Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No. 6 - The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building
1893 – George H. Wyman
304 South Broadway, Los Angeles – map
Declared: 9/21/62

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.

The Bradbury Building

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.

The Bradbury Building
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.

The Bradbury Building
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 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.
The sad part of the story is that Bradbury never lived to see the building finished, dying just a few months before completion.

The Bradbury Building
Look at the floor, not at the guy on the stairs.

The Bradbury Building - Interior Terra Cotta
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.

The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building - Straight Up
Straight up the stairwell, five stories, to the glass roof

The Bradbury Building - Elevator
One of two elevators

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 Pope of Broadway

The Bradbury Building is also designated a National Historic Register landmark.

Up next: Andres Pico Adobe


gc said...

Dear Floyd,

Yesterday, 9 Southern Californians visited the Bradbury building based on your recommendation. Wow is right! We were all in awe as soon as we opened the door. Thank you for the recommendation. Without this fine blog, we never would've considered walking into the Bradbury building. Thank you!

- Gina

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tip. I was one of those nine who saw it yesterday. Great blog. I look forward to more.

- Jojobear

Robert J. Reed said...

Hello Floyd -- One of the most memorable evenings of my life was an event I attended here. As previously mentioned in another comment, one of the Sherlock Holmes Societies of which I am a member conducted a Victorian Grand Ball (a dance in Victorian formal wear) on the second level or floor of this magnificent building. Although I don’t think it could be done today, this was in the mid-1980’s. The offices had closed for the night, the “Speckled Band” setup their instruments, the caterer prepared their buffet dinner, the champagne was uncorked, and we prepared to waltz the night away. That second level is wider that the levels above it, and we had nearly 200 people there that night. This grand ball is an annually event at various historical venues each year, and although they are all memorable, this night at the Bradbury was a special once in a lifetime event. More recently, the ball is now usually staged at the Pasadena Woman’s Club, and the attendees are not only Sherlockians, but also Victorian Dance & Victorian Military Dress Societies. It is quite a thing for one to see and to be seen. Different strokes for different folks. -- Robert

Vanessa said...

I tried to get into the Bradbury building two weeks ago on a Saturday and it was all locked up for some reason. I'll have to try again another time ...

sheilabird said...

One Memorial Day weekend a few years back, I went downtown to take pictures of many of the structures you have here. The Bradbury was my final stop- my mecca. As I began up the stairs, the security guard stopped me. She was very polite, and I told her I had been looking forward to seeing the inside of this building all my life and it must be so nice to work there. She looked around, and then asked me if I wanted to ride the elevator to the top so I could take some pictures- so we got in the lovely iron cage and she took me up, let me get out and take pictures, then back down. It was such an amazing thing. I no longer live in LA, but when I did, I spent many of my weekends exploring, seeking out historic places-- I am so stoked I found your blog- I literally spent all day Saturday reading it. I look forward to reading the rest, and to future entries. Thanks from a homesick former Californian!