This postcard, marked 1909, showing Broadway, looking north just below 4th Street, has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $8.95.
And for comparison, here’s what it looks like on Google Street View.
Let’s take a closer look.
Here’s an easy landmark, City Hall, the building with the tower and the pointed roof.
And here’s the sign in the shape of a shoe, a distinctive feature in many old photos.
Notice that the buildings have fire escapes.
Also notice the distinctive streetlights.
Notice that our “shoe” building on the northwest corner has been lowered to the first two floors, which is somewhat common in downtown Los Angeles. You may recall that the doomed building that was the home to Little Joe’s was originally taller but had its third floor lopped off. Little Joe’s closed in 1998 because the owner couldn’t afford to upgrade the building to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act or perform the necessary reinforcements against earthquakes. Here’s a story by my colleague Bob Pool.
Also notice: Pedestrians, a horse-drawn wagon, automobiles and streetcar tracks. All that’s missing are bicyclists and motorcycles. And no stop signs or traffic signals. Not even a police officer directing traffic. As I am fond of saying: Traffic in Los Angeles is a 100-year-old problem.
The 1909 view had plenty of street life. The modern image looks like a ghost town.
That’s because Google often cruises the streets at odd hours, early in the morning, weekends, etc.