Civic Center

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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City Hall South was dedicated October 1954. Has ten floor (plus basement) with a gross floor area of 138,333 sqf plus 55,640 sqf of landscaped grounds.

City Hall East rises 280 feet above Main St, with 18 stories plus a helipad, and 4 levels below Main St. Gross floor area above Main St is 549,000 sqf and gross floor area at mall level is 85,800 sqf. Gross area for three parking levels between City Hall South and City Hall East is 268,500 sqf.

East Mall and underground parking
Gross parking area: 1,051,800 sqf. Gross mall area: 272,900 sqf.

False starts and forgotten plans characterize Los Angeles' journey to a civic center. The first building erected by the City was a jail. It was about two blocks from City Hall.
Spring St Lot1910Los Angeles City Council approved funding to purchase a lot on Spring Street which one day would serve as the site of a new civic center. It was located across from the ranch home which had served as Los Angeles' first municipal home.
Site Chosen1923Mayor Woodman appointed a Civic Center Committee under William Mulholland. After much public debate, the committee recommended the old Temple Block, replacing the Romansque county courthouse there.
Voters Approve1923Voters formally approved a site bounded by First, Sunset, Hill and Los Angeles streets. This was adjacent to the pueblo founded in 1781, which had been built as a social gathering place as mandated by Spain's Law of Indies. Also, across the street was the Los Angeles Archdiocese headquarters at Saint Vibiana's Cathedral, dedicated in 1876.
A site was chosen in 1923, but the next step -- actualizing the civic center -- had been being debated already for decades.

Many plans proliferated after 1923, chief among them those by Allied Architects and Cook and Hall.

Charles Robinson1909The first plan had been commissioned from City Beautiful advocate Charles Mulford Robinson (of Rochester). However, it just collected dust.
Cook and Hall1923A plan was commissioned from landscape architects Wilbur Cook and George Hall.
Allied Architects1924A plan was commissioned from Allied Architects of Los Angeles.
Plans Fail1927A combination of Cook and Hall's and Allied Architects' plans were adopted, but cost, controversy and then World War II prevented their full implementation. The Hall of Justice (envisioned by Allied Architects) and the City Hall (envisioned by Cook and Hall) were the only major structures of the civic center to be built in the era. Each stood independent and disconnected from each other and their surroundings.

Peter, a homeless man begging
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Peter, a homeless man begging

"Evolution of Los Angeles" mural by Tony Sheets, 1988-1989 LA Times Parking Garage
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"Evolution of Los Angeles" mural by Tony Sheets, 1988-1989
LA Times Parking Garage