Monday, December 28, 2009

A Neighborhood Far Afield

In the heart of downtown Los Angeles is the neighborhood of Bunker Hill. Once it was a steep hill covered with Victorian mansions and shops and reached by seemingly impossibly steep trains tracks.

Over time their wealthy owners moved to the suburbs in places like Pasadena and the mansions became apartments and flophouses. The whole area became a giant filming location for film noir movies.

In 1955 the city decided the neighborhood as is stood impeded the city's development. They declared it blighted (which of course once such a determination was made only led to area becoming truly blighted), eliminated the 150 foot height limit on new buildings, and leveled the district. Literally. About a hundred feet were shaved off the hill, tearing down most of the old buildings and making way for the steel and glass skyscrapers that dominate the downtown today.
I don't know anything about LA and I can't say much about the rightness or wrongness of what was done six decades ago. But I can provide a link to an amazing site ( On Bunker Hill) put together by local LA historians and aficionados in order to document the old, and long lost, Bunker Hill.

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