Looking from Wall Street between 8th and 9th Streets. “Japanese and Negro District”

The California Historical Society has a fine website with old photographs of Los Angeles. The Anton Wagner Collection is especially notable for its images of our city in the 1930s.

The Great Depression was in full swing and Los Angeles was a place where people also struggled to make a living, even though photographs show new buildings, apartments, public works, farms and industries. It seems everyone was working and the city was thriving despite hard times.

One thing that stands out is the spectacularly tidy streets with swept sidewalks, clean curbs, and not one sign of shopping carts filled with garbage or mountains of trash.

This was during the most severe economic downturn in American history, yet Los Angeles functioned as a functioning city, where the presentation of tidiness, order, and cleanliness was foremost.

There were many poor, destitute people in the 1930s. But Los Angeles did not create a dystopian city where people shit in the streets, or lived along the road, or slept on bus benches, or roamed mentally ill in parking lots, or set up tents on residential streets for outdoor trash camping.

There were not two-story high trash piles that authorities promised to remove in three months time.

Cheap structures on Eagle Rock Boulevard, looking east from north of York Boulevard

There was a crisis and it was called the Great Depression, but government and people, here in this city, were not seized in panic and unable to respond or knocked over by circumstances.

They ran the city well, with pride, and these photographs of ordinary life in the City of Angels, 85 years ago, should fill our modern, jaded hearts with shame for what we have allowed Los Angeles to become under Mayor Garbageciti.

Writer/photographer

4 Comment on “A Once Neat City.

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