fully 95 per cent of the homes have radio sets, and the proportion of automobiles equipped with radios is also high. Radio listeners in Los Angeles like what all America likes, and their radio programs are the standardized fare of Jersey City or Des Moines. In the political field, however, radio in southern California reflects the peculiarities of the region; prior to elections the airways are heavy with the propaganda of panacea movements. The EPICs, Townsendites, Utopians, and particularly such pension movements as “Ham and Eggs,” have...

    • The Arts
      (pp. 103-133)

      THOUGH from the beginning music, painting, drama, and architectural design had a part in the life and history of the pueblo of Los Angeles, there has been no continuing line of development in any of the arts. The traditional Spanish culture was gradually diluted in the decades after 1840, and about 1875 was abruptly displaced. It was not until the great numbers of new residents had begun to take root that creative artists appeared and began to turn to the history and esthetic traditions of the region.

      The city of Los Angeles has great expanse but little height. It sprawls...

    • The Business of Pleasure
      (pp. 134-142)

      THE golden flow of outside dollars into southern California began in the 1840’s, but the first visitors were chiefly hardbitten men whose names appeared on “Wanted” placards throughout the roaring West. They often arrived only a hop and a step ahead of the law or the vigilantes, hell-bent for the Mexican border. Their headquarters in Los Angeles was the Calle de los Negros (Street of the Blacks), locally called Nigger Alley, the early amusement belt. Along this narrow crowded street near the Plaza the click of roulette wheels and the jingle of gold never stopped. The tempo of life was...

    • Movies in the Making
      (pp. None)
  15. PART II. Los Angeles Points of Interest

    • Downtown Los Angeles
      (pp. 145-160)

      Visible remains and sites important in every period of Los Angeles’ history are seen within a radius of a few blocks of the old Plaza. The oldest of these is the site of the Indian village of Yang-Na, settled long before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. A few relics of the days of Spanish and Mexican rule stand about the Plaza. Evidences of the city’s dissimilar periods and cultures create a feeling of confusion in this vicinity; the monumental modern buildings of the new and still uncompleted Civic Center stand side by side with the grimy structures of former...

    • The Industrial Section
      (pp. 161-168)

      Although Los Angeles is widely known for its manufacture of motion pictures (see The Movies) and aircraft (see Santa Monica and Tour 7), and the extensive commercial development around its harbor (see The Harbor), relatively few people are aware that it produces such diversified goods as automobiles, clothing, pottery, and canned fish in such quantities as to put it in a high place among the industrial cities of the nation (see The Historic Background).

      Although the city’s industrial plants are widely scattered, its largest industrial district is a fairly compact stretch along the railroad-lined Los Angeles River, plants overflowing the...

    • Art and Education
      (pp. None)
    • The North and East Sections
      (pp. 169-175)

      Northeast Los Angeles occupies a corner of the original Pueblo of Los Angeles, and the southern part of Rancho San Rafael, oldest land grant in Alta (upper) California, dating from 1784. Eight square leagues—443 square miles—comprised the gift of Pedro Fages, fourth Spanish governor of California, to Jose Maria Verdugo, in token of the friendship of a captain for one of his privates on the Portola expedition of 1769 (see The Historic Background). Intervening years have transformed the region into an urban residential section, broken by such metropolitan features as a large county hospital, a zoo, an anthropological...

    • The Northwest Section
      (pp. 176-180)

      This tour, through the northwestern part of Los Angeles, pauses at Angelus Temple and the former site of Walt Disney Studios, and it passes such less publicized points as the city’s first oil field, and Griffith Park, the largest municipal park in the United States.

      S. from City Hall on Spring St. to 2nd St.; R. from Spring on 2nd St.; R. from 2nd on Glendale Blvd.

      The OLD LOS ANGELES OIL FIELD (L), Glendale Blvd. between Beverly Blvd. and Colton St., was the city’s first petroleum producing area. Ninety-seven flimsy wooden derricks, survivors of the hundreds that were in...

    • The Wilshire and West Sections
      (pp. 181-186)

      This tour begins in the city’s downtown section and ends near the Pacific Ocean; it leads through the Wilshire district just south of Hollywood, filled with fine apartment houses and smart shops; and it passes several beautiful churches and the Brea Pits, the richest source of Pleistocene remains in the world.

      S. from City Hall on Spring St., R. from Spring on Sixth St., L. from Spring on Figueroa St., R. from Figueroa on Wilshire Blvd.

      With the progressive decentralization of the city’s business district, which began in the 1920’s, Wilshire Boulevard has become the most important of the newer...

    • The Southwest Section
      (pp. 187-194)

      The route of this tour, through the mixed commercial and older residential section of the city, passes the buildings of two large metropolitan newspapers, a hospital devoted exclusively to the treatment of crippled children, and two magnificent churches; and cutting across the campus of the University of Southern California, it ends at Exposition Park, in which are the Los Angeles Coliseum, municipal swimming pools, and the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art.

      S. from City Hall on Main St.; R. from Main on Olympic Blvd.; L. from Olympic on Broadway.

      105. The LOS ANGELES EXAMINER BUILDING (open by...

  16. PART III. Neighboring Cities

    • Beverly Hills
      (pp. 197-205)

      Bus Service:Pacific Electric Ry. (2 lines); one from Hollywood-land through Beverly Hills to Westwood. with branch line from Beverly Hills Hotel to Wilshire Blvd. and Camden Dr.; one from Pershing Sq., Los Angeles via Beverly Blvd., Santa Monica Blvd., Canyon Dr., and Sunset Blvd. to Castellammare Beach. Los Angeles Motor Coach Co. (bus No. 82) from Pershing Sq. to Wilshire Blvd. and Beverly Dr.; transfer privileges to No. 88, N. via Beverly Dr. to Santa Monica Blvd., thence S. to Wilshire Blvd., connecting with bus No. 82 to Los Angeles. Fares 6¢ in Beverly Hills; 15¢ to Los Angeles....

    • Glendale
      (pp. 206-213)

      Railroad Stations:Southern Pacific R.R., Cerritos and Railroad Aves.; Union Pacific R.R., 730 E. Lexington Dr.; Pacific Electric Ry., 106 N. Brand Blvd.

      Bus Stations:Motor Transit Lines, 102½ S. Glendale Ave.; Burlington Trailways, 213 E. Broadway; Greyhound and Union Pacific Stages, 202 S. Brand Blvd.

      Bus Service:Pasadena-Ocean Park Line to Pasadena, Hollywood, and beaches; Motor Transit Co. to Los Angeles (branch line to Verdugo City); Pacific Electric Motor Coaches, local and interurban (Los Angeles-Burbank) service, local fare 5¢ and 10¢, Los Angeles 15¢, Burbank 10¢.

      Streetcars:Pacific Electric Glendale Line, N. on Brand Blvd. to Mountain St.; Burbank...

    • The Harbor: San Pedro and Wilmington
      (pp. 214-226)

      Railroad Stations:San Pedro: Pacific Electric Ry. and Southern Pacific R.R., 5th St. and Harbor Blvd. Terminal Island: Union Pacific and Santa Fe R.R. Wilmington: Santa Fe Ry., 711 E. Anaheim St.; Southern Pacific R.R., 331 N. Avalon Blvd.; Pacific Electric Ry., 333 N. Avalon Blvd. 2 Pacific Electric Ry. lines between San Pedro and Los Angeles, one via Dominguez Junction, the other via Gardena. Harbor Belt Line links all rail and steamship lines.

      Bus Stations:San Pedro: Union Bus Depot, 240 W. 6th St., Wilmington: Los Angels Motor Coach Corp., 104 E. Anaheim St.; Wilmington Bus Co., 1541 Bay...

    • Industry and Commerce
      (pp. None)
    • Hollywood
      (pp. 227-237)

      Bus Stations:Union Bus Terminal, 1629 N. Cahuenga Blvd., for Greyhound Lines, Inland Stages, Pacific Electric Ry. Motor Coach, Pasadena-Ocean Park Stage Line, and busses for Universal City, Warner Bros.-First National Studio, and Burbank; 1646 N. Cahuenga Blvd. for Union Pacific busses to San Francisco; 1735 N. Cahuenga Blvd. for National Trailways, Santa Fe Trailways, and Burlington Trailways.

      Streetcars and Busses:Fares: Hollywood zone 5¢ (streetcars only), to downtown Los Angeles 10¢, Santa Monica 20¢.

      Taxis:20¢ first ¼ mile, 10¢ each additional ½ mile.

      Information Bureaus:Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, 6520 Sunset Blvd.; Automobile Club of Southern California, 6902...

    • Long Beach and Signal Hill
      (pp. 238-253)

      Railroad Station:Pacific Electric Ry., 156 W. Ocean Blvd.

      Bus Stations:Union Bus Depot, 226 E. 1st St., Greyhound Lines, Motor Transit Lines, Motor Coach Lines; Central Bus Depot, 56 American Ave., National Trailways, Santa Fe Trailways; Union Pacific Bus Station, 49 American Ave., Union Pacific Stages, Interstate Transit; All-American Bus Lines, 222 E. 1st St.

      Airport:Long Beach Municipal Airport, 3301 E. Spring St.

      Piers:Municipal Pier No. 1, Channel No. 3 Inner Harbor (Pico Ave. and Water St.), Los Angeles and San Francisco Navigation Co. ships to San Francisco Tues. 5 p.m. Municipal Navy Landing, between Piers A...

    • Pasadena
      (pp. 254-264)

      Railroad Stations:Santa Fe R.R., 222 S. Raymond Ave.; Union Pacific R.R., 205 W. Colorado St.; Southern Pacific R.R. ticket office, 148 E. Colorado St.; Pacific Electric Ry., 61 N. Fair Oaks Ave.

      Bus Stations:Union Bus Station, 48 S. Marengo Ave. for Greyhound Lines, Union Pacific Trailways, Pasadena-Ocean Park Stage Line to Glendale, Hollywood, the beaches, Motor Transit Line, Mt. Wilson Stage Line. Burlington Trailways, Santa Fe Trailways, 533 E. Colorado St.

      Busses and Streetcars:Pacific Electric Ry., fares 6¢ and 10¢; weekly and monthly passes, good on all lines, at reduced rates. Oak Knoll and Short Line cars...

    • Recreation
      (pp. None)
    • Santa Monica
      (pp. 265-274)

      Railroad Stations:Connections by Pacific Electric Ry. interurban, and Los Angeles Motor Coach Co. with trunk railroads. Offices: Union Pacific, 309 Santa Monica Blvd.; Southern Pacific, 416 Santa Monica Blvd. and 3011 Trolleyway; Santa Fe, 312 Santa Monica Blvd.

      Interurban Stations:Pacific Electric Ry. Station, 1504 Ocean Ave. Fare within city limits, 6¢; to Los Angeles, 20¢.

      Bus Service,Local and Interurban:Santa Monica Municipal Bus Line, terminal at 1613 Lincoln Blvd.; Bay Cities Transit Co., station at 1726 4th St., local and to bay cities. Los Angeles Motor Coach Co., from Wilshire Blvd. and Ocean Ave. to 5th and...

  17. PART IV. The Country Around Los Angeles

    • Tour 1 TO ARROWHEAD
      (pp. 277-294)

      Pacific Electric Ry. and Santa Fe Ry. parallel route between Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

      All types of accommodations; year-round resorts in mountains; summer and winter sports camps; permission to camp in forest reserve outside public camping places issued by U.S. Forest Rangers’ stations—campers must have shovel and ax.

      This route crosses the San Gabriel Valley, a region of extensive citrus groves, vineyards, and truck farms cut by rock- and gravel-strewn washes and containing many attractive little towns. When this valley was owned by Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (see Tour 3), mission-trained Indians tended great herds of sheep, cattle...

    • Tour 1 A TO MOUNT WILSON
      (pp. 295-301)

      Cutting through one of the most spectacular areas of the Angeles National Forest, this route winds to mile-high Mount Wilson, which, though chiefly known for its great 100-inch telescope and its many contributions to astronomical research, is also a year-round pleasure resort.

      The route branches north from Huntington Drive (see Tour 1) 0m., on Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena.

      The limited business center of SOUTH PASADENA, 0.2m. (600 alt., 14,356 pop.), serves a community whose wage earners are for the most part engaged in business or the professions in adjoining Pasadena and Los Angeles. The city is...

    • Tour 1B TO CRYSTAL LAKE
      (pp. 301-305)

      Crystal Lake, the only natural lake within 50 miles of Los Angeles, lies in a glacier-formed depression among mile-high, pine-rimmed slopes deep in the San Gabriel Mountains. State 39 runs through San Gabriel Canyon by easy gradients, then ascends the sharp rises of North Fork Canyon through forests of pine and spruce.

      State 39 branches north from US 66 (see Tour I ) , 0 m., on Azusa Avenue, a street of tree-shaded homes and flats, in AZUSA (see Tour 1).

      The highway crosses the rock-strewn alluvial fan of the San Gabriel River, 1.4 m., then follows the river's northwest...

    • Tour 2 TO PALM SPRINGS
      (pp. 305-321)

      This route runs through the citrus groves of the coastal valley, the wind-swept heights of a mountain pass, and the hot, sandy soil of a below-sea-level basin. In the early spring the orange groves of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Valleys bloom within sight of snow-capped mountain peaks, and the orchards east of the San Gorgonio Pass are pink and white with blooming almond, pecan, and cherry blossoms. East of the pass, in the desert country, are a luxurious winter resort patronized by film stars, and the date and grapefruit groves that thrive in the hot climate of this...

    • Street Scenes
      (pp. None)
    • Tour 3 TO SAN GABRIEL MISSION AND VALLEY
      (pp. 321-339)

      This route follows a roughly triangular course through the mountain-encircled plain which comprises the so-called Citrus Empire of southern California. The region has two divisions—the navel orange district around Riverside, and the Valencia district around Anaheim.

      Scattered along the route are many reminders of California’s more leisurely past. The De Anza Trail, the old road from Sonora, Mexico to Monterey, laid out by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza in the 1770’s, is crossed at several points. Mission San Gabriel represents the period of early Spanish settlement, when the church dominated not only the cultural life of the region, but...

    • Tour 4 TO SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
      (pp. 339-350)

      For more than 60 miles US 101 roughly parallels the course of El Camino Real (the royal road) connecting the Spanish missions and military posts in California. Cutting southeastward through the industrial district, the route bisects five oil fields, traverses the heart of a Valencia orange belt, and passes the ruins of one of the most impressive old missions—San Juan Capistrano.

      From the LOS ANGELES CITY HALL at 1st and Spring Sts., 0m., east on 1st St. to San Pedro St.; R. on San Pedro to 6th St.; L. on 6th St., which becomes Whittier Blvd.

      El Camino...

    • Tour 5 TO THE BEACHES
      (pp. 351-366)

      Most of this route follows the coast of Los Angeles and Orange counties, where oil and resort towns string out like beads of a giant rosary. From downtown Los Angeles the route runs directly across the thickly built-up coastal plain to the Pacific shore, then turns south, with the sea always in view. The shore route crosses tidal flats and regions of sand dunes, then winds along the edge of the shore palisades in southeastern Orange County. Combers—the delight of paddle-board riders—advance and shatter themselves along miles of white strand near the road, boom against the base of...

    • Tour 5A TO SANTA CATALINA ISLAND
      (pp. 367-379)

      Santa Catalina, 21 miles long by three-quarters to eight miles wide, is the second largest of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. A rugged mountain chain, culminating in Mount Orizaba (2,109 alt.) and Mount Black Jack (2,000 alt.), extends the length of the island, with canyons and spurs running down to the sea.

      In prehistoric times the island was the habitat of sun-worshipping Indians of the Shoshone tribe. Later it was a haven for early Spanish adventurers, and in the 19th century became a port of call for buccaneers and a base for Yankee smugglers. The...

    • Tour 6 TO MALIBU
      (pp. 379-387)

      This route is through Hollywood and the southern end of the San Fernando Valley, with its broad, flat acres of fruits, grain, and vegetables, its busy little towns, and movie stars’ estates; through the low Santa Monica Mountains via Topanga Canyon; and along the Pacific Coast between surf line and mountain palisades, to Santa Monica.

      North from the LOS ANGELES CITY HALL, 0m., at 1st and Spring Sts., on Spring St., L. on Sunset Blvd. (US 101), and R. on Cahuenga Blvd. (US 101).

      HOLLYWOOD, 7m. (385 alt., 184,531 pop.) (see Hollywood).

      Points of Interest:Hollywood Bowl, Pilgrimage...

    • Along the Highway
      (pp. None)
    • Tour 7 TO BIG PINES
      (pp. 387-402)

      This route circles the San Gabriel Mountains, by way of two large valleys—the San Fernando and the Antelope, which is roughly at the edge of the Mojave Desert. Topography and climate change constantly as the road leaves the coastal watershed, skirts the Mojave Desert, and mounts the pine-scented mountain ridges, and runs for 20 miles at an elevation of about 5,000 feet through the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests.

      From the LOS ANGELES CITY HALL, 1st and Main Sts., 0m., west on 1st St. to Figueroa St. (US 6); R. on Figueroa St. to Riverside Dr.; L....

  18. PART V. Appendices