The Cranky Preservationist and Friends in Save 700 Normandie Avenue, Koreatown’s Little New York Street (episode 23)

Nathan Marsak

Nathan Marsak

· 2 min read

Watch Episode #23

Architectural historian Nathan Marsak loves Los Angeles, and hates to see important buildings neglected and abused, whether by slumlord owners or the savage public. Follow him on his urban adventures as he sees something that looks like crap, opens his yap and spontaneously lets you know exactly why this place matters.

Episode 23 finds Nathan on the 700 block of South Normandie, where his wee L.A. Preservation Imp has lured him to see the greatest interbellum street in all of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this gorgeous landscape of elegant apartment houses, one of the most popular filming locations in town, is currently threatened by an enormous modern tower by Koreeatown mega-developers Jamison Properties. Only landlords, and none of the thousands of people who rent in the neighborhood, were notified of Jamison’s plans.

Discovering the fast-tracked project when it was nearly a done deal, longtime residents Carolyn Zanelli‎ and Spencer Jones filed a CEQA challenge. When their councilman, Herb Wesson, refused to meet, neighbors picketed his office and got on the evening news. Carolyn and Spencer have a lot to say about their special Little New York Street, and they want you to fall in love with it, too.

So take a time travel trip to a place that is teetering between the twin poles of its current timeless perfection and the arrogance of checked out politicians and their rapacious developer-donor pals. Can Angelenos fight back and Save Normandie together? With the Cranky Preservationist, his imp, Carolyn and Spencer, and YOU on the case, it’s very possible!

If you like these Cranky Preservationist videos, you’ll probably like Nathan’s R.I.P. Los Angeles blog, too, so check it out!

Where will the Cranky Preservationist turn up next? Stay tuned!

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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