A weekly look at SoCal life covering news, arts and culture, and more.
Hosted by John Rabe
Airs

Historic Places LA: New open-source website makes — and might save — history




Johnie's Broiler, at 7447 Firestone Blvd in Downey, on January 11, 2007, after it was illegally bulldozed. The building has since been rescued and restored and is a Bob's Big Boy. would Historic Places LA have kept prevented the destruction in the first place?
Johnie's Broiler, at 7447 Firestone Blvd in Downey, on January 11, 2007, after it was illegally bulldozed. The building has since been rescued and restored and is a Bob's Big Boy. would Historic Places LA have kept prevented the destruction in the first place?
John Rabe

Listen to story

03:44
Download this story 8.0MB

Historic Places LA is something the likes of which even New York City -- supposedly more history-conscious than L.A. — doesn't have. It's a one-stop website that lets anyone - city planners, developers, citizens, tourists — find L.A.'s historically significant places and information about them.

Building the site started with SurveyLA, which cataloged L.A.'s historic resources, and was led by the Getty Conservation Institute and the city of L.A. The GCI's Tim Whelan says a survey is "at the core of all cultural management and protection. You need to know what you have, where it's located, and why it's important."

Here's one of the key issues: the city and developers have frequently demolished buildings they knew were historically significant, so it's not always about having the knowledge. But Mayor Garcetti says, "Information is knowledge is power." Not everything will be preserved, he says, but Historic Places L.A. gives us a better shot at it.

Off-Ramp commentator Marc Haefele agrees: "In theory, a whole lot more people than ever before are going to know what an historic building is when they see it, and they're going to know what it is when someone wants to knock it down."  

"Cities like New York and Chicago have stronger enforcement mechanisms," KPCC's  Patt Morrison points out, "and I think that's going to be the next step that the city will have to take."

Historic Places LA is also just kind of fun. Mouse over an address, as Whelan did during the demo Tuesday, and you can see how a home designed by black architect Paul Williams is connected to Johnny Weissmueller ... and Mick Jagger.