CityDig: Grider and Dow’s 1894 Los Angeles


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This somewhat raggedy six-fold map was included in “B. R. Baumgardt and Co.’s tourists guide book to South California,” published nearly 120 years ago. It was originally created like many early maps by realtors trying to sell land in the city. Grider and Dow had offices downtown at 109 ½ Broadway, where they hoped to interest buyers in this city of 62,000 residents poised to become a metropolis. The Grider and Dow motto was “subdivisions and tracts a specialty,” but they also offered huge chunks of agricultural land for orange and walnut growing. Simple and limited in scope, this map portrays a city on both sides of the Los Angeles River recovering from an economic downturn after the huge population booms of the 1880s.  Young Los Angeles was ready to rebound with the discovery of oil and increasing commerce brought on by the full establishment of the railroads. Considerable civilization is visible on the map, including both Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroad depots that caused a shift from the old pueblo-as-town-center to the West near the new court house and the newspaper offices of the Times. Old Chinatown with all its illicit charms is noted on the land where Union Station would later be built. Also represented are horse and electric powered street rail (49 cars’ worth), reservoirs, large public spaces (including the just eight-year-old Elysian Park), East Side (later Lincoln), “Athletic Park” (where baseball and bicycle racing took place), and the tony resort of Westlake.  Final destinations are also evident: there’s the old Calvary burial grounds where Cathedral High School now stands, Rosedale, Evergreen, and the Hebrew cemetery, the first Jewish site in Los Angeles, dating back to 1855.

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