14 Images

Historical photos of pollution in California


Sept. 13, 1955: Buildings in Los Angeles Civic Center are barely visible in a picture looking east at 1st and Olive streets. 

 (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

Sept. 14, 1955: Motorcycle messenger Frank Stone uses a gas mask while making deliveries. This photo was published on Page One of the Sept. 15, 1955, Los Anglees Times.

 (Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)
Jerry Brown, Edmund Brown, Jerry Lewis

Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. hands a signed copy of AB 250, the air pollution bill, to Assemblyman Jerry Lewis, who wrote the bill, during a ceremony at the Air Resources Board laboratory in El Monte on July 2, 1976. 

 (Wally Fong / Associated Press)
Smog, 1990

Aug. 30, 1990: An aerial view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline.

 (Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)

Aug. 21, 1973: California Air Resources Board technicians perform a new car certification test. Exhaust gases are collected in bags, left, and analyzed to measure pollutants. (

 (Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times)

March 4, 1986: Linda Whitney of State Smog Control obtains some information from motorist Ruth Modzelevich of Alhambra during a random roadside check of automobile emissions control

 (Lou Mack / Los Angeles Times)
Smog control

April 25, 1973: Los Angeles County Supervisor James A. Hayes displays a catalytic muffler, part of a smog control system that would be tested in the county. Ernest S. Starkman of General Motors looks on.

 (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

June 12, 1979: A worker from Ford installs a catalytic converter in an assembly line.

 (Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times)

1960s: A look inside the General Motors’ Van Nuys plant in the early 1960s, when the car industry was still booming in Southern California. 

L.A. smog, 1973
Downtown Los Angeles’ tallest buildings rise above a blanket of smog in October 1973. (Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times)
Smog, 1959

Nov. 12, 1959: Visibility is limited on Broadway, looking south from First Street, during a smog attack in 1959. 

 (Edward Gamer / Los Angeles Times)

Dec. 19, 1958: Downtown Los Angeles, seen from the top of the Angels Flight funicular in 1958, is shrouded in smog.

 (Don Cormier / Los Angeles Times)
Smog, 1993

June 15, 1993: The Los Angeles skyline as seen from the First Street bridge.

 (Tammy Lechner / Los Angeles Times)
Smog, 1953

February 1953: City Hall, merely across the street, is dim as Marion E. Lent gropes her way to work.

 (R.L. Oliver / Los Angeles Times)