Category: Living in the U.S.A.

Wyvernwood, Boyle Heights


Image: Preparing the landscape for Wyvernwood’s opening day, 1939.
“Dick” Whittington Collection, USC Digital Library from .

“Wyvernwood in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, was the first large-scale, privately funded multiple housing development on the West Coast when it opened in 1939.”

Excerpt from .

“A great deal of study was given to prefabrication and rationalized building techniques, in order to take full advantage of the economies which the huge size of the project made possible. Low rents are attributed to the savings thus affected. Ready-mixed concrete for foundations; standard, demountable, steel and plywood forms which were used over and over again; exceptionally accurate installation of rough framing to receive mill work with a minimum of fitting; prefitted, premortised windows and doors; and site fabricated roof trusses were all employed for their small unit savings which add up to huge totals when applied to the project as a whole. Even the unusual character of the planting was dictated by the same desire for maximum economy.”

Excerpt of “Garden Apartments in Los Angeles, Calif,” The Architectural Forum, May 1940, p. 312 from .

Click on the links for a comprehensive look at this development. While not a paragon of architectural design, it was a large-scale rental community that effectively kept costs down while providing pleasant surroundings.


Russian Village


Image: Blanchard family photo from .

Jerry Blanchard (probably in the above photo but not indicated) helped build one of the last homes in the Claremont neighborhood. The area was mistakenly named  “Russian” when people mistook the origin of the man who started it.

“Russian Village (1923-1939)
 300 Block of South Mills Avenue

“This group of 15 homes lining Mills Avenue was built of recycled materials during the Depression. The land was owned by Polish immigrant Konstanty Stys, who sold lots to friends or needy families and helped them find building materials from wrecking yards and earthquake-damaged buildings. They are unified by their use of rock and street rubble as exterior materials, red-tile roofs, and the informal arrangement of each property. This neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a prime example of folk architecture.”

Excerpt from .

Learn more at .

See present-day photos and a house-by-house description of the architecture at .

300 years of printing in U.S.


“Commemorating the 300th anniversary of printing in America, this stamp features Stephen Day’s printing press, the first press used in the American Colonies. Stephen Daye was a printer in England who emigrated to the Massachusetts Colony in 1639 and set up a printing press at Harvard College. There is some debate amongst scholars as to the first printed document in America, but most agree that it was either The Freeman’s Oath, a broadsheet (similar to a newspaper page) or William Pierce’s Almanac. Both were printed by Daye’s press, so either way his press was the first in America. A year later, the first actual book was published in America, the Bay Psalm Book by Daye on the same press.”

Excerpt from .


Here is a commemorative cover mailed to Vallejo, California.

Migrant laborers


Image: 1939 photo by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration from .

“In Farm Security Administration migrant labor camp during pea harvest. Family from Oklahoma with eleven children. Father, eldest daughter and eldest son working. She: ‘I want to go back to where we can live happy, live decent, and grow what we eat.’ He: ‘I’ve made my mistake and now we can’t go back. I’ve got nothing to farm with’.” Brawley, Imperial County, California.



Santa Fe Railway almanac cover and single page example.


Ford Motor Company almanac and single page example..

Almanacs were published and freely distributed by businesses and organizations. Ostensibly, they were to provide reference information such as calendars, moon phases, names of birth month gems as well as wisdom and entertainment. The booklets also contained material promoting the publisher’s product or service and more general industry-wide details such as the amount of taxes paid and number of people employed. This second purpose, sometimes with editorial comment about issues of the day as well, seemed to be intended to inform legislators and voters, presumably to discourage additional taxes and regulation.