Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Jan. 9, 1949: An automobile parked near the Rose Bowl at Linda Vista Avenue and Lida Street sits covered with snow. This photo was published in the Jan. 10, 1949 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Al Humphreys / Los Angeles Times

Jan. 10, 1949: Patricia and James Perkins of Riverside are seeing snow for the first time. This photo was published in the Jan. 11, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 11, 1949: Jean Rogers, Mrs. Ted Fio Rito and Mrs. Harvey Holp roll a big snowball in a front yard in Bel Air. This photo was published in the Jan. 12, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Clay Willcockson / Los Angeles Times

Jan. 11, 1949: A snow-covered home on Opechee Way in the Verdugo Woodlands area of north Glendale. Photo was published in the Jan. 12, 1949 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 12, 1949: Ice on Gilmore Street in Van Nuys forced vehicles to travel at a cautious crawl. This photo was published in the Jan. 13, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 12, 1949: Cars line up on Sepulveda Boulevard in Sherman Oaks waiting for ice to melt before driving over the hill to West Los Angeles. Cars with chains were allowed through. At noon the road was opened. This photo was published in the Jan. 13, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 10, 1949: Snow falling on Santa Barbara Avenue near Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles. This photo was published in the Jan. 11, 1949, Los Angeles Times. In 1983 Santa Barbara Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Frank Brown / Los Angeles Times

Jan. 9, 1949: Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Tibbals put finishing touches on a snowman at their La Crescenta Avenue home in Montrose. This photo was published in the Jan. 10, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 10, 1949: Arvid Doucette in Riverside examines snow on citrus trees. This photo was published in the Jan. 11, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 11, 1949: A snowed-under walnut orchard on North Hazeltine Avenue in Van Nuys takes on a New England look. This photo was published in the Jan. 12, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

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In 1949, the snowman socked Los Angeles

From Jan. 9 through 12, 1949, snow fell in Los Angeles and Southern California.  In a Jan. 10, 1999, Los Angeles Times article, columnist Cecilia Rasmussen wrote:

On Jan. 10, 1949, in the middle of the worst housing shortage in Los Angeles history, more than half an inch of snow covered the Civic Center. The San Fernando Valley was pelted with the unfamiliar white stuff for three days, accumulating almost a foot. The Rose Bowl was transformed into “a dishpan full of milk,” by one account. An Alhambra hardware store put up a sign that said, “Snow Plows for Rent–Hurry!” A snowman appeared in Eagle Rock, wearing a sombrero, and the city of Reno, Nev., sent L.A. a snow shovel.

In a semitropical climate where January sometimes feels like June, palm-lined boulevards were transformed into winter wonderlands. Altadena residents turned their evergreen-lined Christmas Tree Lane on snow-swaddled Santa Rosa Avenue into a miniature ski run, and golfers swapped nine irons for snow skis.

Other fun-seekers toted sleds, inner tubes–almost every imaginable means of transport on a coat of snow that fell soft as confectioner’s sugar as far away as Catalina.

Angelenos were forced to exchange their shorts and coconut oil for bulky jackets and gloves as flatland suburbanites scraped ice off windshields and downtown workers cursed the city’s hilly terrain.

The rare snowfall produced wondrous vistas and unexpected difficulties, as some motorists besieged with frozen radiators were trapped in their cars in Laurel Canyon for several hours. Farther north, the engine of crooner Bing Crosby’s green Cadillac froze near Castroville, where a kind motorist gave him a lift into town.

Snowball fights were fun and harmless, until three teenage boys began throwing snowballs at a streetcar stopped at Washington Boulevard and Hoover Street, breaking a window and injuring a woman passenger.

As with this winter’s Central Valley freeze, the snow heaped havoc on Southern California’s citrus growers, who fought day and night to keep their groves from freezing. When the mercury fell below 28, juicy oranges turned dry and tasteless. When temperatures dipped to 22 for three days in a row, growers fired up smudge pots.

Jack Frost nipped at noses and snowflakes fell, while an advertising blimp tied down at Vail Field in Montebello was crushed when a three-quarter-inch crust of ice weighing 4,000 pounds formed atop the big balloon.

Rasmussen’s full 1999 article 50 Years Ago, the Snowman Socked L.A. is online.

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