Oxy & The Kid
Came across this gem of Highland Park history the other day while searching Google Videos for something. I started watching Charles Chaplin’s 1921 silent motion picture, The Kid that is uploaded in its entirety (including an option for Esperanto subtitles). In the very first scene is a building used as a Charity Hospital where the mother of The Kid emerges with her child.
This Charity Hospital looks familiar. The doorway, the columns, the bricks, the windows. I have seen this before. Could this be the former Occidental College building at 121 North Avenue 50 built by Myron Hunt around 1900? Why, yes it is!
When the movie was filmed in 1920, this building had already been abandoned by Occidental College six years prior when the school moved to Eagle Rock. This becomes obvious seeing the re-naturalized state of the yard in the screen-shot, and if you look closely, there’s evidence of a few rocks thrown through the upper windows. (Those darn Highland Park kids!)
There are some other recognizable sights in the movie such as the Colorado Street Bridge over the Arroyo Seco, AKA “Suicide Bridge.” Where the mother in the picture contemplates, what else, Suicide. The slum scenes are filmed at the once heavy industrial neighborhood around Olvera street & Alameda Street before it became Union Station, freeways, and a Mexican-themed tourist attraction. But this was quite a surprise to see a place in our neighborhood in a film from 90 years ago. Watch the first ten minutes for yourself!