Inside the City ... Outside the Box
Los Angeles pictures and stories by Laurie Allee

Friday, October 10, 2014

Portals to the Past #1

Lobby of 448 S. Hill Street, just one gorgeous building in downtown Los Angeles

Downtown LA is loaded with architectural gems like the Pershing Square Building at  448 S. Hill Street.  The 15 story building was designed by the team of Curlett & Beelman -- who also gave Los Angeles the beautiful Chester Williams Building on 5th Street -- and was constructed between 1923 and 1924, although two more stories were added with respect to the original design in 2008.

One of my favorite downtown restaurants is on the rooftop of this fabulous old place.  Perch is kind of like something out of a film noir -- that is, if the film noir had balconies jutting right out into the LA skyline.  You walk through the above lobby and head into the elevator as if you're hunting for a private detective's office on the top floor. Once you get up top, a shady looking character ushers you to another, more mysterious elevator.  (Okay, actually the character you'll meet isn't shady at all. In fact, he's a rather a well-dressed bouncer. And the elevator isn't really that mysterious, just gorgeous and old.  But work with me here as I indulge in a femme fatale moment.)  Even better than the second elevator is the a steep, dark, nearby staircase.  Once inside Perch, you can hang out old school inside the dark paneled bar, or choose to sit outside right above the hustle of the city streets below.  Perching outdoors at Perch is awesome, but it's also pretty great to sip dirty martinis inside, right here:

This photograph is less than optimal for two reasons:  1.) I shot it on my iPhone.  2.) I was drinking those aforementioned martinis.

If you really want to indulge in what it might have been like to hang out downtown back in the day, check out the amazing stock footage I found on YouTube. Studios during Hollywood's golden age used to film hours of exterior shots to include in movies, especially to project behind actors for driving shots.  I will include more of these historical videos in upcoming posts, but for now, take a ride through downtown LA after dark... just like a private detective searching for an illusive (and possibly drunk-on-martinis) femme fatale.

Be sure to click full screen if you're watching on a computer.  If you're on a smart phone and the video player doesn't appear above, click here. I found this film at Alison Martino's Vintage Los Angeles YouTube channel. (She also added the great mood music.)   The film can be licensed through Getty Images. 


  1. I have never heard of this place. It looks great. Thanks for teh tip!

    Mike D from Twitter

  2. I cannot believe how cool that old film is. Wow.

  3. I went there about three weeks ago! The view is incredible and I loved the building. I can't believe how great it is downtown now.


  4. Beautiful photo Laurie. The light is really cool.
    The guy in the pink bow tie looks pretty serious. Is he the well-dressed bouncer?