Detour through Los Angeles

I know, I know,... WRONG COUNTY! But the land that is now Orange County was once part of Los Angeles County. That all changed in August of 1889, when we left the fold and set up shop for ourselves. Today's image is the cover of an old (1920s?) promotional brochure from the impressive collection of William Hockinson.

Orange County Historian Jim Sleeper once told me about an L.A. newspaper reporter who came to him to ask questions about Orange County's "provincialism." Jim answered his questions the best he could. Near the end of the interview the reporter asked one more question: "So, how often do you visit Los Angeles?"

"Hell," Jim replied, "I wouldn't drive to Los Angeles to watch Jesus Christ wrestle a grizzly bear!"

I'm told that quote ended up on the front page of the newspaper.

I can understand Jim's sentiments. Growing up in Southern California, most of my experiences with Los Angeles built a picture of a dangerous, smoggy, dirty place with way too much traffic.

But author, artist, neon expert and Los Angeles enthusiast J. Eric Lynxwiler recently convinced me to visit Downtown L.A. for a tour of its historic sites. I figured any tour Eric gave would be more than worth battling the traffic, but I remained wary.

Then he threw in an offer to visit "behind the scenes" of L.A. Public Library's massive History & Genealogy Collection. This sounded even better than watching Jesus wrestle a grizzly bear! I was in.

What I didn't realize was that Eric would bring along yet another L.A. expert and L.A. Conservancy tour guide, Shannon Simonds. I was suddenly a tour group of one, with TWO of the city's best tour guides. And for our tour of the library, we were led by yet a THIRD expert, Christina Rice, Acting Senior Librarian of the Photographic Collection.

My visit to our "mother county" was fascinating and a lot of fun. (Major thanks to all three of my guides!) I would try describing the whole day to you, but I think my photos tell the story better. To see them, check out this link to my Downtown L.A. photo series.