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In New Book On Bunker Hill, An Ever-Changing Historical Neighborhood Is Explored




The Angels Flight Railway ferries passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles.
The Angels Flight Railway ferries passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Los Angeles’ first suburb, Bunker Hill, was once a refuge of Queen Anne-style mansions for the city’s wealthiest residents. Now, over one hundred years later, it hosts many of the city’s most prominent cultural institutions.

Bunker Hills’ evolution is the subject of “Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir,”  a new book out this year by local historian Nathan Marsak. The book details the neighborhood’s rich architectural history (obscured now by the Modernist museum architecture of MOCA, the Broad and the Walt Disney Concert Hall) as well as the political battles between social engineers, local government and developers that made Bunker Hill into what it is today. Marsak also confronts the neighborhood’s fantastical legacy as a haven for brothels and gambling dens, a byproduct of the brooding postwar noir films shot on its streets. As with so many of Los Angeles’ neighborhoods, Bunker Hill’s construction in the popular imagination is as much Hollywood’s doing as anything else. 

Today on AirTalk, Marsak joins us to help parse the facts and fictions of Bunker Hill. Questions? Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722.

Nathan Marsak will be speaking about his book on Bunker Hill in a virtual event hosted by Vroman’s Bookstore Monday, October 5 at 6pm.

Guest:

Nathan Marsak, Los Angeles historian and preservation advocate; he is the author of the book “Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir” (Angel City Press 2020)