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10 Vintage Photos of Los Angeles

Beach Reads, 1939
10 Vintage Photos of Los Angeles
Was it the film they used back then? Or was Los Angeles a little more vibrant than the rest of the world in the mid-20th century? No matter what it was, these photos give us a glimpse of life in the land of seemingly eternal summer.
By AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
  • 1 / 11
    Beach Reads, 1939
    Beach Reads, 1939
    Black and white and re(a)d all over: Santa Monica 1939.

    Photo by Chris Warren/Flickr
  • 2 / 11
    Tram to the Beach
    Tram to the Beach
    The iconic Pacific Electric transit network (whose trams were affectionately nicknamed "Red Cars") was the way for Angelenos to get around from the beginning of the 20th century until the system's dismantling in 1961. This streetcar is crossing Fletcher Drive in Atwater Village during the early 1950s.

    Photo by Atwater Village Newbie/Flickr
  • 3 / 11
    Car Wash
    Car Wash
    Even in the mid-1950s, there was no shortage of cars in the metropolis that would become known for its traffic. This car wash in Highland Park kept those automobiles shiny. 

    Photo by Allen/Flickr
  • 4 / 11
    Midcentury Interiors
    Midcentury Interiors

    The lobby of this downtown Los Angeles hotel is the picture of mid-century modern chic. 

    Courtesy of 1950sUnlimited/Flickr

  • 5 / 11
    Poolside Lounging
    Poolside Lounging
    A poolside shot of the Cavalier Hotel in Westwood, from the mid-1950s. 

    Courtesy of 1950sUnlimited/Flickr
  • 6 / 11
    The Suburbs
    The Suburbs
    Throughout the 20th century, metropolitan Los Angeles was famously called a collection of suburbs in search of a city. Here, a common front-yard scene from 1969.

    Photo by Kent Klanouse/Flickr
  • 7 / 11
    California Poppies
    California Poppies
    The poppy became California’s state flower in 1903, and it’s easy to see why. During summer, these vibrant blossoms blanket the hills of the Golden State. And with this 1975 view of the Pacific in the background? Quintessential SoCal. 

    Courtesy of National Archives
  • 8 / 11
    Beach Day
    Beach Day
    The perfect Orange County beach day in 1975.

    Courtesy of National Archives
  • 9 / 11
    Space Mountain
    Space Mountain

    Since its opening in 1955, Disneyland has been an integral part of Southern California culture; its first year drew over 1 million visitors. Nowadays, that number is closer to 18 million annually. This photo from 1975 captures the day the Space Mountain attraction opened in Tomorrowland.

    Photo by Tom Simpson/Flickr 

  • 10 / 11
    Getty Villa
    Getty Villa
    Of course, there was more to Los Angeles culture than theme parks. The Getty Villa (photographed here in 1986) opened in Malibu in 1974 and was modeled after a lavish Roman temple that was unearthed in Italy in the 1700s.

    Photo by Kent Klanouse/Flickr
  • 11 / 11
    What’s Next . . .
    What’s Next . . .
    >>Next: The Many Faces of L.A.

    Photo by Rey Madalora