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Pictures as Pieces of Time

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2005, at 06:54PM

Los Angeles I was looking just now at the SkyscraperCity Los Angeles forum and saw where someone had posted a cool aerial picture of Downtown from the east (from this post; I've snagged a copy of the pic locally so it doesn't vanish). I originally thought it was cool because you could see my building, Premiere Towers (bottom, toward the right, two to the right of the yellowish building, with the vertical opening in the middle). But then I started to look a little closer...

It struck me that the shot was missing some buildings. The Gas Company Tower isn't there; neither is the bulk of California Plaza. But obviously Library Tower (err... US Bank Tower) is there, so that places the picture in 1990-1991. The Gas Company Tower was built in 1991, and you can see the foundations starting in the shot. The second stage of California Plaza was built in 1992.

That got me thinking about interesting older pictures. It's fascinating to me to see a shot like this one contrasted against shots from when the Crocker-Citizens National Bank building opened in 1968. Back then it stood alone, now it doesn't particularly stand out.

This image shows Bunker Hill somewhere in the 1972-1973 range. The hill's been cleared out, but nothing's there yet. Not even the Bonaventure was in sight (construction started in 1974). Arco Plaza (1972) is there, though, so that helps put a handle on the date.

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