Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mystery photos, 1933 earthquake and tract homes

Here are two unrelated "mystery photos" from the Orange County Archives. Maybe you can help identify their locations.
The first image (top) was taken right after the 1933 earthquake, and is probably either in Santa Ana or Long Beach. The car dealership on the corner is advertising Willys vehicles. And yes, Santa Ana did have some similar (if not identical) lampposts downtown in the 1930s. Does anyone recognize this spot?
The second photo was taken in 1957. If I had to guess, I'd say it's somewhere in central Orange County. Notice how the cul-de-sac nearly (but not quite) adjoins the larger street. Your observations, knowledge and wild guesses are appreciated.


Anonymous said...

I think this might be the car dealership on West 2nd street between Main and Sycamore. I think it was later a Pontiac or Olds dealership in the 50's.

Merlinsguy said...

In the second photo, the cul de sac structure is very similar to ones built in tract homes in Garden Grove in the fifties. But truly, it could be anywhere in Orange County.

Anonymous said...

Educated guesses:

SECOND PIC: That dealership that was on the SW corner of 1st and Main or 1st and Broadway. I can't remember which cross street. It was running as a repair shop in the late 1990's, but the last time I passed by a couple of years ago it was closed.

SECOND PIC: Those floor plans are Garden Grove (near GG Blvd/Newland) but the short sidewalk to the main street looks like Westminster (Trask b/t Hoover and Goldenwest.)

Anonymous said...


Obviously, a typo in my post. The first paragraph is for FIRST PIC, second paragraph for SECOND PIC...


Chris Jepsen said...

NonRegstered: You're thinking of what's now Original Mike's at 1st and Main, and this isn't it. But you're right that both were old indoor car dealerships.

Anonymous: I don't *think* it's the 2nd St. garage (I think I know which one you mean), but it's defintely worth double-checking.

As for the second photo, there is definitely an argument to be made that this is Garden Grove, based on the lack of sidewalks and street lights.

Anonymous said...

For years (50's/60's), the United Auto Repair occupied the garage building on 1st and Main. I remember the owner/manager always wore a white cap.

Nonreg: The dealership on 2nd & Sycamore was a Pontiac dealership. My friend's father got his '49 Chief there.

Brian said...

Here's my guess for Picture #2.... Alene Cir in Garden Grove: Google Maps Link

Of course the houses don't line up just right.. But I looked all over the city (from google maps any way) and there's about 20 cul-de-sacs that have that single cement path leading to another road and this was the closest-looking one.

CoxPilot said...

I did some research through the O.C. Library digital library system and found the same building, at a different angle.

The caption is as follows:
"Damage from March 1933 earthquake to Haley's Dodge Garage on E. 5th St. on March 10, 1933. Roof of the bulding has collapsed. An automobile is covered with bricks which also litter the entire area. A sign is visible: Used Cars. Two men talk on the right. On the back of the photo: just South of Telephone Co. whre Audrey works."

The link to the photo is:

(ps: take out a space after the "santa-". I had to put that in to prevent "cutoff" in the blog window.

CoxPilot said...

ps: I would be interested to know what is there now

Chris Jepsen said...

Thanks for all the great responses!
My readers rock. Extensively.

I'll walk down to both possible Santa Ana locations (2nd and 5th Streets) sometime in the next few days with a camera and take a look.

As for the garage on E. 5th St., I'm not sure where "Haley" comes into it, unless it was a reference to a previous owner or just someone who worked there. The directories of the 1930s show it as "Dodge Brothers Motor Cars and Trucks, L.D. Coffing Co. Distributors, 311 E. 5th, Santa Ana."

Is anyone in Garden Grove able to easily check that Alene Circle lead? It might take me a while to get over there.

Anonymous said...

I think we're close, but alas...I don't think that it's Alene or the sister streets in that tract. Take a look at the two houses at the far end of the street (the two that would have addresses on the main residential street, not the cul de sac.) As Brian said, not quite the same property lines as the Google link. But, I think we all agree that it's 1950's central OC - most likely Garden Grove because of the lack of sidewalks.

I just double checked the tract in Westminster @ Trask b/t Hoover and Goldenwest. It's not the tract we're looking for because the houses are newer, BUT they don't have sidewalks either! (So that potentially widens our search area to include Westminster..ugh.)

Also, I hate to bring it up, but isn't there a similar age/floorplan tract off of Katella somewhere between, say, Western and Dale Streets?

Chris, I can try to drive around this weekend and do some scouting of the locations. (No promises, until I check with the misses.) It might be a fun scavenger hunt.

Chris Jepsen said...

Mr. NonRegistered: If you'd like to make it a scavenger hunt, feel free. I should warn you though that a LARGE percentage of central O.C. was developed during that time, and much of it looks alike. You could spend many hours on a task like that. I'd suggest doing at least some of the background research with the Thomas Guide and Google Maps. You could at least limit some of your driving -- And gas ain't cheap.

To complicate things further,... It's possible that the neighborhood had sidewalks added later, no? Unlikely, perhaps - but certainly possible.

Still, I can see how the scavenger hunt would be fun. If I weren't completely swamped with stuff to do this weekend, I might just join you.

Chris Jepsen said...

As for the car dealership, it is neither the one on 2nd St. at Sycamore, (which is now an art gallery,) nor is it the one at 1st and Main (which is now Original Mike's Restaurant). The site of the Dodge dealership on 5th Street is still a possiblity -- The building is gone now, replaced by ten entrance to the underground parking at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse. I may get around to posting some photos eventually.

CoxPilot said...

Chris: Check out the photo link I posted, and you'll see the same "Willys" sign on the window. The Library photo seems to have been taken from just up the street. The lamp pole and power poles are the same.

I believe that Willeys was sold at Dodge dealers, and that the reference was probably a common name, and not the actual official name of the business. A more common way of referring to things in those days. My Mother still refers to streets in Santa Ana as they were named in the 50's.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've been using Google Earth to help narrow the scope of my scavenger hunt...and with the price of gas, it may have to be a bike trip!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Google Maps avoids most of Santa Ana in the Street View mode. Is that because of some sort of permission issue?

Chris Jepsen said...

Good point about the Willys sign. Later, that automaker was known as Jeep-Willys, and eventually Jeep.

anonymous: Don't *most* folks "avoid most of Santa Ana?" Why would Google Earth be any different? (Sorry. Couldn't resist. I kid because I love.)

Mr. NonRegistered: Be sure to wear a helmet. :-)

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS: Check out the "real" Google Earth application that you can install for free on your computer will let you zoom in closer to most places than Google Maps.

It also lets you pan in a sort of pseudo-3D and spin your map - which Google Maps can't do.

CHRIS: I didn't get to bike or drive to the suspect locations this weekend...sorry

Anonymous said...

I think the 2nd is somewhere like Pomona or somewhere with the picture facing east
Look over the blue house's roof (left front), you can see a hill or base of a mountain.I don't think there are any hills in GG

Anonymous said...

2nd pic i think is santa ana at edinger between euclid and newhope looks just like the area , grew up across from the area ....

Cathy Portz said...

I think this photo might be Janette Lane looking north from Chapman towards Candy Lane in Garden Grove--based on number of houses, roof lines, window and porch placements, block wall, and sun angle. Check it out in Google street view and see what you think.

Chris Jepsen said...


I think you're absolutely right! It took me a second to match things up, but the whole thing lines up perfectly, including the architecture on the individual houses! Nicely done! Thank you!