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Using Construction to Tell the Story of a Site

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, August 22, 2008, at 08:33AM
Construction Wall History Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Construction fencing at the Hotel San Diego site features a history of the site.

When L.A. Live's construction fencing went up, it made a visual mark by featuring art from local youth organizations. It was a big step forward from the plain barriers that surround the typical construction job, but what if these barriers were used to go the next step and tell the story of a site's history?

The Hotel San Diego, on Broadway between Union and State streets, was razed by the Federal Government in 2006 to make way for construction of a 22-story structure that will house a federal courthouse. The 1914 hotel had been a San Diego landmark, and most recently had functioned as an SRO hotel. Preservationists fought to save the structure, but were unsuccessful.

While those who enjoy San Diego history might much prefer to have the nearly hundred year old structure, a portion of the wall surrounding the site today offers an interesting display of historical information about the site and the hotel. It's a fun, pedestrian-oriented concept, and one that's worth some consideration for Downtown Los Angeles. Each site has a story to tell, and what better place to do it than on the spot itself?

As for the Hotel San Diego, there's a Downtown L.A. connection there as well. The hotel was constructed by John D. Spreckels, a prominent San Diego businessman. In 1924, J.D. and his brother A.B. bought a building at 7th & Hill for $2,750,000. When traveling west on 7th one can see the "Spreckels Bldg" name still painted in white on a black background.

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