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Flop Houses to High Rises: Looking Back at Bunker Hill

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It's a nostalgia-rich week for Bunker Hill. At last Friday's meeting, the City Council voted to name the intersection of Fifth and Grand John Fante Square after the Bard of Bunker Hill. Fante's most famous novel, Ask the Dust, is the original LA story, about a transplant writer who can't get a break (There's even an earthquake scene--it's the 1933 Long Beach 'quake.). Arturo Bandini lives in a hotel on "the crest of Bunker Hill" during the Depression, and in the first chapter he walks through the neighborhood, "down the street toward Angel's Flight," (operational!) then "down the hill on Olive Street, past the horrible frame houses reeking with murder stories, and on down Olive to the Philharmonic Auditorium," then to Fifth where he describes the streetcars and the Biltmore Hotel. Twenty years after the book came out and fifty years ago today, as blogdowntown reminds us, the 136 acre, $58 million redevelopment project was announced that changed Bunker Hill "from a neighborhood of rundown Victorian mansions into a commercial core." In February, communication theorist Manuel Castells suggested a poetic reversal at a panel discussion on LA's downtown. He imagined Bunker Hill's towers emptied by the recession and recreated as public housing. [Image via blogdowntown]
· 50 Years Ago: Bunker Hill Funds Approved [blogdowntown]
· Downtown LA Is Necessary, But What About Bunker Hill... [Curbed LA]