Photos: Before Park La Brea

I was recently standing on a balcony at LACMA looking North when my friend said “Yuck, so ugly” She was referring to Park La Brea. I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment, but there is no argument that the facility’s 18 towers dominate the area.  I’ve always wondered how the area looked without the 160-acre complex, but I could never find a picture. But now thanks to the incredible USC Digital Library we can see it:

This photo was likely taken sometime in the early 1940s when the area was cleared for the complex. Note Gilmore Stadium still stands on Gilmore Island, and you can even make out Pan Pacific Auditorium (both upper right).

Now compare that to a photo taken in 1968:

The towers are all in place, as is CBS Television City. The baseball stadium is sadly gone, but the drive-in movie theater where The Grove is now is still there.

I would love to find a photo of what, if anything, was on the Park La Brea site before it was cleared out. So far, though no luck.

If you have some time to kill, check out the USC Library. You can get lost for hours looking at photos of what Los Angeles used to look like.

3 comments for “Photos: Before Park La Brea

  1. Richard H
    October 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    The Los Angeles Public Library has an ON-LINE archive of old pictures of Los Angeles.

    The Link:

    keyword in Wilshire Boulevard and put in the time frame, say, 1920 to 1940 and see what you get.

    The Miracle Mile was conceived and started in the 1920’s. There are pictures in the LAPL collection of the Miracle Mile that date back to then.

    There were oil wells where the park la brea towers are now.

  2. Mark Berman
    October 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    That’s a great site. I’m going to use it. Thanks!

  3. Dilip P
    February 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    There are very old aerial photos of the area in the Tar Pits Museum which show the progress over the years from Oil Fields to the Gilmore Stadium and Farmers Market. They don’t have them on their website though.. That would have been great.

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