After the final discovery of a photo that included the residence of my Alvarado ancestors’ house from 1900s and 1920s Los Angeles tucked away in a neighborhood, I thought that was about as good a find as I could get.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a close-up image of the very house my great-grandparents lived in when they first arrived in Los Angeles in 1899.

I had occasionally skimmed through collections of old images of Sonora Town, the area around the Plaza Church where José María and Jesús Alvarado first landed in the city. I was always on the lookout for that house with a long staircase set at an angle at the southeast corner of North Broadway and Bellevue Avenue (which became Sunset Boulevard in 1912 and today is Cesar Chavez Avenue). I had a schematic of the house at 412-414 Bellevue from a 1900 Sanborn Map, so I knew its basic size, shape and position.

Close-up of 1900 Sanborn Map location and schematic of Alvarado residence

So imagine my surprise when a look through the USC Digital Library revealed an amazing close-up of that very house.

Corner of North Broadway and Bellevue

The description reads:

Photograph of the exterior of an adobe built by Francisco Manza at 412 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, ca.1925. The adobe, built in 1865, is pictured here from the side; a small brick kiln and a collection of other yard items stands with a small palm tree alongside the house. Farther in, a door with a mail-slat and a six-paned sliding window are visible at the back of the raised porch, from which wooden stairs descend to the right.

Exterior of an adobe built by Francisco Manza at 412 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, ca.1925, University of Southern California. Libraries, Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, 1860-1960

This has got to be one of the most exciting family history discoveries I’ve made, an actual glimpse into how my immigrant great-grandparents first experienced this city.

5 comments on “An Amazing Photo Discovery: The Alvarado Residence of 1899

  • amazing work eric, how long have you been working on this? did you say our grandma consuello lived in that house?

  • Hi:
    I found your families house doing family history. I am trying to find every house that my grandfather and Dad lived in. My Grandfather and Dad rented and lived at 418 1/2 Sunset blvd, Dad was 19 at the time. The house is next to 412 1/2 shown on your photo. A more complete view of this house and where my dad lived at in 1930 is show in skyscraper forum http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=170279&page=581. This same guy in skyscraper found another view of the cluster of houses there and misidentified it as 412 but it is actually 414 sunset also built by your family. Check it out. I use a later date from Sanborn maps.
    If you have a library card from the City of los Angeles (not county) you can go on line at there . If you are a resident of California you can get a card for free otherwise it 65 dollars for non residents of California.
    They have a lot of other dates for Sanborn maps. The on line LA library has a lot of photos of LA too. They also have access to all the Los Angeles times newspapers from 1880 to the present . Every issue and every page. I find all these sources useful. sent me and email if you find this information useful

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