In the first half of the 20th century, a strict 150-foot height limit maintained the mostly flat skyline of Los Angeles, which was long punctuated only by the obelisk-like profile of City Hall. The lingering effects of that policy, combined with a near-insatiable demand for parking, meant that uncounted acres of Downtown real estate wound up being devoted to the automobile in the early 1970s.
This is clearly illustrated in the "before" image seen below, captured from the roof of the 42-story 611 Place office tower in 1971. A handful of familiar landmarks such as the L.A. Convention Center's West Hall, the Standard Oil Building, and the Hotel Figueroa can be spotted. The only visible high-rise building is the 32-story South Park Center - then known as the Occidental Life Building - one of the first office towers built following the elimination of the 150-foot height limit.
In 2018, a photo from the same vantage point by architectural photographer Hunter Kerhart shows a much different cityscape. Multiple waves of high-rise construction over five decades have pushed Downtown's skyline from the Financial District and Bunker Hill to surround the Convention Center. Acres of parking lots have made way for office, hotel, and residential developments - although the parking has merely moved into basement and podium garages.
- Throwback Thursday Archive (Urbanize LA)