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Los Angeles – Nash Dealership and Western Ave. Street Scene

Today’s featured street scene is a view looking north from the intersection of Western Ave. and 1st street in Los Angeles, CA, circa-1923. The vast majority of the vehicles visible on the Avenue are Fords, Chevrolets, Dodges, and a Buick roadster on the far-right with a spare tire cover dated “1923.”

On the right-hand side of the picture is a Nash agency, which also handled Chandler and Cleveland automobiles. Behind the showroom on the outside of the building in a Hercules filling station, and closer to the camera on the right may be the dealership’s outside sales lot.

Please share with us what you find of interest in the photograph courtesy of the California Historical Society Collection at the USC Libraries.

41 responses to “Los Angeles – Nash Dealership and Western Ave. Street Scene

  1. Streetcars and motor cars co-existing; but the preference of Americans is apparent.
    Lots of electricity and phone wires.

  2. While these photos are way before my time, I got a chuckle out of the “cow catcher” on the trolley car. Not many cows in L.A., maybe to scoop up drunks lying on the track?
    To all my cohorts at OM, I, like most, don’t know what to make of this current health situation, the world has been through a lot, and I hope all of us get through this too.

    • I had never heard of a Chandler automobile before only the similar sounding Chalmers brand, which merged with Maxwell and later became Chrysler. So I had to look them up and it seems that after having their best year in 1928 selling 20,000 cars they overextended themselves and were bought out the following year by Hupp Motors who were able to stay in the car business for another 10 years.

      • Chandler Motors were a venture taken by some former Loizer executives that saw the writing on the wall with the Model T. In 1913 they introduced what was essentially a copy of a Loizer Model 77. Lawers would have a field day with them now. None the less they developed a very competitive mid priced car made of components mostly manufactured in house. Cleveland was introduced in 1923 to go after the lower end of the market for customers looking for something a bit more substantial than a Model T. Chandler built a nice new factory in the mid 1920’s that helped them expand production. 1927 saw the introduction of a straight 8 in addition to the 6 they started with. In 1926 Cleveland cars were discontinued and they were incorporated into the base model Chandler.
        1928 brought an offer from competitor Huppmobile that they could not ignore. At this time the founders were close to retirement and might have saw this as their golden parachute. They never could have predicted the events of 1929 and realized their good fortunate to seal the deal in 1928. Chandler cars continued through 1929 and maybe into 1930 (as 1929 left overs) to clear the parts bins before the factory was converted over to Hupp production.

        We are fortunate to have a 1914 Chandler Touring and a end of the run 1929 Chandler Sedan. We cherish them both.

        • The Chandler family (as I’m sure you know) are buried here in Cleveland, at Lake View Cemetery, along with others early car manufacturers like Winton, Stearns, and White.

  3. More specifically, Glendale. Western Avenue terminates at the north end foothills where Brand Park & The Brand Library and gardens are located. A great place to visit with many older homes relocated there for preservation. Leslie Brand and Henry Huntington (Huntington Beach, Huntington Park, Huntington Library) developed the area in the early part of the 20th century and became very wealthy. Cultural and social advocates they even had ‘fly-in’ parties at their own personal airport on the Brand property. At the time these pictures were taken it would have been the peak of the good times at the Brand estate.

    • Sorry Ron, you’re about twenty miles off. Your1st and Western is an entirely different intersection way up on the north end of Glendale, near Burbank. This site is truly in LA. As Russell noted, the See’s candy /Ton n Toms brick building on the west side of Western is still there. Most of the other stuff has been replaced or altered beyond my recognition.

  4. I’m curious, what’s the crosshatch pattern in the back window of the Buick roadster? It’s most visible in the third picture. It could just be an artifact of the camera, but I was wondering if it might be an aftermarket accessory of some kind.

  5. The store to the left of the trolly car from our perspective, is a See’s Candy Store. I didn’t realize the chain was that old. See’s Candies is now owned by Berkshire-Hathaway. It was their first purchase. Warren Buffett liked the way it was run and has never changed a thing.

  6. what was the pace of traffic in the US cities at this time? Certainly there seems a brisk air about these shots.In the UK streetcars rarely exceeded 10 mph average.

    • John perhaps never took a ride in the top of a double decker tram (with its stained glass) swaying wildly down Battersea Park Road South London, when it was running behind schedule. Twenty five to thirty miles an hour at least. What a thrill for a seven year old – not repeated until I took the hovercraft from Calais to Dover in a force 10 (captain said as we arrived it was against regulations and we should not have sailed!)

  7. Bottom line on the Nash billboards, above the checkerboard pattern, – might they have sold Henderson cycle cars, or was this dealer named Henderson Nash?

    I think the cross hatch in the Buick is a wicker basket. Maybe it’s a Tuesday afternoon at the laundry?

    Thanks for the picture David on a cold quarantine day!

    • Found the answer; no cycle cars here, but the dealer was found in the interweb as being Henderson Nash, “operating 1925-1928”. So, either the interwebthing is a little truncated or the date of the picture is later, which seems less likely as there would be fewer old cars and something fresher.

      • If you’re correct about the years Henderson Nash was in business, it’s interesting that there’s no mention of Ajax here. Nash promoted that brand pretty heavily in its first two years.

  8. David
    I have no idea how you could tell the car with its back to us is a Buick…full marks for ID-ing it!
    I hate to admit it, but most of the cars of this period look the same to me (I understand many used the same”bought” bodies), with only the radiator providing any sort of clue.

    Well done!

  9. In the main picture, way up high among the power lines is a triangular flag that says “car stop”, does this mean trolley car or what? Looks like one could only read it from an air plane. On the left side of the picture there are 5 dark colored cars along the curb, however in the reflection in the picture window I see a nice looking white car with a tan top. It took a little looking but I spotted it after the 5th car back along the curb I see a tan top sticking up. I think that’s it. To the other side of the street: The checker board paint job really draws attention to the Hercules Gasoline station. It looks like a Bowser Sentry gas pump under the overhang. Notice the bell shaped piece in the middle of the pump. The bell pulls down over the pump and is locked up at night, so there is no “self serve” after hours. I noticed on the NASH sign that it says “fours” on the left and “sixes” on the right. I’m thinking 4 and 6 cylinders?
    Thanks for the entertainment, we are in day two of lock down, our cat is trying to figure out why we have taken 3 Sundays in a row.

    • Nice catch on the ‘car stop’ sign! I can’t imagine trying to look out for that sign while driving in traffic. I think the white car isn’t a reflection though. To me it looks like it is parked on the other side of the building, and we are seeing it through the front & side windows.

    • Joann,

      Good catch with “CAR STOP” sign.

      Believe you’re correct that it’s a trolley car stop as there’re three speed bumps [and possibly a 4th] & a painted rectangle on the pavement to the right of the trolley rails below the sign.


    • Joann you appear to be correct about the car stop sign being related to the street car service. The sign is directly over the painted roadway and the ‘speed bump’ obstructions blocking vehicles from traveling by while loading or discharging.

    • Maybe the “car stop” sign is for the motorman. They would be able to see it clearly from the front window. Looks like the lady on the right with the hat is looking for the Red Car to come and will walk out and stand in the painted area to get on. My grandfather took the Red Cars from Redondo Beach to downtown LA for his job in the 1940’s. I vaguely remember Red Cars before they were scrapped. Shame.

    • Perhaps the Car Stop sign is mounted there so folks on the sidewalk a block or two away would know which way to head to catch the streetcar. I imagine they only stopped every two or four blocks.

  10. I don’t know what the little “bustle back” coupe/sedan is driving away, but I always liked that style body. It is so unique to the late ’10s and early ’20s. I have seen several Packards like that, but I do not think this is a Packard.

    In recent decades, hobbyists often put their car’s year on the rear spare tire cover. I think this could be the first original era photo I have seen with the year like this on a regular car! I have seen a few pictures of dealer’s photos emblazoning the new model year however.

    Thank you David G!
    And, boy, wouldn’t I love to wander into that dealership and grab a new Nash!

  11. That contraption of the front of the streetcar is indeed a pedestrian catcher. The streetcars in Los Angeles used a version that would scoop a person up off the ground so that they would not fall under the wheels. By the time this photo was taken, the Pacific Electric system in LA had developed into the largest trolley system in the world.

    • Nash built the companion car Ajax for only about two years, beginning in 1925. Most of the cars in this picture are early ’20s, the Buick roadster is identified as a ’23 on its spare tire cover (I love seeing that tire cover, quite unusual!).
      The most modern looking car I see may be the fancy roadster way back on the viewer’s left with the nickel radiator shell. (HAYSLIP below says maybe Jewett or Hupp?). However even it may be as early as a ’22?
      I suspect this photo was slightly before Nash introduced the Ajax.

  12. Some ID suggestions: At the left curb left car with suicide doors might be an Essex , next car is a Chevrolet phaeton next car is obliterated , next is a Durant or a Star, next is a Ford panel. Next row: Dodge( the crossbar under the headlights was an added change in the early 1920s) followed by a Ford. The Buick is recognizable by the little white square attached to the top of the tail light. Actually it is a blue square with white Buick. In England the next car would be described a knife edged styling . Essex comes to mind, but unsure. The next car with two rear windows is a 1923-1924 Ford with the one man top. The phaeton in the middle is a Jewett or Hupmobile or something in that price range.

  13. Western Ave. is supposedly the longest STRAIGHT avenue in LA and probably in the US at 29 miles. You can get a great shot of it running south from the Griffith Park Observatory, scene of the shooting in Rebel Without a Cause (James Dean’s ’49 Merc is in the National Museum in Reno. Western is also the long time home of El Cholo Spanish Restaurant, supposedly the birthplace of the Burrito in 1927!.

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