In celebration of National Archives Month, LAVA (Los Angeles Visionaries Association) recently presented a special event tied to the history and work of the Union Rescue Mission (URM). On Thursday, October 10, a group of history fans gathered at sunset on the mission’s newly renovated roof to see a lost piece of downtown L.A. history come to life and to get an introduction to the URM’s century-plus of community service.
The event began with a free walking tour of historic Skid Row locations that served the needy and addicted in eastern Downtown Los Angeles from the late 19th century through the 1990s followed by a 30-minute screening of the 1949 film “Of Scrap & Steel,” which was shot circa 1949 along Skid Row. The film is a remarkable artifact of mid-century Los Angeles that recently emerged from the newly discovered archives of the Union Rescue Mission — its subject matter continues to be explored through InSROLand.org, an online resource that explores the forgotten history of Downtown Los Angeles, up the “grand entertainment boulevard” of Broadway (where SRO means “Standing Room Only”) and down the “mean streets” of Main (where SRO stands for “Single Room Occupancy,” shorthand for a rented room with a sink in the corner and a shared toilet down the hall). To learn more about the history of Skid Row and adjacent areas, visit InSROLand.org where you can read posts by an eclectic mix of social historians and journalists who share “lost lore” stories about the Historic Core, “home to cops and killers, stars and fans, architects and decorators, dancers nude and clothed, freak shows, classic Vaudeville, street preachers and blues shouters, dreamers and schemers, shoplifters, slumming millionaires, pulp writers, bar keepers, finger men and B-girls, the innocent and the profane.”0