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Old Glory Over Olympic

By David Kennedy
Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2006, at 01:46PM

The other day I was driving west on Olympic, when my eye caught flags flying in the distance. Atop the Petroleum and Standard Oil buildings, I saw their flagpoles were flying the American flag. The wind was from the south and just right. They all flew magnificiently in the late afternoon sky.

I've always noticed as you go up and down Hill, Broadway and Spring, there are a startling number of flagpoles on the roofs of the old buildings. Most are abandoned. Only the L.A. Times building seems to use theirs with some regularity. Obviously, this architetural detail when out of style decades ago. But, it always seemed a little sad to see these flagpoles go unused. In days gone by, it must have been an impressive sight to see flags flying from all these locations.

If I had plenty of time, I'd start a volunteer organization called Flags Over Downtown. The purpose of this organization would be to contact building owners and encourage them to put these flagpoles to good use. It is a little detail, but I think a telling one. My understanding is many of downtown's older buildings have foreign ownership, so this sorry state of affairs is hardly surprising.

Regardless, kudos to the owners of the Petroleum and Standard Oil buildings. Let's hope others are inspired by their fine example.

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