Ansel Adams is best known for his iconic and bucolic large-format shots of Yosemite National Park, but in 1940 he also covered L.A.'s aviation industry for Fortune magazine. The California native and vanguard photographer snapped more than 200 images of Los Angeles in the midst of a rainstorm, capturing the metropolis in all its post-Depression, prewar, film-noir glory.
Beginning Saturday, Feb. 18, Downtown's drkrm Gallery is showing new silver-gelatin prints made from the original black-and-white negatives, which have remained mostly unseen until now. While these photos have been touted as “rare,” that label is suspect, considering they've been available for browsing since Adams donated them to the Los Angeles Public Library back in the early '60s. “The weather was bad over a rather long period and none of the pictures were very good,” Adams wrote. “At any event, I do not want them back.” The library then estimated the total value of the pictures at around $150.
So, has this newly rediscovered body of work by Ansel Adams gained any value? Here are 10 photos to help us decide.
10. Pee, oh, pee
Ocean Front Promenade, Santa Monica
In 1958, Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica officially became Pacific Ocean Park (it was located at Pier Avenue in the Ocean Park neighborhood, south of the current pier). “Pee oh pee,” as it semi-affectionately came to be known, was an amusement park designed to compete with Disneyland, but it closed just nine years later, eventually turning into the Dogtown skate park in the 1970s.
9. Dirty laundry
Olympic Trailer Court, West Los Angeles
The Olympic Trailer Court was located at 2121 Bundy Drive in West L.A., where, according to Zillow, houses now are selling between $640,000 and $1.2 million.
8. Striking it rich
Oil rig on La Cienega, near Beverly Boulevard
What happened to the oil derrick on La Cienega Boulevard, near Beverly? It became the Beverly Center, where the only black gold merchants now accept is Amex.
7. Hat trick
Brown Derby on Wilshire Boulevard
One of several “Derby” restaurants (but the only one in the shape of a hat), the Brown Derby at 3377 Wilshire Blvd. was sold in 1975, eventually becoming the Brown Derby Plaza strip mall. Nowadays it's a Korean shopping center, part of which still vaguely resembles a bowler hat.
6. Send in the clowns
Santa's Circus, Wilshire Boulevard
Benefiting the British War Relief Association of Southern California, Santa's Circus on Wilshire Boulevard featured attractions such as a riding act, seals, wire-walking clowns, and a dog-and-pony show. In other words, not much has changed.
5. Wall of Fame
Earl Carroll Theatre, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood
“Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.” So read the sign above the Earl Carroll Theatre on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. A reproduction of the sign can be found at Universal CityWalk, by way of the Museum of Neon Art. Another of the building's distinctive features was the Wall of Fame, with signatures by the likes of Edward G. Robinson, Charles Laughton, Bob Hope, Nelson Eddy, Ginger Rogers and Mickey Rooney. These days, the building is the West Coast headquarters for Nickelodeon's live-action TV. Something tells us the star power just isn't the same with the cast of iCarly.
4. A streetcar named no more
Sixth and Broadway, Downtown
This intersection looks pretty much the same today, except there aren't any cute little red cars to help trolley us around.
3. Another funicular?
City Hall as seen from the Court Flight Railroad
2. Hot specials
Lunch stand, Burbank
Before the roach coach and the gourmet food truck, it was all about the lunch stand. In 1940, 25 cents bought you an order of chili, a roast beef sandwich and a Pepsi. Today, it buys you 15 minutes at a parking meter.
1. Working 9 to 5
Lockheed Aircraft parking lot, Burbank
Whatever happened to working 9 to 5? Now, it's more like 9 to 9, with no overtime. Back in the early '40s, the average annual salary was $3,600. So once again, not much has changed — especially if you happen to be a freelancer.