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Old Posted Mar 1, 2015, 2:41 AM
tovangar2 tovangar2 is offline
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Location: West Los Angeles
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Cool Fort Street/Broadway Cut

Many of the pix below have been seen before, but probably not together. My ongoing interest in Broadway between Temple and 1st St, plus the hilltop neighborhood on its west side, leads me to this question:

When was Fort St/Broadway cut through to the north from 1st St, severing Poundcake Hill (AKA La Loma de las Mariposas) from the rest of Bunker Hill and thereby creating the engineering problem of the crumbling slope, which was met with various solutions, until the whole thing was hauled away?

We know what happened after (see below). But how did it start?

Flyingwedge found some periodicals that I missed (Thank you Flyingwedge!) They are here and here. Apparently the Common Council approved the grading of Fort Street in 1874, noting that the project would have to wait its turn, as other projects, approved previously, would have to be finished first. I'm not sure if cutting through and grading are the same thing, but 1874 is a useful date.

Also, Harris Newmark, writing in 1914, remembers in "Sixty Years in Southern California" (1916):

"Up to the fall of [1870], no connection existed between
Temple and First Streets west of Spring; but on the first day of
September, a cut through the hill, effected by means of chain-
gang labor and continuing Fort Street north, was completed, to
the satisfaction of the entire community."

Yet this drawing shows the high school (1872) in place before the cut.

Poundcake Hill's tether looks intact here. Fort St dead-ends just north of 1st St:


This not-always-reliable, 1929 map of 1871 LA shows Fort St stymied by the terrain. No. 29 marks what will become Poundcake Hill:

The 1849 Ord survey agrees:

Here's a view looking south down Fort St from Temple. The foot of the west slope has not been totally cut away. LAHS (1872) is in place:

lapl via water & power

Fort Street is through to Sand St, just north of Temple. Poundcake Hill is on the east. The "grade too steep for horses", on the west, is spilling onto unpaved Fort St. That tidy cut city engineers were trying for in the photo above, didn't last (they should have put in a retaining wall then). Note the little house on the brow of the hill at upper right. I like the three little hatches under the north eave. It turns up in photos of this site into the 1920s. I believe it was the first home built in this neighborhood, maybe as early as the 1860s, but certainly by the '70s. I used to know the name of the owner, but I've forgotten it now (George Miliken?). The address was 318 Court Street:


Also taken in the 1870s, this shot shows Louis Roeder posed outside his shop on Spring St, a bit south of 1st St (later the Nadeau Hotel will be built next door and the shop itself replaced by the Roeder Block). The little house is on the hill behind, outlined against the sky, its only company is an even smaller house, further down the hill:


A wider view from one of the towers of the Los Angeles and Independence Railway depot at 5th and San Pedro in ca 1877. The home on the hill with the large fenced yard is Mrs Shepherd's place. The little house is further along to the right on the ridge:
Originally Posted by Flyingwedge View Post

“View from the Santa Monica Depot, Los Angeles” (1877) @ CA St. Library

Circa 1881 or after. It must be spring. The little house's walled, east facing garden and the whole slope is lush with green:

c.c. pierce

In the ca 1882 detail below, we see the Court Hill neighborhood as it looked then. The little house is on the left. Next is the Bixby house, at No. 138 Hill Street, near the southeast corner of Court and Hill, as it looked (single-story; white with green trim) when built in 1881. Just right of center is the Hopperstead home (1880) at 331 Court St. It was one story on its street frontage and two stories at the back to take advantage of the hill. A photo of the front is here and a 1936 article about it here.

On the southwest corner of Court and Hill, at 139 Hill Street, is the lovely home of Andrew Wilson "Will" Potts, the County Clerk. There is an 1880 drawing of it at this link. I do not know what possessed A.W. Potts, but he demolished his nice house and built an enormous three-story, reportedly-drafty mansion on the same site, in the American Renaissance style, designed by Joseph Cather Newsom, which is on view in photos below. He subsequently sold it to L. L. Bradbury in 1887. Bradbury had the misfortune of dying in 1892 and then Mr Potts died the next year. After a colorful, downward spiral, the Bradbury Mansion was demolished in 1929. The Bixby home, which got a second story, a coat of grey paint and various extensions after it first went up, lasted until 1953.

Sarah Bixby Smith (1871-1935) wrote in "Adobe Days" (1925), that the site for their house (in those days, the highest point in the city) was chosen, "...because of the view and the sense of air and space. Below us was the little city, the few business blocks, the homes set in gardens on tree-shaded streets, the whole surrounded by orchards and vineyards. On clear days we could see the mountains far in the east and the ocean at San Pedro, with Catalina beyond" . During bad storms the Bixbys could also see houses floating down the river:

water and power (detail) Full view

The houses on the crown of the hill in this ca 1885 detail are the Bradbury and the Bixby (now with its second story). There is a curious structure (or structures) built into the hillside below the Bixby house with many arches. It does not appear in any other photos I've seen. I assume it's animal pens. Llewellyn Bixby was a sheepman and sheep did used to graze the hillside when it was still relatively bucolic, as it is here. Nowadays goats are employed to graze the steeper slopes, in order to lessen fire danger, on the sides of freeways, in private yards, etc:

water & power (detail) Full view

Another hilltop shot, this time from the south. On the left, at the northwest corner of Hill and 1st St is the brand-new, three-story, balconied Highland Villa (1886), which appears in so many photos (the Highland Villa will be sacrificed in ca 1910 for the 1st St cut and the Hill St Tunnel approach). The Bradbury Mansion is left of center. The Bixby home is across the street to the east and the little house is on the right:

c.c. pierce / full view:

The name "Fort Street" was changed to "Broadway" in 1890 by order of Mayor Hazard, at the request of property owners at Fort and Fourth.

A nice panorama from C.C. Pierce, taken from the courthouse tower. The slope now has steps and some rather precarious-looking retaining walls. ca 1891. The Los Angeles Herald, "the Best Paper", is using a retaining-wall section as a billboard. They would like you to know that a month's subscription is only 80 cents. Not a lot of grazing left for the livestock. Note that the little house has rid itself of that cypress tree. It must have been ruining the view. The ramp between the south flight of steps, and those on the north is incredibly flimsy-looking. Note the Baldwin Hills on the left horizon and the Hollywood Hills on the right:

cc pierce zoomable

A closer view of the Bradbury Mansion, taken from the Bixby's front lawn. Pictured, I assume, is Llewellyn Bixby, Jr. (1879-1942) as a young teen:

(first published here by e_r:

The 1889 WCTU temple stands on the northwest corner of Temple and Broadway. One can see the little house about and inch above the temple's roof line with the Bixby house beyond it, mostly hidden by trees. I'm posting this photo because I was so struck by the fanciful houses built along Broadway, very different from the plain New England styles of the previous generation

water and power

A great 1899 panorama from C.C. Pierce (this is just 1/3 of a larger image. The whole thing may be seen here). More substantial buildings are in place on Broadway. One can just see the Hopperstead residence on the right margin. The base of the slope is blocked by billboards, including one for "Ramona". It looks like a beautiful day. One can see the Baldwin and Hollywood hills quite clearly:

cc pierce zoomable

The Broadway cut looking south from above Temple in ca 1904-1906. The little house, again, is on the right, looking very gnat-like compared to the court building. It looks as though it could easily fit inside the courthouse's clock tower. Court Flight was installed in 1905, its entrance out of view in this shot:

Court Flight and its staircase. The little house (left margin) is now overwhelmed by the new Stevens Apartments, the Court Flight Observation Tower and the New Broadway Hotel:

lapl previously posted by e_r

A similar shot, but this one reveals the retaining wall. Note the little house's low garden wall. The little house never actually lost any land to the encroaching cliff:

water & power

As you can see below, as of 1916, the little house was surrounded on the north by a row of garages (built in 1914 at about the same time as the Stevens Apartments at No. 322 Court St) and then, in 1916, a three-story brick apartment building was built in its precarious front garden at No. 312 Court St:
Originally Posted by KevinW View Post

Los Angeles Past
Detail of above (I cannot fathom how one gained access to these apartments):

Baist, 1921, lays it out:

baist, 1921, plate 3

Someone's trying to sell the last bit of the slope not already built on:

ebay, previously posted by e_r

By 1924 the little house is still in place, but that brick apartment building, east of the little house, appears to now be missing (I couldn't find a demo permit):

lapl (detail)

The very urbanized Fort St/Broadway cut in 1926. The entrance to Court Flight is hidden from view on the right between The New Broadway Hotel and the new-ish Law Building. On the east side of Broadway from north to south are the Hall of Justice, the grounds of the County Courthouse, the Hall of Records, The Times tower and old City Hall: (detail)

The Bixby house in 1928. After the Bixbys left, it became the Harmonia Apartments. The Stevens Apartments are on the left and the old Hall of Records may just be glimpsed in the background:


A 1938 aerial showing the relationship between the slope and what's left of Poundcake Hill:

ebay (detail) previously posted by e_r

The slope being used as a dumping ground. The Law Building at left, Bixby home left-center, Stevens Apartments at center (additional parking for the Stevens is what replaced the little house) and The New Broadway Hotel, lower right (notice the collapsed cliff where that brick apartment building once stood):

ebay (detail) previously posted by e_r

A rather fancifully imagined detail from a postcard image.
The Bixby house, Stevens Apartments, Law Building and the New Broadway Hotel are recognizable,
but the former site of Court Flight looks like a broad boulevard here:

Court Flight abandoned, ca 1954. Service had ended in 1943 after a fire. The stairs remain:

The footbridge to the Law Building circa 1954. The former Bixby house (a multi-family dwelling since circa 1914) had been cleared in 1953:

previously posted by gsjansen pg 239

The demo permit for the Bixby:


1955: The neighborhood has been totally demolished. Workers load the hill itself into trucks to be hauled away, rather putting the lie to Gerald O'Hara's maxim. The west portal of the double-barreled Hill Street Tunnel (train bore, 1909 / street-traffic bore,1912) is still there for now. The huge excavation at left is for the soon-to-be-built Superior Court (1958). There's still a bit of traffic on the doomed stretch of Court Street:

full view:
usc (detail) previously posted by HossC on pg 1103

May 10, 1955. That's the New Broadway Hotel on the right. The hill disappeared before the slope, as the demolition proceeded from west to east so as not to disturb the traffic on Broadway:

lapl previously posted by kznyc2k pg 655

01/16/56: Both the hill and the tunnel are gone.The new County Courthouse will rise on the left, approximately replacing the Bradbury Mansion. East of Hill Street the site of the Bixby and Hopperstead homes, among others, as well as the little house, is now flat as a pancake, dozens of feet below the original grade.
Originally posted by FredH (pg 1061) from a great series. Check them out here:

The Law Building lasted until long after the hill was gone. The underground parking between the Superior Court and the HOA hasn't been topped with its park yet. The old Hall of Records looks like a ship that's become unmoored. With street realignment and the then-impending loss of the old Hall of Records, all vestiges of the Indian trail, which influenced Spring Street's route, were erased:

previously posted by sopas ej pg 1

And, of course, again, now. One can still take a few stairs from Broadway to Hill. The Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Courts building is on the right, on what was once Poundcake Hill. No longer bustling or cozy, the area now looks like an architectural model on some forgotten CRA tabletop. I like how the city looks to the west, outside the planned area.

Sarah Bixby Smith wrote that, "Court Street disappeared into a hollow at Hope, where a pond was made interesting by a large flock of white ducks" Maybe some ducks can be added to the moat at the DWP building:

google maps

One last look back at the little house at 318 Court St, here in its 1899 glory days. The three little hatches under the northern eave, each with a side-mounted, solid shutter, remain in place.


Another question: Sarah Bixby Smith writes in "Adobe Days" that her second Los Angeles home was the "Shepherd house", in the same neighborhood as the Bixby's third home at Court and Hill. She said that the lot in front of the Shepherd house "was very steep, with zig-zag paths and terraces." The house ended up "...on top of the precipice made by the cutting of First Street between Hill and Olive". Harrison Gray Otis, I think, also lived in the Shepherd house at one time (he had cousins named Shepherd). Can anyone tell me more or provide a photo? Thx. (Note: Flyingwedge answered my question here)

Here's the reference to Col. Otis. I don't know if it can be trusted as the Highland Villa is on this list as the "Hillside Home" and AW Potts is misidentified as "JW Potts":


Many thx again to Flyingwedge for finding images #7 (Louis Roeder), #8 (view from the LA&I depot) and #21 (the Bixby House).

Last edited by tovangar2; Jun 6, 2017 at 9:28 PM. Reason: update
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