Weird History

40 Mind-Blowing Photos of Historic Los Angeles 

Jude Newsome
Updated September 4, 2019 21.9k votes 3.9k voters 254.6k views 40 items

Travel back to a time before smog and freeways ruled Los Angeles with a list of vintage LA photos. We all have an image of LA, whether it's based on the beaches of Santa Monica or the glitz of Hollywood, but these photos from the 1800s and early 1900s show the City of Angels in a whole different light.

Los Angeles is a city that is constantly changing, which makes looking at old pictures of the LA area a strange experience. Though the city's history goes back much further, California's induction into the United States and the railroad's arrival in the mid-19th century resulted in a massive immigration boom and breakneck industrialization. That's when LA as we know it began to take shape.

These mind-blowing black and white photos from the period allow us to trace the origins of modern Los Angeles, illuminating just how much has changed and how much has stayed the same in the Southland.

1
Sunset Blvd., 1900
Sunset Blvd., 1900 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 40 Mind-Blowing Photos of Historic Los Angeles
Photo: flickr/CC0
This is what gridlock looked like in 1900.
Is this beautiful?
2
United Artists Theater, 1928
United Artists Theater, ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 40 Mind-Blowing Photos of Historic Los Angeles
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY
This Spanish Gothic-style theater is now a part of the Ace Hotel.
Is this beautiful?
3
Santa Monica Beachfront Cottage, 1886
Santa Monica Beachfront ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 40 Mind-Blowing Photos of Historic Los Angeles
Photo: E.G. Morrison/Marquez Collection
Real estate right on the Santa Monica beachfront has grown considerably more valuable over the last century and change, but at least there's running water these days.
Is this beautiful?
4
Sunset Blvd., 1906
Sunset Blvd., 1906 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 40 Mind-Blowing Photos of Historic Los Angeles
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY
"Someday, my dear, this will be a major location on Entourage!"
Is this beautiful?