|Site of the Statler Hilton (Wilshire Grand), and soon LA's tallest bldg|
Even in recent years, the intersection of Seventh Street and Figueroa, one of the great gateways to downtown LA when driving in from the West, has undergone some important changes. The Metro Center station is a major crossroads for LA Metro train traffic, as the intersection of the Red, Blue and new Expo lines. Above ground, the tired old shopping center that houses Golds Gym Downtown has become the darling of local residents with LA's first City Target location. And on the Northwest corner of the intersection, the historic but obsolete Wilshire Grand Hotel was just razed to make way for a new 1100 foot skyscraper (the West Coast's tallest) being built by Korean Airlines.
But as this article from KCET points out, the iconic crossroads has been a pivot point in Southern California history since its inception, as the site of the Victorian Foy mansion, the very first Von's "groceteria", and the nexus of LA's first automobile retail center in the 1920s.
Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Link to article:
Excerpt: "Once the site of the two-story Foy House and later the original Vons grocery store, the intersection of Figueroa and Seventh streets will soon host the tallest building on the West Coast. When the new Wilshire Grand Tower rises its planned 1,100 feet above the corner, it will continue a long tradition of eye-catching structures and lauded real estate developments at the downtown Los Angeles intersection -- a crossroads whose historical evolution tracks important changes within the city.
The intersection was born in the 1850s as lines on a surveyor's map.
It was absent from one of the city's earliest maps, drawn by surveyor E. O. Ord in 1849. Ord had dragged his chains through the open countryside to the south and west of the city's historic center, sketching out a street grid that included Seventh Street and the street that would eventually become Figueroa -- Calle de las Chapules, or Grasshopper Street...
In the early 1900s, another pioneering Angeleno took up residence on the corner opposite the Foy house. In 1906, Charles Von der Ahe opened his first Vons Groceteria at the southeast corner of Figueroa and Seventh, later growing the enterprise into a chain of 87 stores.
In those days, Figueroa and Seventh was still a rustic crossroads. Later, new construction and the city's growth transformed Figueroa and Seventh into a decidedly urban intersection. Angelenos had adopted the motorcar--originally a fanciful toy for the rich -- and Figueroa Street became Los Angeles' automobile row."