Off-Ramp Loves Lucy -- 8-6-2011

A photo tour of Wilshire Boulevard 30-plus years ago

Mercer 19998

Annie Laskey/LAPL Photo Collection

Merry Christmas, We Deliver!

The Los Angeles Public Library has just revealed an enormous new collection of over 900 color photos – all of Wilshire Boulevard in it's entirety, from downtown to the sea. The photos were taken between 1978 and 1979 by L.A. native Annie Laskey – who was just 15 years old at the time – and her mother. Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson talked with Annie about the newly unveiled collection.

A transplant from Grand Rapids, Marlene Laskey, Annie's mother, was fascinated by Los Angeles' sprawling landscape. When Annie was 15, the two got to work: Marlene brought a notebook, and Annie brought the camera.

"Wilshire is one of the main thoroughfares of Los Angeles. It bisects the city. You go from downtown to the ocean," said Annie. "Everything happened on Wilshire."

The duo started their photographic journey downtown, where the street begins. And unlike more famous street-based photo series like Google Street View and Ed Ruscha's Sunset Strip project, the Wilshire series isn't necessarily comprehensive.

"We tried – especially at the beginning – to take establishing shots of the street, and then close-ups of one building or one storefront, and then closeups of details on that particular building," Annie said.

Here's a slideshow of some of Annie's favorite photos from the collection. Scroll through and listen to Annie's thoughts by clicking the playhead:

There are statues, buildings, billboards, storefronts and more in the series – whatever caught Annie's eye. The series ended in early 1979, when the pair reached the ocean. For viewers, the photo series offers a snapshot in time of a city in transition.

The city of Los Angeles was preparing itself for the upcoming Olympics. For Annie, it's even more. It's a way to remember her mother, who passed away in 1989, and a reliable conversation starter.

"I always thought it was sort of a great party story. I have 1400 slides of Wislhire Boulevard, what have you got?" she said. "It was really fun."

You can view the full collection by going to the LA Public Library photo archive and searching for "Anne Laskey."


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