Forgotten LA

John A. Roebling Building
September 1, 2009, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Los Angeles | Tags: , , ,

I’ve driven and walked by this old warehouse on the corner of South Alameda and East 4th Place in Downtown Los Angeles countless times, but I had no idea what sort of business took place inside. It seemed to be some sort of shipping company, based on the numbered loading docks along the old rail tracks along Alameda.

The train tracks don’t go anywhere, but it’s fun to imagine what sort of vehicle would pull up next to the docks and what exactly would be loaded up by workers. Judging from the sign above the building’s grand (but sadly closed) front door, Robert Arranaga & Co (apparently an organic vegetable distribution company) used the space but then how can you explain these mysterious JAR initials decorating the top of the building?

Seriously, I stood there for like 5 minutes trying to fit “Robert Arranga” into a JAR abbreviation but it didn’t work. Yes, I get it. There’s no J. But lo and behold, I found my answer around the corner!

JAR = John A. Roebling, a German born engineer famous for his wire suspension bridges, designing the Brooklyn Bridge and founding the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company. SERIOUSLY!? I would guess that this old warehouse (built in 1913) once housed part of his massive, nation-wide wire rope company (they also made the Slinky!). Their logo looks pretty familiar, too.

Fun. I hope the Arranaga company never paint over the signage.

6 Comments so far
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The plaque over the front entrance used to say something about the John Roebling Co. It has since been covered over by the current occupants. I thought the building was on the corner of Alameda and Traction Ave rather than E 4th Place.

Comment by derf

You’re right! I was one block off. 🙂

Comment by Moye

Now a brewery, they maintained the lobby from the wire suspension bridge business including the handrails that look like that same wire. Pretty cool place. I believe they kept the offices in tact as well.

Comment by Jack

The Roeblings designed and built or erected the cables for several of the world’s greatest suspension bridges, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. Roebling wire rope helped make possible some of the most important technological achievements of the industrial age: telegraphs and telephones, electrification, deep mines and big ships, elevators and airplanes.

Comment by Joe Janesic

The lobby mentioned above also houses some awesome Batchelder tiles which depict the bridges JAR designed and/or provided cable for. And yes, the beautiful curved banister is indeed made of JAR wire bridge cable. Angel City Brewery offers tours every Sunday.

Comment by Star McCain

Why isn’t this place landmarked!?

Comment by Bette

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