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Parking Lot Series: Late 1950s – Two Sites in Los Angeles

For today’s installment in the Parking Lot Series, we travel to Los Angeles, California, and a view of two sites taken circa 1959. The location of this scene is not known, but hopefully, the buildings in the background will serve as a clue for readers to identify were in the City this image was taken.

There are a wide variety of American cars in the view, including some that may date back to the late-1940s. The greater Los Angeles area was also one of the hot spots in the US where the sales imported cars began to gain a foothold in the fifties; the photo contains about a half a dozen of these vehicles including a small sports car.

Tell us what you find of interest in the expandable image below courtesy of the USC Libraries.

33 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Late 1950s – Two Sites in Los Angeles

  1. Can see a VW, a Hillman Minx, a DKW,at left of DKW is a Fiat 1100 ,and a little car at a right of the DKW a Fiat Transformabile may be?.And some more VW …

  2. In the parking lot, in the fore ground, on far right, looks like a two-door 1958 EDSEL Pacer hardtop and two cars to the left of the ”58 EDSEL is a four-door 1950 BUICK Super.

  3. At this end of the lot across the street, a small cluster of foreign makes all parked together: a Fiat 1100 sedan, a DKW coupe, and a little white coupe that kind of looks like a Simca Aronde. To the left of those, either a Plymouth or Dodge business coupe, about a `46-`47?

    On this side of the block, a beautiful `58 Bonneville coupe in the lower left corner; I spot a `58 Edsel Pacer hardtop, a `57 Rambler sedan, a few `57 Ford Fairlanes. Interesting that this was back when a person could park their car with the windows down, and nothing inside got touched. All day! (My, how times have changed…)

    • I was telling my wife, the other day, one reason we left our cars open was we didn’t have the kind of stuff we all carry today.

  4. Lower left – 1958 Pontiac Bonneville with side rocket boosters.

    In the early 1950s, I was a young kid growing up in R.I. within sight of one of those huge gas storage tanks. When my mother used our gas kitchen stove to cook something, I would go to the window to see if the gas tank would lower.

  5. There are more than a few highly desireable cars parked there. The ’58 Pontiac Bonneville and ’58/9 T-bird parked front left along with the ’57 T-bird, ’58 Edsel and ’49/50 Merc in the row facing the street could all find a home in my garage.
    Way on the far right in the lot across the street is a two door wagon but I can’t quite make out the make.

  6. Unfortunately, Los Angeles has been remarkably efficient in erasing much of its history through “urban development”. There is still an El Prado Bar in the Echo Park district. Looking at the layout of the streets, I believe the photo was taken near the intersection of Sunset Blvd and Glendale Blvd. If so, the hills in the background would be Elysian Park, home of Dodger Stadium.

  7. There are a couple things that I find surprising. First is there doesn’t appear to be parking lot striping. If that is correct this is an amazing parking job with the neat tight rows of vehicles! I would otherwise think the cars would end up much further apart and aligned in a more helter-skelter manner. Also, there isn’t much traffic on the roads even though this seems to have been taken in the middle of the day. That has to be unusual for California no matter what day of the week it is.

  8. First car I notice is the Opel Rekord Caravan 1958-60 in the upper right corner, the one with the crome spear on the side. Just like a Buick. =)

  9. The view is taken from N. Hill street toward the Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church. The tower behind it is Union Station. To the left are the twin towers of the old post office building. The streets below are N. Broadway and N Spring Street. I remember the big gas tanks as a kid as the 101 Freeway ran right next to one. Brew 102 was made next to it. You can see the frame work for one of the tanks just pass the building to the right where the freeway would be.

    • Thanks, Chuck. I used to know that area pretty well when I was in college, but after 45+ years my memories of various landmarks has faded.

  10. Not sure of the street, but Union Station is at the right rear and on the left with the two small towers is main Post Office annex.

    • You`re probably right and I am going out to left field with it being a Berkeley ,however there is something about the proportions of this car that don`t look like a Sprite or maybe I just need a bigger screen.

    • The rear is wrong for a Bugeye. The car in the pic appears to.have a full width bumper with small overiders. Bugeyes had no rear bumper per se, only two bumperettes mounted to the body that would have been larger and higher than those shown. A Berkeley I think would have appeared narrower and boxier and – if you can imagine – even smaller, altho maybe the angle has something to do with it.

      • Well if it is not a frogeye then ,,not a swallow doretti ,a. Crosley is the only other car I can think of which is so small,unless we are in Italian oddities but even theh are mga sized in the main.

  11. The hard top does change the sprite rather a lot being in effect about one third more coachwork.The Berkley’s gawky stance would show up even at this range.curious and capricious little beasts.

    • Yes they`re something. About 30 years ago Classic and Sportscar did a comparison test against a Messerschmitt. The Berkeley was described as ” being made of old suitcases” and ” equipped with a drive mechanism that would embarrass Archimedes” , sums them up perfectly.

  12. Though I was born, raised and still live in this once innocent simple town I am not old enough to to recognize these photos. I thought it was near the down town area and the other posts validated my thoughts. The city of Los Angeles continually re-develops itself and old architectural landmarks (commercial & residential) go by the wayside fast compared to other US cities.

  13. I think this is looking east towards Union Station and Terminal Annex (background) and a bit of the Spanish Olvera Street can be seen on the right.

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