Creating advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles.
by Paul R. Spitzzeri
In a decade of significant population and building growth in greater Los Angeles, today’s “All Over the Map” entry focuses on “A Map of the Business Section of Los Angeles,” published in 1925 by Mullen and Bluett, a long-time clothier then situated at Broadway and 6th, and which is from the Homestead’s collection.
The promotional piece covers an area from 1st Street on the north to 12th Street on the south and from Figueroa Street on the west to Wall Street on the east. Just about in the center, bordered by bright red lines, is the location of the Mullen and Bluett store. But, many of the commercial structures downtown are identified and details provided here allow for better readibility of the names on the map.
Close to the store location was Pershing Square, renamed from Central Park in 1918 to honor General John J. “Black Jack’ Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.), which significantly helped turn the tide of World War I with fresh troops.
Among the notable structures was the new Central Public Library, still in construction at Fifth and Hope streets, where the Normal School for educating teachers stood for decades. The newly opened Biltmore Hotel is adjacent to Pershing Square. Along Seventh Street are some of the prominent department stores of the era, including Bullock’s (at Broadway), Robinson’s (at Grand), the New York Store and Coulter’s (between Olive and Grand) and more.
Another area to check out is north of Pershing with many identified buildings between Fifth and First and from Hill to Main. This includes the city hall, completed in 1889, on the east side of Broadway between Second and Third, but soon to move to the new civic center, formerly the location of the Temple Block, between First and Temple and Main and Spring outside the area of the map.
Between Fourth and Fifth and Olive and Hill was the Subway Terminal Building, from which an early subway line extended northwest toward Bunker Hill and areas outside downtown. At Second and Main is St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, which was completed in 1876 and was replaced by the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which opened in 2002 along Temple Street at Hill. Many older commercial structures, theaters, stores (like The Broadway) and hotels are found in this area of downtown.
An expanding area of growth in commercial structures is reflected in a portion of the map from Sixth to Tenth and from Figueroa to Wall Street. Along Seventh are the Pantages Theater, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Bank of Italy, the Union Oil Building and others. Theaters along Broadway and financial institutions and others along Spring are also notable.
North and south the intersection of 8th Street between Spring and Main before the two latter came to a point at 9th (as they did to the north, outside the map, at Temple) are two buildings that had Walter P. Temple as a major investor, including the Great Republic Life (listed as “Republic Life”) and National City Bank buildings, completed in 1924. Both survive and have, predictably, been converted to lofts.
The reverse of the map include panels for the main title of the publication, advertisements for Mullen and Bluett, which had branch locations in Hollywood and Pasadena, and a list in alphabetical order of more than 300 structures depicted on the map.
As a document showing the extensive commercial sector of downtown Los Angeles during its 1920s heyday, this map is an excellent source for researchers and others to track development during a major boom period for the city.