TEN Historic Buildings along the CicLAvia Route

August 17, 2010 at 6:42 am 2 comments

Los Angeles City Hall, photo by Jenn Su

In honor of our 10-10-10 CicLAvia date, CicLAvia is running top ten listings! Yesterday we showcased ten reasons for CicLAvia. Below are ten great examples of historic architecture  located on the October 10th 2010 CicLAvia route. We’ve listed them in order from east to west, but when you walk, bike, run, scooter, roller-skate, or  skateboard the route, you can check them out in any direction!

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the great historic buildings you’ll see that day. There are even more that we hope to cover soon… and even excellent contemporary buildings, too. If we’ve left out your favorite historic building on the route, please tell us about it in the comments below! Also, some of these are better documented than others… help us fill in the details!

(We use the word “historic” here in a vernacular, not necessarily official, sense. Many of these are officially declared L.A. City Historic-Cultural Monuments [LAHCM – noted below] and some of them are just great looking older buildings.) 


Hollenbeck Park Bandshell, photo by Jenn Su 2010

1. Hollenbeck Park Bandshell
c. 1920-1930 (?)
in Hollenbeck Park – Saint Louis Street at 4th Street 

We plan to feature more posts on the 118-year-old Hollenbeck Park which, at the corner of 4th Street and the 5 Freeway in Boyle Heights, holds down the easternmost tip of the CicLAvia route. The park’s bandshell features a gentle concrete arch, terra cotta roof, fine detail metalwork, and an inexplicable central palm tree that we’re sure has frustrated many an audience member. We’re not sure quite when the handsome bandshell was built, but we suspect it’s around a hundred years old, and quite ready to host its first cicLAvia.

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Ace Beverage Company building, photo by Jenn Su

2. Ace Beverage Company
c. 1920-1930 (?)
401 South Anderson Street 

We know very little about this 4-story industrial building located just east of the L.A. River on 4th Street. The brickwork is unremarkable, but the detailed concrete Churrigueresque 4th Street facade is very nice. Here’s a closer photo.

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4th Street Bridge, photo by Peter Bennett/citizenoftheplanet.com used by permission

3. 4th Street Bridge
1931, Merrill Butler, HCM#906
on 4th Street from Anderson Street to Molino Street 

The 4th Street Bridge, or more properly the 4th Street Viaduct, is one of the best of nearly two dozen landmark City Beautiful concrete bridges over the Los Angeles River. The series dates from 1910 to the late-1930’s.  The 4th Street Viaduct was built in 1931 under the guiding hand of the city’s legendary bridge engineer Merrill Butler. It’s Gothic Revival style, with lanterns, railing, and porticos that look like they’re part of a medieval cathedral.

4th Street Bridge railing, photo by Joe Linton

Above is a closer look at the Gothic triangular “trefoil” pattern concrete railing. Bonus architecture on the ‘via route: great views of the historic 1st Street and 6th Street bridges from this one!

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Japanese American National Museum, photo by Jenn Su

4. Japan America National Museum
1925, Edgar Kline (1993 remodel, Knusu Joint Venture Architects, James McElwain), HCM#313
369 East First Street 

In the early 1990’s the Japanese American National Museum revived this early 20th-century Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddist Temple building. It now houses a museum featuring permanent and traveling exhibitions exploring the roles that Japanese-Americans have played and continue to play in the U.S. 

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5. Los Angeles City Hall (photo at top of post)
1926-28, John C. Austin, John and Donald Parkinson, HCM#150
200 North Main Street

Stately and noble, the 464-foot tall Los Angeles City Hall houses the city’s government, which in turn hosts CicLAvia! The structure’s builders incorported sand from every California county, and water from the well of every California mission. Until the 1950’s, planning law ensured that no other building downtown was taller than City Hall. 

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The Los Angeles Times building, photo by Jenn Su

6. Los Angeles Times
1935, Gordon B. Kaufmann (add-ons 1948, 1970-73)
202 West First Street

The Los Angeles Times building is a deco Moderne-style structure, initially whole and commanding, then somewhat marred by 70’s-era augmentation visible on the far right of the above photo.

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El Dorado, former Stowell Hotel - photo by Jenn Su

7. El Dorado (formerly Stowell Hotel)
1913, Frederick Noonan
416 South Spring Street

This 97-year-old gorgeous detailed former luxury hotel is reopening as luxury lofts. See photos the beautiful interiors at El Dorado Lofts website.

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Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, photo by Jenn Su

8. Pacific Coast Stock Exchange
1929-30, Samuel E. Lunden, John and Donald Parkinson, HCM#205
618 South Spring Street

Elaborately detailed stonework adorns this fortress-like former stock exchange building. Three elaborately carved reliefs adorn the upper facade; from left to right, they represent Research, Finance (includes a bull and a bear), and Production – all carved by sculptor S. Cartaino Scarpitta. 

This building (and City Hall) will have to stand in for many more than ten great CicLAvia route downtown buildings created by  Parkinson Architecture, mainly John Parkinson and his son Donald B. Parkinson.  

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Detail from entry to the Fine Arts Building, photo by Jenn Su

9. Fine Arts Building
1925, Walker and Eisen, HCM#125
811 West 7th Street

The Romanesque Revival style Fine Arts Building includes an exquisitely detailed facade resembling a the front of a cathedral. In the details are plenty of ornate coincentric arches, spiraling columns, statues of saints, warriors, gargoyles, and mucho mas. While you walk past during car-free CicLAvia, look for the two reclining giants three stories up; they represent Architecture and Sculpture. 

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Park Plaza Hotel, photo by Jenn Su

10. Park Plaza Hotel (formerly Elks Club)
1923-24, Curlett and Beelman, HCM#267
607 South Park View Street

This massive former Elks Club building contained 169 hotel rooms, gymnasium, pool, and bowling alley. The gorgeous exterior is studded with sculptures of angels and mythological figures, some three-stories tall.

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Sources for this blog article include: Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide by David Gebhard and Robert Winter, Angels Walk pamphlets, Down by the Los Angeles River by [Team CicLAvia’s] Joe Linton, Curating the City: Wilshire Blvd by the L.A. Conservancy, Images of America: Los Angeles California by Jeffrey Samudio and Portia Lee, and websites linked above.

More Ten-Ten-Ten lists coming this week!

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Evan  |  September 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    One of my favorite buildings along the route: the American Cement Building at the southwest corner of MacArthur Park.

    • 2. Joe Linton  |  September 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      yes – American Cement is an excellent building, so thematically tied to its purpose, even – at Wilshire and Park View. (It was recently in the movie “Get Him to the Greek”, too!)

      There are a lot of great historic buildings that we left out – the Arcade Building on Spring, various churches (which we covered later), some great homes on 4th in Boyle Heights… I really like the building on the northeast corner of 7th and Alvarado (across from Langers) which has owl sculptures.


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