Photos: Historic Clifton's Cafeteria through the Decades

When a piece of Los Angeles history disappears, it's often lost forever - preserved only in our collective memory and in the region's photographic archives. But in some rare cases, that history is only hidden, preserved by accident for later generations to rediscover.

Today, the façade of downtown's historic Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria saw the light of day for the first time since the early 1960s, as explained at KCET Food. For decades, the building's art deco façade stood quietly behind a wall of aluminum grates - removed last night and replaced with a temporary tarp, which Clifton's owner Andrew Meieran shucked from the building this morning at a special ceremony hosted by the Los Angeles Conservancy and city council member Jose Huizar's Bringing Back Broadway initiative.

The aluminum grates were an artifact of downtown L.A.'s mid-century decline. With an increasing number of shoppers migrating from downtown to suburban shopping malls or the commercial corridor of Wilshire Boulevard, Clifton's and other downtown businesses tried to stanch the flow of business by giving their buildings a more modern look. Clifton's metallic façade went up in 1963.

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