03/08/2010 § Leave a comment
For many people, Bunker Hill is just the section of Downtown Los Angeles where all of the tall buildings are concentrated.
In fact, Bunker Hill began as a residential subdivision in 1867. It was an affluent neighborhood full of expensive homes, and remained that way until after World War II. As the wealthy departed the Downtown area for the Westside or Pasadena, single family dwellings were divided and rented out. Thus, Bunker Hill became home to lower income renters and pensioners.
By the mid-fifties, LA city planners decided to completely clear out Bunker Hill to make way for a massive redevelopment. The homes and shops were razed to make way for a new, modern urban center. The residents, many of them older, were to be displaced in the name of progress. USC student Kent MacKenzie shot a student film capturing this transition from the point of view of the disenfranchised pensioners. This amazing film offers a rare glimpse into the everyday life of this Los Angeles community in 1956.
Update 8/3: Unfortunately, the video was taken down this afternoon and my expert sleuthing of the interwebs has not turned it up — really unfortunate. In the meantime, a few more pictures of what Downtown looked like before all of the high rises.
Photos via: Life/SkyscraperCity/Imageshack