Los Angeles, 1972: Alvarado and MacArthur Park

One early spring day in 1964 I packed my possessions — barely more than clothes, a portable record player, a box of vinyl albums and a clock radio — into my 1953 Ford Tudor (that’s how they spelled it) and left Iowa, driving pretty much straight through to Los Angeles, stopping only for gas and an hour or two catnap here and there. It was well after midnight when I took an off-ramp to Downtown Los Angeles, having no clue where to go and with an address only for a workplace to which I would report on the forthcoming Monday. I expected to drive around all night to try to get a feel of the place, but exhaustion set in and after a couple of hours came upon a small, rather derelict but friendly motel that seemed to be Latino-managed with me the only gringo in sight. The next morning I awoke, walked around and when I found myself on Alvarado near MacArthur Park and shortly discovered Langer’s deli and its pastrami, I knew that I had arrived in heaven. I stayed there for a few days to get my bearings, checked in later at my work destination (GAO, then on South Broadway) and eventually found permanent residence near Western Avenue.

Almost exactly eight years later, I seem to have photographed a bit of that old neighborhood (I frequently revisited Langer’s — as well as the wonderful 24-hour Canter’s deli in West Hollywood and a couple of other fine Jewish delicatessens in the S.F. Valley and elsewhere, just to digress) probably while going for a pastrami sandwich. These otherwise banal, undistinguished photos may give you a little sense of the area.

I also uncovered a few more photos, these dated 4/22/72, which appear to picture a VietNam protest rally at what I think would be the same MacArthur Park locale and timeframe.