Mystery Photo – Historic L.A. Edition


L.A. Observed has reposted this image, which was posted by Michael Beschloss, who identifies it as Broadway as it looked about 1902.


The dead giveaway is City Hall, the building with the pointed tower in the distance.

A bit of detective work shows that this image is posted online by USC and is Photograph 5200 from the California Historical Society Collection.   The image is dated c. 1906 and is from a glass-plate negative, showing Broadway, looking north from Sixth Street.

Here is the caption information, from an unidentified researcher:

Information of picture no. 5200.

1. Mercantile Place – now site of Arcade Building. Probably no part of original building is the same as Boyle Workman in his book states that it was torn down to make room for the Arcade Building.

2. Forve Pettebone Co. – Building still there. Although painted over, the sign can still be distinguished. Now called ‘512 So. Broadway Building.’

3. I feel fairly certain this is the same building. It is now occupied by Dr. E.D. Hubert, Dentist, above, and by Tom McAn Shoe Store on the ground level.

4. Building changed. Until recently, Silverwoods occupied this site.

5. No longer there – now site of Chester Williams Building built in 1927.

6. Could not positively identify but think it is the ‘430 So. Broadway Building.’

7. Old Los Angeles City Hall between 2nd and 3rd on Broadway. Built in 1888-9 and used until present City Hall built in 1928.

8. I am quite certain this is the Nelson Building. All the ornamentation has been removed, but the shape of the building, number of windows, etc. is exactly the same.

“9. The west side of Broadway from Fifth to Fourth Street. Could not definitely recognize any building in this block although some may just have newer fronts. I believe the building where Ted’s Discount is now located might be the same. The Broadway Dept. Store was located in the same location at the time of this picture, but the building they recently vacated was rebuilt in 1926. Another building in this block at the time of the picture was the E. Wilson Block with the Broadway Hotel.

10. Fifth Street Store – now the ‘312 West Fifth Street Building’ – Thrifty Drug Store occupies the ground level.

11. Los Angeles Examiner – looks like both (10) and (11) have been torn down to make room for the present building built in the early 1920’s [Bldg. built 1924].

12. I could not identify any of these buildings. However, it is quite possible new fronts have completely disguised them as they all looked very old.

13. Fairly certain this building is still there and now houses a Linen Store and a Karl’s Shoe Store.

14. Again could not identify these buildings but could be same remodeled.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1906, Broadway, Downtown, Mystery Photo, Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mystery Photo – Historic L.A. Edition

  1. Mary Mallory says:

    This must have been captioned by the California Historical Society before it reached USC, because all they’re doing now is putting in whatever is listed on the envelope. Even if it’s obviously MacArthur Park, if the envelope says unidentified park, that’s the metadata the digital photo it gets. They don’t even check to see if the info’s right, so there’s going to be many images that researchers will not find unless they go as general as possible because they’re identified wrong.


  2. In the last couple weeks, Beschloss has been leaving “credits” in the form of hashtags, which is better than what he did before. Which was nothing.


  3. Bill Counter says:

    At the far right of the photo we get a sliver of the Garnett Theatre, 554 S. Broadway. It opened as Tally’s New Broadway, not to be confused with the later Tally’s Broadway down at 833 S. Broadway. There’s more on the Garnett on my Broadway Theatres page.


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