February 23, 2015

Getty Conservation Institute and City of Los Angeles Launch HistoricPlacesLA, the First Comprehensive System Identifying Los Angeles’ Cultural resources

Media Contact(s):

Alexandria Sivak
(310) 440-6473
Getty Communications

HistoricPlacesLA is the most advanced cultural resource inventory management system in the United States.


Images Left to Right:  Griffith Observatory, Vermont Knolls historic district, Epiphany Lutheran Church, all photos: Stephen Schafer
LOS ANGELES – The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the City of Los Angeles announced today the launch of HistoricPlacesLA, the first online information and management system specifically created to inventory, map and describe Los Angeles’ significant cultural resources. The system will be an important tool for protecting and preserving the character of Los Angeles’ distinctive neighborhoods as the city continues to grow and change.

HistoricPlacesLA showcases the diversity of cultural resources in Los Angeles, including places of social importance, architecturally significant buildings, historic districts, bridges, parks, gardens and streetscapes. This inventory can be accessed online by anyone interested in Los Angeles’ cultural resources – including policymakers, property owners, developers, visitors, students, Los Angeles history and architecture enthusiasts, and other stakeholders.

"This system unlocks Los Angeles’ rich cultural history and puts it in the palm of anyone’s hand," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "HistoricPlacesLA will enrich and enlighten visitors and Angelenos alike and will encourage people to truly explore our streets and be conscious of the history around us."

HistoricPlacesLA contains information gathered to date through SurveyLA, the citywide survey to identify significant historic resources that represents the largest and most ambitious historic resources survey project to date in the United States. SurveyLA is a multi-year public/private partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Getty, including both the Getty Conservation Institute and Getty Foundation. The significant cultural resources identified through SurveyLA will be accessible and fully searchable online via HistoricPlacesLA, as will other historic resources that have been previously identified and designated. The system will continue to be updated.

North Broadway-Buena Vista Street Bridge, photo: Stephen Schafer

Prior to 2010, only 15 percent of the city had been surveyed for historic resources. Since 2010, SurveyLA has been surveying the remaining 85 percent of the city. SurveyLA is now approximately 75 percent complete – and information continues to come in.

In creating HistoricPlacesLA, the GCI has customized the Arches system, which is a new open source, web- and geospatially-based information platform built to inventory and ultimately protect cultural heritage places. Arches was jointly developed by the GCI and World Monuments Fund.

“The GCI has worked with Los Angeles for many years to complete a survey of the city’s historic resources, and that investment has come to fruition with HistoricPlacesLA,” says Tim Whalen, director of the Getty Conservation Institute. “We welcomed the opportunity to customize the Arches software for Los Angeles, and to demonstrate the benefits of its application for other cities and countries.”

As Los Angeles continues to be a city of rapid change, HistoricPlacesLA gives developers, property owners, policymakers, and the general public information about significant historic resources in their community.

Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades, photo: HAER, Library of Congress

“Developers have never had such a powerful tool to direct us to potential opportunities for adaptive reuse projects, or to help us make sure we don’t inadvertently affect significant historic resources in areas that we’re considering for development," says Wayne Ratkovich, President and CEO of The Ratkovich Company, a company focused on sustainable urban development projects in Los Angeles.

The system will also make a difference for the city’s conservation advocacy groups.

“HistoricPlacesLA will help us conserve our important cultural heritage, and can help us protect Los Angeles’ important past as the city grows dynamically into the future,” says Linda Dishman, director of the Los Angeles Conservancy. “Los Angeles has always been a city of radical architectural experimentation, but HistoricPlacesLA also sheds light on sites of rich social and cultural significance.”

To explore Los Angeles’ cultural sites, visit

To learn more about Arches open source software, visit
Theme Building, LAX, photo: iStock ©Stevegeer.  
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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts—broadly interpreted to include objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of the results of both its own work and the work of others in the field. In all its endeavors, the GCI focuses on the creation and delivery of knowledge that will benefit the professional conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of the results of both its own work and the work of others in the field. In all its endeavors, the GCI focuses on the creation and delivery of knowledge that will benefit the professionals and organizations responsible for the conservation of the world’s cultural heritage.

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