Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

Video: This Is What Downtown L.A. Was Like In 1912

LAist relies on your reader support.
Your tax-deductible gift today powers our reporters and keeps us independent. We rely on you, our reader, not paywalls to stay funded because we believe important news and information should be freely accessible to all.

In the short film "Views of Los Angeles," 1912 L.A. looks a lot more bustling than you might expect from a city that was widely considered a "Wild West" town at that point, especially in comparison to East Coast metropoles. The crowded, hectic street scenes, packed with streetcars, horse-drawn carriages, automobiles, pedestrians, and even bicycles (!) look more in line with common perceptions of early 20th century New York. If you're a fan of grainy black and white footage, Victorian fashion, and Los Angeles history, you will get a kick out of this film.

It goes beyond downtown, too—after exploring the hectic city streets, the film cuts to a park that appears to be the L.A. Alligator Farm in Lincoln Heights, which featured "2000 alligators and a smattering of turtles, iguanas and snakes" (and was also, conveniently, next door to an ostrich farm!) In the video, was see an alligator keeper literally grab them out of a pond with his bare hands. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it, but, yes, the place was real.

The film was produced by the EYE Film Institute, a film archive and museum in the Netherlands that preserve and screen Dutch and foreign films alike. You don't have to understand Dutch (this writer sure doesn't!), to have fun poking around the website if you're into old archival film footage.