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Bringing the Heat!

Photo Friends,
Baby splashing in a pool
“Real cool pool: Little David Allan Siddon, 2 1/2, splashes happily in his plastic wading pool…while young David was cooling off, temperatures soared to highest this year—a scorching 107,” [1957]. Valley Times Collection

The Los Angeles basin cannot escape the fact that its climate tends to extremes, particularly of the hot variety. Global warming and galloping urbanization have exacerbated the situation Temperatures have increased over the past century, while heatwaves are becoming ever more common and last longer. While the sunshine draws many to the region’s palm-lined shores, there are dark sides to the bright skies. In this post, we’ll look at how Angelenos both meet and beat the heat. The essay features images from the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library and the captions that accompanied them when first published in the region’s newspapers.

 Man and boys horsing around at Santa Monica Beach
Man and boys horsing around at Santa Monica Beach, [ca.1965]. Shades of L.A.: African American Community Collection
man on lawn chair in between pier pylons
This fellow has found a way to enjoy the beach while still keeping out of the direct sun under the Santa Monica Pier. “Beach temperatures in the 80s and highs in the 90s inland,” [1981]. Photo credit: James Ruebsamen, Herald Examiner Collection
pool at the Bonaventure Hotel
Thanks to industrial pollutants, the sun is often visible in the daytime. “Visitors from France and Italy seek refuge form the heat and smog in the Hotel Bonaventure’s pool,” [1984]. Photo credit: Leo Jarzomb, Herald Examiner Collection
Vapor lock stalls traffic
“Vapor locks stall traffic: Hot impatient motorists pulled to side of Hollywood Freeway, enroute to Valley, as vapor locks caused by excessive heat stalled at least 200 cars. Later afternoon traffice was near standstill, with one lane blocked off for stalled cars. Extra police and tow cars were assigned to area," [1955]. Photo credit: John Rinaldi, Valley Times Collection
Hot weather art
Quintessential Los Angeles in summer: Surf, sun, and youth. Except that this photograph was taken on December 21, 1972 at Will Rogers State Park, Herald Examiner Collection
Southland Heatwave at the beach
Another classic beach scene—a bit sweatier than the one above. “The current Southland heat wave has sent thousands scurrying to local beaches, as witnessed here in Seal Beach. Another scorcher is on tap today, with temperatures expected again to eclipse the 100-degree mark,” [1976]. Photo credit: Chris Hosford, Herald Examiner Collection
toddler splashing in pool
“Real cool pool: Little David Allan Siddon, 2 1/2, splashes happily in his plastic wading pool…while young David was cooling off, temperatures soared to highest this year—a scorching 107,” [1957]. Valley Times Collection
drawing of a sweating hot dog
Valley Times staff artist Bob Hyde gives us a hot dog. The accompanying article described a proposed “pooch cooler” at Hoover Dam in Nevada for dogs and other animals. It is unclear what the proposed cooler was to consist of and unknown if it was ever built. Today no dogs are allowed at the dam site, with the exception of service animals, [1961]. Photo credit: Bob Hyde, Valley Times Collection
Valley geyser gushes
“Valley geyser gushes: The Van Nuys intersection of Oxnard Street and Ethel Avenue became the scene of a geyser-type eruption Monday afternoon when heat caused the concrete roadway to expand, breaking a valve of an eight inch water pipeline,” [1961]. Photo credit: W.F. Gaskill, Valley Times Collection
man sitting on giant blocks of ice
Newspapers love to provide life hacks for “beating the heat.” Here “Charles E. Lambert, office manager at the Union Ice Co. in Van Nuys, beats record Valley heat which rose to 110 degrees outside with ice block chair in company’s ice storage building. Ice house’s coolest room registered 30 degrees below,” [1955]. Valley Times Collection
Baby touches block of ice on the sidewalk
“There wasn’t much point to the gag of placing a 100 pound block of ice on the sidewalk in front of the Valley Times office, but the hot weather stunt did give folks something cool to talk about,” [1955]. Valley Times Collection
road collapses in the heat
Road collapses in heat: Valley heat proves too much for road patch at Sherman Way and Havenhurst. Blacktop gave way, dropping rear wheel of bus into three-foot hole,” [1956]. Valley Times Collection
heat buckles road
“Harold L. Schrock, Winnetka, takes amazed look at road at Saticoy and Mason avenue which was buckled by 105 degree temperatures in West Valley. Pavement rose two and one half feet above dirt bed,” [ca.1957]. Valley Times Collection
man swabbing forehead of another man
“Desperation over perspiration: Los Angeles City Councilment James Corman, left, and Lemoine Blanchard are just two of city’s officials about to break precedent and loosen collars and ties in heat wave that has ‘really hit City Hall.’ Officials say they have it in for weatherman, building’s executive elevator, and its air-conditioning system. Elevator is on blink, making men walk up to offices; air-conditioner is out of order, will be for three weeks, and weatherman, only one of three working, is busy predicting more heat,” [1960]. Valley Times Collection
Dog hovers over heat victim
“Dog comforts heat victim: Kathren Noerr, 75, of San Fernando, lies on on concrete after being felled by Valley heat. Her dog, Cha-Cha, guards mistress. She was given first aid on scene,” [1957]. Valley Times Collection
polar bear shaking of water in the heat
And finally, one lucky enough to have a private pool: “A resident polar bear at the LA Zoo cools himself off after a dip in the pool,” [1987]. Photo credit: Paul Chinn, Herald-Examiner Collection

Written by Eleanor Boba. Originally published on the Photo Friends Blog July 12, 2019.