See the evolution of Downtown LA’s skyline in a new flyover video

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Drive through Downtown LA and you can’t help notice construction cranes everywhere, not to mention a bunch of new buildings (including the almost-complete Wilshire Grand Center, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River).

So how did Downtown evolve from a sleepy low-rise town in the 1920s to the Manhattan-like warren of high-rises and skyscrapers of today?

Commercial Cafe created a 3D animated flyover of the central city showing the development of LA’s towers, starting with City Hall in 1928. (Commercial Cafe is a commercial real estate information service owned by Yardi Systems.)

The video shows skyscrapers sprouting like mushrooms, though curiously not in chronological order, and takes note of key milestones:

  • City Hall, at 453 feet, became the first “skyscraper” in 1928 after decades of height restrictions that kept buildings under 150 feet.
  • The 40-story Union Bank Plaza went up on Bunker Hill in 1964, after height restrictions were lifted. It was the beginning of the 1960s-era development that replaced a residential neighborhood of stately Victorian houses, which were razed in the 1950s.
  • The 52-story Arco Towers rose in 1972 and were the tallest twin towers in the world until the completion of New York’s World Trade Center. Now called the City National Plaza North and South towers, they remain the tallest twin towers in the U.S. outside of New York.
  • The 73-story U.S. Bank Tower became the tallest building in California upon its completion in 1990.
  • The 73-story Wilshire Grand topped out earlier this year to take the crown from the U.S. Bank Tower (because of its spire). It has the distinction of being the only LA tower without a flat roof, now that tall buildings are no longer required to have rooftop helipads.
This rendering shows which projects have been recently added to the current skyline.
Courtesy of Visualhouse and Jon Wilson

“We wanted to see how DTLA’s development history would look like visually,” Commercial Cafe’s Diana Sabau told Curbed. “There are bound to be decades of effervescence on the market that will lead to more vigorous construction, and as the types of tenants change and diversify, so do their needs and taste—both of these prompting new design ideas. We thought a video would be a great addition in terms of highlighting this constant evolution.”

As for the future? Curbed previously posted a rendering by the creative agency Visualhouse showing the skyline of LA as it might appear in 2030.

The map below shows all of the buildings featured in the video at the top of the story.

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