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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Conflagration: 1908

Conflagration: 1908

Nov. 15, 1908. "Los Angeles Pacific Railroad fire, Fourth Street between Hill and Broadway." 8x10 glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.

Los Angeles Express, Nov. 16, 1908:


        Flames broke out in the basement of the Los Angeles Pacific building at 314 W. Fourth St., adjoining the Broadway Department Store, at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon and threatened serious loss.

        The fire is believed to have had its origin in the rear of the basement, under the Sunset Bakery, at 320 W. 4th Street.

        Fourth Street from Broadway to Hill was speedily roped off to keep the crowds back, and Broadway became a mass of humanity within a few minutes. Great volumes of smoke could be seen rolling up over the Broadway Department Store, creating the impression that it was that great store which was burning.

        So quickly did the flames spread in the lower portions of the Los Angeles Pacific Building that the clerks and stenographers of the railway company in the offices on the second floor could not reach safety by the stairway or elevator. Fifteen girls and women were taken from the windows of the second floor with ladders.

        The clouds of smoke that rolled from the building did not begin to compare in size with the cloud of spectators which sought to reach the scene of the fire.

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Dangerous gawking

Check out the folks on the roof of the building to the left. I am seeing this correctly, some are hanging their legs over the edge of the building?


...that would just be a sea of raised arms holding smartphones.

And what's with the guys sitting astride the parapet of the Grant building?

In view of the Angels

Just out of frame to the left is the original Angels Flight Railway, which ran from Hill St. to the top of Bunker Hill.

Cat on a hot tin roof

Looks like an inquisitive feline on top of the building with spire on left hand side.

[Catman! - Dave]

More photos

of the Pacific Depot fire, from the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive. You can make out three steam-powered fire engines in the top photo. These remained in service until 1923, according to the Archive.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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