On the Whitnall Highway.

DPW: Whitnall Hwy. North Hollywood, CA

DPW: Whitnall Hwy.
DPW: Whitnall Hwy.

I was driving back from visiting a friend in North Hollywood, when I entered that strange land of high wire, high voltage electrical towers that cuts diagonally across this section of the NE San Fernando Valley.

It was a serenely sunny day, and amidst all the junky stucco apartments, and worn out tire, auto and taco shops, stood this monumentally beautiful DPW building.

They had a way of building, back in the 1930s, that combined a classical dignity with the most subtly frivolous carved ornament and Art Deco sculptures. Round lanterns flanked the drive-in gates, and along the roof line of the rectangular building, were rounded carvings of turbines.

So this was an American city, in the midst of the Great Depression, which managed to create public structures, inspiring pride and benefitting the entire city.

75 years later, you see this decorously dignified and functional building and wonder, quite sadly, why it’s so difficult to build well, build big and build with some civic vitality in our present day City of Angels.

You might bring a Republican to this particular Department of Water and Power but you cannot make him drink from it.

3 thoughts on “On the Whitnall Highway.

  1. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo


  2. What a beautiful building! Thanks for the pix. I can’t resist stopping and taking pictures of our little treasures either.

    We really used to take pride in our work. I love our bridges from that era too. Our structures now are boring, no creativity, nothing that says Los Angeles.



  3. Actress Diane Keaton has worked toward the preservation of these DWP buildings in the Valley (she grew up in Encino I think). She is interested in 1920s and 30s architecture.

    –Don W
    St Louis MO


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