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The History of the Bradury Building

By Samuel Phineas Upham

The Bradbury Building is forever a part of Los Angeles architecture, and aspects of pop culture. It was the home of several memorable scenes in Blade Runner, and a fixture in the city. The design of the building was rooted in superstition, and its owner died before it was opened, but it’s an important architectural landmark representing timeless design principles.

The idea for the design was sparked by Looking Backward, a Utopian sci-fi book by Edward Bellamy, and it described the average commercial building as vast halls full of light. That quality is one of the first things one notices upon entering the facility.

Lewis Bradbury wanted that essence in the building he was to construct at Broadway and Third Street in Los Angeles. Just five stories, he wanted something grand and striking. He hired two men to design it: Sumner Hunt and George Wyman. Hunt completed plans and turned them in, but they were dismissed by Bradbury because he felt they didn’t fit his vision.

Somehow, Sumner was chosen. Initially he declined, but it’s said that he received a message from a Ouija board that told him to take the gig.

The building’s construction began in 1892, and Bradbury would die in July of that year. A few months after his death, the building was opened to the public for the first time. It was completed in 1894, the cost being considerably more than projected. It fell into disrepair over the next 100 years, but a $7 million dollar restoration project completely changed the look.

The Bradbury Building is just one of many reasons to visit Los Angeles. Very near to that area is LA’s Little Tokyo and Arts Districts, which both offer rich cultural experiences.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn.