Nathan Marsak


  1. juane
    August 10, 2008 @ 8:22 pm

    I love your site and this post matching up the old pics with the new is amazingly thoughtful and nostalgic. Keep up the good work!!!


  2. Chris
    August 11, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

    Nathan, by any chance do you know what the “Old Gold” sign on the dirt hill in the 1932 photo is for? I noticed a sign saying the same thing on a building on the corner of Vignes and Commercial in a 1930 Our Gang episode.


  3. jss1954
    August 12, 2008 @ 12:59 am

    Great to see that even this smallest of recognizable remnants of Bunker Hill yet survives.


  4. Grover
    August 12, 2008 @ 9:51 am

    Ive driven by that pile of dirt probably 100 times in 15 years. Who would have thought that a pile of dirt could have any signifigance or history whatsoever? That was an awesome read.


  5. Floyd B. Bariscale
    August 12, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

    Before photos, after photos, fire insurance maps, and a Yiddish proverb. Another great "On Bunker Hill" post.


  6. nathan
    August 14, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

    I’m agog if not a little stunned but of course greatly honored by the kind words. Hey, just happy to oblige.

    What to do I to top this post then? (No, besides more animated Mario Paint cartoons of Prudent Beaudry spouting Aramaic axioms while battling ninjas on Cinnabar Street.) Think I need to find a Victorian mansion somewhere in dire need of saving, and move it to the NW corner of Second and Grand. Whether I have approval from the city (or owner of the house) to do so remains to be seen.

    And Chris, in answer to your question (I believe you’re referring to the Roach/MGM Pups is Pups?) Old Gold was a cigarette (…and that’s a Union Leader smoking tobacco sign behind it, and Clark is running for judge below, and dig the semaphore street light).


    Anyone and everyone who hasn’t been down ’round Commercial & Vignes should take in a quiet spell circumnavigating Friedman Bag (now a Devon Self Storage—why that isn’t an HCM is beyond me). The area bounded by Commercial, Vignes, Center and Jackson was where the giant gas tanks once stood (roughly, there were three, with one east of Center St.), you know, the ones you always see in old images of downtown looming behind City Hall. The Southern California Gas Company tank that was 375’ high was especially impressive.


    Anyway, again, thanks for the appreciative comments and I know I speak for all the OBH bloggers when I say we’ll do our best to further delight in bigger and better ways. Excelsior!


    • Chris
      August 14, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

      Thanks, Nathan, it was in fact Pups is Pups! So Old Gold was a cigarette brand.
      In this screen cap of that scene you can also see the tanks in the background:


      • nathan
        August 24, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

        This is fantastic. There oughta be a book.


  7. nathan
    August 24, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

    fromtheair…in a photograph by documentarian of slum housing, champion of public housing, Leonard Nadel. From the LAPL, ca. 1951.


  8. nathan
    October 12, 2008 @ 11:33 am

    Scroll up a bit to the shots of Second where it rises above Hill—and now feast your eyes on


    We have the glory of the Cushman Collection to thank for this one.


    I mean, 421/419 is blue! Blue!

    And I have a hankering for some delicious Brew 102!


  9. nathan
    January 15, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

    There are those time travelers who busy themselves with the study of wormhole metrics and subsequently spend uncountable dollars and manhours building impossibly complicated machines (e.g., the doohickey from last week’s “1909” post). Then there are those who, bastard descendents of Richard Collier, simply will themselves to be. Back then.

    J. L. Ordaz is one such gent. He can remove the embarrassing signifiers of contemporary society and project himself into the past, and document himself there and then. Spiritual heir to McDermott/McGough, if you will.

    In being who he is, he gets to go to places others might not. While area youth drive to and from places extreme, Bailey is so not her handbag, and Justin takes it to the next level, and Caitlin’s tongue piercing is giving her trigeminal neuralgia, but Ordaz is out altogether somewhere else, ambling through dilapidated backwood buildings, treating himself to things abandoned, both physical and metaphysical.

    On the physical plane, he found some photos.

    Which he so kindly put up on Flickr for the world to enjoy and benefit from. The first to raise an eyebrow was the Bunker Hill home of the Bradburys. That caught my eye right off; I squinted at a couple others until that a-ha moment.

    For there it was, two images of the north side of Hill Street, taken from atop the tunnel at First.


    I wrote Mr. Ordaz and asked if he’d be kind enough to allow me to reproduce them here; he is. For that I thank him. I’ve also tinkered and tailored and soldiered and spied on these pics in an effort to bring the image detail into somewhat clearer focus:




    In the foreground of course are the El Moro and the flattened face of the the Moore Cliff. I’m most fond of the rounded tower, center/left, which I believe to be the Hotel Locke, before that whole side of the block was excavated for auto parking. One gets a feel for how mammoth the retaining walls were. And off in the distance, the tower at upper right is the Astoria.

    Thanks again to Mr. Ordaz for his generosity in allowing my use of these images, for his posting them on Flickr, and for finding them in the first place, of course.


  10. BasicShape
    April 30, 2010 @ 8:33 am

    I just wanted to say what a great site you have here. Looking through all these fascinating old photos inspired me to create a simple overlay of the east 2nd St tunnel entrance. Enjoy. I hope to do more of these. Time permitting.
    2nd St. and Hill St., Los Angeles-Past and present


    • kim
      April 30, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

      We appreciate your sharing this striking image, and would love to see more. Just FYI, I scaled your image down to a size that fits within the borders of this site layout–if you do post others, a width of about 500 is just right. Feel free to include a link to see your larger pictures on Flickr and comment on them there. Here’s the link for the page with your tunnel overlay photo on Flickr.


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