Hey kids! Grab your duffels and get on the bus. We’re headed into the wilds of Exposition Park, to the Natural History Museum. No Timmy, and sorry Susie, no dinosaur bones or stuffed lions today; prepare to be shrunk like Bugaloos and fly! Fly over Bunker Hill! Bunker Hill—1940.
Woosh! We’re flying in! Over the Richfield Building now, we’re going to swoop down between the rooftops of the California Club and the Bible Institute, across the top of Central Library, soaring toward the Edison and the Sunkist Building…
(…ignore those strange giant floating numbers and letters, by the way; be advised they are as harmless as they are, for our purposes, useless.)
And now with a great dip we zip toward the corner of Fifth and Grand—eagle of eye will note that behind the Engstrum on Hope Street stands the Touraine and the rooftop of the Zahn’s Wickland Apartments …beyond that one can just make out the turreted Hildreth Mansion. Up Grand from the Edison are, of course, the Sherwood, the Granada, and the Zelda.
Blast off into the sky! We shoot up and over to the west, then point ourselves east to view Bunker Hill of the soul…devoid of light and life…the great red beast that appears ready to burst is the Elmar…the center slender building jutting from the Elmar is the Van Fleet . Note the dusty stretch of dirt to the north of the Elmar, where invisible children cavort—may someday there they plop a playground! (And see how Bunker Hill looms over the likes of the California State Building, the Hall of Records, the Hall of Justice!)
Aha…down there…with the Clift Hotel on our left, the Stanley above the Second Street tunnel, that means that red T-shape is the Winton…shall we dare shoot down past its backside…?
Let us retreat up Flower toward First, make a hard right just past, why, the s(t)olid rectangular yellowish edifice at the corner, if it isn’t the Rossmere in all its rectitude.
And wethinks we espy the Melrose beyond? Let’s glide down over Hope and have a look-see! That’s the Melrose all right, across Bunker Hill Avenue, sitting on the other side of Grand between First and Second.
Now we’re aeronauting down Grand, looking across the intersection of Second…there’s the Dome on the corner…
Raising the spyglass to your eye, you’ll see that at one o’clock above the Dome sits—with the green roof—the Brousseau. (The wide building beyond, spanning Grand to Bunker Hill Ave., is the Alto.)
Let’s fly up and swing wide—turn back to see Hill and Olive across First and Second…the Moore Cliff and El Moro perched on their Hill Street bluff. In the distance, at Second and Olive, the Mission Apartments…
Coasting out even further now, on the other side of Broadway, from here the raw maw of the Second Street tunnel looks like a tiny gasp…over which the Northern holds dominion.
Venturing in closer now…that squat red building hiding behind the eerily-white seven-story Glove Cigar Mfg. Bldg. at 319 S. Hill is the Hotel Lorraine/Clayton/Central. L/C/C’s blocky red brethren over its left shoulder are the Elks Lodge and Annex.
Now let’s aviate our way ever closer…closer…just a stone’s throw from Angels Flight…til we hover near the Astoria . What terrible deeds did there occur!
Granted, the streets may be deserted. But may we not still run afoul of Robert Nixon? He only went to the chair a few months ago. This is quite obviously a haunted place. We must turn tail and soar away with great urgency and return to our world…bid farewell…
What have you just seen? A model of Los Angeles, built by the WPA from 1938-40, for the purposes of city planning (via which they evidently deduced “it all goes!”)…on a related note, this model was once many, many times larger. The County (whose infinite wisdom never ceases to inspire) dumpster’d the majority of it in the 70s.
Nevertheless, your trip today showed you only a smidgen of Bunker Hill, and a fraction of the model. I guarantee that in the flesh—it, yours—you’ll stand gape-mouthed for an eternity staring deep into LA’s prewar theatre and financial and industrial districts.
Plus down at the museum they’ve endless tonnage of interesting old LA, e.g. the clock-face from the County Courthouse. (And in the same room as the WPA model there’s an ancient oil well beam pumping unit with a counter-balance one’d fill with river rocks—worth the price of admission right there. [Does this fan of vintage petroleum exploration a world of good, anyway.])
And yes, Timmy and Susie, there’s also lots of dinosaur bones and stuffed lions. And Bugaloo specimens in the insect gallery.