Mystery Film of Los Angeles [Updated]

Photo: Nathan Marsak tests the latest Ford.

Curbed LA’s link to this 1917 Ford travelogue on Los Angeles has been passed around until I finally saw it. How many of these locations do you recognize? Here’s footage of streetcars and autos downtown. If you look carefully, you’ll see an officer directing traffic.

Mystery location 1.
[Update: This is best known as Philharmonic Auditorium, at 5th Street and Olive, although the film refers to it as Clune’s Auditorium.]


Mystery location 2.
[Update: The Hall of Records.]


Mystery location 3.
[Update: The courthouse at Broadway and Temple.]


Mystery location 4.
[Update: Pershing Square, previously known as Central Park. Note the fountain and landscaping, in contrast to the current moonscape designed to repel the homeless.]


Mystery location 5.
[Update: The Examiner Building on Broadway. The street-level windows were covered during the notorious strike in the 1960s.]


Mystery location 6.
[Update: Everyone recognized this, right? It’s Angels Flight next to the 3rd Street tunnel.]


Mystery location 7.
[Update: Tunnels on Hill Street. Notice that one tunnel was for autos and the other was for streetcars.]

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1917, Downtown, Film, Mystery Photo, Streetcars, Transportation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Mystery Film of Los Angeles [Updated]

  1. juliemerholz says:

    I loved this video. Thank you.


  2. Mary Mallory says:

    1. Clune’s Auditorium
    2. Hall of Records
    3. Courthouse
    4. Central Park
    5. Train STation
    6. Angel’s Flight on Hill Street
    7. Second Street Tunnel


  3. Sam Flowers says:

    Wish the quality was better but it is neat to see L.A. in the early 1900’s. Thanks.


  4. I stumbled upon these vintage vids last month. So who, or what, was Clune??


  5. Mary Mallory says:

    Doh. I was going to put down Examiner and decided on the old train station instead. Julia Morgan decided this building, along with Hearst Castle and the YWCA building which is still standing by the police station in Pasadena.

    Clune’s Auditorium is supposedly where “Birth of a Nation” played in Los Angeles when it opened.


  6. Nathan Marsak says:

    Clune’s was Clune’s when this was shot in 1917 — but it’s best known as the Philharmonic, or Temple Baptist. At one minute in it gets really lovely — for me, anyway, as a Bunker wonk. There’s the Auditorium Hotel and we pan over, at about 1:10, most prominent at center right is back and side of the Trenton with the Fremont center, top. Note the old City Hall on B’way pokin’ up in the bg. At 1:14 we’re looking up Grand, we see apartments like the Mills and the Boyde, those structures nearest the camera were wiped out for the Biltmore Garage ca. 1923. (This was shot from atop the Normal Hill Center School , now the site of the Central Library.) I’m not ashamed to say I screamed like a twee’un when at 2:15 I thought I saw an *actual moving image* of the bulb-sign atop Clune’s doing its animated business. Turns out it’s just a “flicker” along the top of the the film… Now, at 3:58, they say “California Hospital” (which I believe was down on Adams?) but then at 4:06 it shoots over to the Million-Dollar Post Office . Then Chinatown (now Union Station), the Plaza, the Hill St tunnel (demo’d, with the Hill, 1956) and the Scottish Rite Temple at 5:50 which was at 929 S Hope. After that is the 1914 Haas Bldg (by Morgan, Walls & Morgan) at 7th & Bway, which is still there…sort of, had an unfortunate run-in with a 1970s recladding. Then there’s me in my new Ford touring car! Four cylinder, 20hp, can take on any aqueduct! Then there are featured two bugaboos of modernity, the single-family home, scourge of the New Urbanist, and the oil well (probably close to downtown — Signal Hill didn’t hit til ’21), which made all the aforementioned possible (and your computer, and pert-near everything else of value in life today). The film ends at Seventh and B’way again, with a quip about Ponce de León and the rejuvenating properties of the intersection…I don’t know how rejuvenating it is today, but the film certainly is! I intend to go down there now in a 20s suit and walk very fast with stiff arms.


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