Los Angeles: Portrait of a City

So I finally got my hands on a copy of Taschen’s new Los Angeles, Portrait of a City and have been thoroughly giddy with delight at this truly epic retrospective. Kevin Starr of USC is my personal favorite California historian and his insightful essays give this ever-so-beautiful pictorial history the sort of depth and complexity that is rarely associated with a city known for shallow gloss. But Jim Heimann’s inspired editing, along with Starr’s intimate understanding of this misunderstood city, and David Ulin’s literary intonations (the text is salted with words from Aldoux Huxley, Fitzgerald and the like), gradually unveil the surprisingly complex sociological, political and industrial ramifications that birthed a modern metropolis out of a barren desert.

Since it’s Taschen, the book has a hefty pricetag but if you ever have the opportunity to flip through its pages, please do treat yourself and prepare to be truly impressed with some of the most striking spreads I’ve seen in a long time.

Many of these photos have never before been seen and have been culled from archives and collections and universities all over the world. Some of my favorites are found below.

Hollywoodland, circa 1924 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
View from Spring Street, 1902 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Movie Star maps for sale, Sunset Blvd. 1937 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica 1955 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
A matinee @ The Avalon Theater in Wilmington, 1948 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Broadway, Christmas 1928 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Carpenters @ Sunset & Vine, 1929 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Yuca & Vine Market, Hollywood 1928 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Wilshire Blvd., 1928 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Wilshire & La Brea, 1930 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
LA's whimsical eateries - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
The Brown Derby in 1954 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Simons Drive In, Wilshire Blvd. 1939 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
The "Red Riots", Downtown LA 1930 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Hollywood Party @ Bebe Daniels' Beach House, 1926 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Long Beach before and after 1933 earthquake - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
LA's Red Cars waiting for demolition in 1951 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
South Main Street, Downtown LA 1952 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Hells Angels premiere, Hollywood 1930 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Hollywood Blvd., 1959 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Ballroom @ the Hollywood Palladium, 1946 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Jane Withers (2nd from bottom left) Halloween Party, 1948 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Grand opening of the CBS building, 1938 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Interior of designer Richard Spencer's home, 1950 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Charles and Ray Eames at home, 1958 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
New Chinatown, 1938 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Christmas in Hollywood, 1955 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
John Huston directs Monty Clift on The Misfits, 1961 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
Pool Party at Terry Gibb's House, 1960 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009
The Doors @ The Hard Rock Cafe, 1969 - COPYRIGHT PROTECTED, TASCHEN 2009

Posted by

Gen Y reject and wage slave extraordinaire.

4 thoughts on “Los Angeles: Portrait of a City

  1. You’ve convinced me Kitty that I should get this book! Having grown up and hung out in central parts of LA – Echo Park, downtown, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, Eagle Rock, the beaches, Pasadena and Glendale, this will be a trip through many memories.

    1. Yes, I agree! Taschen’s work is always good but this particular volume is superlative. The Palladium image resonated with me as well–can’t you just feel the rush of fabric and hear the echoing acoustics? It truly captured a moment in time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s