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Slide Show: Midcentury L.A. As Seen By Southern California Edison

I joined a couple hundred people at the Huntington Library last night for the launch of their new exhibit Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940–1990, the first online component of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative. The Huntington acquired 70,000 images from the utility company and will be making them available through their website. Eighteen curators including DJ Waldie and Ruben Martinez interpreted the collection with eclectic themes like “Noir” and “Foodstuffs” to offer a jumping off point into the vast archive that covered the even more vast Edison terrain that stretched from the Sierras to the Mexican border.  The images capture the hidden infrastructure grid and everyday life in midcentury L.A. with gems like Fashion show at San Onofre Power Plant popping up unexpectedly amidst miles of transmission line pictures and road building shots.  Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne described the buildings as representing “modern architecture at a public scale” and mused on putting “forward thinking architecture in a historical perspective.”  Here’s a slideshow with a handful of images, but visit the collection online and get ready to live better electrically.

 

 

 

 

Artist unknown, Safety First, 1915. Photograph, 5 in. x 7 in. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Doug White, Shopping Bag Market, date unknown. Photograph, 4 in. x 5 in. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Artist unknown, Hemet: Main Street, circa 1940. Photograph, nitrate. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Doug White (photographer), The Famous Merle's Drive-in (Visalia), ca. 1950. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Joseph Fadler, Wilco Gas & Sieberling Tire Store, 1954. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Joseph Fadler, Pokey's Restaurant (Beverly Drive at Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles), 1955. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.