Wattstax [SLYT] is a 1973 documentary film about the 1972 Wattstax music festival, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Featuring performances by Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, The Emotions, The Bar-Kays, and other greats of soul, R&B, and gospel, Wattstax also incorporates relatively unknown comic Richard Pryor's musings on life for black Americans in 1972, "man-and-woman-on-the-street" interviews, and audience footage. [NSFW] [more inside]
Vintage Los Angeles is Alison Martino's YouTube channel featuring a look back at Los Angeles during the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. There's an accompanying blog and a facebook page, too.
Form and Landscape - Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990 - is a series of themed exhibitions that tell the story of how Los Angeles 'became modern' by using photos from the comprehensive archives of Southern California Edison. The photos portray the many roles that electricity has played in the development and modernization of Californian life and culture (domestic life, signage, streetscapes, etc.). Part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time Presents initiative.
116 years ago, bicycle superhighways were the future of California transit. The notion that anyone could profit from charging tolls on such a system seems insane now, but a wealthy businessman and an ex-governor conceived of elevated wooden platforms for bikers that would connect LA to the surrounding suburbs, and they even cleared and built the first section. [more inside]
Since 2009, a thread on the Skyscraper Page forums has been dedicated to trawling for old photos and stories of Los Angeles, mostly from the LA Public Library and USC Archives. Thousands of posts have accumulated into a fascinating portrait of the city. [more inside]
Of the hundreds of species of palm trees you might find in southern California, only one is native to the state, and that shaggy specimen is naturally found around springs and arroyos in the desert southwest, not lined along beach community parks and streets. How did a desert tree become an icon of fruitful turn of the twentieth century Los Angeles, the former garden city? KCET writer Nathan Masters provides a brief history of palm trees in southern California. [more inside]
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times celebrated the 130th anniversary of its first issue, and marked the occasion with 130 photos from Los Angeles history, as well as a gallery of historic front pages.
Over fifty years after Los Angeles' first nuclear meltdown, the State of California is finally getting around to decontaminating the radioactive fallout.
Uneven Terrain is a series of short documentaries about urban exploration, about 10-15 minutes long each. There are six so far, about monumental ruins in New York, Centralia, the Pennsylvania town where an underground coalseam has been on fire since the 1960s, abandoned missile silos in the US and how they're being turned into homes, oil drilling in Los Angeles, the Teufelberg listening station and the abandoned bunkers under Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and pirate radio in London and on the old Redsand sea forts. Each short doc has a different presenter. All have accompanying photo galleries. [These are produced for the bootmaker Palladium, but it's pretty low-key]
Drive-through trees, Olvera Street, Knott's Berry Farm, and lots of other images and postcards of California at Image Archaeology.
Los Angeles in the 1900s is a collection of newspaper articles & photographs documenting life in L.A. from 1900 to 1909. Some of the articles are funny, some tragic, all informative about what life in the very young city was like prior to the explosive growth caused by Mullholland, the Film Industry, & the freeways.
Curating the City A Flash exhibition exploring the past and present urban landscape of Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. A modest topic explored in depth - which is perhaps what makes it so fascinating. The site includes a pdf guidebook, in case you want to check out the bricks-and-mortar version.
A Visit to Old Los Angeles "A pictorial survey of downtown Los Angeles, and certain other areas, focusing on the years 1900 to 1915, though occasionally making use of images from other times. This series will follow, primarily by means of actual postcards of the era, the travels of a farming family from the great plains as they visit Los Angeles and its environs in the early years of the Twentieth Century." In 29 episodes, and with lots of postcards.
All the Saints of the City of Angels: This website is dedicated to the exploration - at once poetic and historical - of this "spiritual geography" of Los Angeles; a road trip into the city's cultural, spiritual, and ethnic heritage via its streets which bear the names of saints.
Los Angeles' Curious Role in the Chinese Revolution "The oddest among the group was a sickly, 88-pound hunchback Angeleno who had bad eyesight, an obsession with military glory and more than a touch of genius." I can't describe this one. More interesting than anything Hollywood ever dreams up, that's for sure.