Broadway And 7th – Downtown Los Angeles – 1947

Downtown Los Angeles cable car circa 1947

The busiest intersection in town is bustling with activity. An electric streamliner street car heads north on Broadway. A banner blows in the morning breeze. Broadway is one of the few streets in Los Angeles that actually looks like a traditional big American city.

Lined with more department stores, specialty shops, eating places and movie palaces than anywhere else in Southern California, for many years Broadway was the retail and entertainment backbone of Los Angeles. For more than fifty years, beginning just after the turn of the century, Broadway, between 4th and 9th streets was a destination location for the masses who came from the suburbs, primarily by streetcar, to shop, go to the movies, and eat.

On the left side of the street is Bullock’s department store, Le Roy’s Jewelry, Kress Five & Dime, the Los Angeles Theater and Swelldom, which sold women’s fashions. On the right, Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria, Harris & Frank, and Bond, both men’s and women’s clothing stores, and The Palace Theater. The KRKD radio tower on the Arcade Building broadcasted from 1932 to 1961.

During the 50s, Broadway’s demographic began to change and become what it is today – a hustling-bustling multi-cultural market place and largest concentration of historic movie palaces in the world. The last streetcar ran in downtown Los Angeles in 1963.


View more great vintage slides of Americana!

8 Responses to “Broadway And 7th – Downtown Los Angeles – 1947”

  1. janelle says:

    My best memory of my childhood, (1950′s)was riding with my grandmother on the bus to downtown Bullock’s. She worked in the book dept there. Once a month we would get all dressed up, she would fix my hair and we would ride the bus downtown. I can still smell the exhaust fumes, hear the noise of the people. traffic, and just the busyness of Downtown. I loved it! we would enter the beautiful Bullocks with all their glass cases and mannequins. We would ride the elevator and were greeted by an attendant, dressed in uniform, asking us what floor we wanted. We would first visit a friend she worked with in the book dept. and he always would give me a piece of juicy fruit gum..I looked so forward to that piece of gum. My grandmother, did not have much money, but The time she spent with me and the memories she gave me, money can’t buy and I often play this memory over and over in my mind, I thank God I grew up in the era I did. America has lost it’s charm.

  2. John Russell says:

    After 6+ years of struggling…from one rental to the next in So. Cal…. my family moved to a rental house in South Pasadena, in 1937. We lived one block from the Pacific Electric station, at Fair Oaks and Huntington Drive. On Saturdays, we could take the PE to downtown L.A. and disembark, either at 7th and Main St., or in the PE Depot. At Christmas time, Bullock’s, Robinson’s, The May Co. and Barker Brothers department stores, had incredible display windows with various moving figures, bright lights and all the wonders of the season. We would meet my Dad, who was just beginning to eke out a living in his fledgling insurance agency business, at Schaber’s Cafeteria, two blocks down from Bullock’s. I read, recently, that the Schaber’s building, which was gutted by fire during the 1992 Rodney King riots and which was partly restored in 1994, is being resurrected into a French bistro restaurant, with an effort to replicate the original elegance of the Spanish Colonial building.

    Dining at Schaber’s was quite special. Beautiful tile work was found throughout the exterior and interior. The tables were covered with white linen tablecloths and set with silver-plated place settings. Waiters in white coats filled the glasses with water and brought coffee, tea, or milk. Two “U”-shaped serving lines provided a sumptuous array of items…at a very reasonable price. A small string ensemble played music from the mezzanine, where one could dine, as well.

    These were just a few of the grand memories I hold of Downtown Los Angeles, during the Depression period and early part of WWII.

  3. Paul Hettick says:

    My grandma had Edie’s Candy Store on seventh st. Nearby was Harry’s Coffee Shop. Harry’s was an awesome mid century restaraunt! I was impressed evn as a 5 year old!

  4. Tim W says:

    One can almost hear Jerry Goldsmith’s theme from Chinatown. Los Angeles, long ago. My dad and uncles home from the war. Back home in L.A.

  5. Robert Perez says:

    Dear Scott Mercer,

    In all likelihood the streetcar is on the “P Car” line, which ran between the Rowan & Dozier loop in Belvedere Gardens (East Los Angeles), and the Pico-Rimpau loop in the westside. The all electric streamlined PCC streetcars were delivered to Los Angeles in 1948 and ran exclusively on the “P Car” line until the abandonment of the streetcar system in March 1963. Only on the last day of streetcar service was the all electric PCC allowed to run on the “J Car Line”.

  6. pg says:

    Oh, man! This is such a great picture! You can almost imagine Jack Kerouac walking down this street. After all, these are the places (old downtown LA with the bums) he wrote about so romantically and sweetly.I can just imagine him inside a gresy spoon accross the street describing that giant brown building with all those neon lights and the hussle and bustle from the streets and sidewalk!!Great pic, Charles! Keep it up!!

  7. Daniel E. Saint James says:

    For those who might like to ride in one of those electric streetcars today. A few of those very streetcars, actually brought here from Los Angeles, are now running up and down Market Street in the beautiful city where I live, San Francisco.

  8. Scott Mercer says:

    Wish I could tell what line this PCC streetcar is running on, but several of the Los Angeles Transit Lines routes ran up and down Broadway in this section, all converging in the middle of the city. In any event, I believe this is one of the later, post World War II PCC cars, which means it is close to new in this picture, probably less than one year old.

Leave a comment and join in on the fun!