Friday, April 29, 2016

1939, Ansel Adams and Los Angeles

Olympic Trailer Court on Bundy Dr., south of Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

All photos by Ansel Adams, 1939, collection of the Los Angeles Library

In the 1960s, after going through some of his old files, photographer Ansel Adams came across many photos that he had shot in 1939 for an article in Fortune Magazine about aerospace workers in Los Angeles. Adams said that there had been a long period of bad weather during the time he was shooting and most of the photos were inferior. Fortune only used a few of his photos for their article. Adams wrote to the L.A. Library, nearly 20 years after taking these photographs, asking if they would like to purchase all of them for their archives. He thought a fair price would be about $100 for the collection, since he felt the photos were of inferior quality. Adams shot over 225 photos of daily life of these workers, mostly at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank and Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. The L.A. Library jumped at the chance to own this collection of Los Angeles photos by the renowned photographer and paid him $150!
I'd only seen the Lockheed and Burbank area photos. I hadn't seen the Douglas Aircraft photos and the shots in and around West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.  Wow! I found a treasure trove from the Olympic Trailer Court located at 2121 Bundy Drive on the border of West L.A. and Santa Monica. This location is between Olympic and Exposition Boulevards, actually at our newest Metro Train Line location. 
Just before and after World War II, housing in Los Angeles was scarce. The need for trailer courts and temporary housing was fierce. These little enclaves popped up all over Los Angeles during that time, especially in the outlying areas. There are still a few old trailer parks in the industrial areas of Santa Monica and Culver City. My Dad's family had a home just east of the Olympic Trailer Court, near Barrington and Pico. Dad used to say that most of the area consisted of bean fields...plenty of space for temporary housing.
Indoor - Outdoor Living at the Olympic Trailer Court

A little girl, holding her dolly at the corner store

The electrical box for the nearby trailers

White Picket Fences 

Laundry Shack at the Olympic Trailer Court
West L.A. Apartments and homes in the background

Thank you, Ansel Adams, for taking all of these "lifestyle" photos of my town in 1939. Thank you, L.A. Public Library for making the collection available to all of us! Boy, our town has certainly changed a lot in the past 75 years! Now, we need to find photos of the Cozy Courts on the South/East corner of Sawtelle and Olympic!

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At 9:57 AM PDT, Blogger Leah said...

Close to where my son lives now. Those photos could easily go on House hunters - tiny edition!

At 12:55 PM PDT, Blogger kathoderayblue said...

Hi Ellen, I recently drove by the trailer court around Santa Monica with my mom and commented to her that there must be some history and information about it. Cool blog entry . Kathy Schiff

At 1:09 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

THanks, Kathy! Yes, there are a few trailer courts still left i our urban city...leftover from the days when a home wasn't so affordable for everyone OR, there weren't enough homes to go around! Thanks for the comment!


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