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Top 12 Interesting Facts about Los Angeles City Hall

A city like Los Angeles deserves to have one of the most stunning city halls in the United States.

It’s fair to conclude that this magnificent building in LA fits this description as it has become a symbol of the city in multiple ways.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Los Angeles City Hall, arguably one of the most amazing Art Deco buildings ever constructed.

1. It’s located in the Civic Center of downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States after New York City and has a population of nearly 4 million inhabitants within its city limits.

The metropolitan area of LA is even home to over 13 million inhabitants, making it by far the largest urban area in California.

Los Angeles City Hall is the place where the city is managed. Here you can find the Mayor’s office and the offices of the Los Angeles City Council and these are housed in an incredible structure.

The building is located in the Civic District, an area full of government buildings in downtown Los Angeles. It’s bounded by Main, Temple, First, and Spring streets, and it faces an urban park known as “Grant Park.”

Los Angeles City Hall location
The building as seen from Grant Park / Visitor7 / Wiki Commons

2. The building was constructed in the late 1920s in the Art Deco style

The building was designed by John Parkinson, Albert C. Martin, Sr., and John C. Austin, three of the most renowned architects in California in the early 20th century.

Austin designed the iconic Griffith Observatory while Parkinson designed the Memorial Coliseum. Martin used his knowledge of reinforced concrete construction to build this tall landmark in LA.

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The base of the structure integrates Neoclassical architecture while the distinctive tower incorporates the Art Deco style that was popular at the time.

The overall design of the building was based on that of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World that gave its name to mausoleums all around the world.

Los Angeles City Hall was completed between 1926 and 1928, just before the start of the Great Depression, and officially inaugurated on April 26, 1928.

Los Angeles City Hall architecture
Detail of the building’s architecture / Craig Baker / Wiki Commons

3. It was the tallest building in Los Angeles until the year 1964

This amazing city hall dominated the Los Angeles skyline for several decades, and there’s a specific reason for that.

The tower reaches a height of 138 meters (453 feet), a number that not only makes it a skyscraper but also the tallest building in Los Angeles until the year 1964.

That’s remarkable because the city was already booming during this period.

The reason was a height limit for buildings imposed by the LA City Council until the late-1950s which limited the construction of buildings to just 46 meters (150 feet).

LA City Hall features 32 floors and boasts a total floor area of 79,510 square meters (855,800 square feet), quite a huge building indeed.

Los Angeles City Hall in 1931
The city hall in 1931 / Wiki Commons

4. A $135 million renovation made it earthquake-proof in the early 21st century

The risk of a devastating earthquake flattening parts of the city is very real in Los Angeles. San Francisco, for example, has suffered from several devastating calamities in the 20th century.

The only option for this iconic building in Los Angeles was to conduct a project referred to as a “Seismic Retrofit.” This is a modification to existing buildings to make them able to sustain severe earthquakes.

The project was completed between 1998 and 2001 and cost a whopping $135 million.

This kind of money not only made it the tallest base-isolated structure in the world but also allows the building to sustain earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale.

Los Angeles City Hall facts
Sideview of the amazing building / Wiki Commons

5. The observation deck provides stunning views and is free to visit

Apart from serving as the most important civic building in Los Angeles, the city hall is also a popular tourist attraction.

That’s because it features an observation deck on the 27th floor that offers panoramic views of the city.

Because of the proximity of the central business district of the city, it offers amazing views of some of the city’s most amazing skyscrapers and the amazing architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck
The view from the observation deck / Geographer / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about Los Angeles City Hall

6. LA City Hall has been one of the most iconic structures in the city ever since it was completed. It was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1976.

7. Although the overall design of the building was based on the ancient Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, it resembles a structure that was completed in the city just before construction started. The building of the Los Angeles Public Library opened in 1926 and has a strikingly similar design.

Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library / Mfield / Wiki Commons

8. A symbolic gesture was conducted during the construction of the city hall. Sand from the 58 different counties that make up the state of California was used, as well as water from the 21 historic Missions (Spanish religious outposts) to produce the concrete.

9. The Art Deco tower is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Los Angeles and it has decorated the badges worn by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) since the 1940s.

10. Los Angeles earned city status in the year 1835 and the initial meetings of the City Council were conducted in rented hotels and other buildings. 2 permanent buildings were designated as city halls before the completion of the magnificent Art Deco Building in the Civic District.

Old City Hall of Los Angeles
The Old City Hall of Los Angeles / Wiki Commons

11. None of the former city halls still stand today. The so-called “Mirror Building” served as the city hall between 1884 and 1888 and stood don’t the site of the current LA Times Building. A Romanesque building that served as the city hall between 1888 and 1928 was demolished.

12. Just like San Francisco Hall, the building has been used as a film location for both movies and television shows numerous times. The most notable appearance was in the 1997 neo-noir crime drama L.A. Confidential featuring Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, and Russell Crowe.

Los Angeles City Hall at night
The City Hall Illuminated at night / Wiki Commons