Southern California in the 1940's
October 2, 2012 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Travel: My Father’s Color Images of Southern California in the 1940′s. Pretty much what it says on the tin. Some nice color snaps. The main reason I posted this is I can't stop looking at this shot of the Universal Studios' back lot.
posted by marxchivist (22 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Sweet. I love stuff like this.

One caption says "This photo likely was taken in 1947, since photographing defense facilities during WW II was a no no." Like photographing TSA checkpoints today. Mission creep gonna creep.
posted by resurrexit at 9:55 AM on October 2, 2012

I want to go to then.
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on October 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

A nice view of local history, thanks. Your mom could have bested most Hollywood starlets in the looks department.
posted by ahimsakid at 9:57 AM on October 2, 2012

Wow, that back lot photo is special.
posted by zzazazz at 10:00 AM on October 2, 2012

I have one of those 'Then And Now' books that compares San Diego 100 years ago to its present-day self and it is pretty amazing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:00 AM on October 2, 2012

Orange groves were still a part of the landscape, and nearly everyone had an orange tree in their back yard.

This wasn't uncommon back when I lived there either, in the 70s, although our orange tree didn't fruit anymore. My grandparents had a lemon tree in their yard and would mail me the fruit even after I moved to Iowa.

As for orange groves back in the...90s, I guess, I visited my grandparents and on the way somewhere the engine overheated. We stopped at a farm to get water and it turned out to be a family-owned orange grove.

So...they still exist.
posted by DU at 10:08 AM on October 2, 2012

Man, this is great stuff. Thanks for posting. Backlot photo = amazing! I toured that lot in the 70s while they were filming The Sting, and we saw tons of original sets and TV interiors. What surprised me was how small the place actually was.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:10 AM on October 2, 2012

I can't stop looking at this shot of the Universal Studios' back lot.

It's only a model
posted by dubold at 10:10 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm trying to think of a Universal Pictures' movie that that castle entrance would be in over on the right of the back lot photo. Robin Hood was Warner Bros. Doesn't look like Castle Frankenstein either. Found out about this from this blog post.
posted by marxchivist at 10:14 AM on October 2, 2012

OK, by looking at a list of movies that Universal put out in the 30s and 40s, I've found a clip that you can just barely see the castle in (pause during the opening credits and you can see it). I'm sure there are better examples.
posted by DU at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2012

Thanks DU, I expected nothing less from this place.
posted by marxchivist at 10:38 AM on October 2, 2012

I've always enjoyed comparing old photos to modern day. And maybe there's some pride in finding the photo's location through Google Maps.

First picture of the buildings
Basically the same. A few signs have changed, but the Eastern building looks like it was pulled through time, and the United Artists sign is still up.

Pasadena Town/City Hall
Fewer trees, more pavement :( Building looks the same.

Santa Catalina
Again mostly unchanged. There are other pictures that show the cruise ships have gotten a bit bigger ;D

Mmmm ... time travel.
posted by LoudMusic at 10:45 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't find a clip of of either movie, but:
The exterior castle sets constructed for this film became a staple of the Universal backlot and could be seen time and time again in subsequent films (most prominently in the 1952's The Black Castle). - The Tower of London (1939)
posted by DU at 10:49 AM on October 2, 2012

Why is there a picture of Pawnee, Indiana in there?
posted by The World Famous at 10:51 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Pasadena City Hall is itself a movie set. You may remember it from such productions as "The Great Dictator" and "Parks and Recreation." (Thank you, John Bengtson.)
posted by Longtime Listener at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's a movie set, or it's been used as a movie back drop? Those two things seem very different to me.
posted by mrnutty at 11:33 AM on October 2, 2012

It's been used as a set location.
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 AM on October 2, 2012

*whooshing sound*
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on October 2, 2012

posted by The World Famous at 11:46 AM on October 2, 2012

Wonder what the smog levels would be if those streetcars were still there in downtown LA?
posted by yoga at 12:43 PM on October 2, 2012

Love this stuff.

Previously on Metafilter the Cushman Archive is a collection of over 14,000 slides and photos taken over a period of three decades, from 1938 to 1969.

Here's main street LA, Ca 1952
posted by marvin at 1:40 PM on October 2, 2012

I was a transplant to the San Fernando Valley from 1996-2002, and the little glimpses you could catch of pre-1950 Los Angeles were always so fascinating to me. A little bit heartbreaking too, given what a smoggy, sprawling concrete and asphalt wasteland it is now. Every now and then in the northern parts of the Valley I'd stumble on an intersection with a cluster of older buildings (maybe a gas station, a bar/restaurant, and a couple of shops) which you could tell used to be the only thing for miles, but had long since been engulfed by sprawl. I remember talking to an elderly, life-long resident of Sherman Oaks who could remember when most of Ventura Boulevard was still orange groves. It must have been so lovely!

See also: The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb
posted by usonian at 2:48 PM on October 2, 2012

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