The LAPD's beautiful, scandal-dirtied Parker Center shut for good yesterday: "Using a chain of handcuffs, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday locked the doors," according to the Daily News. The department got a new headquarters down the street in 2009, but the final employees (members of the Scientific Investigation Division's Photo Section) just left Parker this past Friday. According to an LAPD end of watch broadcast on the building (an honor usually reserved for retiring officers), when ground broke in 1952, "the varied units of the LAPD were scattered in makeshift, inadequate office spaces throughout the downtown area. The new building was designed to increase operational efficiency by providing an integrated police headquarters under one roof." The building was designed by Welton Becket and finished in 1955 (featuring "state-of-the-art equipment for its time, such as a crime lab and hidden recording devices in jail cells"); it became famous almost immediately for its role on Dragnet. In 1966, it was named for former Police Chief William H. Parker.
The Parker is also the building most associated with the LAPD's darkest moments (it was one of the first places people gathered to protest after the 1992 court ruling in favor of the cops who beat Rodney King and, just after, one of the first flashpoints in the LA Riots).
By the late aughts, the building was showing its age big time ("the faulty ventilation system allowed the smell of seized marijuana to waft across the hallways" and it apparently shook real good in an earthquake). The city has been trying to figure out for years now what to do with the place--there's an environmental impact study underway that's considering adaptive reuse, demolition and replacement, and several options in between. Meanwhile, enjoy some photos from the building's mid-century heyday (and a little later).
· End of Watch Broadcast [LAPD Blog]
· With LAPD Gone, What Will Become of Welton Becket's Parker Center? [Curbed LA]