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Julius Shulman, 98

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, July 17, 2009, at 02:49PM
Julius Shulman Josh Spencer

Julius Shulman rides atop a double decker bus during a January 2008 photo tour of Downtown.

The news of renowned architecture photographer Julius Shulman's passing has prompted elegant words on his black and white depictions of modern buildings idealizing a Modernist California dream.

He brought a warmth to postwar architecture glass and steel, and added domestic stablization in homes that jutted over a cliff with the city in the background (Stahl House (Case Study House #22).

It wasn't just the modern that caught his eye.

Shulman's 97th birthday party was held in the Bradley Room, atop the Los Angeles City Hall. Observation areas that wrap the building overlook a Bunker Hill that he had captured decades before when hired by the Community Redevelopment Agency to help it sell developers on building there. It was a time when the last of the Victorians were giving way to skyscrapers.

Those who joined a blogdowntown photo safari around Downtown that same year will remember how the tour ended as we walked through Bunker Hill to the Central Library where Shulman's photos were on display, including Bunker Hill in transition.

Then there was the sight of Shulman himself riding through the historic core on a double decker bus, pointing out what he thought interesting.

According to the L.A. Times, it was a photograph of the 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River that first brought Shulman some national recognition when it won first prize in a magazine competition.

At the time, he had just drifted away from college studies, and the photography class he had was taken while attending Roosevelt High School, back when Boyle Heights was also a Jewish enclave. It may have been a constant in his career; revisiting familiar terrain and finding beauty in it.

It is fitting that his family suggest donations be made to the Los Angeles Conservancy or the Friends of the Los Angeles River.

Shulman was 98.

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