Bunker Hill Park

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Reintroducing Los Angeles to Its History



We maintain some distorted version of Los Angeles in our heads. There is no way to bring back the hill or the neighborhood that once filled what is now a park that looks like a mall. Some of the variety can be re-injected though. It was built once why not build it again. A sign in front could say, "This home once stood on ground approximately sixty-five feet above this spot. It was built by Mr L.L. and Mrs Simona Bradbury in 1861. It was later occupied by the Hal Roach Studios, and was torn down for a parking lot in 1925. It was rebuilt in 2007 to remind us of our not so distant roots."

7 Comments:

  • Well, how exactly do you rebuild a lost past without resorting to a simulacra? It's simply not possible to build Victorian architecture anymore. The redwood forests that were decimated to build the 1890s and onward are gone, and what's left ain't gonna be used for that anymore.

    I am not a big fan of recreating the lost past. We lost it, game over.

    But we can build for today, and hope to preserve what's left of the past. Let's not make the same mistakes, and try again but do it better this time.

    Los Angeles is still young. This is our century. We have an opportunity, and the future is ours.

    By Blogger Bert Green, at Thu Oct 20, 01:02:00 AM 2005  

  • I will get back to your specifics but I don't think Bradbury would have found "game over" a compelling argument. That is part of my point. To re-introduce a more civil kind of dialog that is based on the idea that everyone knew where you lived, who you were and leaders chose to live within sight of city hall (Which was on Broadway near second then) where they could keep an eye on what was going on and be acccountable themselves. It wasn't a golden age but it offers some models for consideration. More later.

    Thanks for posting!

    By Blogger Tim, at Thu Oct 20, 01:30:00 PM 2005  

  • All I gotta say is: HELL YES!

    This is a great idea. And you know what, rebuilding while self-consciously noting for future visitors that you DON'T have it just as it was - is perfect.

    Screw building "the future". Everyone is focused on "the future". It was a sport in this City to see what was old and could be torn down for "progress". The more dwarfed and out of scale something like this looks in downtown, the better.

    I went to the historic district in Echo Park this past weekend - and it was mind-blowing. Houses like that are a frame of reference. Let's put the history of Bunker Hill front and center.

    I think this is a great idea.

    By Blogger ubrayj02, at Thu Oct 20, 02:06:00 PM 2005  

  • OK, it's true that "Game Over" is too harsh. Also, I did not say "build for the future." I said "Build for today" and "the future is ours." Very different.

    The point is that it's fine to preserve the past, I am in favor of that. But I don't see how it can be recreated. Once it is gone, the opportunity is lost. Otherwise it looks like Disneyland.

    By Blogger Bert Green, at Fri Oct 21, 02:01:00 PM 2005  

  • Requiring redwood would be a fuss-budget's approach. I wouldn't suggest re-creating the past in that way.

    I am interested in the scale, detail, and location. Ufortunately the interiors could not be re-made for a public space. So, I imagine the interior being re-worked to have the right surfaces but bigger, publicly oriented spaces, galleries, a museum shop and cafe.

    It is the idea that we can not get back what was lost that I am combatting. Here is something that speaks to our time through all those things sighted above. Architecture can lift the human spirit, can celebrate individual craftsmen, can represent the junction of the public and private, a surface where the interaction of the citizen and the city are made real.

    The Bradbury's loved their adopted city and threw open their home to the citizens on many occasions. They did not see themselves as managers of a distant and foreign populace, Bradbury was from Maine his wife from Mexico, but members of a group known as Angelenos, who occupied this city together and planned and dreamed together.

    Their home demonstrates these feelings in every sliver. It graces the street with its presence. The outside and inside are contiguous. There is no sense of fortress, but a feeling of welcome and joy in the everyday that downtown needs.

    The story of the destruction of Bunker Hill is mysterious and filled with hints of a final solution to the cities racial and political divisions. Downtown is such a weird mess because there was no real rationale behind that series of "slum-clearances and re-developments" except to separate the Chinese and Mexicans from the Civic Center. To this day the strip where the freeway runs through downtown remains a series of empty lots and half streets. There was no re-development in the plan beyond consolidation of power by a small group of rich white men.

    Re-build this home that was once the center of culture for a true multi-culturati before that was ever recognized as an excellent grant getting position.

    By Blogger Tim, at Fri Oct 21, 04:00:00 PM 2005  

  • Tim wrote: "It is the idea that we can not get back what was lost that I am combatting. Here is something that speaks to our time through all those things sighted above. Architecture can lift the human spirit, can celebrate individual craftsmen, can represent the junction of the public and private, a surface where the interaction of the citizen and the city are made real."

    The point that some architecture is good for humans and some others are bad is no more evident than around USC. There are blocks of beautiful victorian houses infested with wierd and ugly postmodern apartment buildings. How can there be a comparison between the two architectural styles? And what good argument is there that we as a society can't go back to the old way in this respect?

    By Anonymous kipper, at Tue Nov 01, 12:09:00 AM 2005  

  • kipper,

    First, if people could make a living building Victorian homes, they would do it.

    Second, as far as I know, the "old way" in Los Angeles has always been about hype and naked exploitation.

    I agree with your assesment of the ugliness of "post-modern" apartments buildings.

    Yet, I happen to think that land as open country side, supporting plant and animal life, is the best for humans - and the farmers, and later the builders of those "beautiful" homes committed a crime against nature and aesthetics by taking that land away.

    There can be a comparison between those old Victorian homes and the newer stucco boxes because they are part of a long tradition of throwing away the long term value of a piece of land to satisfy a farmer's or homebuilder's urge to extract value from that dirt as quickly as possible.

    The realm of deciding which style of attached dead trees and agglomerations of toxic chemicals you prefer to see built seems myopic, and misses the point in capturing something from the past.

    By Blogger ubrayj02, at Thu Dec 01, 07:41:00 PM 2005  

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