AT&T Tower in Los Angeles

Photo of AT&T Tower in Los Angeles, California
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of AT&T Tower in Los Angeles, California
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of AT&T Tower in Los Angeles, California
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of AT&T Tower in Los Angeles, California
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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AT&T Tower
Official name:AT&T Madison Complex Tandem Office
Also known as:AT&T Switching Station
Formerly:SBC Tower
Formerly:Pacific Bell Tower
Formerly:Pacific Telephone Tower

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Most American cities have at least one, if not more, antiquated telephone switching buildings in their downtown cores. These structures serve as a reminder that not all that long ago we relied on piles of electromechanical equipment in windowless buildings with microwave towers soaring high above to keep connected with family and friends.

For a number of reasons these days the old buildings are bypassed by fancy fiber optics and carrier hotels, but their microwave towers still stretch into the sky reminding us of a time when the world wide web was science fiction and not a gadget in our pockets.

The AT&T tower in downtown Los Angeles is one of the better preserved, and better looking of these relics. Its towers starts off as a solid four-sided rectangle, but gracefully unfolds as it gains height into an eight-sided platform for two levels of microwave horns. A much more complicated version of this architectural origami is performed at the building's roof where the middle of the platform has 52 sides as it transitions from one solid square into a catwalk lattice.

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Towrs: AT&T_Switching_Station

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There are two comments.

  This is a much more interesting and, dare I say, "cool" building than it looks in photos. The robotic spire looks like something out of a 1950's Japanese sci-fi movie. When lit at night, it's one of LA's great iconic sculptures. But it's the bulk of the building that holds surprise and delight too. There's the soaring decorative metal screen that stretches up from the Olive Street entry, and the pronounced window slots all the way up the northwest corner. The building is covered by creamy smooth glazed terra-cotta tiles that give the blank sides a vaguely quilted feel. As the boxes step up the hill, the base is a dark, glossy granite that reflects passersby, and on the west sidewalk there is a charming mid-century modern wall mounted sculpture depicting the wonders of telecommunication!

David Rush - Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 @ 9:22am  

  I worked in the Pacific Telephone Hollywood TV Pool in the mid 1960s...During that time we installed and monitored portable microwave systems & A2A tv cables systems that brought in the all the big shows from the Rose Parade to the Rose Bowl to the big fights to the golf matches out in Palm Springs. Best job I ever had. For young 20 something ex military guys (they were all guys at that point), it was a matter of reporting to work at the garage on Gower Street in Hollywood (across from a property owned by Howard Hughes) and going to where you were sent. When I was interviewed for technical job, the only question the "2nd Level" Robbie Robinson had was, "Are you afraid of heights.". (Not that I know of).. Besides "show biz" we also provided media and "high speed" data coverage for organizations such as JPL the and North American Downey. Exciting times. My clearest memory of the Grand Avenue building was sending up an unaccompanied load of portable microwave equipment from the 1st to the "xth" floor for one pickup or another. Only problem was, uh, losing the elevator. Wow. what a job. Rest of my phone co career was primarily in Oregon as a tech ops manager.

Dennis Scheuermann - Monday, December 29th, 2014 @ 5:34pm