Black L.A. 1947: Huge Blast Kills 17, Show Dangers of Industry Moving Into Black Neighborhoods

O'Connor Electroplating
Feb. 20, 1947: An aerial view of the devastation from the explosion at the O’Connor Electroplating Corp.,  926 E. Pico Blvd.  Los Angeles Public Library Herald Examiner collection.

oconnor_electroplating_site_2018
The site of the O’Connor Electroplating explosion via Google Satellite View.

Feb. 27, 1947, O'Connor Electroplating Blast

The Sentinel reports that five African Americans were among the 17 people killed by the Feb. 20, 1947, explosion at the O’Connor Electroplating Corp., 926 E. Pico Blvd. The explosion injured 128 people and wiped out most of the block.

The blast, the Sentinel said, reflected the hazards of industry encroaching into a residential neighborhood, especially when the city of Los Angeles was segregated by deed covenants.

Blacks “are hemmed in by these ghetto agreements and the city fathers, busy protecting lily-white suburban communities, tend to shoo all business establishments off to Negro residential areas,” the paper said.

The Sentinel criticized the district’s councilman, the Rev. Carl C. Rasmussen, for failing to protect his constituents.

According to the Sentinel, Rasmussen dismissed an effort to prevent rezoning of an area on East 28th Street near the YMCA and St. Phillips Church. “After all, this is a business community. Why don’t you people buy a church somewhere else? You can get a big price for your property now,” Rasmussen said.

Feb. 27, 1947, O'Connor Electroplating

Feb. 27, 1947, Los Angeles Sentinel

Feb. 27, 1947, Los Angeles Sentinel

Feb. 27, 1947, O'Conorr Electroplating blast

 

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, African Americans, Fires and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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