Then and now: photos show how Downtown Los Angeles has changed in the last century

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Booming development in Downtown has altered the way the city’s core looks and will look in the next few years. Parking lots are turning into high-rises and many handsome historic buildings are being adaptively reused to create lofts, apartments, and condos, so what better time than the present to take a look into the past. Thanks to some historic photos compiled by RentCafe, we can take a quick trip in the wayback machine to the early twentieth century, a time when carriages still lined the streets and Angels Flight went up to the Victorians of old Bunker Hill.

Farmers and Merchants National Bank, as seen from Main and Fourth Street in 1908 and 2015

The old bank, along with the adjacent Bank House Garage and the Hellman Building, is set to become the Main Museum of Los Angeles Art, a new contemporary art museum with an emphasis on LA artists.

Los Angeles Times Building, as seen from Spring and First Street in 1910 and 2015

More changes are coming to this corner, too. The Art Deco building that long housed Los Angeles Times staff was sold to Canadian developer Onni, which has several projects underway in Downtown already. Onni is planning to restore the building on this corner, which was built in 1935, and convert it to retail and office space. The segment of the block at Broadway and First, which was added on in the 1970s and designed by William Pereira, is going to be razed so apartments can go up.

Fifth Street, looking west towards Olive in 1910 and 2015

The four-story State Normal School is visible in this picture from 1910 looking up Fifth Street, but in 1922 it was demolished so that Fifth Street could be straightened. The Central Library stands on what was once part of the old Normal School; it celebrated its 90th birthday this year.

Angels Flight as seen in 1907 and 2015

In 1907, Angels Flight ran between Hill and Olive on Bunker Hill, but it did so right along the Third Street tunnel. (It’s now about a half block south, right across from Grand Central Market.) The funicular was relocated in 1996. The tiny railway faced several safety issues and had one serious accident in recent years. It’s been shuttered since a 2013 derailment and, sadly, was recently vandalized. The 1907 photo was taken at Angels Flight’s original location, while the 2015 photo was taken at its current spot.

Warner Bros. Theatre, as seen from Hill and Seventh Street in 1942 and 2014

“The original 1942 photograph shows the nine-story Beaux Arts building in the second of its four functional incarnations, and the last of its theatrical,” says RentCafe. The structure stayed a theater until 1975, was briefly a church, and is now retail. Hill Street looks pretty much the same in terms of buildings, though their uses have changed.

The northeast corner of Main and Fourth Street in 1900 and 2015

This corner’s always been residential, apparently. In 1900, it was the site of the Victorian Westminster Hotel, which operated until the 1930s. (It was razed in the 1960s.) These days, this corner is the location of the Medallion apartments.

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