Lights, camera, color! Amazing remastered video of Los Angeles from 1930s shows city full of life – with the same old traffic

  • Vehicles and pedestrians were battling gridlock in 1930’s Los Angeles traffic, as evidenced by release of newly-colorized footage
  • The footage features stunning aerial shots of South Broadway, Hollywood Boulevard and the outside of then-newly built Wiltern Theater 
  • Processing the video involved AI neural networks, according to YouTuber NASS

Newly colorized footage of bustling Los Angeles from the 1930s, enhanced with post-production crowd noises and the cheery horns of sputtering cars, shows not much has changed in the traffic-clogged city.

The streets of Los Angeles from 90 years ago, both on the sidewalks and among the newly-electrified street cars on the roads, remind viewers that they’re taking in scenes of Depression-era Los Angeles, which even then was known for its gridlock. 

Stunning aerial shots show streetgoers, nearly all of them sporting hats, can be seen traversing famous intersections throughout the City of Angels, from the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, to the wide thoroughfare of South Broadway to the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue outside The Wiltern Theater, a newly-built venue that still stands today. 

The video, colorized by YouTuber NASS using AI neural networks, shows Hollywood Boulevard before the first eight stars of the Walk of Fame were laid in 1958. 

Electrified street cars, which were first introduced in Los Angeles around 1885, share the road with the cars that were just beginning to grow popular in the 1930s

In what appears to be another shot off Hollywood Boulevard, a police officer directs traffic as pedestrians adhere to then-cutting edge crossing signs

Another angle of Hollywood Boulevard shows the now-closed Kress Night Club

A police officer oversees a throng of pedestrians crossing the street at what appears to be an intersection along Hollywood Boulevard

Pictured is another angle of the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in the modern day

 In 1931, municipal swimming pools in the city were desegregated in LA, and in 1932, the boom town hosted the Summer Olympics at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

The city, just taking life as the cinematic heart of the United States due to its year-round temperate weather, had a population in 1930 of approximately 1.2 million. Now, that number has more than tripled, with about 3.9 million people living there according to the U.S. Census. 

In one shot of the footage, the facade of the Broadway-Spring Arcade Building is pictured alongside an aerial shot up South Broadway. 

Pictured is a shot down South Broadway beside the Broadway-Spring Arcade Building, which had just recently been built in 1924

Pictured is a shot of South Broadway from the opposite direction in September of 2020, taken from the Hoxton Hotel Roof

At the time of shooting, the LA landmark had been erected less than a decade earlier, in 1924, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy. 

The three-level glass-roofed shopping arcade connects two 12-story office towers, one facing Broadway and another facing Spring Street. 

Likewise, The Wiltern had just been erected in 1931, close to the the time of filming, as the flagship for the Warner Brothers Theater chain. 

Originally, the art-deco landmark served as a vaudeville theater. Located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, the building’s name is a portmanteau of the two streets. 

This aerial shot shows the exterior of The Wiltern Theater, an art-deco landmark at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue

Pedestrians wait to cross the street as now-classic cars pass by

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