One of the fun things you can do while traveling the country is make connections with your ancestry by visiting places connected to your families past. One of my more famous ancestors is John Parkinson, an architect working out of Seattle and Los Angeles through the turn of the last century. None of his buildings still stand in Seattle but one of his most famous is the LA city hall which is still in use and remains an impressive and iconic sky scraper of its era. Since we were near LA, I wanted to make sure to see it in person.
John Parkinson is my great great grandfather. His daughter Mary Parkinson begat John Trent who in turn begat Goodwin Trent who is my charming father. John Trent, my grandfather, was the most senior member of the lineage I had the pleasure to know personally. Before I was really aware of the connection in my family I had an interest in Architecture. I strongly considered a career as an architect when I was in high school. Ultimately the gauntlet you have to go through to do the kind of work I was interested in was too much for me. I always wanted to design houses and buildings and most Architects must spend many years post education drawing door frames and the like before making entire buildings. None the less I retain a love of architecture and get a spiritual thrill from grand buildings or even cleverly designed homes.
I made a strategic mistake when visiting the building in person. Because LA is a fair distance to drive and its traffic is notorious for being some of the worst in the world, I decided to swing by after a trip to the Hollywood walk of Fame. The problem here was we were both somewhat tired by the time we got to city hall and there is pretty much no parking of any kind anywhere in the immediate area that is readily visible. We drove around quite a bit looking to no avail. Fortunately the view of the building from the street was quite good since it occupies an entire block on its own so we made due with a few slow drive by viewings.
It is a huge building and it’s design really gives it a sense of power and command. Because it is isolated to itself, it really stands out in a way that buildings crammed together don’t manage. It is not pretty exactly, nor elegant, yet it does soar and have a beauty all it’s own. As a symbol of authority it definitely get’s the job done. Fighting city hall is definitely not a fun prospect when it is symbolized with a 32 story granite phallus. This website gives some great details about its construction, design and the renovations it has been through.
It was only after we were leaving that I noticed a parking garage tucked away on an adjacent block under another building complex but by then we were more than ready to head home. Perhaps the next time we are in town I’ll make arrangements for a more intimate look at my great great grandfathers most iconic work and perhaps check out one of his other landmarks like the LA Union Station.