Los Angeles in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Makes His Mark
One critic has called the space “a fairytale of mathematics,” from its red sandstone exterior to its brick and iron-lace inner spaces. It is one of Los Angeles' truly breathtaking buildings, its interior as visually exciting for visitors and moviemakers now as it was a century ago – which is exactly what Bradbury envisioned, a building that would still be modern a hundred years after its cornerstone was laid.
Bradbury, son of a wealthy Maine family, came west in the 1850s, striking it rich in the Mexican gold mines of Mazatlan. At 45, he followed the pattern of other ambitious Yankee newcomers, and married Simona Martinez, a Mazatlan heiress 20 years his junior.
After shuttling up and down California, the couple settled in Los Angeles, hoping the climate would improve Bradbury’s chronic asthma. Their “country place” was a 2,750-acre ranch, the core of a town that would eventually be named Bradbury, and their city home was a 50 room showplace on Bunker Hill
It was from his Bunker Hill home that, in 1891, Bradbury fancied a unique office building he could walk to,
The man he commissioned for the project was Sumner P. Hunt, a leading Southland architect who had already designed homes and mansions. But Hunt’s design left Bradbury uninspired, and he offered the job to a young, $5-a-week draftsman in the architect’s office.
So he undertook the project, with that assist from the occult and inspiration from a book, “Looking Backward,” by Edward Bellamy. The book, which eventually became a cult classic, imagined a 21st-century world of cooperative housing and workspaces organized around crystal courts.
Wyman turned that inspiration into the focal point of the building’s interior, a vertical courtyard bathed in the Southern California sunlight filtering through a massive glass roof.
Wyman, who like Frank Lloyd Wright, had no academic credentials as an architect, employed the unusually narrow lot to his advantage. Throughout the Bradbury’s five stories are lavish displays of Italian marble and Mexican floor tiles, two delicate water-powered bird-cage elevators, 288 radiators, 50 fireplaces, 215 wash basins, all as decorative as they were functional – and the largest plate glass windows in Los Angeles. The interior’s delicate foliate grillwork was made in France
Bradbury never saw his building completed. More than a year before it opened in January 1894, he died. It had cost him $500,000, more than twice what he had budgeted for.
The unexpected death of its namesake and the otherwise undistinguished designs of its creator have not diminished the Bradbury Building’s reputation, and as one of the area’s most popular film settings, it seems assured of immortality as downtown Los Angeles most intriguing landmark.
Erected by The City of Los Angeles.
Location. 34° 3.043′ N, 118° 14.884′ W. Marker is in Los Angeles, California, in Los Angeles County Click for map. The Bradbury Building is located on the corner of South Broadway and West 3rd Street. Marker is at or near this postal address: 304 South Broadway, Los Angeles CA 90013, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Spring Street (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Angel’s Flight (approx. 0.2 miles away); Oviatt Building (approx. 0.4 miles away); St. Vincent's Place (approx. half a mile away); Bella Union Hotel Site (approx. half a mile away); Merced Theatre (approx. 0.6 miles away); Fort Moore (approx. 0.6 miles away); Pico House (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Los Angeles.
Also see . . . This Building Is the Biggest Architectural Movie Star in Los Angeles. (Submitted on February 17, 2016.)
Categories. • Architecture •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page has been viewed 274 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.