LA Curbed reports that the long empty Herald-Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles will undergo a massive renovation that will preserve the historic 100-year-old structure. Of course, we know this as a prime stop on any Houdini tour of L.A., because it was here on April 5, 1923 that Houdini performed a spectacular suspended straitjacket escape.
A reported 20,000 people packed Broadway and watched as Houdini was strapped into a straitjacket by Los Angeles Police Chief Louis D. Oaks. (The straitjacket used that day resurfaced in 2011 on an episode of Pawn Stars). Houdini was especially focused on the task at hand. When someone asked him about a recent book he had written, he snapped, "I've no time to think of books. This is a big job and I have to concentrate."
Houdini was hauled 50 feet above the sidewalk and made his escape in five minutes. After the escape he told reporters, "This unequaled crowd and interest shown are very gratifying. I was not sure whether the police would beat me this time or not; certainly they gave me all they had. And I want to thank The Examiner for making this the biggest open-air exhibition of my career."
The Examiner Building opened for business on January 1, 1915 and remained the newspaper's headquarters until the paper folded in 1989. The Hearst Corporation kept ownership of the building and rented it out for film shoots, including Christopher Nolan's magic-themed The Prestige. But a question mark hung over the fate and future of the building.
Now the Hearst Corporation has now partnered with developer The Georgetown Company to turn the building into a combination of creative office and restaurant space. The $40-million project will restore the building's two-story lobby (which will remain accessible to the public) and rehab the Spanish-Moorish exterior. The majority of the building's interior will be turned into 80,000 square feet of creative office space. The whole renovation is expected to wrap up by the end of 2017.
You can see more pics of Houdini's Examiner escape HERE and HERE. Read more about the building's renovation at LA Curbed.
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