Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Free LA History events Oct. 25

 Two free back-to-back downtown Los Angeles history events: 1) "Union
Rescue Mission Walking Tour: 121 years on Skid Row" and 2) Rooftop screening
of "Of Scrap & Steel," a newly-discovered 30-minute color film shot by the
Union Rescue Mission in Downtown Los Angeles in 1949 with box suppers
available for purchase to benefit the URM

WHERE: Screening held on the newly renovated rooftop of the Union Rescue
Mission, 545 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90013; walking tour
departs from same location
WHEN: Walking tour is Thursday, October 25, 5-6:15pm; screening is 7-9:30pm
(in the event of rain, both events will be rescheduled)
WHO: Event jointly organized by LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries
Association, the In SRO Land time travel blog and the Union Rescue Mission
COST: Walking tour and screening are free, but space is limited and
reservations required (after October 10) from the links below: 


RELATED BLOG: Discover the URM's Skid Row history at the In SRO Land blog
 October is National Archives Month, and it's also Archives
Month in the great state of California. To celebrate, LAVA - the Los Angeles
Visionaries Association is scheduling a pair of free events exploring the
newly discovered archives of the Union Rescue Mission, an incredible
document of more than a century of little known downtown Los Angeles
history, architecture, entertainment and charity.

On Thursday, October 25, a select group of downtown history fans will gather
at sunset on the newly renovated roof of the Union Rescue Mission to see a
lost piece of downtown L.A. history come to life and to get an introduction
to the URM's century-plus of community service.

"Of Scrap & Steel," a 30-minute color film shop circa 1949 on Main Street
and along Skid Row, is just one of the most remarkable artifacts of
mid-century Los Angeles to emerge from the research that contributors to In
SRO Land (a time travel blog in the 1947project series) has been doing in
the newly-discovered archives of the Union Rescue Mission.

Also offered that afternoon is a free walking tour of historic Skid Row
locations associated with the Union Rescue Mission and other institutions
that served the needy and addicted in eastern Downtown Los Angeles from the
late 19th century through the 1990s.

ABOUT THE FILM: In mid-1948 the Board of Directors of the Union Rescue
Mission approved the expenditure of $5,000 to make the 30-minute film "Of
Scrap & Steel" which portrays the redemption and good works of Arthur
Hawkins, an alcoholic executive who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles
and was whose life was saved when he turned to the URM for help. Porter Hall
(Arthur Hawkins) is one of only two actors in a film otherwise populated by
real Los Angeles characters. (You may recall Hall's performance as the pesky
guy on the train in "Double Indemnity.")

"Of Scrap & Steel" was only shown in screenings organized by the URM or
related organizations, and would have been completely lost if Liz Mooradian,
URM historian, had not saved a deteriorating 16mm print and had it
transferred to video before it was too late. "Of Scrap & Steel" is just one
of the remarkable artifacts discovered in the Union Rescue Mission archives
and explored in the In SRO Land blog.

This entertaining and powerful short film is a compelling snapshot of life
on Skid Row (Main Street) circa 1949, and a fascinating document of the
important work that the URM continues to do with the most needy in the
community. Although downtown Los Angeles features in numerous noir films, it
is extremely rare to see color images of eastern downtown, and rarer still
to see full-color live-action footage of the vibrant street scene that
included rescue missions, pawn shops, amusement parlors, bars, restaurants
and the ever-patrolling paddy wagon in search of drunkards to haul away to
jail or County work crews.

ABOUT THE SCREENING EVENT: This free rooftop screening is jointly organized
by the Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the In SRO Land time travel blog
and the Union Rescue Mission. Seating will be provided, and attendees are
encouraged to dress warmly for the cool night air.

Gourmet box dinners, "Meals with a purpose" will be available for purchase
($7, cash only), with a choice of sandwich (vegetarian, roast beef or
chicken), cookie, fruit, crackers and beverage. 100% of proceeds from your
meal donation goes to the URM, and the proceeds from each dinner will feed
two other people.

Rain check: if it's raining on October 25, this event will be rescheduled.

7pm - Doors open
7pm-8pm - Box dinners available for purchase
8pm - Introduction to the URM by Rev. Andy Bales, CEO; Historians Nathan
Marsak & Richard Schave introduce the film in the context of the
neighborhood's history, and their work on the In SRO Land blog.
8:30pm - Film screening
9pm - Q & A
9:30pm - Event ends

To sign up for this free event visit
Reservations will be accepted starting on October 10.

ABOUT THE WALKING TOUR: Please join Nathan Marsak & Richard Schave of
1947project and Rev. Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission (URM) for a
90-minute walking tour along the historic paths that have delineated Skid
Row in downtown Los Angeles. This tour derives from the ongoing 1947project
In SRO Land blog series that uses the archives of the URM (founded 1891) as
a tool for exploring the social and architectural history of the forgotten
people and places of Downtown Los Angeles.

The tour begins with a survey of the early history of the outreach by the
URM through its gospel wagon and at two now-lost buildings: the original
home at 145 N. Main (now City Hall Lawn) and the long-time location at 226
S. Main (now a parking lot next to the former St. Vibiana's Cathedral).

The main themes will be the evolution of public policy on Skid Row, the
transformative work of the URM, and the architectural history of the

The route will include Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets (for a
then/now comparison of the surviving and demolished locations featured in
the 1949 URM-financed short film "Of Scrap & Steel," which will be screened
later in the evening in a free event that requires a separate reservation).
At 3rd and San Pedro Streets we will discuss the Azusa Street Revival, a
transformative event in the spiritual history of Los Angeles and the West.
During the walk back to the current home of the URM, Rev. Andy Bales will
talk about issues and challenges facing the neighborhood and the URM today.

The rendezvous point for the tour is the URM's headquarters at at 6th and
San Pedro Streets. A free shuttle bus will take tour attendees to 2nd and
Main Streets, where the walking tour begins. Registration is required, and
each attendee must register separately, to ensure sufficient seating on the
shuttle bus.

Rain check: if it's raining on October 25, this event will be rescheduled.

ABOUT 1947project: Launched in 2005, the 1947project series of "time travel
blogs" has revealed a forgotten and fascinating city through the lens of
historic true crime, social history, architecture and urban development.
Blog founders Kim Cooper and Richard Schave also took the show on the road
with their Esotouric bus adventures tours, which include such popular
excursions as The Real Black Dahlia, Raymond Chandler's L.A., Pasadena
Confidential and The Lowdown on Downtown.

1947project readers have become familiar with the lost residential
neighborhood of Bunker Hill as it existed before it was cleared by the
largest eminent domain action in U.S. history, learned of fascinating true
crimes of 1947 that have been overshadowed by the Black Dahlia case, and
discovered dozens of incredible characters who came to Los Angeles to find
their dreams.

In 2011, 1947project announced the launch of a very special new series, The
Union Rescue Mission at In SRO Land.

Past 1947project blogs have always been based in historic newspaper
research. That changed with the launch of the first 1947project blog series
based entirely on original research in an historic, significant--and
previously unknown--Downtown archive, the Archive of the Union Rescue
Mission (

Since their arrival on Skid Row in 1891 and to the present day, the people
of Union Rescue Mission have provided food, housing, clothing, counseling
and hope to the most needy of the city, acting as a faith-based flipside to
public policy. The very phrase "on the wagon" to describe a reformed
alcoholic refers to the URM's famous Gospel Wagon which once rolled up and
down the bar-lined streets of eastern Downtown, welcoming aboard anyone who
asked for help.

Through this project, the InSROLand bloggers will be revealing
never-before-seen documents from more than a hundred years of life-saving
and soul-saving work among the poor, the diseased, the drunken and the mad
along Skid Row. Themes explored will include TESTIMONIALS (the confessions
of former sinners whose lives have been redeemed through the aid of the
mission, starting with safecracker Bill Stiles, who claimed to be a member
of the Jesse James-Cole Younger Gang: PUBLIC POLICY & POLICING
( PHOTOGRAPHS (documents
of now-demolished URM buildings and unpublished downtown streetscapes)...
ARCHITECTURE (the history of the URM's early, now-demolished Main Street
buildings, put into context with discussions of Victorian Downtown's removal
to clear the way for the development of the Civic Center) and more.

PRESS CLIPS: Rolling Stone magazine has called 1947project: "[One] of the
best true crime sites on the Net." LAist raved: "Brilliantly, unhealthily
obsessed... We can't imagine our daily routine without it." And Wil Wheaton
said: "1947project is much more than just a blog. It is fantastic literature
which just happens to be presented in the blog format. If you're a fan of
noir, or just a proud Angeleno, you're going to love it."

ABOUT INSROLAND: explores the forgotten history of Downtown
LA, up the grand entertainment boulevard of Broadway (where SRO means
"Standing Room Only") and down the mean streets of Main (where SRO stands
for "Single Room Occupancy," shorthand for a rented room with a sink in the
corner, shared toilet down the hall). Between these two poles, straddling
the financial center of Spring Street, modern Los Angeles was born. IN SRO
LAND is home to cops and killers, stars and fans, architects and decorators,
dancers nude and clothed, freak shows, classic Vaudeville, street preachers
and blues shouters, dreamers and schemers, shoplifters, slumming
millionaires, pulp writers, bar keepers, finger men and B-girls, the
innocent and the profane. Tune in often to discover the lost lore of the
Historic Core, and the fascinating souls who made this town their own. The
blog's contributors are an eclectic mix of social historians and
journalists, and include KIM COOPER (1947project creator, Esotouric bus
adventures), BARBARA BOGAEV (public radio host "Weekend America" and "Fresh
Air"), JOHN BUNTIN (author of "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of
America's Most Seductive City"), ROB CLAMPETT (producer of " Beany and
Cecil: The Special Edition" volumes 1 & 2, and manager of the Bob Clampett
animation archives),  ADRIENNE CREW (LAObserved, LABrainTerrain), NATHAN
MARSAK (1947project, On Bunker Hill, co-author of "Los Angeles Neon"), JOAN
RENNER (tour guide for Esotouric bus adventures and the Los Angeles
Conservancy, Vintage Powder Room blog) and RICHARD SCHAVE (Esotouric bus
adventures). Additional contributors will be joining the team as the project

For more info on IN SRO LAND, or to explore the first posts from the Union
Rescue Mission Archive, please visit

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