Thursday, April 13, 2023

Film Noir Los Angeles


A Neighborhood Far Afield (previously post on my other blog in 2009)

In the heart of downtown Los Angeles is the neighborhood of Bunker Hill. Once it was a steep hill covered with Victorian mansions and shops and reached by seemingly impossibly steep trains tracks.

Over time their wealthy owners moved to the suburbs in places like Pasadena and the mansions became apartments and flophouses. The whole area became a giant filming location for film noir movies.

In 1955 the city decided the neighborhood as is stood impeded the city's development. They declared it blighted (which of course, once such a determination was made, only led to area becoming truly blighted), eliminated the 150 foot height limit on new buildings, and leveled the district. Literally. 

About a hundred feet were shaved off the hill, tearing down most of the old buildings and making way for the steel and glass skyscrapers that dominate the downtown today.

I don't know anything about LA and I can't say much about the rightness or wrongness of what was done six decades ago (though I will say I find the look of downtown LA ugly as sin). But I can provide a link to an amazing site (On Bunker Hill) put together by local LA historians and aficionados in order to document the old, and long lost, Bunker Hill. 

(2023) Additionally, there's a movie about American Indians who moved to the are in the late fifties. Most of actors were non-professionals. The movie's plot was derived from documentary interviews. Shot in the Bunker Hill neighborhood, it's got some amazing footage of a neighborhood long gone.

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