Concrete Newspapers of Los Angeles
Historic Los Angeles Times Front Pages Cast in Cement
At the top of a quiet street in Highland Park, pedestrians can view a series of Los Angeles Times front page headlines preserved in concrete.
Concrete Newspapers Embedded in the Sidewalk
In general, Los Angeles isn’t a city that lends itself to recreational walking. Which is unfortunate. You can often find interesting sights just beyond the typically traveled routes. For instance, while walking Segment L of the SoCal Stair Climbers L.A. Loop a few years ago, we came across a unique landmark — a series of reproductions of front pages from the Los Angeles Times embedded in the concrete along the sidewalk in Highland Park.
It was a curious find — one we not at all expected to come across. We looked into the story behind these fascinating newspaper pages only to learn there wasn’t much information about them. Apart from the residents of La Prada Street, not many people even knew these things existed.
But after digging a little deeper we found out these concrete newspaper pages were the work of one man — a Los Angeles Times employee’s homage to the newspaper he worked at for more than a quarter-century.
One Man’s Tribute to the Los Angeles Times
Highland Park resident Leon Rudek was hired at the then newly opened Los Angeles Times printing press on Olympic Boulevard in 1964. A recent émigré from Poland via Argentina, Rudek worked as a machinist at the Times for 27 years. By all accounts, he loved the work. At the end of his shifts, he’d sort through the piles of single-use plastic printing plates, select the most interesting headlines, and bring them home.
It wasn’t unusual for newspapermen to collect these plastic plates (or the lead variety that came before) as keepsakes. But Rudek took this collecting one step further. He put the plates he selected in molds of his own design and used them to create a series of hand-poured concrete replicas of notable front pages from the Los Angeles Times. After these cured, he’d install them on the sidewalk in front of his home at the top of La Prada Street.
Although Rudek retired from the Times in 1991 (and passed away in 2002), you can still find his hand-crafted homage to the paper he loved working for on the sidewalk in front of the house he once owned. Rudek installed 60 different Los Angeles Times front pages alongside the walkway. Many of the headlines have worn away over time, but some choice headlines still remain:
- “Pope Shot 3 Times, Rallies After Surgery”
- “The Hostages Fly to Freedom”
- “Atomic Sub Theft Thwarted”
- “Carter’s Arms Pact Strategy”
- “Egypt Israel Talks Stumble”
- “L.A. Calmly Begins Busing”
- “L.A. Cancels Summer School”
Snapshots in Time
These days, most newspapers no longer use plates — either plastic or lead — in the printing process. Instead, typesetting is done digitally, so concrete newspapers like this can’t really happen any more.
Rudek’s project captures a moment in world history seen through the lens of Los Angeles, and there’s nothing else quite like it in the city.
This is the sort of thing that should be granted protected status as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument — not just because his work preserves classic headlines from the Los Angeles Times, but also honors one man’s dedication to his craft.