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An Abridged History of Los Angeles High School

Feb 20, 2011 by Lisa Newton

Did you know that the first public high school in Southern California is our own beloved Los Angeles High School?

Built in 1873 at a cost of $19,000, the original location was in downtown LA, at the corner of today’s Temple and Broadway.

Sitting proudly atop what was then Poundcake Hill, Los Angeles High School was a two-story wooden structure with wide corridors, walnut banisters, generous windows and transoms over the doors. Lead by Rev. Dr. William T. Lucky as principal, in 1875, the first graduating class was a whopping seven students.

To make way for the new courthouse, in 1987, the decision was made to literally move the school to Sand Street which was later known as California Street and is now part of the Hollywood Freeway.

Unfortunately, during the move, the contractor ran short of funds and proceeded to leave it literally sitting on a high wooden trestle in the middle of Temple Street. Because the city was able to put it on a scaffolding high enough for the Temple Street street cars to run under it, it sat there for a while.

In 1890, construction began again on a new red brick schoolhouse, on what is now part of the Hollywood Freeway. Amazingly, this new school was built on top of the neglected and abandoned Fort Moore Hill Cemetery.

However, the:

City neglected to remove the remains and clear away the grave sites and some LAHS students in the 1890s thought it was "fun" to sit and eat their lunch while they leaned against a tombstone. Source: Wikipedia

By 1917 with 1,937 students, Los Angeles High School made its final sojourn to its current location at 4650 West Olympic Boulevard. This new brick building was to become an educational landmark.

Unfortunately, in 1971, due to damage sustained by the Sylmar Earthquake, LA High was condemned. Here is a shot taken on April 27, 1971 by Snap Man as the building was being demolished.

The demolition of L. A. High

Today, Los Angeles High School is a rather unattractive building, that’s home to almost 3,000 students.

Its mission is dedicated to:

producing self-directed, life-long learners by providing our diverse student body with the skills they need to become critical thinkers, collaborative workers, effective communicators, and technologically literate individuals.

By the way, from September 1996 to January 1974, Los Angeles High School was also home to the comedy-drama television series Room 222.

Older photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library and USC Digital Library

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Architecture, Culture, Los Angeles, SoCal
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