Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Puzzle Town

We call it Puzzle Town. Really, it is known as Park La Brea Towers (and Garden Apartments). Wikipedia explains the history of this humongous development best:
Park La Brea (SpanishLa Brea - The tar, after the nearby La Brea Tar Pits) is a sprawling apartment complex in the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles, California. With 4,255 units located in eighteen 13-story towers and thirty-one 2-story "garden apartment buildings", it is the largest housing development in the U.S. west of the Mississippi River.[1] It sits on 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land with numerous lawns.
After the arrival of the Spanish in the 1780s and the displacement of the area's indigenous population, most of the area that is now Park La Brea became part of the Rancho La Brea land grant, and remained largely devoted to agriculture and petroleum production well into the 20th century. The growth of Hollywood and the Miracle Mile made the adjacent areas desirable centers for residential development in the 1920s, but the mid-rise apartment towers that give the district its current name were built later, between 1944 and 1948.
Park La Brea represents something of a historical anomaly, having been built at a time when most visions of Los Angeles' development were dominated by low-rise tracts of single-family houses along freeway corridors. As the towers are relatively isolated from the rest of the Miracle Mile — set far back from major thoroughfares in a nod to Le Corbusier, they developed a reputation as "the projects", since they are reminiscent of such notorious housing developments as Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes and New York's Queensbridge. The street layout was created in a masonic pattern as a reference to the masonic heritage of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, which built the complex toward the end of World War II and immediately thereafter. After a period of decline in the 1970s and 1980s, the complex was refurbished in the early 1990s.
The Park La Brea townhouses were designed by Leonard Schultz & Son (New York) with associate architect Earl T. Heitschmidt in 1941. The style of the architecture has been described as Modern Colonial. The Park La Brea Towers were designed by Leonard Schultz Associates with consulting architects Stanton + Kaufmann in 1948. Inspired by the innovative housing of Le Corbusier in Paris, this architectural team set out to create innovative multifamily housing. Their plans included square-block sized formations of town houses surrounding shared common green space. The combined shared lawn spaces creates both a large courtyard and tree-dappled open space.
The Landmark Towers, in a revolutionary "X" structure with a unique placement, became icons of the Los Angeles skyline. The ingeniously designed plan ensured that every unit would enjoy expansive views.
I have had friends over the years who have resided here. I remember the OLD style apartments with stainless steel drainboards in the kitchen and wood parquet floors. My Uncle's father-in-law was the original tile distributor for this development during it's construction during the 1940s. Most of the apartments have been remodeled and refurbished since then and very few of the original elements remain.
Park La Brea is a calm environment compared to the area just outside its gates, but it's still a confusing Puzzle Town if you're trying to find someone's apartment!

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