Spring Street revisited


Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

This picture shows the later stages in the realignment of Spring Street. Demolition workers have sheared off the fronts of several buildings.


One of the most recognizable downtown landmarks–the Hall of Records (1908-1973).


Barely visible behind the Hall of Records is the courthouse, demolished after the Long Beach earthquake, and the Hall of Justice at Temple and Broadway, which has survived. Today, of course, Spring goes just east of the Hall of Justice.


I missed this the first few times I looked at the photo. Here’s a fellow in the middle of the picture next to an older style streetlight. Recall that by 1928, when City Hall opened, the streetlights looked like this. These 1920s style streetlights also appear in the 1920s farther south on Spring.

According to the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting, this is a five-globe Llewellyn, a style that was installed about 1900.

Interestingly enough, the bureau’s website includes a photo of a carbon arc light from 1882 to 1885. The bureau says about 30 of these lights were installed on 150-foot poles. I’ll have to reexamine some of the photos I have posted to see if I can find any of them.


Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Here’s another view of Spring, published May 19. 1929. Notice that we now have the newer style streetlights–and that one of the buildings has disappeared.


Here’s a better view of the Hall of Records.



What else do we find in 1929? Aha! At left, traffic semaphore (and you thought they only existed in cartoons). And above, a crosswalk. I do not recall seeing a crosswalk in any earlier pictures I have examined of Spring, Broadway or Main. I’ll have to do a little more digging. 


For a moment, I was thrilled because I thought these posters were advertising Erich von Stroheim’s "Greed" (wouldn’t that be cool?). Unfortunately, no. These posters are advertising auto dealer Perry H. Greer, who was running for mayor in 1929. Note the posters for the other candidates: Porter and Quinn.


At left, Perry H. Greer, local Hupmobile and Chrysler dealer who wanted to bring his business skills to city government. Greer ran fourth in the May 1929 primary, after John C. Porter, William Bonelli, John R. Quinn.

Porter was elected mayor in June 1929. Bonelli went on to write a little book called "Billion Dollar Blackjack."

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About lmharnisch

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

3 Responses to Spring Street revisited

  1. Sam Flowers says:

    Great photos of downtown…The Acme Semaphore Signal was the signal of choice in L.A. (mfg. in L.A.). The Parking sign on the street light is an Auto Club sign (almost all signs in L.A. were) made by Cameo in L.A.. I was thrilled to see the Police Call Box in the bottom corner of one photo as I just picked up one like it and wondered where they were used, now I know. I have always wanted an Acme, someday I will….


  2. The building just to the left of the old Hall of Records I believe existed into the 1960’s making it the second to last privately built building to be demolished in the Civic Center proper. I seem to recall that it was built in 1860 and that it later became the MIrror newspaper building.
    The last was the old hotel – and sometimes brothel – and was moved a little north when the Hall of Justice was built in 1925 and was then torn down in the 1980’s or 1990’s…. assuming my memory is correct on all this.


  3. Fred Roth says:

    Wonderful story. I would really love to have an Acme semaphore Signal for my museum. They need to be found and stay in So Calif. Many wonderful childhood memories of LA still linger for me.


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