Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Nadel (Leonard) Photographs and other material relating to housing and urban redevelopment in Los Angeles
2002.M.42  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Arrangement
  • Digital Collection
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Acquisition information
  • Related Archival Materials

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections
    Title: Leonard Nadel photographs and other material relating to housing and urban redevelopment in Los Angeles
    Creator: Nadel, Leonard
    Identifier/Call Number: 2002.M.42
    Identifier/Call Number: /repositories/3/resources/228
    Physical Description: 8.75 Linear Feet (14 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1947-1998 (bulk 1947-1957)
    Abstract: Consisting primarily of photographic materials created by Leonard Nadel from 1947 to 1957, the archive records early efforts by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) to create public housing for the city's growing population, and also documents several areas of the city that the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) had targeted for commercial revitalization. Nadel's black-and-white negatives, contact prints, and two unpublished photographic books form the bulk of the material, supplemented by handwritten notes and related documents.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy  .
    Language of Material: Collection material is in English.

    Processing Information

    The collection processing was begun by Soohyun Yang in the spring of 2011. Yang wrote a preliminary finding aid. Beth Ann Guynn and Linda Kleiger continued processing the collection and writing the finding aid in the fall and winter of 2011. Guynn revised the finding aid in 2021.

    Preferred Citation

    Leonard Nadel photographs and other material relating to housing and urban redevelopment in Los Angeles, 1947-1998, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2002.M.42.
    http://hdl.handle.net/10020/cifa2002m42

    Arrangement

    Arranged in two series: Series I. Projects related to housing and urban redevelopment, 1947-1998, undated; Series II. Unpublished books, 1947-1994, undated.

    Digital Collection

    The collection was digitized from 2011 to 2013 with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and the images are available online: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/2002m42. 
    The videocassette And Ten Thousand More has been digitized. Access is available only to on-site readers and Getty staff: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/2002m42av. 

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Consisting primarily of photographic material produced by Leonard Nadel between 1947 and 1957, the archive records early efforts by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) to to create public housing for the city's growing population, and also documents several areas of the city that the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) targeted for commercial revitalization. Nadel's black-and-white negatives and contact prints form the bulk of the material, supplemented by handwritten notes and related documents. Also included are two unpublished books produced by Nadel.
    Series I comprises Nadel's documentation of HACLA and CRA projects in the 1940s and 1950s. His work as a documentary photographer for HACLA records living conditions in the slum areas of Los Angeles and, to some extent, the new housing projects that replaced them, including Avalon Gardens, Rose Hill Courts, Ramona Gardens, and the unrealized Elysian Park Heights project. From aerial and panoramic views to close-range shots, Nadel documented not only the physical environment and buildings, but also their inhabitants. A good portion of the material focuses on individual families or tenants, affording a very personal portrait of both slum and project life in post-war Los Angeles. Also included are photographs of the planning meetings of city officials and architects including Richard Neutra, Robert Alexander, and Lloyd Wright.
    Nadel also documented several areas of the city that the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) targeted for commercial revitalization in the 1940s and 1950s. He made meticulous photographic surveys, sometimes block by block, of the slums and historic areas targeted for demolition and redevelopment, including Bunker Hill, the Temple Street area, Ann Street, and the Alameda Street area. Documentation of the Bunker Hill Renewal Project is particularly extensive.
    Series II contains Nadel's unpublished books and related material on Pueblo del Rio and Aliso Village, the two HACLA projects that Nadel documented most extensively. Through photographs and text, two large leather-bound volumes tell in detail the stories of the two housing projects, focusing not just on the architecture and layout of the complexes, but also recording the family life and project-supported social networks of their tenants.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    The American photojournalist, Leonard Nadel, was born in Harlem, New York in 1916 to Austrian-Hungarian parents and grew up in the Bronx tenements. His parents worked in the garment district. After graduating from City College of New York, Nadel trained at the Army Signal Corps Photographic Center (SPCP) in Astoria, New York, and then served as a lab technician and combat photographer during World War II in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippine Islands. After leaving the army, he returned to New York and earned a master's degree in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He taught briefly before moving to Los Angeles to study photography at the Art Center College of Design. During this time he began photographing public housing sites.
    In 1947 and 1948, Nadel photographed the Pueblo del Rio housing development in South Central Los Angeles, which was originally built between 1941 and 1942 for Black defense industry workers. Nadel showed his material to Frank Wilkinson, the assistant diretor of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), who suggested that he also document Aliso Village, another of the agency's housing projects. Nadel assembled two books from his documentation of Pueblo del Rio and Aliso Village, but they were never published.
    In 1949, Wilkinson hired Nadel as a photographer for HACLA to make a photographic record of living conditions both in Los Angeles's slums and in the new housing projects that were built in Los Angeles during and immediately after World War II. Several of these projects were championed by or carried out under the auspices of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Nadel was employed by HACLA until 1953, when Wilkinson was blacklisted by the Committee on Un-American Activities and forced to resign from the agency. Consequently, Nadel to leave HACLA in protest.
    From 1953 through the 1980s, Nadel worked as a freelance photographer, producing documentary work for various agencies and magazines such as National Geographic, Look, Forbes, Life, and Paris Match. For over two decades he was the primary west coast photographer for Business Week. Of particular note is his 1956 documentation of the Bracero program for the Ford Foundation's Fund for the Republic.
    Nadel married Brazilian-born Evelyn De Wolfe, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, in 1961. Over the next eighteen years they collaborated on numerous freelance projects for domestic and international publications, ranging from documenting the life of a Japanese geisha to living with a tribal group in New Guinea. Nadel also continued to document the city of Los Angeles, particularly focusing on street mural art during the 1960s and 1970s.
    Leonard Nadel died in 1990.
    Sources consulted:
    _____ "Pueblo del Rio." http://historicplacesla.org/reports/3b706ba6-ffad-47d3-9dc9-f782a4b2ba6b
    _____ "Pueblo del Rio Housing Project, Los Angeles, CA." Paul Revere Williams, American Architect: A Man and His Works. https://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org/gallery/1940s-multifamily-housing/
    Jones, Stephen. "The Bunker Hill Story: Welfare, Redevelopment, and Housing Crisis in Postwar Los Angeles." CUNY Academic Works (2017). https://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_etds/2344
    McCarthy, Maggie. "Introduction to Public Housing." Congressional Research Service 7-5700 (2014). www.crs.gov R41654
    Marks, Mara A. "Shifting Ground: The Rise and Fall of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency." Southern California Quarterly 86, no. 3 (2004) doi:10.2307/41172224.
    Normark, Don. Chávez Ravine, 1949: A Los Angeles Story. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999. Peleg, Oren. "Photos: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Bunker Hill, " LAist, Apr 26, 2017. https://laist.com/news/bunker-hill-gallery

    Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Acquisition information

    Acquired in 2002.

    Related Archival Materials

    The collections of the Los Angeles Public Library and the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research each contain photographic images made by Leonard Nadel during the time he worked for HACLA. The Photo Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library contains approximately 290 copy negatives and corresponding black-and-white copy prints made from original materials held by HACLA. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles Photograph Collection, held at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, contains 225 black-and-white photographs produced by HACLA, forty-two of which were taken by Nadel. The National Museum of American History holds a collection of Nadel's Bracero photographs.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Los Angeles Region (Calif.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century
    Ramona Gardens (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Description and travel
    Boyle Heights (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Description and travel
    Bunker Hill (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Description and travel
    Videocassettes -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Gelatin silver prints -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Photographs, Original
    Panoramas -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Description and travel
    Aliso Village (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Description and travel
    Slums -- New York (State) -- New York
    Public housing -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Slums -- California -- Los Angeles
    Black-and-white negatives -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
    Aerial photographs -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Urban renewal -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Chávez Ravine (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- -Description and travel
    Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, California
    Wilkinson, Frank, 1914-2006
    Wright, Lloyd, 1890-1978
    Neutra, Richard Joseph, 1892-1970
    Alexander, Robert Evans, 1907-1992
    Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973
    Stryker, Roy Emerson, 1893-1975
    Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles