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Images of Holiday Giving in Los Angeles in the 20th Century


1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Libraryfor what is advertised1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Libraryas a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Libraryas a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Libraryin Los Angeles. Note the long line of men waiting in the background.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public LibraryDec. 251929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public LibraryDec. 251929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library1939: Guests of the Salvation Army are pictured eating their Christmas dinner. Throughout the city1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library1939: Guests of the Salvation Army are pictured eating their Christmas dinner. Throughout the city1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library1939: There's a Christmas1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Libraryfor the poor and homeless in Los Angeles. Eating their Christmas dinner1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Librarywhere 11929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Librarywhere 11929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library1940: Far away from family and friends1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library226 S. Main St. Many other places also served those who otherwise would have gone hungry.; Credit: Herald-Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public LibraryDec. 271929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library326 S. Los Angeles St.; Credit: Herald-Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library1929: At least 100 men are lined up at Boos Bros. Cafeteria, at 325 S. Broadway, for what is advertised, with a huge banner, as a "Free Christmas Dinner." Further above on the building, "Salvation Army for Free Christmas Dinner" appears. One man sits dejectedly on the sidewalk as the rest patiently stand waiting.; Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles has a lot of faults, but overall its people are more generous than most. We see evidence of that in contemporary politics, but proof of the city's warm spirit also can be found in images of the past.

These photos, all found in the fantastic Los Angeles Public Library photo collection, showcase the Christmas spirit at its best, from the 1920s through the '80s. It's clear that the Great Depression and World War II created a need for group conviviality during the holidays, and restaurants and nonprofit groups seemed happy to create it. Click through this slideshow to see how the holidays were celebrated publicly throughout the 20th century.
All photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.