Gorky's sign on June 27, 2014. Photo: bu Helen Ly / viewfromaloft
Curbed LA mapped 18 landmark signs in Los Angeles and they were all fine selections. But long time downtowners may have preferred this one made the list. When Gorky's quietly closed shut its doors in 1993, the LA Times wrote:
The all-night cafeteria started out serving cheap food to starving artists in 1981, a sort of peoples' eatery named for the Russian father of social realism. Ten years later, it was being run by a 45-year-old restaurateur who had decked it out with neon and a micro-brewery and security guards to keep the homeless at bay.
But for all the hopes that downtown boosters had once pinned on Gorky's, city officials reacted to news of the closure with only muted grief.
"It was a real fixture downtown, a cultural institution, a place where people had drinks after the theater, but "I don't think it means the end of downtown," said Adolfo V. Nodal, (then) general manager of the city Cultural Affairs Department.
The sign is still up. Considering how the sign for Atomic Cafe has a home at the Japanese American National Museum, it may be time to find this downtown neon artifact from Gorky's a place in a museum.
Gorky's sign on June 27, 2014. Photo: bu Helen Ly / viewfromaloft
Add June 29: This post triggered the sense memory of KCET colleague Lynell George. Then the next day she tweeted "Totally by coincidence unearthed this today." A business card that's very 80s with the anti-moderism April Greiman-esque new wave red triangle.
Photo: Sterling Davis
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s first day in office ended with City Hall bathed in the spot color of his campaign, which also seen in the deep blue carpet during Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony. Blue has been so associated with the Dodgers -- who brought the color with them from Brooklyn -- anytime a downtown building washes itself with blue shades it was a sign LA was in the post season.
City Hall first used the color to support Blue September, aka Prostate Cancer Awareness month, in 2011
The official colors of Los Angeles, as seen on the city flag, were picked in 1931 to represent agriculture; red for vineyards, golden-yellow for citrus groves, and green for olive trees.
Blue works too.
"Signifying his goal of shaking up City Hall, L.A's new mayor ushered in a host of symbolic changes to Spring Street," write Dakota Smith, who was inside the hall that first day. [Daily News]
"The mayor also sent a not-too-subtle message to the city's three largest business groups, all of which endorsed his opponent, former City Controller Wendy Greuel, in the May 21 election. Garcetti held a round-table session with more than a dozen chambers of commerce from Century City, Venice, North Hollywood and elsewhere but did not invite the biggest ones." [LAT]
As Eric Garcetti begins his speech, his wife Amy Elaine Wakeland congratulates Kenia Castillo, an 8th grader from Highland Park who swore in the mayor. Photo by Sterling Davis.
By Helen Ly
With City Hall’s steps decked in blue carpet, the yet to be sworn civic officials looked out over Grand Park lawn while Moby sang "We Are All Made of Stars.” In the park, food trucks at the ready, booths were set up, and people were sitting on the lawn. Eric Garcetti’s ceremonial swearing-in was a civic happening in the park.
CONNECTING THE DOTS: Hidden Los Angeles pointed to a tweet from renowned historian Michael Beschloss that cited a photo as one of oldest of Los Angeles “taken from balloon in 1850, with San Gabriel Mountains in rear." A bit later, Nathan Masters identifies the shot as a “diarama of the Pueblo Los Angeles as it appeared in 1850 as designed by J. Marshall Miller” that has a note: "Prepared for the Los Angeles Times Anniversary 1931?" The photo at the USC Digital Llibrary is flipped, confirms Masters.
What's striking about the photo is how it gives scale between the hills that back La Mission de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles (Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels, which dedicated in 1822 and now known as The Old Plaza Church.
Across the street is the plaza, nothing more than an early version of an all-way crosswalk. What’s missing is the brick reservoir built in 1858 by the LA Water Works Company to siphon Zanja Madre ('Mother Ditch'). The reservoir can be seen in Master’s detailed “Who Took the First Photo of Los Angeles?” for KCET, which looks at a photo from the archives of photographer and collector C.C. Pierce.
For the above photo, Hidden Los Angeles intelligence gatherer Daniel broke it down further:
The two streets running from bottom of photo to the Plaza are Main Street on the left and Los Angeles Street on the right. Alameda Street runs from the lower right corner diagonally toward the lower center of photo. The L.A. River can be seen running from the lower right diagonally to the center of the photo, turns left and disappears behind the mountain. At that point the Arroyo Seco can be seen at its confluence with the LA River. The tall majestic San Gabriel Mountains stand in the far background. Vineyards blanket the area between the City and the L.A. River.
For El Aliso huggers, and I include myself in that tribe, you have to like lower-right photo's dark blot. You can add it as another rare visual reference to “El Aliso, the historic landmark of the indigenous Tongva people.” El Aliso's ghost is still present. It's empty parcel vacated by breweries, which itself was the site of Jean-Louis Vignes ranch that was built around the Tongva tree.
Another theory -- and purely a romantic speculation -- is how the photo gives another reason to wonder if Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels was built to face El Aliso.
"Peasant Saint" (2001) Norma Montoya and Yamilette Montoya Duarte. Photo: Helen Ly
A round-up of my mural and street art posts at KCET.org. Bonus: Woody Guthrie talks Skid Row.
The Cardboard and Chalk of Downtown L.A.
July 26, 2012: A series of recent pop-up street art, from chalk drawings to cardboard installations, has been designed to invoke political and social commentary.
A Mural Installation Isn't a Weapon of Mass Reproduction
July 24, 2012: Advocating for paint-only murals border on censorship and elitism, as well as contradict how David Siqueiros pushed technology until his passing in 1974.
'Peasant Saint' In Little Tokyo a Spiritual Mashup
July 16, 2012: A mural in Little Tokyo honors the Spanish, Jewish, American-Indian, and African-Americans that lived in the area before it became the center of Japanese American activity.
Mural Ordinance Grievances: What to Expect [UPDATED]
July 12, 2012: The mural ordinance hearing is currently under way. Here's a rundown of what to expect.
Guide: Downtown Art Walk, July 12, 2012
July 11, 2012: It's that time again.This checklist is a chance to take a look at what is happening in city core's art world.
Mural 'Replicas' Installed on the 101 Freeway
July 6, 2012: New mural replicas printed on recycled plastic and vinyl make the commute on the 101 freeway a little bit easier on the eyes.
From Lincoln Heights to Los Feliz: Woody Guthrie's Time in Los Angeles
July 17, 2012: Singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie, who would have been 100 years old last Saturday, found his writing voice in Los Angeles, specifically in Skid Row.
Muralist Judy Baca On L.A.'s Digital Divide
July 19, 2012: Muralists have embraced innovative technology to advance L.A.'s mural tradition -- but some paint-only advocates have been holding them back.
Art Walk Talk: A release from City Hall taps into the current buzz as covered in Art Walk Preview. It states that the August Art Walk will be the first month LAFD and the County Health Department will "no longer issue any permits for vending between 3rd and 7th street and Spring and Main, areas identified to be overly congested by art walk activities."
The two agencies, part of the Art Walk task force, are working to "expedite permits" with interested vendors in the areas outside the zone, designed to shift Art Walk's growth outside the four-block area in Downtown's Historic Core and Gallery Row.
“Art Walk is an organic event that has grown in attendance and popularity alongside the revitalization of our urban downtown," said Councilwoman Jan Perry in the Wednesday morning statement. "Our number one priority is to support public safety efforts and ensure that Art Walk continues as a sustainable, positive event for the entire Los Angeles community."
“Art Walk is a fantastic event that draws thousands downtown and we want to ensure that it remains active and viable,” says Councilmember José Huizar. “We’re hopeful that the safety changes we’re implementing for tomorrow’s Art Walk will allow us to reduce large crowds drawn to non-art related activities.”
In the Historic Core, Spring street divides Perry's 9th District and Huizar's 14th District.
The statement also says the city will continue police presence to handle previous turn restrictions on Main for northbound traffic at 3rd and 4th, and on Spring from southbound traffic at 4th St. and 6th St.
Inspectors from different departments will keep sidewalks clear of DJ equipment, craft vendors and carts, plus monitor permitted food / craft lots. The city is prepared to shut down unpermitted lots.
From September 2009, a seller is detained after authorities made one of many sweeps for illegal animal sales in Santee Alley. A motion was passed today to penalize those who purchase animals sold illegally on the streets of Los Angeles. Photo / Ed Fuentes
UPDATE: Since only 11 members were present at the meeting, the ordinance will come back for a final vote on August 10 and, if passed, the ordinance will go into effect 30 days after it is signed by the Mayor.
An ordinance that prohibits the purchase of animals on public sidewalks or streets in the City of Los Angeles received unanimous support today, says Councilwoman Jan Perry in a statement.
“The sale of live animals on city sidewalks and streets poses a real risk to these vulnerable animals and the public at large. Many of these animals are not vaccinated, have been taken from their mothers too soon, or may even carry dangerous bacteria like salmonella,” Perry wrote. “With the adoption of this ordinance, we are closing a loophole in our existing codes, making it illegal to buy and sell animals in this inhumane manner. By doing so, we hope to increase public awareness and personal responsibility.”
VID PICK HISTORY EDITION: There is no music with this clip. In fact, there is not much documentation other than the Ford logo on the title cards. This silent travelouge of Los Angeles takes you through Central Park (Pershing Square), downtown's "Retail District," University of California (aka UCLA), "The Old Plaza," and includes a rare glimpse at the Hill street tunnel that once bore through a larger footprint of Bunker Hill.
Previous like-minded clips:
Broadway in the 1980s [vfal]
Arts District as Silent Film Location for Buster Keaton [vfal]
Journalist Diana Chapman does her take on Leslie Fischer, the "very part-time curator" for LAUSD who is the lone caretaker for the school district's collection of art and antiquities, like the Roman coins and Etruscan figurines once found.
This is no small collection, and Fischer has been able create partnerships with institutions. LAUSD's most valuable painting, worth $2 million, is currently on loan to the Autry.