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There are certain buildings in every city that are must-see destinations for lovers of history and architecture and the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles is one of them. Built during the reign of Queen Victoria, the inner workings of this structure were top-of-line high tech for the late 1800s. But, the charming metalwork throughout the dramatic atrium keeps visitors enthralled. Have a look inside one of the most beloved buildings in all of L.A.

the Bradbury building in 1960
Via/ Library of Congress

The Bradford Building was completed in 1893. Just a few years before the first skyscraper had been finished, but the vogue for exceptionally tall buildings had not yet gripped the world’s cities. The Bradbury is only 5 stories high, but features interiors that were way ahead of the time and yet totally of the era.

The building was designed by George Herbert Wyman, commissioned by the wealthy gold-miner, Lewis L. Bradbury. Wyman had no formal training in architecture, but had instead apprenticed to work in architecture. His plans were sought out after designs by his employer, Sumner Hunt, were rejected by Bradbury.

Bradbury Building interior iron staircase railings
Via/ Wiki Commons
Bradbury Building elevator shafts an, balconies, and staircases
Via/ Library of Congress
Bradbury Building staircase railings
Via/ Library of Congress

Designed in a L-shape with a unique combination of marble, iron, steel, and glass, the open interior houses a maze of balconies, stairways, and scrollwork elevators that give a dizzying glimpse at the open space.

The actual portioned spaces of the Bradbury are only two rooms deep on each side. While this might be seen as a waste of space to a modern architect designing for a businessman, near the end of the 19th century many of these buildings were constructed as legacy properties, inspired by art and industry to be places people talked about and visited for decades to come. And, thanks to successful acceptance onto the National Register of Historic Buildings, the Bradbury certainly has achieved glory in three different centuries.

Bradbury Building fire in 1947
A fire at the building was quickly contained in 1947 and did minimal damage. Via/ Wiki Commons
Bradbury Building elevator interior
Via/ Wiki Commons
Bradbury Building entrance
Via/ Unsplash

The cavernous open interior was intended, like the other areas of the building, to receive the gorgeous California light. Modern architecture had created the possibility of more light than humans had ever seen inside buildings before. However, the cavernous interior of this building is flooded in light thanks to a state of the art glass ceiling comprised of many glass panels- almost like a greenhouse. The Bradbury also had the largest plate glass window in L.A. at the time of its completion.

Even for the wealthy, houses with large widows and lots of them were rare. Perhaps because of this the Bradbury became one of the most-visited interior spaces in the city and remains a beloved fixture of L.A. to this day.

Bradbury Building atrium glass ceiling
Via/ Unsplash
Bradbury Building elevator shaft decoration
Via/ Wiki Commons
the Bradbury building
Via/ Wiki Commons

As well as being the place tourists come to see, the Bradbury has been a popular filming location and featured prominently in TV shows and commercials, movies, and even music videos. Among the movies to have had scenes filmed at the Bradbury are China Girl, The White Cliffs of Dover, Blade Runner, and The Artist. Music videos for Cher, Heart, Janet Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire, and Genesis have been filmed there, as well as TV spots for Twix and Pontiac.

See the exposed crank elevators in action, as well as how busy this historical building attraction is during a normal day, in the video below.