Known as the first skyscraper in downtown L.A., the lavishly decorated 1904 Beaux-Arts style tower remained the city's tallest office building until the late 1950s.
Designed by John Parkinson, the 175-foot, 12-story Braly Block (now known as the Continental Building) was one of Los Angeles’ first skyscrapers. The building was completed shortly before the city established its building height limitations, which went into effect in early 1905. Consequently, the Braly Block remained the city’s tallest building for more than fifty years (only City Hall was taller because it was exempt from the limit by public vote).
The building, hailed as being virtually fireproof, contained many technological advances including a “state-of-the-art” steam heating plant and vacuum system.
The Braly Block was named for John Hyde Braly, who was president of the local business syndicate that constructed the building. Braly arrived with his family in Northern California from Missouri just before the Gold Rush of 1849. He made his fortune selling provisions to miners and later went on to become a farmer and the superintendent of schools in the Santa Clara Valley. He moved to San Diego in 1887, where he became a banker, and in 1891 moved to Los Angeles.
Although no original interior elements remain, the Braly Block’s profusely decorated attic story ornamented with massive rounded columns is unchanged. The building housed many different banks over the years, and now serves as loft-style apartments.
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