Pictures are Worth 1000 Words

When you ask someone to study a photograph, people see and focus on different things.

One person might see that this is the Otis Building at 4th and Main—many years ago. The photo was probably taken shortly before the earthquake of 1933. It was taken from the southeast corner, looking north—what my grandfather would sometimes call caddy-corner. This Santa Ana building site was later to become very popular—at the vital intersection of Fourth and Main Streets. The originally brick building was created as a bank for Mr. M. M. Crookshank—the then president and major owner of the First National Bank. The photo might indicate that “Karl’s Shoes” eclipsed the financial magnate. Historical records show no architect is associated with the original building or its significant 1925 remodel. The building is a contributing member to Santa Ana’s Historic Distrct adopted in the late 70s. The 1925 remodel shows off today’s “period of historic significance.” It was the original space used for the Oddfellows Temple that year—shortly before they “continued being Odd” in their own building on South Main Street.

From another perspective, one might notice that the first auto on the right (facing the viewer) may be a Cadillac, but it would appear that the headlights are larger than the rather pedestrian Fords of the day—something more vintage and probably 1930 or 1931 vintage. My friend who provided that information was a car aficionado. I always refer to him as “a car nut”—althought he knows very little about nuts. He was quick to point out the “loading zones” of the day—cars would drive right up on the sidewalk and that was the reason for the ramped sidewalks. The ramps had been removed in more recent modernization because civilized people park on the street. It was not until about 50 years later that the ramps made a comeback—to serve persons in wheelchairs.

Another aspect of the photo is the network of electrical wires that ran overhead. The wire belonged to the “Red Car Line,” providing transportation for the people of Santa Ana. They finally got rid of the Red Cars when everyone appeared to have their own automobile. The shiny metal tracks for the trolleys were paved over, after the Red Cars were gone—it seemed that the people didn’t need the tracks either. In the 1980s Santa Ana underwent a revitalization of 4th Street where many of the Downtown business owners were able to launch successful businesses. The City decided that 4th Street could use a face-lift too. The Red Car tracks were a major obstacle to dig up, having been covered with years of asphalt. Now some of us might consider reconstructing a means to move people in trains, again—maybe at or near this very area.

(Donald Krotee, “Pictures are Worth 1000 Words,” Downtown Business News, November 2000)

Diana NguyenBusiness News