LOST VICTORIAN MANSIONS
OF DOWNTOWN LA
Downtown LA does have history, it’s just buried under gleaming high-rise office blocks and strip malls.
Despite once attracting high-income residents with its fashionable apartment buildings, 'Bunker Hill' had become a working class lodging district by the 1920s. The once thriving leafy hilltop suburb was a symbol of urban decay that discouraged new investments. After the Great Depression, the grand old Victorian mansions were run-down and being used as cheap apartment hotels.
In the 1950s, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency came up with a drastic redevelopment plan for the entire Bunker Hill area and by 1968, every last Victorian home of Bunker Hill Avenue had been demolished.
These pictures show the last surviving houses, the Castle and another Victorian home, the Salt Box, being relocated by preservationists to another site in the 1960s, only to end up getting torched by vandals soon after.
The controversial redevelopment destroyed and displaced a community of almost 22,000 working-class families who were renting rooms in the architecturally significant but ill-maintained buildings.
In 1966, The Los Angeles Times wrote of Bunker Hill: “Nowhere else in Los Angeles was the architecture so ornate. The mansions were wooden-frame Victorian with Gothic gingerbread touches applied with a heavy hand to simulate masonry.”
Clancy's comment: Magnificent. Imagine what stories these enchanting homes could tell? Imagine who lived in them?