Bunker Hill is a ghost, and though you may today walk streets named Grand and Hope and imagine that you stand where once were grand Victorian homes turned flophouses, you are in fact one hundred feet beneath the old roads, which the city shaved away to make a wider footprint for the high rise tenants that replaced them.
At the LAVA Sunday Salon in May 2013, Gordon Pattison shared the bittersweet story of his family's history atop Bunker Hill, and how their homes came to be the last two Victorians standing once the CRA had cleared the hill for redevelopment.
November 14, 2012: LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association and the On Bunker Hill time travel blog in association with the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection and Photo Friends present George Mann’s Lost Los Angeles, a celebration of a newly-discovered treasure trove of mid-century photographs captured by the one-time Vaudeville dance sensation, and projected for the first time tonight in stunning 3-D Kodachrome. Join us as historians Richard Schave (Esotouric) and Nathan Marsak (On Bunker Hill) contextualize the places, 3-D experts Susan Pinsky and David Starkman (Reel 3-D) demystify the format’s history and technology, and Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison takes us on a virtual tour of his beloved neighborhood.
More info on this event: http://lavatransforms.org/mann3d
"If they are ignored, [Alice] Callaghan worries, the dangers of handing the streets over to private security forces will only grow. 'Until they begin interfering with the rights of middle-class people,' she says, 'you won't have anybody crying about it. But by then, it will be too late.'" – Ben Ehrenreich, L.A. Weekly, May 24, 2001
Downtown Los Angeles is my beat.
The fine old business and entertainment district, left nearly untouched as the city threw out her arms in postwar sprawl, is presently growing a new cycle of memories with the adaptive reuse of long-empty office buildings into high-priced loft apartments.
But for all the considerable #DTLA hype, the really interesting stuff is found layers beneath the trendy bars and cafes, the developer-subsidized gallery scene and the mainly young, white, upwardly-mobile residents exploring the pleasures and challenges of life in a transitional urban community.
When you know where to look, downtown is pocked with lore, loss and loveliness: unsolved murders, gorgeous architecture, hidden bootleg and subway tunnels, dilapidated movie palaces turned megachurches, amethyst glass sidewalks illuminating sealed basements--even the actual shabby hotel lobbies where a young Raymond Chandler observed the characters who'd inhabit his noir narratives.
In 1905, when George Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," we can be quite certain that he was not sitting in an east-facing room of the Biltmore Hotel, looking out over Pershing Square. That's because the hotel didn't exist yet, and L.A.'s old public square was still called Central Park.
But the philosophers' words seem very apt as we reflect on the oddly familiar reports coming out of Pershing Square, City Hall and the press this week.
If you want to know what's happening in 2012, it's easy enough to follow that trail… bearing in mind that business groups that are able to pay lobbyists and publicists and who donate to politicians always have an edge when it comes to getting their perspectives heard. (An alternative view is here.)
Los Angeles Times, October 31, 1931
Here On Bunker Hill, we'd rather cast an eye backwards, in hopes that by reminding the players in our modern comedy of the old roles they are inhabiting, that their performances will be more thoughtful and humane.
Today On Bunker Hill is proud to present a bombshell from the archives of George Mann: never-before-seen footage of the legendary American dancer Josephine Baker on stage in Paris in 1931. This too-brief glimpse at the athletic and erotic antics of Miss Baker and company predate Mann's astonishing color photographs of Bunker Hill by about thirty years.
Today On Bunker Hill is proud to present another little something special from the archives of George Mann--not just one but two delightful artifacts that predate his astonishing color photographs of Bunker Hill by about thirty years. We're doubling up in honor of Saturday's opening night festivities at George Mann's debut gallery exhibition in Los Angeles.