Monday, May 30, 2011
There's a wonderful building in East Los Angeles, built in 1929. It was originally the Samson Tire Company. The visionary man who conceived of the building, was Samson Tire founder Adophe Schleicher, who wanted an epic manufacturing plant. With the name 'Samson', came visions of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, and so his vision came to pass, in the form of a 23-acre plant, and 1,750 foot long front wall with bas relief sculptures of winged bulls, heraldic eagle-headed genii, and Assyrian Princes. The massive structure was inspired by the palace of Assyrian King Sargon II, and was said to be dedicated to the ancient civilizations of Sumer, Akkad, Assur, and Babylon. That's quite a vision! These days you're lucky if a new corporate building has anything on the facade other than glass and a sign. A few years after it was built, it was purchased by the US Tire & Rubber Company, which later became Uniroyal.
I remember driving by this building often as a child, and I looked forward to seeing it as we whizzed by on the Santa Ana Freeway, on our way to Disneyland, or other points south.
It closed for good in 1978, and lay empty for many years, until 1990, when it opened its doors as Los Angeles's only factory outlet center: The Citadel. Actually, the plant itself is gone. The main office building, and the long walls are all that is left. The Citadel is a wonderful outlet center, and they've done a beautiful job of restoring and maintaining the facade of the buildings.
But what makes this building and architecture important to our family, is the Assyrian inspiration. Bruce is proudly Assyrian, and we've taught our children to be proud of their heritage and culture. The gorgeous sculpture and bas relief is authentic, meticulously recreated from some of the finest historic Assyrian art.
We stopped to take photos and explore the Citadel last weekend, as we were returning from dropping off our grandson Aidan with his Mom. Son Ian enjoyed the building as much as we did. (well, maybe not quite as much, now that I think about it, Ian was on the phone, and browsing the shops while we were taking pictures...) You can get a slightly larger view by clicking here.