Video: A Split-Screen Comparison Of 1940s And Present Day Bunker Hill
We're sometimes hesitant when we hear of our NY-brethrens touting something about L.A. But this video—made for The New Yorker, no less—is neat and totally absorbing. It's a split-screen video that takes you on a leisurely cruise around Bunker Hill. On one side, you see Bunker Hill in the 1940s, awash in the kind of elegant decay that has been fetishized in noir films. On the other side, you see the area as it is today, which means skyscrapers, traffic, construction, and even more construction.
The video, directed by Keven McAlester (who's made music videos for Spoon and Vashti Bunyan), starts off on 2nd Street and rounds onto Grand Avenue. In the present-day side, we can see the Walt Disney Concert Hall looming in the back. In the 1940s side, we see that a two-story house used to occupy that spot. It's a recurring theme: Bunker Hill, once a place for renters and homeowners, is now dominated by office and retail spaces. The one thing that's remained the same? The L.A. Central Library, which is just as solemn and stately today as it had been in the 1940s.
As noted at KCET, Bunker Hill used to be rife with lavish Victorian houses. But, according to the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Depression sent the area plunging into "squalor and crime." In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Housing Act of 1949, which was intended to filter government money into local redevelopment projects. The aim was to build and promote residential areas. L.A. city officials took a different route: the homes, stores, and modest apartment buildings gave way to skyscrapers and other large-scale developments. McAlester's video drives home this point when, towards the end, the present-day side is logjammed with orange cones and detour signs.