Sidewalk History

Lincoln Heights

When I walk around my neighborhood, tiny details abound – things I would never see driving in a car. Strange concrete figurines hiding in gardens, small shrines to saints, interesting vegetables growing in unlikely places, variations in litter and refuse, charms protecting doorways, tools put down and forgotten and fifty year old advertising plaques clinging to old chain link fences with names of companies long gone. Stamps in the pavement, which I’ve only recently noticed, firmly document the history of the streets.

29 thoughts on “Sidewalk History

  1. In LA we tear down so many things that often the only things we have left to say who we were are marks on the sidewalk.

  2. It’s probably more like 100 years old Chimatli.
    205 New High St is right smack in the middle of Chinatown which is full of restraunts and Asian stores.
    It hasn’t had a construction co there in many many decades.

    BTW, I sure dig that street name.

  3. Yes! my one of favorite thing to do is take pictures of old cement tags/inscriptions regular people,cholos,taggers,lovers, leave on sidewalks whenever there is a chance of fresh cement. Most of them are really old too. I like these old company stamps though as well they do def tell the history. To bad it did not have the year.

  4. I checked the Internet site for the “Federal Reporter Credit Ratings”, as of 1895 Gray Bros. Artificial Stone Co. on Mission St, Los Angeles was a solvent in good standing enterprise.

    That stamp could be over one hundred years old.
    Funny that back in those days concrete was referred to as “artificial stone”

  5. Curiously I just took another look at the photo Chimatli so graciously provided.

    “The Gray Bros ASP.Co

    ASP or Artificial Stone Paving, what we now call concrete.

  6. Wow! More history of LA coming from Chimatli’s photo of the Gray Bros ASP co stamp.
    The more I investigate old documents the more it is apparent that the “Gray Bros Co” is part the family of “General Harrison Gray Otis” who was the ex Confederate General (only a paper honor, not battle earned),and historical racist, and anti union, anti Mexican, anti worker, mogul who owned the LA TIMES and who controlled, de facto, whatever went on and became reality in Los Angeles for many, many, decades.
    I always understood that the Chandler/Otis family of the LA TIMES owned a controlling interest in Colton Cement Co., the huge “ConRock” sand and gravel and cement co’s that all made fortunes during the destruction of much of the Eastside and building of the massive freeway system in LA.

    Now I feel like Jack Nicholson/Jake Gittes, discovering whats up and who controls what in LA in the classic movie “Chinatown”.

    Chimatli! See what you started!

  7. Wow DQ! I am thoroughly impressed by your historical sleuthing skills!
    I have other pics of these concrete stamps from all over the city, perhaps I’ll post them also.
    I’m also trying to document the chain link plaques I mentioned above, they’re some of my favorite urban artifacts.

  8. Yes post the the other pics Chimatli, the chain link fence plaques are awesome too. I love people that get excited over the smallest thing’s that surround us in everyday life, thing’s that get overlooked by the average person.

  9. The “Schillinger patent” was actually a famously overturned patent that made it possible for any company to use concrete to make sidewalks. Schillinger’s concrete is comparable to Edison’s light bulb patent, or Coca-cola’s ‘Trade Marked’ Cola. Similar products became so prolific and so valued it rendered any patent argument moot.

    The Schillinger Patent was overturned in 1894 by the Supreme Court, but was used as a mark of quality for years after. Like Don said, this sidewalk is easily a hundred years old.

  10. DQ

    A few minor biographical corrections on H.G. Otis. He was a Union Army veteran, not a Confederate, which accounts for the Republican Party sympathies evident in Los Angeles Times editorial policy that far outlived the man himself. For better or worse, he saw plenty of combat during the Civil War as well as the brutal suppression of Filipino insurgents during Aguinaldo’s rebellion. Otis always saw himself as a military man and he is portrayed in field dress in the statue of him that stands at MacArthur Park. Juxtaposed with the statue of a young paper peddler standing next to him, he looks like he is trying to rally the “Charge of the Paper Boys”.

  11. Thank you for the correction Dennis, yes Gen Otis was born in Ohio and served in the Union Army, my apologies.
    I did think it was funny that on further reading it came to light that Gen Otis wasn’t a General at all but retired as a Lt Colonel. Otis though for a while enjoyed being referred to as Colonel but then urged and accepted the honor of being called “General”.

    Hey I was doing a little research on the Otis/Chandler family fortunes and came accross a good book by Otis Chandler called “Priviledged Son”. Great insight into the history of this historic family that really made and shaped Los Angeles and Southern Calif into what it became.

    Also during this research I came accross the history of South Colton which is an almost exact paralell history of the Eastside of Los Angeles. It’s a short but great read and insight into Chicano/Mexicano history of struggle, segregation, self determination, and now finally, like the LA Eastside,threatened with extinction by development and gentrification.

    Little side note, when I was a young kid my family including Grandmother and Great Grandmother would travel out to Colton to visit family that lived there.
    It was before the San Bernardino Frwy and we would travel down Valley Blvd through what was then agricultural land, grapes, oranges, figs,.
    We always spent the night because it took so long to get there.

    Funny that So Colton was referred to as “Choloville” by the white population as long ago as 1910

    A History of Mexican Americans in California:

    South Colton
    Colton, San Bernardino County

  12. I bought the book City of Quartz by Mike Davis a couple of years ago, after I found out about it watching that documentary film on HBO, “Bastards of the Party”, about Crips and Bloods. There’s a ton in that book about Otis, Chandler, the early LA dynasties, and the racism that the LA basin was pretty much built upon. It’s a tough read, though. Pretty much at the college grad level (barely high school grad, with some community college…in the house!). But I did get through it and it’s an interesting tale. A bit radical, and the book has been criticized, but Davis backs everything up with references, chapter by chapter.

  13. City of Quartz is an excellent book! After it came out in the 90s, my friend and I used to give City of Quartz tours to friends visiting from out of town. The twin towers downtown, the city of Vernon and Llano del Rio, it’s a nice tour.

    Thanks too for all the comments, I’ve learned a lot in this thread. I do have more photos that I’ll post up in coming weeks.

  14. Thanks for the info on Otis Chandler. I’m getting the two books mentioned in your blog.

  15. Does anyone remember the car clubs? I was a member of the “Hot Coils”. I had a baby blue customized 49′ Packard with Appleton twin spot-lights and flared skirts. The grill was from a Buick and the tail-lights were from a 59′ Pontiac.We use to have our dances at the gym in Lincoln Park. Once, we had Big jay Mcneely.Some of the other clubs were the road knights, the Drifters and many more. I’d like to hear some input from you old car clubs members.It was agreat era! The San Gabriel P.D. had a 51′ Mercury that was lowered.

  16. Big Jay McNeely, “There is something on your mind”,
    great old school rola. I knew some guys from the “Drifters”, but they were from Pasadena, same club?
    And as a kid we used to roller skate at the Lincoln Park Gym on Thursday after school, for a dime, they would play that typical organ roller skating music, but on records they would have to change every few minutes.
    Lots of Fun.

  17. Chimatli, knowing that you like to photograph old street and sidewalk stamps (and thank you again for the great photo), I’ll give you a hot tip on an interesting street item (if they still exist), from old LA.
    As a kid I worked as a bicycle messenger boy, and the office was on Winston St and 4th downtown.
    While working around the area I noticed that there were these large metal rings cemented into the curbs of some streets there in skid row. I asked some old timer that was familiar with the neighborhood what they were and he told me that they were iron rings for tieing up horses in the street that were left over from the horse and buggy era.
    There were still brick streets in skid row in those days (the early 60’s) and I would almost bet they are still there around 4th and Winston.

  18. I love old shite, thanx for the info you guys. If anyone’s read whitewashed adobe it has some great stuff about Simon’s brick company in montebello, great stuff. Im actually looking for a simon’s brick to keep on my desk.

    Another great story i heard revolves around some old brick factory that had mexicano workers in pomona (told to me by several city councilpeople). They had a real crummy impromptu baseball field that the brown kids played in across from the brickworks in the mexican barrio area. The city neglected it, so local workers began shovelling brick dust from across the street at the factory to fill up holes and mud when it rained, which became tradition. It became a famous park, and someone from the MLB eventually got the idea of the red brick dust baseball fields from a mexicano parke in pomona.

  19. Speaking of things in sidewalks, there is the “latino walk of fame” along Whittier Boulevard in East LA. Does anyone know how long that program lived? Also in Echo Park on Sunset Blvd is the Avenue of the Athletes – a ‘walk of fame” for you guessed it athletes. Once again I don’t know when that program was born and died. I think both should be reactivated again though.

  20. That’s all so interesting! Let me add a little. New High Street 100 years ago was not Chinatown, but Sonora Town. There were a lot of adobe houses, and some of them were still there in the 1930’s. People from France and Italy as well as Mexico lived there. Chinatown was where Union Station is now. The Chinese-Americans were re-located when Union Station was built in the late 30’s.

  21. Thanks Aunti Juli! It seems the Gray Bros were rather prolific. I’ll make sure and scan the sidewalks next time I’m in San Francisco.
    Thanks again to DQ for all your historical sleuthing and uncovering the secret behind “A.S.P.”

  22. Missed this the first time around. As a kid I was fascinated by these names in concrete. It somehow connected me to the history of my neighborhood. It’s great to feel connected to other history imbued, El Lay people.

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