Sunday, August 1, 2010

Views of L.A. City Hall

L.A. skyscrapers have long since surpassed City Hall, once the tallest building of Los Angeles but which continues to be a city icon.
The corner of Spring and Ord Streets provides a generous pose of City Hall. Ord Street was named for the Army Lieutenant Edward O.C. Ord, who was hired to create American Los Angeles' first land survey in 1849. Before then, maps called diseños were used by Spanish and Mexican property owners.

Spring Street was formerly Calle Primavera. Earlier, between 1825 and 1835, it was called Calle de Las Caridad (street of charity) for the wealthier residents who lived there and subsidized the poor. An even earlier name, circa 1800, was Calle Ciudado (Lookout or Beware Street) due to the numerous washes and gulches.

Ord return to Los Angeles in July, 1856, under orders to assess the temperament of the Indians and to recommend where a military post was needed. By then he was Captain Ord, and the trip included stops at Chino, San Bernardino, Jurupa, and the San Gorgonio Pass. He eventually determined that the San Gorgonio Pass would benefit from the protection of a post, but only if the Pass was deemed a viable transporation route.
Standing in Little Tokyo before the tribute plaque to Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka, City Hall is in view. The ill-fated 1986 Challenger spacecraft accident marked a dark day in space travel. That very street, named for Onizuka, was formerly Weller Street, a spot in the 1850s where horse-drawn travel drew competition among stagecoaches.  The drivers tore past on the last legs of their journeys before arriving the Bella Union Hotel on Main Street, filled with passengers from the San Pedro Harbor. Prior to 1910, Weller Street was Wilmington Street.
ABC Restaurant operates in the building that was formerly the Limehouse. It morphed into a typical late 20th century Chinese restaurant. I recall dining at the Limehouse occasionally as a child in the early 1960s. I remember a special dish they served that I never had elsewhere: paper-wrapped chicken, and it was wrapped with wax paper to seal in the delicious juices.  (Click on images to zoom in)
Gone is the patio where glamorous couples dined and danced to Hawaiian music, as the back of this matchbook cover image advertises. There is City Hall in view, as promising as the crescent moon and stars.

Above is the current restaurant at the Limehouse site. The proprietors of the old Limehouse still own the building.

Kim Sing Theater, at 722 No. Figueroa Street, along the northwest perimeter of Chinatown, was a Chinese movie house. The structure dates to 1925.  Originally the 475-seat theater was called the Alpine before being renamed the Carmen in 1941.  In the 1950s the theater was screening Chinese films, but by 1952, the theater became Kim Sing. As a young child in the early 1960s, I accompanied my parents there. Kim Sing was the oldest of the three movie houses in Chinatown at the time. I remember the really old theater seats. From the arrow in the picture you can see the tapered top of City Hall peeking through.


  1. I remember eating at the Limehouse when I was a little kid! We went there with some visiting relatives who took us there. Afterward I remember my parents saying the food made them sick, haha..

  2. I remember dining at the Limehouse in the 60s as a child. We lived in Pomona, so it was a big deal to go there. I, too, remember the paper-wrapped chicken. Don't remember the trout pool, which seems strange.

  3. The Limehouse was owned by the Low family, Peggy and her husband, there were the two sons and a daughter. Peggy was from the Chan family, another old dynasty that owned the Tun Sang meat market around the corner.

  4. And I remember Tun Sang - my family used to go there every weekend to buy meat - Jerry was the proprietor I remember. Wasn't there an under-the floor oven to roast the entire pig? Wasn't there sawdust on the floor, or am I imagining it? The business that followed Tun Sang was a Chinese dim sum/pastry shop - still in operation I think!

    Thank you for clarifying on the families of the Limehouse, etc.