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Odd Spring Street Ramp a Mid-Century Addition

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, May 02, 2008, at 07:03PM
Broadway-Spring Arcade Garage Illustration Los Angeles Times

This illustration of the Broadway-Spring garage project ran in the August 2nd, 1953, issue of the Times.

The ramp that descends into an empty lot next to the Broadway-Spring Arcade can be a bit of a head-scratcher. The visible curve forces the passerby to assume a connection to the one-time office building next door, but it's obvious the ramp wasn't an original part of the structure's design.

The ramp was part of a 1953 project that added 150 parking spaces to the 1924 Arcade building. As Downtown again looks to be more pedestrian and transit oriented, residents might wish that the basement space now used for cars once again had some of its older uses.

The Broadway-Spring Arcade is a remarkable complex. The real estate transaction to acquire the site was announced in January of 1923, but possession of the property wasn't taken until April 24th. Construction started that same day with the demolition of existing buildings on the site.

Just nine months later, on January 7th, 1924, tenants started moving into the present Arcade structure. Crews had worked around the clock to construct the buildings in record time, including completing most interior finish work before receiving the terra cotta and completing the exterior walls.

The Arcade's basement originally housed the Leighton Cafeteria. In 1940 the space saw a very different use, with the opening of a large bowling alley. A 1953 L.A. Times article about the garage project listed the basement's contents as the bowling alley, a billiards parlor, a restaurant and a bar.

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