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

Share This


Photos: Part Of Old L.A. Times Building Bombed In 'The Crime Of The Century' Possibly Uncovered

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

Crews digging a lot at West 1st Street and Broadway downtown have found what appears to be a part of the old L.A. Times building. The site is at the location of what the paper dubbed "The Crime of the Century," when union activists destroyed the second L.A. Times building in a bombing in 1910.

The structure unearthed looks like it may have been a part of the second or third L.A. Times building, though that has yet to be confirmed. The lot, which also happens to be the former site of the State Building, is being developed into an extension of Grand Park, according to the L.A. Times.

Whichever building this underground structure was a part of, its shape bears a striking resemblance to the second and third L.A. Times buildings that formerly stood there. It's also located at the site of an important moment in Los Angeles history.

On October 1, 1910, the second L.A. Times building was bombed by the McNamara brothers. The brothers were members of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, and the Times' publisher, Harrison Gray Otis, was virulently anti-union. The Iron Workers Union had begun a campaign in 1906 to dynamite factories in an effort to bring owners to the table.

Support for LAist comes from

A bomb placed in an alley next to the building went off around 1 a.m., instead of the planned 4 a.m., due to a faulty timer. The dynamite alone wasn't enough to destroy the building, but gas lines under the building finished the job. Union members had always made sure to bomb empty buildings to avoid loss of life, but the faulty timer and the fact that Times employees were working overnight on an early edition resulted the death of 21 people.

The McNamara brothers plead guilty in trial for separate bombings, with James McNamara serving a life sentence for murder in the L.A. Times bombing. He would later die thirty years later in San Quentin from cancer. The Times rebuilt on the site, erecting a "castle-like" clock tower as well, before moving in to its current home in 1935.

"Skyscraper enthusiasts" at have done the detective work on the unearthed structure, first noticing the resemblance it shares with the old Times building. In 1938, it seems as if the basement of the Times building was repurposed into the underground parking structure for the State Building. The parking structure even has two levels, much like the basement built for the third Times building in 1912.

An awesome set of photos from photographer Hunter Kerhart shows the structure from within in the midst of its demolition.

In 1976, the State Building was torn down after it was damaged in the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. Its foundation lay essentially abandoned and undeveloped since, serving as a park and homeless encampment before its current process of rejuvenation.