Monuments in Time: The Continental Building

The Continental Building is a 13-story residential building located on the corner of 4th and Spring Street in the Historic Core of Los Angeles.

The building was designed by the well known architect John Parkinson. Parkinson also designed many of Downtown Los Angeles’ historic buildings such as the Alexandria Hotel, City Hall, and the University of Southern California.

The Continental Building was originally named the Braly Building when it was fully completed in 1904.

Mr. Braly was one of the earliest settlers coming to California with his family a couple months before the San Francisco Gold Rush in 1849. Before coming to Los Angeles in 1891, where became a successful banker, he was a farmer and superintendent in Santa Clara Valley. As president of the company that constructed the Braley Block, he had the honor to have the building named after him.

The Continental was the first Beaux Arts style building in Downtown Los Angeles, with a façade of terra cotta ornaments, cornice bends, and project lion heads. The building is known as LA’s first skyscraper.

It was built right before the city enacted a height restriction in 1905 on all future buildings being built in Downtown, making it the tallest building until the 1960s with City Hall being the only exception by a public vote. The Continental stands at 175 feet still making it the tallest building on Spring Street with all other buildings standing under 150 feet. The building originally served as office space, and later became the home of many banks as part of LA’s attempt to replicate the financial district of New York.  The Continental has since been redeveloped by Gilmore Associates and turned into lofts in 2001 as part of the Old Bank District revival.

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