Unless you are talking about mid-century post and beam view homes, Los Angeles is not particularly well known for its architecture. But the Bradbury Building is a one of a kind structure and a must-see for anyone looking to get a real flavor of Los Angeles culture and history.
The Bradbury Building, at 304 S. Broadway Street in downtown Los Angeles, was finished in 1893 according to a design by George H. Wyman – then a completely unknown architect – who was asked by mining magnate Lewis Brabury to create a building for a site he owned. Though the details remain a source of debate, Bradbury had originally commissioned architect Sumner Hunt to design the building, who was dismissed either because of a falling out or because his sketches did not live up to Bradbury’s vision. Bradbury then selected Wyman, who was merely an assistant at the time, to oversee the project. It is speculated that Bradbury may have seen a drawing of Wyman’s when he was visiting the Hunt offices.
Before accepting the project, Wyman chose to consult his brother – who had been dead for six years – and according to legend, the Ouija board ‘told’ Wyman to “Take the Bradbury Building. It will make you famous.” The design is said to be influenced by a description in an 1887 science fiction novel called ”Looking Backward” by Edward Bellamy.
The Victorian-style building is known for its large, airy internal atrium and detailed ironwork, which were cast in France and displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair prior to their final installation in LA. The Bradbury actually went ablaze in 1947, but the open design gave firefighters an advantage and they quickly extinguished the flames. The building underwent a complete restoration in the early 1990s.
The building is perhaps best known for its many film cameos, in Bladerunner, Chinatown, Janet Jackson’s short film Rhythm Nation 1814, and most recently in the closing scenes of (500) Days of Summer. We especially love the open-air elevator, which clicks its way up to the top floor in the video below. It’s one of those special places in Los Angeles that make you realize there’s much more to see in this city than Sunset Boulevard.