Preserving L.A.'s Historic Landmarks

On October 8, L.A. as Subject will hold a joint meeting with SurveyLA, a citywide effort to identify historically significant structures, neighborhoods, and places.

Landmarks and other historically-significant structures are not only reminders of the city’s past, but also provide a context for understanding the human stories told by archived materials. To protect such landmarks, the City of Los Angeles has launched SurveyLA (shorthand for Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey) to systematically identify historically-significant structures and areas and to evaluate them for official designation.

The October 8 joint meeting will be held in L.A.'s historic West Adams district at UCLA's William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The meeting will feature a presentation by Clark Library Archivist Rebecca Fenning and Mallory Furnier of the SurveyLA speakers bureau.

L.A. as Subject members will discuss at the meeting how the two groups can work together to “create an ongoing program surrounded around specific events and archival resources dealing with the history of LA architecture,” said Liza Posas, reference librarian at the Autry National Center.

After a two-year planning phase in which SurveyLA staff developed and tested methods, survey teams began their work in July 2010. The teams first consult archived materials such as maps, construction plans, and zoning documents to conduct background research on a given area. They then follow up their research with field inspections, photographing targeted structures and noting their state of preservation. SurveyLA plans to finish its survey of the roughly 470-square mile city in three years.

The survey targets physical structures such as banks, film studios, apartment buildings, bridges, religious buildings, and parks, as well as areas or groups of structures such as housing subdivisions and historic districts. Survey data will be recorded in the SurveyLA database and used to evaluate resources for official designation.

Several types of designation are available to landmarks identified in the survey. The most important may be listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources. For other landmarks, local designation as either a City Historic-Cultural Monument or a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone is also an option.