CityDig: USC in “West Los Angeles” During The Roaring Twenties


Click to enlarge map

It is ironic that the University of Southern California appears as part of West Los Angeles on this plate from a Baist real estate atlas dated at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties. Despite considering the Westside behind enemy lines in recent history, the area now called University Park District was then known as West Los Angeles. USC in 1921 was still young; it had been just over thirty years since it welcomed its first graduating class (of three students) and just nine since its teams had been called “the Fighting Methodists.” The map shows a small campus between 34th and 35th streets boxed in by Hoover and University with just *eight visible buildings. It’s possible that Bovard Hall, which was built in 1921, is one of the structures and that the large College of Liberal Arts is part of this group. At the time Trojan football team (they had been renamed by a sports reporter nine years earlier) was 10 and 0. Their victories came over stalwarts like Caltech, Whittier, Oregon Agricultural, Occidental and the U.S.S. Arizona. Big, bad Notre Dame was still in Indiana and five years away from the first game of their rivalry. The two-year-old University of California Southern Branch, which would later move to Westwood and become U.C.L.A., was nearby on Vermont Ave.

Baist Atlases were done for Los Angeles in 1910, 1912, 1914, 1921, and 1923, showing important details on streets, the quality of structures, street-rail lines, water mains, section lines, and even identifying tracts by name. They have become a precious resource for local history nerds and even dogged genealogists. Baist atlases also present a wider scope than most Fire Insurance atlases and typically show sixteen streets per sheet which many times captures an entire neighborhood.

Above: Baist’s Real Estate Atlas Survey of Los Angeles, California by George William Baist, 1921, Sheet 18

*This post has been updated.

Los Angeles Public Library map librarian Glen Creason shares a map from the Central Library’s collection at CityThink each week.

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  • Kyle

    There are eight buildings, not seven. The eighth building is clearly Bovard. It’s the red building right below the main seven buildings. How closely did you doofs look at this map before posting this crap description? Jesus.

    • PerkinsW

      By your manners and reasoned response to a light-hearted blog post is is evident that you attended USC…the amazing part is that you can count to eight…

      • Kyle

        Thanks for adding to the discussion of the topic at hand while avoiding ad hominem attacks against me!

        • PerkinsW

          “doofs” and “crap” is “discussion of the topic”? Reads more like sophomoric-troll-speak.

          • Kyle

            Perhaps a different choice of words would have been better, but how else is there to describe such a horrible description?

            Old maps are a major interest of mine, and most of Glen’s blog work is very informative. This map looks like he spent 2 minutes, counted the buildings in the main square, and posted it with a bunch of random USC football trivia. Did he completely miss the square right under the main portion of campus that says “UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA” and has Bovard’s unique footprint in bright red? I’m just in awe about how someone as talented as Glen can post something so weak and uninformative…unless you want to know about the 1921 USC football team. Then you’ll learn a lot.