Most of the time we take for granted the built environment that surrounds us. We barely see the buildings and plazas of Los Angeles as we move through the city. Maybe we catch the curve of a structure out of the corner of an eye, but focus on what is before us – the task at hand, or the traffic signal ahead.
I was on my bike on Wilshire Blvd recently and detoured into the plaza at 3701 Wilshire Blvd, embraced by the two monumental, cupped hands of this elegant edifice on the edge of Koreatown (between Oxford and Serrano Avenues.) Looking up at the sky through the curved arcs of these twin structures, I could only wonder why they were built here, virtually on the nonexistent dotted line between Hancock Park and Koreatown.
Later in the week I stumbled upon the story of the complex – an Ahmanson legacy – and learned a lot more about the history of our area as well as the Ahmanason family name that appears on quite a few significant LA landmarks. It was a serendipitous moment in my urban narrative – to experience a location then have its backstory handed to me in a well-formed account only days later. It’s a bit of first-hand history written by Howard Ahmanson Jr., heir to the Ahmanson family of Home Savings fame and fortune, and cousin to Bill Ahmanson who lives here in Hancock Park. Give it a read, you’ll learn a little something about this distinguished name as well as the dreams for Wilshire center that were only partially fulfilled.
Zocalo Public Square: Who We Were: The House Home Savings Built