A couple blocks southwest of El Pueblo de Los Angeles is the Bradbury Building, featured in several films including Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer. The building was owned by mining millionaire Louis Bradley, who wanted to create something that would stand to his testament. Bradley first hired architect Sumner Hunt to work out the plans for the building, but after disliking Hunt’s proposal, went to Hunt’s draftsman, George Wyman, instead.
After first refusing the offer, Wyman allegedly spoke to his dead brother through a planchette board and was advised by him to take the job. The project cost $500,000 in 1893, which was an incredibly large sum at the time. Unfortunately, Bradbury died only a few months before the building opened.
The building’s exterior is in the style of Italian Renaissance Revival that is reminiscent of the East Coast. Inside, it is just amazing. There is a large glass ceiling that brings in natural light and lots of polished marble and iron. It’s so ornate and you really should take some time to take it all in. The staircases and the cage elevators are definitely things to look out for. It’s nice to see remnants of 19th century Los Angeles still around in a city that is constantly changing.
Just outside of the back entrance to the building is the Bridget “Biddy” Mason memorial, which commemorates the life and achievements of, well, Bridget Mason. Born as a slave in 1818, she had worked for her master in Mississippi before moving westward and finally gaining freedom in California. Bridget adopted the last name Mason and then began to save up enough money to buy land and become successful as an entrepreneur, midwife, and philanthropist. She even founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872, the oldest church in Los Angeles that was founded by an African-American. Historic.
After visiting the Bradbury Building, we made our way to Grand Central Market, Angel’s Flight, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Chinatown. Two more parts to this DTLA Tour series are still to come!
DTLA Tour Series:
Part 1 – Union Station
Part 2 – El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Part 3 – Bradbury Building
Part 4 – Grand Central Market and Angels Flight
Part 5 – Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and Chinatown