Historic Cobblestones Exposed in Lincoln Heights

May 27, 2007
Los Angeles

It is more than two weeks now since the graders came and removed the surface layer of the asphalt on Avenue 20, between Albion and Broadway, then went away without finishing their work. For all that time, the NO PARKING signs have hung on the telephone poles, and the regular parade of shortcutting commuters have bounced along on their unhappy shocks, as the street beneath them grew more uneven and dilapidated.

After a week, a flash of red edged by corroded silver was visible on Avenue 20 just before Broadway. A careful peek between passing cars revealed a long-buried light rail track, with a row of handsome, narrow brick placed alongside it.


For this neglected area, just NE of downtown on the far side of the river, was once a thriving commercial and residential community, with trains running frequently down the middle of the streets.

Here is a map of the immediate vicinity, drawn in 1906. The yellow lines demark the Yellow Trains of the Los Angeles Railway Company, and just in the middle heading approximately north-south you’ll find the line that ran along Avenue 20, passing between Main Street and Downey, now known as Broadway. Behind the dead end at Main, the Los Angeles Brewing Company, now the Brewery Arts Complex. Avenues 21 and 22 are ghost streets, their rows of Victorian cottages bulldozed so the 5 can whisk folks away at speeds unimaginable in ’06. Mayden too is no more. And the red line along Daly is a Pacific Electric Railway Company train.

Back to the state of the very sad street. Well into the second week with the gravel laid bare to constant steamrolling by SUVs and minivans, new patches opened up closer to Albion Street. Viewed from behind the windshield, these had a strangely archaic quality that demanded further inquiry.

Here is the intersection, with the peculiar patch visible in situ. You can see how dangerous it is to get close to the quarry:

But your intrepid reporter would not be daunted in her quest to see if that was really what it appeared to be. Wait for it… wait and… wait and… dash out and take a snap!

Aaaaahhh! Yes, those truly are cobblestones, that timeworn weapon of the disenfranchised European citizenry, laid alongside the old tracks in the heart of 21st Century Los Angeles. And somewhat haphazardly mortered, too. How extraordinary!


City of L.A., your street services suck, but I can’t really be angry that you scraped up my block and disappeared, because the sight of long-covered cobblestones have a peculiar calming effect on history geeks. So thanks a million for the cool experience. I’ll never look at the street the same way again. Now will you please get some guys over here to pave the freaking street?

your pal,

A Sad Day For the Officers

May 25, 1907
Los Angeles

For eleven years, pigeons have filled the nooks and roosts of the city’s police station, watching over the parade of troubled souls who come to that refuge, some dragged in bodily, others seeking aid. The police officers have coddled their feathered confederates, keeping them fat with daily offerings and giving names to the most distinctive of their numbers.

All that ends tomorrow, by order of the city’s judges and police officials. They have determined that the impromptu coop is a filthy nuisance and a hotbed of avian vice, and with that stark declaration, these spoiled creatures have been sentenced to death by sniper.

Yes, they will all be shot–starting with Old Bill, the big black male who reigns over his flock, and followed by all his courtiers, wives, children and cousins. Once their fate became clear, the officers insisted guns must be used, for they could not bear to snare and strangle their friends, and if they trapped and shipped them away, it would only be a matter of days before they returned to their longtime home.

Tonight the police station is a mournful place, and the sweet cooing of its aerial residents inspire only sadness in those below. Old Bill has but one night to live, and when he dies so too will a piece of the hearts of all who knew him.

A Fine Metz He’s In

May 19, 1907
Los Angeles

John B. Metz seems like just another suicide–the 44-year-old Deputy County Assessor was a well-dressed, well-trusted official-about-town who would often brood about how he would never marry because some girl had once jilted him. So when his body was found by the landlady at 514 South Wall Street, hanging out of bed with foam on his lips, self-administered poison was thought to be the death-dealing culprit.

Or could the positioning of his corpse be signs of a struggle? And what of the various recent sums of money, now missing, not properly turned into the Assessor’s office? Yesterday, before his after-work bout of heavy drinking (including, perhaps, a carbolic of some sort) Metz failed to turn in $120 ($2,637 USD 2006) which remains missing to-day.

Metz was removed to Bresee Brothers Undertaking at 855 South Figueroa; they will perform an autopsy as to aid the inquest.

News N’ Notes

May 13, 1907
Los AngelesCheck the barometer: rising suicide, murder and drunkenness let us know there’s a good chance of 1907 to-day.Lena Rossester lived in a bungalow at 604 Vitmer with a younger man–some would say her son, but the gentleman won’t give his name and begs that Lena’s recent fatal carbolic cocktail be suppressed by the press (no such doing here!); D. Orlackey made a move to murder his family at 1021 E. 54th, but his wily wife locked him in the closet until authorities could arrive; and Thomas Dunn, of no fixed address, made a bed of the Hollywood Electric tracks until rudely awakened by the fender of a trolley that took a good chunk out of his head (he’ll be fine–nothing a visit to the oft-mentioned Receiving Hospital can’t fix).

Ah, the touchstones of our time.

Horse Abuse At the Fiesta

May 9, 1907
Los Angeles

The spies of the SPCA were watching closely as the Fiesta electrical parade wound its way down Broadway last night, ready to spring forward in defense of the poor animals on whose shoulders so much of the festivities rests.

Sure enough, rider W.S. Voorsanger was spotted at 2nd and Broadway, spurring his horse so violently that blood showed on its flanks. Officer Mitchell approached Voorsanger to rebuke him, but the man galloped away, then pushed his mount into a run. Commissioning a nearby automobile, the SPCA officers gave chase, capturing their quarry near Fourth and Main. Voorsanger will stand trial in Police Court today on a charge of animal abuse; he claims he did not realize he was harming the horse, and gives no excuse for running.

Voorsanger… isn’t that Dutch for "to make bloody"? 

They Ain’t Buying It

May 7, 1907
Los Angeles

Jesse C. Cowd, of 187 South Broadway, told cops he was shot in the groin in the rear toilet-room of the Southern Hotel saloon at Market and Main…when an unidentified stranger dropped a revolver and it discharged on the floor. Cops don’t buy the story–the trail of blood leads from the cigar stand in front of the saloon where there had been a quarrel over a dice game. Despite there having been a large crowd at the time, there were, of course, no witnesses.

Alcoholiquality During Fiesta

May 6, 1907
Los Angeles

The rough-necked gentry of the Seventh Ward are known for the signs in their saloon windows that read “No Colored Persons Served Here” or just “No coons wanted.” When the City Council decided to abolish race discrimination during Fiesta, the removal of these signs was of primary importance, so the powers that be got to work on the matter without the usual requisite public discussion. This made those in the bartending profession feel persecuted, and the number of these signs, especially in the many bars along East Main Street, greatly multiplied.

In response, black leaders began organizing “runs” on various white bars, wherein black patrons would mob selected establishments as an example and warning. One of our trademark race riots seemed imminent. Luckily, instead, black delegates from the Sixth and Seventh wards mobbed City Hall, where Mayor Harper and City Attorney pushed through an official legal ordinance banning race discrimination and making the signs unlawful.

Theaters, of course, remain segregated.

Train Electro-Charged!

May 2, 1907
Los Angeles

Area men Peter Matlock, Morris Ross, and D. J. Berry were waiting for the Pacific Electric car at the Pine Avenue station with the usual mob making the usual Thursday afternoon rush, and had the good fortune to be at the forefront of the throng.

Though when the trolley approached and they grasped the metal guard rails to pull themselves on board, the crowd leapt back as the three men began convulsing in bizarre contortionist fits. With super-human strength they tore themselves from the train, falling heavily to the pavement, dazed and shocked beyond measure, their blistered hands a testament to the defective wiring and improper grounding–that most base, yet heady, of electrical cocktails–that had caused 500 volts to course through the car.

With stern reserve and newfound respect for Mr. Edison, they still caught the next car home.

New Heroine, Old Story

May 1, 1907
Los Angeles

“I love him, judge, and I just can’t keep away from him,” said winsome Grace Evans as tears coursed down her cheek. But she promised Justice Austin never to go near him again.

She was a simple country girl, caught in the swirl of gay city life, when she was led into a career of sin by one Alfred Medina. He taught her innocent twenty year-old mouth the ways of wrapping around an opium pipe. She stole twenty-three dollars to feed her habit, was popped for grand larceny, and spent a week in jail before being hauled before Austin. It was the contention of Deputy District Attorney Pearson that she had been more sinned against that had sinned, urging that she should escape sentence if she returned to the country to begin life anew.

And so it came to be that she promised never to see Medina again. But a young girl in the throes of having her innocence destroyed can scarcely be believed, though in time perhaps she may be redeemed.

In other Court news, Jesus “Bar Wielder” Suega was convicted of disturbing the peace and sentenced to twenty-five days in the City Jail. Suega had run amok in the Llewellyn Iron Works earlier in the week, attacking the workmen with a heavy piece of iron and driving all employees en masse from the establishment.