Spring Street revisited


C. C. Pierce Photographer, 1572 W. Pico, Los Angeles

This photograph of Spring Street, looking south from Temple, is slightly later than the one in the previous entry and was taken about 1896. 


Notice that our single-track, horse-drawn streetcars have vanished. Instead, we have parallel tracks for cars powered by–what's this? A cable! Also notice that Spring has been paved with bricks.

According to The Times, the City Council granted a franchise to the Los Angeles Cable Railway Co. in 1887. The route began at Spring 200 feet south of 1st, went along Spring to Main, Upper Main Street, Alameda and San Fernando streets, and Downey Avenue to the intersection with Workman. The fare was not to exceed 5 cents per passenger ($1.14 USD 2007).   

At left, an 1889 accident involving a buggy that was caught in the tracks for the cable car. Notice that the team of horses ran away and one of them broke a window before being caught.


Another detail from the photo shows the Nadeau Hotel at 1st and Spring (now the site of The Times Building). To the left is Jevne's grocery store. Also notice the tower at the center of the picture.

The tower visible in the center of the picture is City Hall, then located on Broadway. The building was demolished for a parking lot, but the annex remains as the Victor Clothing building.

I think this pedestal clock is a wonderful detail from a 19th century streetscape. London Clothing Co. later became Harris & Frank.


The unhappy fate of photographer Lemuel S. Ellis, who worked for C.C. Pierce and died in 1902.


This imposing building is the Phillips Block and the location has an interesting history. Los Angeles' first City Hall was located here in what was known as the Rocha House, an adobe on Spring between Temple and 1st on an unnamed street.

In 1853, Juan Temple sold the house and lot to Los Angeles County, which in turn sold a share of the building to the city, according to a 1930 Times story. Because a building on the property was used as a jail, the unnamed street became known as Jail Street and, after neighbors' protests, was renamed Franklin Street in 1872.

According to the 1930 Times story, criminals were hanged from the portico of the Rocha House, including a murderer and his two companions on Nov. 21, 1863.

In 1883, the city sold the Rocha House to Louis Phillips and used the money to build another City Hall at Spring and 2nd.  Phillips demolished the Rocha adobe to make way for his five-story Phillips Block. The building, which housed the People's Store, was destroyed by a spectacular fire in 1912 and torn down in 1913, according to The Times.

And finally, we find a young boy being led, presumably by his father. Are they headed for London Clothing to get a new outfit? We can only wonder.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1872, 1887, 1889, Architecture, City Hall, Downtown, Freeways, Transportation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spring Street revisited

  1. The Phillips Building is one of those great LA landmarks that always seems to be seen in profile, but rarely a head on shot where you can see the whole building. I also can’t recall ever seeing a postcard dedicated to just it – and a number of other large buildings of that vintage


  2. Ray M. Whitt Jr. says:

    My grandfather, Benjamin Adelbert Gray, worked for Jevne’s Grocery Store at 40 Spring Street. He and his family, including my mother, Maurine Gray Whitt, now 100 years old, lived at that time on Bunker Hill, near the store. My grandfather drove a small delivery vehicle, in those days known as a panel truck. Many of the customers ordered groceries delivered to their homes. The Jevne Grocery Store eventually changed ownership and became Ralphs Grocery Store. I took special joy in seeing the old Ralphs TV ads which, looking back, pictured their Model-T panel truck and its driver on his way to deliver groceries. He never tired of telling of his career in the grocery business.
    My grandfather’s real career was as a tailor. Preferring to work for himself, he specialized in custom made quality fancy clothing for women. His artistic work gained him a steady waiting list of clients. He worked well into his eighties in the Los Angeles area. He died in 1970.
    My grandfather befriended another employee of the Jevne grocery, LeRoy Cleveland, who was to be a long-time resident of Glendale. After working at Jevney’s he enjoyed a long career with the U.S. Postal Service.
    Posted January, 2009


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