Tag Archives: Figueroa Street

Figure 3:  For most of the twentieth century, oil derricks and small family farms lined much of the strip. Photo of Figueroa Street near 134th. Source: Los Angeles Public Library, Security Pacific National Bank Collection 
(http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics36/00037755.jpg)

The Shoestring Strip: Los Angeles Goes Out on a Limb

Have you ever wondered why the city of LA looks the way that it does? With that bulbous north west growth atop a long skinny stick, it’s always reminded me of a droopy lollypop or perhaps a lopsided barbell. Over the years, the city that began in 1781 as a perfect square clearly morphed into […]

Figure 3: A photo of the Signal Film Company from March 24, 1917 at the Los Angeles and Salt Lake railway yards in downtown Los Angeles at 1st Street. Source: Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection, number 00073773

Signal Film Company: Helen Holmes and Highland Park’s Very Own Movie Studio

As a genre, the action film has a long pedigree. The massive explosions, thrilling chases and courageous heroes who barely, but inevitably, defy death to win the day have been the backbone of Hollywood cinema since its inception. Today, we typically think of these films as largely created by, and for, men but this wasn’t […]

Figure 1: Photograph by Charles Beam. For much of its early history Sycamore Grove Park remained relatively wild. Source: Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection,  	http://jpg2.lapl.org/pics20/00019809.jpg

Sycamore Grove Park: A Garden for the Masses

A brief and cryptic paragraph in the October 11, 1910 edition of the Los Angeles Herald caught my eye. Sandwiched between a story about a restaurateur cited for allowing patrons to shoot craps with “dice made of lumps of sugar” and the previous night’s bowling scores, was the headline, “Japanese Will Prepare Plans for Park […]

Figure 1: Los Angeles City Councilman John Holland (seated) in 1967 with aide Art Snyder who would later succeed him as the representative of the city’s 14th district.  Source: Los Angeles Public Library, Shades of L.A Photo Collection, 00002471

Scholl Canyon from Mountain Meadow to Landfill: the Political History of Figueroa Street’s Northern Terminus

More than 53 years after opening day and 36 years after the site was supposed to become a park, the Scholl Canyon Landfill apparently needs more room. The landfill has had a complicated history and I wonder what the original advocates and opponents would think about the current plans to expand. The landfill’s creation pitted […]

Figure 1: Contemporary view of former Van de Kamp’s bakery site now the Bestway Liquor store at 4157 South Figueroa

Sole Survivor: Forgotten Van de Kamp’s Holland Bakery Hangs On in South LA

I should have known that the crazy Art Deco tower at 4157 South Figueroa was more than just some 1930s folly (figure 1). When the original permits came back from the city’s Building and Safety department, it was so obvious. Of course this was one of the Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery sites. Along […]

Figure 1: Earl Grant press photo from 1967

“Another Giant Gone”: Earl Grant and the Pigalle

It was standing room only when Earl Grant played the Club Pigalle. Located at 4135 South Figueroa, the venue hosted hundreds of musicians, comedians and other local acts, but when Earl Grant, “master of the organ and pianist extraordinaire” took the stage, the crowd surged.[i] Grant was so popular that the room had to be […]

Figure 2: At the dedication of the plaque in 1934, Ana is the second woman on the left. Click to enlarge. (Source UCLA Digital Archives, uclamss_1379_09933-00)

Ana Bégué de Packman, Pioneer of Preservation

Most Angelenos are familiar with Christine Sterling and her efforts to preserve the Avila Adobe and create a Mexican-themed market place at Olvera Street. Unfortunately, the hundreds of other women who were involved in the city’s preservation work are less well known.[i] Among these women, Ana Bégué de Packman stands out in quixotic detail. As […]

Figure 1: Attorney Max Lowenthal argues for the supporters of abandonment. Source: Los Angeles Herald

Abandoning Fig: The High Cost of Cartographic Uncertainty

In September 1890 members of the Board of Public Works took a tour of the city. In the vicinity of Pico Boulevard, where Pearl met Figueroa, a discussion started about “opening Figueroa through.”  The tour goers noted that the street stopped abruptly and claimed not to know “how it became obliterated and appropriated as private […]

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Hero or Huckster: Harry Coyne the Dynamite Fiend

On the night of February 6 1896, an explosion rocked the slumbering West Adams neighborhood.  “Dynamite fiends” had apparently attempted to blow up the house of Thomas Douglas Stimson at 2421 Figueroa (figure 1). Neighbors George and Frank Sabichi ran to help with their guns drawn. They fired at a shadowy fleeing figure, but the […]

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Grasshopper Pearl Fig

How do you begin to tell the story of a single street?  Do you start at its geographic origin or terminus? Describe its length, breadth and width? Provide a summary of the buildings that line it? Or, do you attempt to narrate the lives of the many individuals who occupy it? While there is obviously […]

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