Glorious Snapshots of Los Angeles History

The Huntington Library’s Newly Acquired Photographs of L.A. and Santa Monica Reveal the Astounding Evolution of Southern California

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Curious about what Los Angeles and Santa Monica looked like as they made the transition from hamlets to big cities? The Huntington Library in San Marino has acquired 4,600 images that offer telling glimpses of life in Southern California from the 1870s to the 1950s, starting from when the arteries of downtown L.A. were dirt roads. Back then, ladies visited the beaches of Santa Monica—and rode the wooden roller coaster there—in full-length black dresses.

Many of the Huntington’s images were first produced to promote Southern California as a place to visit …

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