(image from LA Times. All Rights Reserved.)The LA Times has a great story and accompanying interactive photo gallery comparing parts of downtown from 1951 to today. Both sets of photographs were taken from the observation deck at City Hall, and provide an interesting glimpse into how much turnover can happen in 50-plus years, as well as a glimpse into the layered history of downtown.
When the first set was shot in January 1951, City Hall was California's tallest building, a literal and figurative symbol of the power of the metropolis' downtown. By law, no building could be built to overshadow the structure.
What surrounded it was a city in transition: The Hollywood Freeway had opened in December 1950, cutting through a swath of the area, and many beaux-arts and Victorian structures had already been razed for parking lots.
Both of those developments portended the coming domination of the car -- and the corresponding boom of suburbia that would mark downtown's rapid decline.
. . . .
But take the elevator to the top of City Hall today, and there are signs of new development in downtown as well.
There are the sharp angles of the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, which opened just across the street in 2009; a new train line that stretches to the Eastside. And the downtown skyline keeps growing, this time to the south with a cluster of new condo and hotel towers rising near Staples Center.
From the top of City Hall, it's hard to tell that 40,000 people now live downtown, a dramatic demographic shift that is more easily detected on the streets of the city center.