If you’ve ever read a Raymond Chandler novel, you know Bunker Hill. Nathan Marsak resurrects the long-gone neighborhood in his new book Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir, sending us back more than 150 years to witness the new community rising.
Around 1870, grazing land was transformed into an exclusive suburb filled with socialites trying to out-Jones one another with increasingly grander mansions. But what was fashionable up until 1920 soon went out of vogue, the remaining pensioners surviving among “alcoholics, the gaunt packrats, the working girl,” as novelist John Fante wrote.
The hill became the city’s first redevelopment zone and was wiped out in the 1960s. Then Disney Hall, MOCA, and skyscrapers arose. Marsak’s extraordinary photos and pop-infused prose make the lost kingdom come alive.
Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir is out Tuesday, September 22 from Angel City Press.