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Old Posted Feb 1, 2014, 3:48 AM
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Beaudry Beaudry is offline
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Originally Posted by HossC View Post

Conflicting traffic signals
Posted By: Scott Harrison
Posted On: 12:22 a.m. | January 29, 2014
April 5, 1948: The intersection of 5th and Grand has conflicting semaphore traffic signals. One says “stop” and the other says “go.”

But help was on the way. Los Angeles was in transition from these old signals to the three-light devices.

An article in the April 11, 1948, Los Angeles Times reported that out of 1,400 traffic-signal-controlled intersections in the city, 630 still had the semaphore signals. About 150 old signals were replaced in 1947 with the new devices “and its yellow caution light which gleams for a few seconds between the green and red.”

This photo by retired staff photographer Paul Calvert was published on April 11, 1948.

Far be it from me to disagree with the L.A. Times, but I'm not so sure that the traffic signals are conflicting. The "GO" signal appears to be on the sloping road that comes down in front of the Engstrum and Edison Building from Bunker Hill Avenue. The "STOP" signal is on West Fifth Street, which runs by on the other side of the wall. I'm sure that some sort of filter would probably be needed to let cars out from in front of the Edison Building. The picture below is from a good bit earlier, but shows the same wall.

California State Library

I thought the same thing when I saw the pic, and now that I really study it, I'm sure you're absolutely correct. You would have to have one at Go and the other at Stop: you can only make the right turn from "Upper Fifth" (where Hope loops around the Engstrum atop the retaining wall) and because of the jog in the street between you and the continuance of Fifth -- with the Biltmore Garage staring you in the face -- there's no way you could make the turn in the path of all the oncoming traffic. And that's four lanes of one-way traffic coming at you westbound on Fifth (it was made a one-way in Oct '47).

I think what they were trying to say is, look, here's a guy who's pulled his fastback too far into the intersection and he's going to look at the semaphore across the street for his direction? The title of the article should be Don't Pull Too Far Into the Intersection.

Aerial view of the area -- note the retaining wall under construction, which dates the picture to the Spring of 1930.


More images of said retaining wall here and here ...I did a little more digging into the retaining wall (so to speak) and discovered that it was designed by none other than the great Carleton Monroe Winslow, who, although Goodhue is generally known as the architect of the Central Library, Winslow had a mighty hand in its completion. As such, Winslow purposely conceived the wall's severe pilasters, arches and clean Egypto-Deco lines to complement the library across the street. I always thought it was a particularly effective and handsome structure; more's the pity it lasted just until the time -- early 1980s -- it could become appreciated.

One bit of it survives, of course -- I suppose most people think it's part of the Edison Bldg and thus was drafted by the hands of Allison & Allison. Ha!

Last edited by Beaudry; Feb 1, 2014 at 4:12 AM.
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