Column

1 Image 1 Minute

Phil Chang, Nancy Popp
Organized by Micol Hebron
"Know Your City No. 3," view down alleyway at Angels Flight car, Los Angeles, Calif., published in "Los Angeles Times," November 20, 1955. Photographer unknown. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of special collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

Know Your City No. 3, view down alleyway at Angels Flight car, Los Angeles, Calif., published in Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1955. Photographer unknown. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of special collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

In the middle of the Twentieth Century, the Los Angeles Times ran a regular column that probed its readers’ knowledge of the city’s history and its burgeoning development. “Know Your City” asked readers if they could identify an area of Los Angeles based on a photograph of a building or place. Beneath the photograph were a few archly written lines to give the reader a clue. The answer would be located a few pages deeper into the paper.

This photograph of the original Angels Flight in downtown Los Angeles shows the angled funicular traveling over what was then Clay Street. What is striking about this image is how the photograph and site figure into the past and present of Los Angeles. At one instance a photograph, a document, and an artifact, this image holds particular import since the representation of the place has outlived the physical place itself. (Angels Flight was closed in 1969; it reopened at a new location in 1996.) This photograph serves as allegory for the social and political history of Los Angeles—that of a temporal and spatial displacement—and reminds us of the lived experience of Los Angeles that the newspaper column’s authors anticipated.

Phil Chang, Artist

Further Reading