An archive of old LAPD photographs recently found its way online. The black and whites add to a rich photographic history of our region that is slowly finding its way on to the Internet.
For example, last year UCLA put up nearly 3 million old newspaper photos. The Los Angeles Public Library has a pretty extensive collection of old newspaper shots as well as private photos. It's been online since at least 2004 and continues to grow.
What's interesting about browsing these collections is the first-hand look at the rich history they offer.
For example, in the Los Angeles Public Library archive there is a shot from about the 1920s labeled "The Tamale." I found it by searching for Whittier. Here's a description:
"Exterior view of The Tamale, a restaurant specializing in hispanic (sic) foods. Building was built in the shape of a tamale. Located at 6421 Whittier Boulevard."
In the picture, it appears as if there are no other buildings in the neighborhood. The Tamale stands alone against a background of dirt lots and shade trees.
Here's where the fun part comes in. When you search Google for the address, you can actually see a "Street View" of the location.
And, guess what? The Tamale, which was a lunch counter way back when, is still there.
It's called Charley's. It's now a beauty salon.
In the UCLA archive there's a photo taken in 1921 of a funeral procession outside the San Gabriel Mission. The photo strikes me for several reasons. First of all the Mission is completely unrestored, so it's probably the original construction we see.
Here's the caption: "Funeral cortege of Santo Juncio, leaving San Gabriel Mission yesterday. Chief Youngturtle of the Chickasaw tribe (in the headdress) is leading the native pallbearers carrying the coffin of the 106-year-old man."
The photo amazes me. Catholic priests in full regalia lead a procession of sandal wearing Native Americans outside the unrestored mission.
Just think, in 1921 Santo Juncio, at 106, would have been born in 1815; before California was a state; before the Civil War; before autos or planes.
As if highlighting the dichotomy of that amazing life, a group of Model-A Fords are parked right up alongside a dirt path that separates the primitive adobe mission from a parking lot.
Hoping for some of the same Google magic I had with the Tamale, I was a little disappointed by the "Street View" of the mission.
The 1921 newspaper photo shows several eucalyptus trees surrounding the church. I couldn't find them looking through Google. It seems as if they've all been replaced with palm trees.
Obviously, the extensive restoration of the 1980s and 1990s probably obliterated much of the historical sense of the place where Los Angeles was born.
I could go on and on about some of the interesting photographs I've found and the stories they tell, but I don't have the time - or the space. I will post links to the galleries and some of the photos from today's column on the Crime Scene blog.
Until then if you want to see a sample of the LAPD photos, which cover a period from the mid-1920s until the 1960s, they can be found at http://www.fototeka.com