The case of the new courthouse

April 15, 1957
Los Angeles

The Times features the new courthouse rising at 1st Street and Hill in the Civic Center.  After cataloging  the materials (Italian  marble,  red granite from Texas  and ceramic veneer from Springfield, Calif.)  The  Times’ Ray Herbert notes the architects, who include Paul Revere Williams, J.E. Stanton and Adrian Wilson, and says the building is designed to last 250 years.

Did The Times note that Williams was first African American west of the Mississippi to be a certified architect? No. Did The Times note that Williams was the first black member of the American Institute of Architects? No.

Let’s move on.

The Times says that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal for a new courthouse the day after the Long Beach earthquake in 1933.  Bureaucracy being what it is, in addition to a lack of money, disagreement over the location and World War II, the groundbreaking was delayed until March 26, 1954.

One of the most interesting aspects of the new courthouse is the massive civic works project to lower Bunker Hill. The Times says that 520,000 cubic yards of dirt was removed in excavating the site of the courthouse. But it also says the Grand Avenue entrance will “abut on 15 feet of solid earth under Grand Avenue until the street is lowered.”

I have heard all sorts of figures thrown about for how much Bunker Hill was lowered–anything from 30 feet to 90 feet. This is the first reliable figure I’ve come across.

The courthouse formally opened Oct. 31, 1958.

Of course, I always think of the building as an establishing shot for “Perry Mason.” But that’s just me. (And no, there aren’t any windows like the one used in this opening sequence for the TV show).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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