Thursday, August 11, 2011

Detour through Los Angeles

I know, I know,... WRONG COUNTY! But the land that is now Orange County was once part of Los Angeles County. That all changed in August of 1889, when we left the fold and set up shop for ourselves. Today's image is the cover of an old (1920s?) promotional brochure from the impressive collection of William Hockinson.

Orange County Historian Jim Sleeper once told me about an L.A. newspaper reporter who came to him to ask questions about Orange County's "provincialism." Jim answered his questions the best he could. Near the end of the interview the reporter asked one more question: "So, how often do you visit Los Angeles?"

"Hell," Jim replied, "I wouldn't drive to Los Angeles to watch Jesus Christ wrestle a grizzly bear!"
I'm told that quote ended up on the front page of the newspaper.

I can understand Jim's sentiments. Growing up in Southern California, most of my experiences with Los Angeles built a picture of a dangerous, smoggy, dirty place with way too much traffic.

But author, artist, neon expert and Los Angeles enthusiast J. Eric Lynxwiler recently convinced me to visit Downtown L.A. for a tour of its historic sites. I figured any tour Eric gave would be more than worth battling the traffic, but I remained wary.

Then he threw in an offer to visit "behind the scenes" of L.A. Public Library's massive History & Genealogy Collection. This sounded even better than watching Jesus wrestle a grizzly bear! I was in.

What I didn't realize was that Eric would bring along yet another L.A. expert and L.A. Conservancy tour guide, Shannon Simonds. I was suddenly a tour group of one, with TWO of the city's best tour guides. And for our tour of the library, we were led by yet a THIRD expert, Christina Rice, Acting Senior Librarian of the Photographic Collection.

My visit to our "mother county" was fascinating and a lot of fun. (Major thanks to all three of my guides!) I would try describing the whole day to you, but I think my photos tell the story better. To see them, check out this link to my Downtown L.A. photo series.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the outstanding photos Chris!

As a young boy in the mid to late 1950's our family would drive up to Los Angeles from Whittier about every two to three weeks to visit my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins.

At that time City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles. I remember riding Angels Flight and what a treat it was to lunch at Cliftons - all the choices!


Chris Jepsen said...

Yes, well I still have to go back and see City Hall, some of the early Pueblo stuff, Chinatown, etc. Also, I want to actually RIDE Angel's Flight. (There just wasn't enough time on Saturday.)

And I can vouch for Clifton's still being a great place to go for lunch. They have a new owner, but he really seems to "get" it. Be sure to try the macaroni and cheese.

Major Pepperidge said...

Love that illustration on the brochure, what a beauty.

Clifton's is worth trying? A friend of mine was not so enthusiastic, but I feel like I should go just to say I've done it.

Chris Jepsen said...

Major: Yes, it's worth trying. If it were located in Downtown Santa Ana (near my office) rather than Los Angeles, I'd probably eat lunch there several times a week.