Then & Now: The Landmarks of L.A. Noire

It's 1947: Earlier this year, Elizabeth Short was found dead in Leimert Park, KTLA channel 5 made its television broadcast debut, and LAPD Det. Cole Phelps is out on the streets busting the bad guys. OK, so that last bit is fiction, but thanks to the newly-released L.A. Noire video game, Angelenos can travel back in time to visit downtown L.A., Hollywood and parts of mid-Wilshire in all their post-WWII grit and glory.

In an interview with the L.A. Times (who published an interactive 1947 crime map online) the video game's Sydney, Australia-based developers recounted how they studied over 180,000 historical photos, including Robert Spence's aerial photos, to bring '40s Los Angeles back to life.

True, the art and design team took some liberty with some of the game's locations and details: The La Brea Tar Pits were renamed Westlake Tar Pits and relocated near 8th and Vermont, and the designers admit to growing the era's then-3-foot palm trees to full size in the game. And when historic L.A. expert Nathan Marsak of the 1947Project took the game for a test drive, he found many "oft-photographed buildings" and landscape details missing, and Bunker Hill Avenue and Angels Flight Pharmacy that existed in '47 were nowhere to be seen, among other anachronisms.

Despite the inconsistencies, more forgiving historicphiles will still get a kick out of the cameos by spots like Clifton's Cafeteria, the Herald Examiner building and Hollywood's Cross Roads of the World.

Click on the photos above to see some of the game's locations as they were circa the '40s and in 2011, along with just a few as they appear in the game (we don't want to spoil it for you!). That is, if you're not to busy driving that Studebaker Commander all over town, or into mailboxes, sidewalks, street lights and the occasional pedestrian—this was brought to you by the folks of Grand Theft Auto, after all.