Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

1895: Drawing of downtown Los Angeles looking southwest from the Courthouse tower. This image was published in the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times / ProQuest

1895: Drawing of downtown Los Angeles looking southeast from the Courthouse tower. This image was published in the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times / ProQuest

1895: Drawing of Broadway from 5th Street in downtown Los Angeles. This image was published in the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times / ProQuest

1895: Drawing of the southwest corner of 1st and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles. This image was published in the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times / ProQuest

1895: Drawing of Main Street looking east in downtown Los Angeles. This image was published in the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times / ProQuest

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1896 newspaper illustrations of Los Angeles

1895: Five hand-drawn illustrations of Los Angeles were published on the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times front page.

This special 40-page edition, known as the Midwinter Number edition, promoted the virtues of the fast-growing city.

The Jan. 1, 1896, L.A. Times front-page story began:

Nature must have been in her most genial mood when she molded the spot where Los Angeles now stands, and perfected its environment. Her endeavor must have been to give a fit setting to the city of the future, which, with prophetic eye, she saw, down the dim vistas of Time, standing, as it stands today, a city of beautiful home, of inviting loveliness, and of unlimited possibilities.

There is probably no city in the United States that is better known throughout the country as a desirable place of residence than is Los Angeles of today, with its enticing charms of climate, its wonderful business activity, its modern residences of constantly changing architectural design, set each in its delightful garden of bloom and fragrance, amid nodding palm and pepper, with clinging vines and flowering bush, and generous expanse of greensward, fresh in December as in June, and as fragrant at the old year’s close as is the sweet Maytime of an eastern summer…

The days of hand-drawn illustrations in the 1890s were numbered. A new disruptive technology – halftone reproduction – was coming.

According to the Time-Life Book “Photojournalism,” published in 1971, “in 1891 there were 1,000 artists turning out more than 10,000 drawings a week for the press.”  On “January 21, 1897, the New York Tribune published the first halftone reproduction to appear in a mass circulation daily paper.”

By 1900, newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, relied heavily on halftone photographic reproduction.

Here is a view from the Court House tower, circa 1900, that is very similar to the first illustration in the above gallery. The old County Court House, built in 1888 and used through 1936, was at the corner of Broadway and Temple Street.

Front page of the Jan. 1, 1896, Los Angeles Times. In 1896, the Times cost 2½ cents an issue or 75 cents per month. Credit: ProQuest.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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