The Bradbury Building
1893 – George H. Wyman
304 South Broadway, Los Angeles – map
Whoa - what a building. It must be a blast going to work each morning to the Bradbury.
The Bradbury Building was the project of real estate developer Lewis Bradbury, a guy who had made his initial millions in the mining industry. In the early 1890s, he decided to have constructed an office building near his Bunker Hill home as a testament to the Bradbury name. After not being happy with the designs by the first architect hired for the job, Bradbury offered the assignment to George H. Wyman. Wyman, for a couple of reasons, said no.
Then, as so often happens in these cases, the 32-year-old Wyman got a sign from his dead brother via a precursor to the Ouija board, urging him to take the gig. So take the gig he did.
This is like a million other photos you see of the Bradbury, only crappier. You're disallowed from venturing above the landing from which this shot was taken unless you're a tenant. Which I'm not.
From back to front
A few notes, from the Xeroxed handout that was, er, handed out in the Bradbury lobby:
- Wyman’s design was partly inspired by Edward Bellamy’s book, Looking Backward.The sad part of the story is that Bradbury never lived to see the building finished, dying just a few months before completion.
- The Italian Renaissance exterior’s façade is brown brick and sandstone terra cotta.
- The interior’s wrought iron is French-made and was first displayed at the World’s Fair in Chicago (technically, the World’s Columbian Exposition).
- The floor is Mexican tile; the stairs are Belgian marble.
- Construction wound up costing $5000,000, nearly three times its original estimate.
Look at the floor, not at the guy on the stairs.
A terra cotta close-up
The Bradbury Building is featured in a ton of movies, most famously in Blade Runner. On the more obscure side, see the 1951 remake of the movie M with David Wayne. (I mean, see the movie that stars David Wayne, not to head over to David Wayne’s house and see it with him. Cause he won’t be there.) It’s all over the place in that one. In fact, camera crews were unloading the morning I visited, so the building continues to inspire filmmakers. (A sweet little old lady passing by asked me what they were filming that day. I told her an episode of Hawaii 5-0 and that she should stick around to get a glimpse of Jack Lord.)
The Bradbury underwent a massive restoration in the early 1990s. Currently, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internal Affairs division is located here.
Straight up the stairwell, five stories, to the glass roof
When you visit the Bradbury, make sure you look across the way on the 3rd Street side to the great Anthony Quinn mural, The Pope of Broadway. You can read about the mural and the muralist, Eloy Torrez, on the wonderful site, Public Art in Los Angeles. You can see where I tagged Tony's left shin.
The Pope of Broadway
The Bradbury Building is also designated a National Historic Register landmark.
Up next: Andres Pico Adobe
Up next: Andres Pico Adobe