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Feb. 16, 1951: Statues of a World War l hero, left, Beethoven and a Spanish-American War hero are removed from Pershing Square. The statues were placed in storage during construction of underground parking structure.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 20, 1951: Few trees remain on the once-dense Pershing Square, which is being cleared for construction of an underground garage. Elimination of trees presented an exposed view of the Biltmore Hotel, left center. This photo was taken from a building at 6th and Hills streets and published in the Feb. 21, 1951, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

April 10, 1951: Pershing Square during construction of the underground garage. Construction, done at night, had gone down 15 feet. This image looked toward Olive and 6th streets.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Phil Bath / Los Angeles Times

May 10, 1951: A truck with another load of dirt prepares to pull out of the hole dug deep into Pershing Square for the city's $5-million, 2,000-car garage. A loaded truck left every minute between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., hauling away an average of 4,000 cubic yards of dirt each night. Much of the dirt carted away was used in the building of the Harbor Freeway or in Elysian Park. This photo was published in the May 15, 1951, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times

July 24, 1951: Construction of the Pershing Square underground parking garage was about 20% complete when Times staff photographer Paul Calvert took this photo from the roof of the Park Central Building, 412 W. 6th St. This photo was published in the July 25, 1951, Los Angeles Times. The first part of the parking structure opened May 1, 1952. The introductory parking price was 25 cents an hour.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 1, 1952: Construction of underground parking garage at Pershing Square. The Biltmore Hotel is in background.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

May 1, 1952: The first customers of the new Pershing Square garage were Betty Dye, driving, and Ether Walsh. The office workers received free parking, a tank of gas, a carwash and two orchids. This photo was published in the May 2, 1952, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Clay Willcockson / Los Angeles Times

May 20, 1952: Construction of the top deck of the three-level subterranean garage. This photo was published in the May 25, 1952, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 9, 1962: California Lt. Gov. Goodwin J. Knight, arrow, presses button that released a rope to mark the completion of th ePershing Square Garage. The scene was at the Hill Street entrance to the garage. This photo was published in the Oct. 10, 1952, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ray Graham / Los Angeles Times

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Underground parking garage built at Pershing Square

In the late 1940s, the Los Angeles City Council approved a 2,000-vehicle garage at Pershing Square. Demolition began in 1951. In 1952, the new Pershing Square opened.

A story in the Oct. 10, 1952, Los Angeles Times reported:

Formal completion of the Pershing Square Garage and rededication of the park which covers the big excavation with a verdant bonnet were marked there yesterday in speeches and ceremonies.

Mayor [Fletcher] Bowron accepted a small gold key on behalf of the the city and Lt. Gov. Goodwin J. Knight pressed a button which sent a short-wave impulse to release a golden rope stretched across the Hill St. entrance ramp.

Ford J. Twaits, president of the Ford J. Twaits Construction Co., which helped build the garage, and also president of City Park Garage, Inc., operators of the project, presented the key to Mayor Bowron.

But he quickly added that Mayor Bowron probably would never have an opportunity to use the key, inasmuch as the garage will be open 24 hours a day.

The Marine Corps band from the Marine Air Station at El Toro furnished music for the occasion, playing the National Anthem when the Stars and Stripes were raised to the top of a flagpole at the 5th St. side of the park and “California, Here I Come” as the State and city flags were raised atop a pole on the 6th St. side.

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