June 09, 2015

Photo Essay: LA's Oldest Standing Police Station

Indeed, there is a museum for everything.

And since I like old buildings, jails, and cars...

...I visited the Renaissance Revival style Highland Park police station...

...which opened in 1926 and closed in 1983.

It's the oldest standing police station in LA, and ground zero for many infamous criminal cases out of the Northeast Division, like the Hillside Strangler.

It has been designated a local monument and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The place is like a noir film, come to life.

It houses preserved holding cells...

...and a cell block that survived arson in 1990.

The former police precinct now serves as a historical society and museum...

...dedicated to the history of the LAPD since its inception in the 1850s to today.

Displays include various memorabilia and ephemera, from badges... uniforms... photos, signage, equipment, artillery, ballistic displays...

...handcuffs, firearms, radios, and evidence from historical cases.

Outside in the back, you can examine a couple different generations of rescue units, bomb squads, armored cars...

...and patrol cars...

...some original, some reproductions.

But while much of the former police station looks almost like a movie set (probably because it's appeared in movies like Police Academy and Fletch)...

...reality comes crashing down out here when you see actual squad cars, riddled with bullets from the notorious 1997 North Hollywood shootings.

Bullets from the bank robbers' rampage shattered windshields...

...and splattered glass everywhere.

The cars involved in the shootout, preserved in their damaged states, show the severity of the confrontation.

Approximately 1750 rounds of ammunition were shot by police and the armed robbers, who were fully armored and brandishing AK-47s while cops pulled pistols on them.

This is as much essential LA history as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, as the automobile and Googie architecture and Bunker Hill and Paris Hilton. We've had two major riots. We've witnessed police brutality. The LAPD has been highly criticized, and highly publicized – and they do not have an easy job to do.

Nobody does in a city this big.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Lincoln Heights Jail, Closed to Public
Satisfyingly Spooked for the Year
Photo Essay: Boron Air Force Station / Boron Federal Prison, Abandoned (Mostly)

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