Dorian Cohen's Bunker Hill Los Angeles Page

Updated 4/28/14

Amazing color photos of Bunker Hill online.
More digitized slides have been added to the Palmer Connor Collection this month. Check them out!

Fans of historic Bunker Hill will be spellbound by these recently digitized photos of Bunker Hill dating from 1950s and 60s.
The Palmer Connor collection is viewable as part of the Huntington Digital Library. Because the images are derived from 35 mm slides they are especially rich in detail.  The range of streets, buildings and areas of the hill documented is exciting -- ranging beyond the "usual suspects." Though of course, there are fantastic shots of the Salt Box, Castle, Brousseau home and Angel's Flight. I have no information regarding the photographer or his intention, but the images surpass mere urban documentation -- they capture the particular quality of light and feeling of a neighborhood facing oblivion.  Huntington Digital Library, Palmer Connor Collection

All photos and text ©2017 Dorian Cohen

Blurry spectral shot looking north from Hill St.

My first remembered trip to downtown Los Angeles. The last electric street cars and trolley buses still running. My father pointed out Angel's Flight. I have no memory of it. Just a vague sense of a hill. I finally rode it on its last day of operation. The street cars and electric buses were gone by then.

My father took my brother and I in May of 1969 for the last ride. The following month I returned for my first visit to the Music Center for Fiddler on the Roof.  The Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion loomed large on the newly shaved crest of the hill. Today, skyscrapers visually subsume that once mighty triumvirate.

 My parents had friends on the hill. A couple who lived, if memory serves, in the Hope Vista on the south end of Hope. It was described to my youthful ears as "an ordinary apartment building, not an old mansion." Another lived in a converted mansion in the 200 block of Bunker Hill Avenue.  I used to have the exact address on a piece of paper. Alas, no photos. I never visited either location. This was before my time.  As a boy, when I asked about these buildings the adults remembered little and weren't interested  in discussing the past. So what I'm left with are vague memories of other people's vague memories.

Not long after the following photos were taken my father indulged me a trip to the Central Library. We asked a librarian for materials regarding Bunker Hill. She returned, if I recall correctly, with a scrapbook of photos and accompanying text written by a woman who lived in a rooming house. It was real treasure and I only got to look at it for a few minutes before it was whisked away. We didn't go back, and I've never attempted to see it again. What would the likelihood be of it surviving all these decades, even in a library?

View from the corner of Hill and Third St. The soon to be obliterated Clay St. visible midway up the hill. The future blogger -- arms akimbo -- is visible on the far left.

The author poses near the relocated funicular.

I believe I shot this with my mother's Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash. 

I still have that Brownie, but this was taken with a Sony Cyber-Shot.

My father took me to Angel's Flight in May of 1969. I came away with this "broadside", a block of tickets and a copy of Pat Alders' The Bunker Hill Story. I can't remember what entity was either selling or giving away those items

Detail extracted from previous photo.

I recently found this. I didn't attend reopening.

Note man with clutch of tickets. I still have mine .

I wish I had more photos, but I'm lucky to have these.

I followed the unfolding drama to save the two remaining Bunker Hill mansions: The Castle and The Saltbox. Here are the only color shots I've seen of them at their short-lived Highland Park home -- the nascent Heritage Square. Above is the iconic Castle immortalized in the movie "Kiss Me Deadly."

The Salt Box immortalized on the cover of  the debut album by musician Taj Mahal. Heroic efforts and an eleventh hour move from Bunker Hill saved them from demolition. With no security -- not even a chain-link fence -- they invited malice. It wasn't long before they were both burned to the ground. Either my father or I took these two photos in 1969.

I encourage visits to the magnificent  On Bunker Hill Blog


  1. great photographs and memories! thank you so much for posting these

  2. My pleasure. I'm glad you appreciate them. These photos have literally been in a photo album for decades, unseen by anyone.


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