LA City Hall’s Lindbergh Beacon Shines Again!

December 10, 2009 at 6:45 pm in Downtown, History, LA, Vintage

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Tipped off last night by our blogger Jason Burns, who was in turn tipped off by a tweet from City Councilman Eric Garcetti, I made a point of snapping a few pictures last night as the rarely-lit Lindbergh Beacon shone over Downtown.

It was a little difficult to find an authoritative online source for info on the Beacon, but apparently the intensely-bright light with a lighthouse-style rotation was installed originally in 1928, named after the decade’s big celeb (flyboy Charles Lindbergh) and switched on by President Calvin Coolidge himself from a remote control situated in the White House. The web site aerofiles.com then explains that

“…its original purpose soon became outmoded by advanced air navigation technology. The beacon was eventually turned off, removed in the early 1940s, and it quietly disappeared—no one seemed to know for sure where it went. Then, by chance, in the early 1990s it was discovered at a city warehouse, where it was regarded as an odd piece of junk, but members of the Project Restoration group recognized its historical value, and rescued the relic. Funded by the city’s Cultural Affairs Dept, the beacon underwent electrical rewiring and metal restoration for subsequent return to the top of City Hall in 2001. Project Restore held an initial rededication ceremony for the restored Lindbergh Beacon on April 22, 1992 in the LAX terminal, where it was relit in demonstration after its then 50-year absence.”

Apparently the thing is now only lit rarely, so it was a real treat to see it going last night! Sorry for the crappy picture; I had pulled over into a restricted section of Spring Street & was endeavoring to take the photo out the car window without stepping out into the cold, or into a traffic citation. Flickr has a better collection here (but be aware that another Lindbergh Beacon resides in Chicago atop the former Playboy Magazine building).

Here you can watch a very brief video by KPCC’s John Rabe taken from the top of the tower, which contains the tiniest shot of the back of the beacon (I think), and Rabe saying “Take a good look ’cause I’m not coming back up here again.”

If any City Nerds, Map Nerds, or Nerds of other stripes know more about the Beacon & can provide us links to further information I’d be indebted to said Nerds.

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