The House at 1408 W 35th St...and then some

Nathan Marsak

Nathan Marsak

· 5 min read

Here’s a house at 1408 West 35th St.

It was built in 1907.

It must go, of course, because (as you will see) what this area desperately needs a 4-story multi-unit.

You know, when 1408 goes away, with it gone, people will be less likely to investigate its stories. No-one is going to care about something that happened where some giant four-story greige box stands.

Did you know now-doomed 1408 is where neighborhood Black folk went to have club meetings and banquets and parties?

California Eagle, 12 February 1926

Did you know that Harry “Mile-Away” Thomas, bootleg king of the southwest, was cut in two by machine gun fire there?

Los Angeles Daily News, 22 April 1927

Most of the stories are less gruesome, of course; point being, it was an integral part of the neighborhood, where local gals danced at their bridal showers...

California Eagle, 6 June 1930

But it must be destroyed, because, as we are told ad ifinitum, Los Angeles does not build housing.

That said—let’s crane our necks a bit up and down the block.

What’s that across the street at 1419 West 35th Street? This.

And a couple doors down, at 1426?

And then a couple doors down further, at 1440?

And look, couple doors down again, here's brand-new 1482, arguably the ugliest building in Los Angeles:

Look what's right across the street from that, at 1483 West 35th—

1483 was built ca. 1901, and moved to this lot in 1927 from 167 South Normandie. Did you know we used to move houses? That is apparently a technology that has been lost.

Even further down that same block—West 35th doesn't cross an intersection as it heads into the 1500s—it's more of the same, like this at 1534 West 35th—

Wow, all that in just 1000 feet. A three-minute walk. Ok then, let's go look the other way from 1408; peer east across Normandie toward the 1300 block, past the Abundant Life Christian Church, at far right in both shots, once the tallest thing around. Bottom shot, what are those two projects rising? Those big buildings are, at right, 1360-66 and at left, 1363 West 35th. The "new normal" in vintage neighborhoods.

The two 1903 houses at 1360-1366 W 35—

—which made it 120 years without being stuccoed, or having their porches enclosed, now demolished for a fifty-foot-high four-story multi-unit.

Across the street is 1361-63, a little different from the usual "ve must destroy all Craftsman bungalows!" in that it's a 1936 Spanish duplex, designed by Francis Roberson. Let’s look at it in some detail—

How DARE it reek of humanity

If you like hardwood floors, fireplaces, built-ins, and original double-hung windows well then you sir are ARE A MORAL LEPER

1930s tiled kitchens with original knobs, glass doorknobs, swinging doors…watch the YIMBY sniff in derision and snort in disgust

No, seriously, Scott Wiener used an eight-pound sledge to smash this bathroom to bits personally

Ha ha, just kidding! Wiener could never lift and eight-pound sledge

And now it's all at the bottom of a landfill, because you should live the rest of your life in a little room with thin walls and plastic fixtures, constantly off-gassing formaldehyde and endless other VOCs, and if you disagree then you're not, like, progressive.

Here's another a couple doors down at 1340:

I mean I know why our City lets developers do whatever the hell they want—the City needs the reassessed value in property taxes, so this will just keep happening—but what's with the ever-widening lust to kill every tree? I've pointed this out a hundred times and here we are again:

Even more baffling than the YIMBY mantra of “three people living in a house is much worse for society than 60 people crammed into in a megastructure!” is their absolute insistence that trees are stealing our oxegyn, and must be eradicated en masse.

Again, everything I just showed you wasn't me hunting for these developments. I just saw that 1408 had a demo permit recently pulled, and used GoogleMaps to glance up and down the street at what was within eyesight—most a literal stone's throw—in each direction. Just a couple blocks on one street, emblematic of the city at large. And remember, each happened in only the last couple years...

They're just getting started.

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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