Note: This is a post I wrote in 2006. The subject came up today when I was having lunch with Ed Fuentes, so I thought I would repost it. Notice that in this plan, Union Station was to have been built at Central Avenue and Fifth Street instead of the final location. If Union Station had been built here, the old Chinatown area would have been left intact.
Nov. 15, 1907
Architect Charles Mulford Robinson has drafted a proposal for downtown Los Angeles that is stunning in its ambition. One portion calls for broad boulevard leading from a proposed Union Station at Central and 5th Street toward Grand, ending at a new public library and art gallery. The other, equally elaborate, calls for a grouping of civic buildings and terraced gardens around North Spring Street, including a new City Hall.
“First of all, and most important in his mind because Los Angeles is a leading tourist center and should strive to make a good impression at the very start, the architect suggests an immense union railroad station with an approach a mile long—a wide thoroughfare lined with beautiful buildings, with spacious parkways, rows of flowering trees and ornamental lamp posts, and with driveways for all classes of traffic,” The Times says.
And the area as seen from Google Earth.
Robinson’s report is lengthy and detailed, so it’s difficult to deal with in a blog. But it is fascinating to see how early the city was grappling with inventing its future. The library on 5th Street and City Hall on Spring (although on the Temple Block rather than the Bullard Block as Robinson suggested) are quite familiar.
Interestingly enough, Robinson also envisions a network of broad boulevards, including a picturesque drive with elaborate landscaping to Pasadena along the Arroyo Seco.
Search for a copy of “The Improvement of Towns and Cities.”
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