Whenever I move to a new neighborhood (or in this case, just want to move to a new neighborhood) I nurse my crush by delving in to obscure local history. The LA public library is great for this; you can search the photo database by street name or neighborhood to see what a given corner looked like in 1930, and it gives you all kinds of leads for further investigation. For example:
Various retail stores are shown in a building named Jensen's Recreation Center located in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles. Henry Christian Jensen built the Jensen Recreation Center in 1924. Jensen was a German immigrant that made his fortune making bricks for the rapidly growing city of early 20th century Los Angeles. Originally, the three-story Jensen Recreation Center had a row of shops, a bowling alley, and a pool hall at street level, and 46 apartments on the top two levels. The recreation center often hosted celebrity athletic events and continued to do so until it closed in the 1970's. The building was declared Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 652 in 1998.
Photograph caption dated December 15, 1977 reads, "In the neighborhood where latest strangler victim was found, Dorothy Dulac, left in photo, says she was outside at midnight before hearing about the latest killing. Rose Martinez feels that murderer must know the area well." Both residents live on Alvarado Street in Echo Park where the body of Kimberly Diane Martin was found on the morning of December 14, 1977. Mrs. Dulac says she was outside at midnight before hearing about the murder. Both women said they were very frightened, too frightened to go out of their homes at night.
From 1965: "Members of a class sponsored by Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks learn the proper method of sitting in a canoe. 'Learn to canoe' classes are held every Saturday at Echo Park lake."
But what really gets me is the now-and-then photo potential. While obsessively refreshing craigslist looking for an apartment, I came across this really lovely place:
which I would love to live in but obviously my dogs are over 20 pounds (does it really matter?). And then browsing the photo library I came across this photo and thought it seemed familiar:
Pacific Electric Railway car on Echo Park Avenue circa 1940s.
Crazy, right? I just sat there flipping back and forth between the two photos, marveling about how rarely, but sometimes, things stay the same – but I do wish we still had street cars. Even the little porch light and the ironwork is original. (Sadly, the little bungalow next door is now a fenced in cement lot.) Most of the other Echo Park photos in the database portray fishing and tiny yacht racing in the lake and the Angelus temple, but it’s definitely worth checking out. The lake is truly beautiful. There are protests and riots in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The storefronts and complete obliteration of the city that used to be are sad but interesting:
This intersection of Bellevue and Sunset is completely unrecognizable.
Now I just have to find a way to actually move here.