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Throw Back Thursday: Vintage Video: Ride Silently Through Downtown L.A. in 1946

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This silent black and white footage takes the viewer through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles by car in the 1940s.

Visceral, but not menacing, the nighttime footage shows a city we didn’t know, though we may recognize. The parking lots, the city buses, the beckoning signs are all familiar sights in DTLA of now and then.

Breeze past the RKO movie theatre at 8th and Hill, and Gilda is showing, and Sentimental Journey is on screen on another block, which places this footage in 1946.

Look closely and you’ll see Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Golden Gopher, a See’s Candy shop, and long-gone places like a big fur store, and a Dinty Moore eatery. You’ll see cops, and trash, and scant curbside parking spots open, but you’ll also see a downtown bustling with life, as people shop inside stores decked out in blinking neon, duck into movie palaces, and enjoy a bite to eat.

It’s a long, but mesmerizing, trip, so sit back and enjoy the ride. Hang around for the last couple of minutes and the footage heads out of Downtown and along the train tracks for a ghostly sparse view of L.A. nearly 70 years ago.

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