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In one of the best examples of art (if you consider video game development as “art”) imitating life, L.A. Noire does a pretty good job of recreating 1947 Los Angeles. The game actually inspired me to get off the couch and get out on the streets of downtown L.A. to explore its history, and what resulted were a couple of posts for LAist: L.A. Noire: Then and Now as well as a Google maps self-guided tour edition. Here’s just a bit of what you missed:
It’s 1947: Earlier this year, Elizabeth Short was found dead in Leimert Park, KTLA channel 5 made its television broadcast debut, and LAPD Det. Cole Phelps is out on the streets busting the bad guys. OK, so that last bit is fiction, but thanks to the newly-released L.A. Noire video game, Angelenos can travel back in time to visit downtown L.A., Hollywood and parts of mid-Wilshire in all their post-WWII grit and glory.
In an interview with the L.A. Times (who published an interactive 1947 crime map online) the video game’s Sydney, Australia-based developers recounted how they studied over 180,000 historical photos, including Robert Spence’s aerial photos, to bring ’40s Los Angeles back to life.
True, the art and design team took some liberty with some of the game’s locations and details: The La Brea Tar Pits were renamed Westlake Tar Pits and relocated near 8th and Vermont, and the designers admit to growing the era’s then-3-foot palm trees to full size in the game. And when historic L.A. expert Nathan Marsak of the 1947Project took the game for a test drive, he found many “oft-photographed buildings” and landscape details missing, and Bunker Hill Avenue and Angels Flight Pharmacy that existed in ’47 were nowhere to be seen, among other anachronisms.
Be sure to click the links above the see the entire before-and-after photo post, along with ways to take your own self-guided tour!