The Demolition of the Hartwell Motor Company Building (1917-2016)

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The South Park neighborhood around the Los Angeles Convention Center is positively lousy with new development projects, and some charming commercial structures are being lost around historic Automobile Row.
hartwell-1917-ad-detail

1917 (Los Angeles Herald)

This afternoon, we paid our last respects to The Hartwell Motor Company Building at 1224 South Flower Street. This elegant early auto showroom, office and mechanic’s garage survived just three months shy of a century on this site before being unceremoniously smashed to bits. (We’d heard that Onni Group planned to build a tower on the corner, but were mistakenly under the impression that the site only encompassed a surface parking lot.)
2009-google-street-view

2009 (Google streetview)

Automobile Row could be a volatile place in the teens, as early advertisements reveal. A trip through the Los Angeles Herald archives reveal that in January 1917, the Hartwell Motor Company moved into its custom digs, only to sell to the Troy Motor Sales Company a scant three months later. For a few months in 1919, this was the A.E. Evans Company, dealing in the Paige (“the most beautiful car in America”), before the Standard Steel Automotive Corporation moved in. In later years, it was a taxi dispatcher.
rubble
Thanks to Roger Price for pulling our sleeves to the dire situation, and sharing a photo of the partially demolished structure on the L.A. Historic Preservation Facebook page, taken a couple of weeks ago.
When we made it down to see for ourselves, it was too late to see anything but a patch of broken, but still beautiful, floor tile on top of the rubble pile.
broken-tile
Bye bye, old girl. You deserved more respect than this. And so does your pretty neighbor. Long may she stand.
demolished, and we're worried about her neighbor

In Search Of… 1914 Hobo Inscriptions in the LA River

If you read our most recent newsletter, you know how excited we are to have learned that some 102-year-old hobo graffiti survives on the undersides of bridges in the L.A. River.

Today, we descended into the concrete channel with historian Susan Phillips to see some of her favorite pieces and seek out new discoveries of our own. (And yes–we actually found something–but you’ll just have to get on the next Eastside Babylon crime but tour to hear about it!)

Won’t you tag along on our journey into the strange, peaceful and historic riverbed?