When this sixty-two-story tower opened in 1973 as United California Bank, it soared above downtown as the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River. It now ranks second in the city to the U.S. Bank Tower (former Library Tower). It remains the tallest feature on the Wilshire skyline.
Dismissed decades ago as a nondescript vertical shaft by critics David Gebhard and Robert Winter, the Charles Luckman-designed building has come into its own as one of L.A.'s most recognizable skyscrapers.
Catastrophe was averted on May 4, 1988 when a fire broke out at night on the twelfth floor of what was known then as the First Interstate Bank tower.
While live television beamed frightening pictures of flames climbing toward workers trapped on upper floors, firefighters braced for the possibility of losing the entire building. Though one person perished, the firefighters managed to contain the damage to five floors, saving many other lives.