LOS ANGELES - It’s been announced that a New York developer and the Hearst Corporation plan to spend $40 million to rejuvenate the historic Herald-Examiner newspaper building in downtown Los Angeles. The 100-year-old landmark, at 11th and Broadway, has seen better days. Aside from serving as a popular movie and TV shooting location, it’s been empty for more than 20 years.
Architect Julia Morgan designed the domed-roof complex. Its grand lobby is impressive; a trip back in time, when William Randolph Hearst ran an empire of newspapers. That lobby hasn’t seen much foot traffic in a long time. The Herald folded in 1989, the victim of dwindling readership and stiff competition from the L.A. Times and the Daily News. Also, it never fully recovered from a decade-long strike that began in 1967.
As a youngster I was one of the last newsboys to sell the Herald on the street. I still have my canvas change apron, though now it’s a little tight around the waist. Having a paper corner was quite a big deal then. For every ten cent paper sold I got to keep three cents. My most profitable day was when actress Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car crash. The newspaper rushed out an extra edition with a four-inch-high headline in red ink, along with a picture that appeared to show a decapitated head on a car hood. Turns out it was just Jayne’s wig, but that picture sold a lot of papers and I made about three dollars that afternoon – quite a haul for a kid. I was looking forward to a big career in the newspaper business when the strike hit, and that was my last day of work for the Herald.
Over the years I’ve had several friends and colleagues who worked for the paper; mostly in the 1970s and ‘80s. By then the old building clearly was showing its age, plagued by bad plumbing and a large population of rats that would tussle with employees for legroom under the desks. That’s why I’m glad to see that this classic building is going to be restored and repurposed. There’ll be offices, restaurants, shops but presumably, no rodents.
Check out the video for some scenes of the Herald-Examiner’s last day.