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LA Noire's "Nicholson Electroplating" Case to Echo Downtown Blast that Killed 15

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, June 17, 2011, at 07:23AM
O'Connor Electroplating Plant Explosion Los Angeles Times / UCLA Library

Smoldering debris was all that was left of the O'Conner Electro-Plating Corporation after a February 20, 1947 explosion at 926 E. Pico.

On Tuesday, June 21, Rockstar Games will release "Nicholson Electroplating," an add-on case for the company's recently-released L.A. Noire.

The release pulls a page out of the history books, taking its inspiration from the February 20, 1947 explosion at O'Connor Electro-Plating Corporation's building at 926 E. Pico. 15 people were killed, 151 were injured and nearby homes were destroyed.

Though the plot of Rockstar's story isn't entirely known yet, the company paints the investigation as an arson case and the trailer it released this week drops the name of eccentric airplane magnate Howard Hughes.

Accusations of shadowy activity quickly followed the real-life explosion as well. The L.A. Times reported that the appearance of two armed soldiers soon after the explosion took place triggered rumors that some secret armed forces work was underway

In the end, the blast was blamed on a tank of perchloric acid that the plant's chief chemist, Robert M. Magee, had been tending. Magee—who claimed a made-up PhD from M.I.T. but never graduated from high school—was mixing acid and oxidizing materials.

Rockstar's research into local history has been a major part of the marketing for L.A. Noire. The company has a story up on its site giving gamers a taste of the real case.

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