Friday, April 8, 2016

Baseball Knickers, Oil Stills, High Fashion Stores and Modern Architecture

My last post listed articles about Los Angeles' first photo (probably), our black widow spiders, fighting smog in the 70s, a photo spread of a 1968 home in Palm Springs, and links to a PBS show and article that featured the Gamble House in Pasadena, and a Charles and Ray Eames home in Pacific Palisades.

Well, it was no sooner posted than Facebook delivered links to more articles about Los Angeles. So here are a few more items for this rainy weekend: links about Los Angeles baseball 135 years ago, the first oil refinery, elegant department stores of yeasteryear, and our 21st century cutting-edge architecture.

Baseball first. More to the point: baseball uniforms. Nathan Masters of KCET posts another great article about a photograph, and this time, I really have to repost it, at least in miniature:

If I had to name it, I think I'd go for "Knickers and Jug Ears." (Low-hanging fruit, as a certain friend would say.) The source is the USC Libraries, the California Historical Society Collection.

These guys are adorable, and they may be your great-great-great grandpas.

Second, the oil industry. By strict chronological reckoning, this should be first (1874 trumps 1884) but I like baseball better.

The Newhall Pioneer Oil Refinery was "the first productive oil refinery in California," according to Leon Worden, but sometime before 1961 the original stills from 1874 and 1875 went missing. They were teensy by today's standards, holding just 15 and 20 barrels of oil as it cooked. The old refinery closed down within 15 years, and Standard Oil (Chevron, now) owns the property.

Worden tells how he relocated the stills in "Missing First Pieces of First Oil Refinery Located," from the SCVHistory site. And there are tons of great "then and now" pictures.

"Decadent Department Stores of Southern California" is the name of a Pinterest Page that contains dozens of pictures of Downtown L.A.'s shops through the 20th century.

You'll find black and white photos like one of Judy Garland in front of the May Company in 1940, or models vamping in their finery during the Roaring 20s at Bullocks Wilshire, photos of entries and street traffic outside.

There are both b&w or dazzling color shots of the art deco effects and the murals of Bullocks Wilshire, as well as the beautiful furnishings, restaurants, chandeliers, and seating areas of other shops. These stores catered to women with money to spend, and they are about as far away from today's department stores, with their racks and stacks of sale items, as you can get.

Just for good measure, there are posters and dramatic ads from papers and magazines through the decades.

It's possible to get lost here.

But the funnest part of this page is that many of the photos link back to sites that are wonderful in their own right. This photo of the  sportswear department of Bullocks Wilshire takes you to Martin Turnbull's photo-laden post on that famed department store. Turnbull is an author that sets his books in old Hollywood, so his blog is well worth skimming and reading.

"A Guide to Los Angeles's Wildly Inventive Architecture" comes from New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer. It's a flattering look at many new developments in L.A., such as West Hollywood's Courtyard at La Brea, with its metal ribbons like giant tape protecting the corner. I think the author finds it amusing that we in Los Angeles are finally having to design housing complexes rather than estates to deal with our population.

Workplaces (the Hayden Tract and the Pterodactyl in Culver City, for instance) and public spaces and museums (the Broad, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and Tongva Park) are also listed. There's even a nod to Googie -- a picture of Johnie's Coffee Shop is included.

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