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This Is the City: 1961

This Is the City: 1961

This is the city: Los Angeles, California. It was a warm August evening in city; we were working the tourist detail and wound up heading toward City Hall. The car is a '59 Rambler, the driver my brother-in-law Frank. My name's tterrace; I'm a kid.

I'd flown in on a turbo-prop job from San Francisco. It was my first flight and my first trip anywhere by myself. I'd just turned 15. I would have gotten there sooner, but a couple weeks earlier my father had gotten me almost all the way to SFO when I found I didn't have my plane ticket, so we had to turn back. Nobody was happy about that.

My Kodak Brownie Starmite was loaded with Ektachrome when I snapped this shot on some street somewhere or other; some local might be able to fill in the blanks on that one. Later, we hit the usual places: Chinatown, Olvera Street, Union Station. Disneyland would be for another day. With any luck, I wouldn't die of excitement before then. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

"clever title"

Grain and Color

The grain and color really add to the mood in that shot!!! Excellent photo and great "restoration!"

[Thanks! Here's what the slide looks like in real life. As you can see, I had to adjust the density (brightness/contrast) as well as the color. -tterrace]

Very BIG improvement!

The Smog

This picture is typical of that time. I arrived in the LA area in 1959 and was dismayed at what I saw. While there are still smog days, my subjective view is that it is a lot better now.

The Lockheed Electras mentioned were 4 engine turboprops that are still in use today by the US Navy as the P3 Orion. They are being replaced by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane, a version of the Boeing 737–800.


For me the City Hall building will forever be the place the Martians blew up in the 1953 version of War of the Worlds.

Then it was all alone in the L.A. skyline, today you can hardly see it because of all the skyscrapers around it.

Rams vs Redskins

Orange sign to the left is advertising an early August pre-season NFL game.

Ready, Aim, Accelerate!

I love the gun sights that late 50's early 60's cars had. I think this rebalanced shot has a fabulous sunset hue! Great job tterrace and thanks as always for sharing.

Out of the fog, into the smog

My relatives lived in LA during this same time frame and we used to travel south to visit them from our home just south of San Francisco (San Mateo). I distinctly remember entering the brown soup of smog that surrounded LA, and which can be clearly seen in this photo. It was even more evident when looking down from an airplane!

This situation gave birth to the first air pollution regulations in the US, which later resulted in the federal Clean Air Act. Although the smog can still be bad in LA, it is much better than it was some 50+ years ago.

"Wait! Wait! Wait! I want to hear this!"

I'd tell my mother as she was telling me to go to bed. Best descriptor yet, tterrace, the shot could easily have introduced Dragnet. LOL, the intro was the best part of the show.

Up in the Sky

You mean that building is City Hall?

All these years I thought it was the "Daily Planet" Building, the one in "The Adventures of Superman" starring George Reeves. The one in the opening credits where they say "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." After all that's where Clark Kent (aka Superman), Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and Perry White worked.

Well not really, I have known for a long time that it is and always was the City Hall building, but when I was a kid in the 50s it was always the "Daily Planet" Building to me. Now when I see it in a TV or movie show I still refer to it as the "Daily Planet" Building even though I know better.

"Dragnet" theme playing

Or possibly "Perry Mason". We saw city Hall in both on a regular basis. I immediately heard jack Webb! Thanks, Tterrace for another GREAT shot!

Lockheed Electras

Flew Pacific Southwest Airline's Lockheed Electras LAX<>SFO many times in the early 60's. 90 minutes each way. One way fares sometimes just over $10, thanks to the low cost of fuel which was only about $0.30 for auto gas.

Yup, Temple Street definitely seems the most likely location. There have been huge changes in downtown LA, but that tunnel under the Harbor Freeway is still as it was.

Temple Street

Looks a lot like West Temple Street, judging by the perspective of City Hall in the background, the Hall of Justice, the curve of the street, and the curb cuts to the left.

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Just the facts

Good job tterrace, I could actually hear the voice of Jack Webb as I read your commentary. Your contributions to Shorpy are always enjoyed and appreciated.

Held up pretty good

That's pretty good stability for Ektachrome, particularly E-3. All of mine from the 70's are mostly faded even having been stored in the dark.

[To the naked eye the slide itself appears mostly red. Fortunately, Ektachromes of this vintage haven't lost any color range completely, so it's possible to do a reasonable restoration digitally. I haven't colorized it artificially, just removed the red. Soon after, Kodak made a major change, and my Ektachromes of just a year later still have excellent color. -tterrace]

Well, it looks darn good, certainly can't tell that it was manipulated. Mine have pretty much lost any blue, and the density is a tiny fraction of the original.


Reminds me of a scene from "Repo Man". You didn't have radioactive space aliens in your trunk, did you??

# 714

Thank you, well played.

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