Bruno Street between Main Street and Alameda Street – map
If you’re ever on the Gold Line traveling to downtown from Pasadena, turn to the east when you hit the Chinatown stop. Here, you’ll look down on Bruno Street, containing a great – but small and getting smaller – example of vintage hand-hewn granite, cobblestone street-paving typical of Los Angeles around the turn of the last century (in this case, from 1913).
All of Bruno Street, from Alameda to Main.
Take a look at the section of an 1894 Sanborn fire insurance map below. On this, Bruno Street is a called San Francisco Street. I don’t know when the change was made to Bruno, but it was by 1900. As far as where the name Bruno comes from, it could be it’s from the Spanish word for a little black plum or plum tree. However, in this neck of the woods at the end of the 1800s, plum trees had to be few and far between.
What’s also of note in the above map is the site of Naud’s Ware House. After arriving in L.A. in 1850, baker Edouard Naud first opened a pastry shop on Commercial Street, selling ladyfingers at fifty cents a dozen. He later dove into the wool industry, building a warehouse on Alameda in 1878. The building – by then 600,000 square-feet, owned by Kaspare Kohn, and known as Union Warehouse – fell to a million dollar fire on September 22, 1915. Dozens of businesses were affected by the blaze, yet it appears the only uninsured loss was of $2,500 worth of toothpicks stored by the – heh – Breast Manufacturing Company (imagine a company by that name in Los Angeles, of all places).
From Thompson & West’s 1880 History of Los Angeles County California, here’s a lithograph of the warehouse by C.L. Smith. Below it is a shot of what the site looks like today.
Alameda and Alpine, starring the Gold Line.
You can see by 1906, in another Sanborn map, San Francisco had made the switch to Bruno, and it was Union Warehouse, not Naud’s. (Maybe a street name more appropriate than Bruno would’ve been Taller de Máquinas Street.) Also notice how nine different Southern Pacific spurs crossed Bruno at the time.
Looking up Bruno to Alameda.
Speaking of Naud’s, this area of Los Angeles, thanks to M. Naud and his warehouse, is today still known as Naud Junction. In fact, when boxing promoter Uncle Tom McCarey left Hazard’s Pavilion he built a large barn for matches in the area called, varyingly, Naud Junction Arena, McCarey’s Pavilion, and the Pacific Athletic Club. This was in 1905. I’ve been unable to pin down exactly where it was, but The BAWLI Papers (Boxing as We Like It) reports it was “near the confluence of Main Street, Alhambra Avenue and Macy Street”, while William David Estrada, in his very fine book, The Los Angeles Plaza, says it was “slightly northeast of Alameda Street on Chavez and Quierolo Streets.” (A 1908 city directory lists McCarey and the Pacific Athletic’s office at 102 South Spring, room 331.) In any event, the venue lasted only to 1910 when McCarey put up the outdoor Vernon Arena, competing with Jack Doyle’s indoor Vernon Arena. (Tangent to a tangent: McCarey was the the father of Hollywood director Leo McCarey.)
From USC’s Digital Archive, here’s McCarey’s Pavilion in Jaud Junction. A regular L.A. Live.
More of the cobblestoned Bruno, the point of the post:
Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe
In between where once stood Naud’s Warehouse and today’s partially-cobblestoned Bruno Street stands Homeboy Industries and the Homegirl Café. And in between Homeboy Industries and Hollywood Beauty Supply, lies a big pile of Bruno Street’s 96-year-old granite paving-blocks, cut by hand. Hey, landmarked or not, sometimes they need to be removed and “stored”, right?
Thompson & West History of Los Angeles County California; Pacific Press 1880 Oakland, CA
“Cause of Large Fire Under Sharp Scrutiny.” The Los Angeles Times; Sep 23, 1915, p. II1
Newmark, Harris Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913; The Knickerbocker Press 1916 New York, NY
Kenyon, J. Michael, editor The BAWLI Papers (Boxing as We Like It); May 24, 1999, Issue 84, New York, NY
Springer, Steve “This City Was Full of Fight” The Los Angeles Times; Mar 30, 2006
Estrada, William David The Los Angeles Plaza; The University of Texas Press 2008 Austin, TX
Up next: Stimson Residence