Meet 553 North Heliotrope

Nathan Marsak

Nathan Marsak

· 1 min read

Presenting 553 North Heliotrope.

She has been minding her own business since 1914, when she was designed and built by Albert Beach Crist.

553 made a neat new friend when a two-story duplex was built next door in 1927! He was cool, taller than she was, and had some different style, but they got along real well.

They were pals for more than 90 years when some mean men came and killed her friend, even chopping up and destroying his body.

They built a mean new ugly brute next to her! "Gosh, I hope that doesn't happen to me," said 553. The last thing she saw before they nailed up her eyes was the horrid new monster glaring down at her, smirking, its awful orange blotches making it appear covered in disease.

Then the mean men came for her, and she said a little prayer for herself, and for her friend already gone, hoping they would go to a better place.

Nathan Marsak

About Nathan Marsak

NATHAN MARSAK says: “I came to praise Los Angeles, not to bury her. And yet developers, City Hall and social reformers work in concert to effect wholesale demolition, removing the human scale of my town, tossing its charm into a landfill. The least I can do is memorialize in real time those places worth noting, as they slide inexorably into memory. In college I studied under Banham. I learned to love Los Angeles via Reyner’s teachings (and came to abjure Mike Davis and his lurid, fanciful, laughably-researched assertions). In grad school I focused on visionary urbanism and technological utopianism—so while some may find the premise of preserving communities so much ill-considered reactionary twaddle, at least I have a background in the other side. Anyway, I moved to Los Angeles, and began to document. I drove about shooting neon signs. I put endless miles across the Plains of Id on the old Packard as part of the 1947project; when Kim Cooper blogged about some bad lunch meat in Compton, I drove down to there to check on the scene of the crime (never via freeway—you can’t really learn Los Angeles unless you study her from the surface streets). But in short order one landmark after another disappeared. Few demolitions are as contentious or high profile as the Ambassador or Parker Center; rather, it is all the little houses and commercial buildings the social engineers are desperate to destroy in the name of the Greater Good. The fabric of our city is woven together by communities and neighborhoods who no longer have a say in their zoning or planning so it’s important to shine a light on these vanishing treasures, now, before the remarkable character of our city is wiped away like a stain from a countertop. (But Nathan, you say, it’s just this one house—no, it isn’t. Principiis obsta, finem respice.) And who knows, one might even be saved. Excelsior!””
Nathan’s blogs are: Bunker Hill Los Angeles, RIP Los Angeles & On Bunker Hill.

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