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  • What better way to celebrate Halloween than to talk about Harry Houdini, the greatest magician who ever lived. He died on Halloween in 1926 and on that day for 10 years thereafter, his wife tried to contact him by holding seances. He starred in a few early movies even -- mostly silent pics and serials. And he lived here for a time, though he was based mostly out of New York. These days, magicians...
  • LAistory is a series that takes us on a journey to what came before to help us understand where we are today. So far we've been to Val Verde, Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe, a house in Beverly Hills, Echo Park's Bonnie Brae House, Marineland of the Pacific, and Grand Central Air Terminal, and Wrigley Field. Los Angeles. L.A. The name is so familiar. Whenever major cities in the U.S. are named, Los Angeles is...
  • Photo used with permission of M. London. In 1849, a flood of people came to California to cash in on the gold rush. They spent years bent over rivers, sifting for gold. Sometimes they made a fortune. Others, they came away empty handed. In this town, perseverance can really pay. Or sometimes it just gets you even more screwed. The “Dan the Miner” Statue has stood in Carthay Square since 1925 and has certainly...
  • In Los Angeles, we knock things down. We build them the way we like them. We believe in creating a world the way we think it should be. It's this ethic that has destroyed some of our more famous landmarks, Pickfair was dismantled by Pia Zadora, the original Brown Derby may, at the time of this writing, be a dry cleaner. In a place where people come to reinvent themselves no one has much...
  • Ken Kesey told us that “Some things are true, even if they never really happen.” What if a woman was never killed in a house that looks like it might gobble you up if you’re not careful? What if that crime felt true? Then where are you? Well, the answer is, of course, Los Angeles. The Sowden House was built in 1926, for artist and photographer, John Sowden. He wanted a startling space with...
  • Photo by Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives Hiking through the Hollywood Hills, one finds a lot of garbage. There's the usual bottles and cans of various types, old bits of carpeting, couches, bones, bicycles, even old cars sometimes. They all have (little h) history. Someone had to truck it up there and leave it, either to get rid of it, or to live in it, whatever. But very little has (capital H) History to it. Though...
  • We talk about "It" girls in this town. There's a new flavor every week. It could be Mischa Barton, Scarlett Johansson, or Sienna Miller. We all kind of know what that means. A young starlet, largely untried but definitely gorgeous and sexy. But did you know that the phrase comes from one "It" girl? The original was the one and only Clara Bow. Clara Bow was an original Hollywood legend; born into the tenements of...
  • Los Angeles drifts and crumbles under the feet of progress. Gone are the streetcars, the original Schawb's, such hangouts at the Coconut Grove and Chasen's. The Brown Derby was once one of the crown jewels in the LA restaurant scene. There were a number of locations, but there are three that stand out. One was located across the street from the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard (this was the shape of an actual hat), the...
  • Photo by dtaylor123 via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr There are plenty of ways you can reach out and connect with Los Angeles' vast and fascinating history beyond the confines of our weekly LAistory column. Whether it be through joining a preservation group, taking a walking tour, visiting a museum or historic site, or opening up the pages of a book, LA's stories are often within our grasp. For LAistory, while we...
  • All cities have the things they’ve plowed under. In Los Angeles, we still have whole neighborhoods that are named after things that aren’t there anymore. The Carthay area is named after a legendary movie palace, the Carthay Circle Theater. Other areas are also named after movie theaters, like Picfair, but Carthay Circle was considered on par with Grauman’s Chinese and second to none. A first run, road-show house, Carthay Circle was built in 1926,...
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