A Martian could take one look at our infrastructure and know Los Angeles has historically had big flooding problems. “Hmm, they paved over the river. It must flood here. But I wonder why they have so many flat roofs?” Come inside for some of that history, in archival photos.
Here are some shots of flooding in various parts of Southern California through history, culled from the Los Angeles Public Library’s excellent online photo archive, with the captions as they appear online.
For titillation purposes, I saved the beefcake shot for the end.
Downey, 1954: View of the high flood waters which covered the sidewalk and street in this shopping area of Downey. A motorist is seen driving carefully through the flooded street. (LAPL-Herald-Examiner collection)
Downtown LA, 1952: Photo shows cars driving through the floodwaters at the intersection of Fifth and Flower Streets. A traffic officer (arrow) stands in swirling waters to carry out unenviable duties. (LAPL-Herald-Examiner collection)
Glendale, 1934: Photo shows A. Van EEnooghe at 2615 Manhattan Avenue in Montrose, digging out debris caused by flooding. (LAPL)
Bridge, 1930s: Scene of destruction along the Los Angeles River due to flooding in the 1930s. A bridge has fallen into the river. View is to the northeast toward County Hospital, seen in the distance. (LAPL)
Long Beach, 1916: A woman steers a raft containing household goods and furniture across a lake sprouting houses, trees, and utility poles as she flees the Long Beach flooding of 1916 caused by heavy rains. A young boy in a canoe is beside the raft and a man stands shin deep in water next to it. (LAPL)
LaCrescenta, 1930s: Evidence of flood damage in La Crescenta, near Glendale, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. A small building has been moved off of its foundation on the left. The year appears to be either 1933 or 1938, both of which were marked by heavy rainfall and flooding. (LAPL)
Beefcake, 1933: Three men wearing bathing trunks at the time of flooding in Los Angeles on December 31, 1933. (LAPL)