Fun in Downtown L.A. Then and Now

Family Vacation, 32 years ago. American Airlines 747 from NYC’s Kennedy Airport to LAX. After the image below, is the story of  “Early A.M. in L.A.  on 11/10/87”   

 Images: Above: Giant Swiss Army Knive at Museum of Contempoary Art, Downtown L.A. – and L.A. as seen from Griffith Observatory, 11/11/87 with  City Hall to left – 5.6 miles (9 km) distant.
Above, the iconic L.A. City Hall, known at the time as “The Dragnet Building.”

Twelve hours after landing, I would be exploring Los Angeles by foot before the morning’s rush hour, while the family slept off jet-lag in the Holiday Inn about a mile away. An awesome two hour adventure into an “architectually diverse” downtown, with parks and plazas, and… WHAT??? – a Giant Swiss Army Knife???   Yes indeed!  


And, not far away, …Swinging Cars!hi

Years later, and of course living 3000 miles away, I wondered exactly where these two photos were taken. I searched maps, and photos where I could, without success – until now. Thanks to the remarkable 3D satellite image and orientation tools available on most any smart phone and/or computer, I “flew” between the buildings and first found the cars: W. Fourth street, and S. Grand Ave.  See it below?

The Swiss Army knife was a lot harder. In fact, it’s not there anymore. BUT, by looking at the photo I took in 1987, and specifically for the glass pyramid in its background,  I zoomed way in on the “Tom Tom” 3D map, and searched until noticing the glass pyramid structure. Below is from today’s mapping app, zoomed in showing that same glass pyramid. A “new” contempoary display is in the exact place where the knife was 32 years ago. 

Above: The Plaza at The Museum of Contemporary Art, on S. Grand Street, L.A. (From Tom Tom Maps,  Apple I-Pad)

Below, another photo of downtown Los Angeles on that beautiful morning.

Thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome, and zoom in for a closer look. M 🙂

7 thoughts on “Fun in Downtown L.A. Then and Now

  1. If you fire up Google Earth, there is a chance you might see the knife.

    That’s because on the lower-left of the display there is a timeline slider. If they had any kind of images of the area (usually aerial photos, sliding backward in time might bring them up. It’s interesting doing that with some places I’ve lived and see what those places looked like 30 or 40 (or more) years ago.

  2. artie

    Dragnet-Joe Friday.1966 on my way to Dago for posting {USN} had to get a connecting at LA. Had 4 days, decided to go into LA. Went to cab stand ask driver to take me into town. He looked at me in uniform and said don’t bother not worth it. I turned around and got a standby to Dago and never look back.

  3. Artie: Funny you say that. When planning our vacation that year, the general consensus in tour books was also, not to waste your time. In fact that 2 hour jaunt early that morning was Awesome, and probably the best part of the vacation for me! I would do it again in a heartbeat, only with a lot more time. M 🙂

  4. Apparently, that very large Swiss Army Knife was too heavy for this post. Just doesn’t want to play. But look out for a new post (hopefully before Christmas) dedicated solely to that knife.
    There is always more than one way to insult a cat. (I certainly wouldn’t advocate harming cats!)
    M 🙂

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