January 22, 2013

Our Valentine to DTLA

We fell in love with downtown virtually as soon as we arrived in Los Angeles a few years ago. We’re fascinated by both how quickly and how slowly it seems to change amid the layers of history, neglect and steps toward gentrification. We love visiting the flower market and the garment district, riding Angel’s Flight, spending time at the Central Library, and eagerly await the return of Clifton’s Cafeteria. Eventually, we’d love to move our studio somewhere downtown, but haven’t found the right place yet. One of our favorite things, is simply to walk around, enjoying the architecture, signage, and overall built environment under the shadow of snow-capped mountains and high rise beaux art and moderne buildings.
Rosslyn Hotel neon roof signs today.
When we first started talking about what we might want to make as a valentine card, we kept coming back to the idea of working with the two neon roof signs of the Rosslyn Hotel located on buildings that sit across from each other at the intersection of 5th and Main Street. We thought that they’d be perfect, since both signs include giant neon hearts as well as well as being some of our favorite neon signs in the city. They appear overhead just down the street from one of our very favorite breakfast treats, the Nickel Diner and our favorite art supply store Raw Materials. Every time we head downtown for brunch, we can’t help stopping by for art supplies and then walking over to take a look at these signs.
Rosslyn Hotels luggage tags and postcard.

Built by brothers George and Dwight Hart in 1913 at the cost of one million dollars, the Rosslyn Hotel was designed by John Parkinson, who also designed Union Station, City Hall and the Bullocks Wilshire department store among other notable buildings. The annex building across the street was built in 1923, with a marble subway connecting the two buildings underground. In those days, downtown Los Angeles was a grand destination, and the Rosslyn along with the Alexandria, the Cecil, the Huntington and the Hayward as well as other luxury hotels, accommodated film stars, businessmen and tourists from all over.
Rosslyn Hotels postcards and a still from Harold Lloyd's Safety Last filmed in Downtown L.A. in 1923

When Los Angeles began to decentralize in earnest after the second world war, the city lost a great deal of its vast public transportation system, and slowly the downtown core lost much of its early luster. Amidst the general decline of downtown, the Rosslyn Hotel hit hard times with the main building closing in 1959. The two buildings were acquired by separate owners during the 1970s and eventually joined many of downtown’s other grandes dames as little more than flop houses and residential hotels. In the intervening years, downtown Los Angeles has seen many attempts at gentrification. For the most part, these seem to appear and disappear in fits and starts. The Rosslyn Hotels have appeared in many films, music videos and television shows. Since 2009, the main Rosslyn Hotel building has been renovated and reinvented as Rosslyn Lofts and offers a mixture of market rate and affordable income micro-lofts.
DTLA Valentine Cards, Rosslyn Hotel.

We really see our magenta and red and black valentine linoleum cut cards of the Rosslyn Hotel as our valentine to downtown Los Angeles. They’re our tribute to the history behind and the future that lies ahead of the beautiful and interesting buildings that make up the heart of the downtown core. 


  1. Love this design, it is beautiful and really enjoyed this blog post.

  2. Following you from the interactive blogging team (and facebook :))! Love your shop!

  3. Thank you so much Sandy! We followed you right back!

  4. What a lovely tribute to my Grandfather's hotels. Thank you!

    1. That's amazing, you're welcome! If you'd like, we can send you a copy of the card, just send us an email at inkandsmogeditions@gmail.com We're planning on bringing the card back very soon!