By Ben Welsh •
The new owner of the Los Angeles Times is moving the newsroom from its historic headquarters to El Segundo, a small suburb next to the airport.
I've been lucky to inhabit and explore the interlocking buildings at 1st and Spring for over a decade.
I'd like to share them with you. It's a beautiful day in downtown L.A. Shall we take a wander?
The buildings were built by the Chandler Family.
The different sections of the block have different cornerstones set by succeeding generations.
Here's the lobby at 2nd and Spring, with its beautiful fixtures. They include -30-, the traditional newspaper code for a story's end, hung over the exit.
That lobby is also home to some more recently minted iconography. It tends to be a little less ... subtle?
Once you're past the gate, things get less glamorous. And fast.
A blood pressure monitor and scale next to the vending machines. Sure. Why not?
The other public entrance, on 1st, is called the Globe Lobby. Here's why.
Believe it or not. This thing rotates. When it's not broken.
It is now broken.
The Globe Lobby is effectively the Chandlers' museum for themselves. It features busts of the male heirs, who in their time ran the paper.
First, Gen. Harrison Gray Otis.
Then, Harry Chandler.
Then, Norman Chandler.
And, finally, the most celebrated heir, Otis Chandler.
The lobby is also home to a 360-degree mural by Hugo Ballin. It's a tribute to the settlers of California and the nobility of press workers.
There's a longer story about why that's the dominant theme, and why this building even exists. We'll get to it later.
There's also a tribute to four Los Angeles Times reporters who died on duty.
One, Ruben Salazar, has become a legend on L.A.'s Eastside, and a symbol of Chicano professionalism. He's even on a stamp.
Here's an old Linotype machine.
Well. My phone died. So I'm going to brew a pot of coffee up in the newsroom while it charges at my desk.
Here's my desk by the way.
Everybody makes fun of the monitors I've scrounged through the years. But I'll be honest. I've never seen too much Linux.
While we are here, let me introduce you to my own personal Globe Lobby. I call it "The Windowsill of the Weird."
It's the Los Angeles Times Data Desk's museum, I suppose. When people leave The Times, I make them leave me a memento.
There's also just a lot of my crap too.
RIP Yasiel Twig.
(Pronounced "Tweeg", of course)
It contains such treasures as the "office Crocs" of Dan Gaines.
Lily Mihalik's turkey cap.
The infamous "ghost tie." (Hint: those aren't ghosts.)
And, my favorite, the "first annual" Tronc innovation award.
I guess I can let all this spill now. Below the sill is our secret cache of abandoned computers, monitors, cords and parts scavenged during the uncountable layoffs and reorgs.
You know the Data Desk likes you if we made sure you scored a second monitor from here.
My coffee was brewed in a newsroom nook financed by prize money from an ONA award.
The beans are supplied by our Data Desk coffee club. (Maloy Moore collects the bills. Anthony Pesce secures the reup.)
The sludge is served in Henry Fuhrmann's custom-designed copy desk mug.
I'm not the only amateur curator in the newsroom.
Here is the Business Section's "Museum of Defunct Technology."
Here is Doug Smith's private collection. It includes the typewriter of legendary reporter Eric Malnic and old 9-track tapes from the true innovator of data analysis at The Times: Dick O'Reilly.
I can't take you there, because it's already gone, but Dick O'Reilly's server room of 9-track tape readers lasted until April 2017.
Before it closed up, I took some video. The Cipher 9's still ran!
Alright my phone is charged and we're back in the Globe Lobby.
It displays some of the most famous work from Times history.
My favorites are the hand-drawn World War 2 maps of Charles Owens, who is shown working below.
The lobby used to have a board featuring the digital work of latimes.com.
It has been removed and replaced with old photos. The grooves in the upper left here once held lettering spelling out "INTERACTIVE."
The exterior of the Globe Lobby, out on 1st Street, is engraved with several messages from the Chandlers.
One, which once appeared on the paper's masthead, praises "the cause of true industrial freedom."
I'm told that was an anti-union slogan of their time.
Also on the exterior is this message, which our new owner might consider somehow updating on whatever building The Times inhabits next.
Back inside on the floor you can find plates commemorating the three previous homes of The Times, one of which was dynamited by union activists.
That event shaped the Chandlers' politics for generations and is embedded in much of the art and rhetoric we see here.
Just above the plates you find the eagle statue that stood atop the previous headquarters and survived the bombing.
It is the true centerpiece of the symbolry here, which is why it made such a powerful logo for the Los Angeles Times Guild's recent push to change the course of the organization's history.
To the eagle's left, there's an old phone booth.
If you look at Ballin's mural again with history in mind, you see that it encodes some less-than-subtle reactions to the unionist bombing.
It also offers some smaller gifts. Like, this, the car of the future. (Note: It's a bus.)
And a set of intricately drawn hands, all grasping for a paper fresh off the press.
Before we leave, let's admire a few more artsy doodads from this beautiful room.
Outside, above the entrance, there is a wonderful, and often overlooked, grid of 12 plates celebrating the aspects of life and culture covered by The Times.
My favorite is the position of respect of given to the game of Bridge.
On the floor above the globe is an exhibit of all of The Times' Pulitzer Prize winners.
See which current and former staff you can spot.
(Sorry for the low quality of these photos. I am obviously a bad photographer and I'm now venturing into poorly lit parts of the building.)
Next door is the suite of offices reserved for the publisher and the editorial board.
The most recent occupants were Ross Levinsohn and the so-called "shadow newsroom" being developed by Tronc.
The space is now vacant.
Not far away is the library, home to a vast archive of microfiche and microfilm.
That includes the machines necessary to read it.
My favorite here is the Kardex Series 80 Lektriever, a still-functioning carousel of alphabetized packets of print clips organized by topic.
Watch it go.
Each envelope of clips carries a warning.
Its message is something we'd probably all do well to heed before retweeting.
Some odds and ends from the offices of our Spanish language publications, which now sit where the Data Desk did in prior years.
Nearby is a popular stop on any tour: The test kitchen where all our recipes are prepared and photographed.
This is one of the places I can't get in with my badge. But that won't stop us from trying. Let's keep moving.
A couple steps away is Adam Tschorn's arsenal of hats and wigs.
That arm belongs to Kirk McCoy. This is likely the most poorly composed series of photographs he's ever been involved in.
I'll be honest. I don't know what this one is.
Don't worry. The GTI MiniMatcher is still plugged in.
Here's the mail chute down to those ornate boxes we saw earlier.
I followed it back up to the third floor and the main newsroom.
Here's one for your dad: The set where Bill Plaschke tapes his "Around the Horn" segments on ESPN.
A big chunk of the newsroom runs along the length of Spring Street.
It starts with the Data Desk. Mostly Metro section reporters past that.
Because it extends like a tail from the core of offices behind me, this strip is know as "Baja Metro." The area beyond: "Cabo."
Facing the other way you see a donut-shaped area with an elevator to the Globe Lobby at the center.
The inner ring is known as "The Glass Offices."
The term is code for upper management and is often used as a collective noun, as in "The Glass Offices haven't weighed in yet."
The largest of these corner offices has traditionally belonged to the editor-in-chief.
It is currently vacant, and has been since our previous editor was fired.
Most recently it has served as a war room for Washington Post programmers during deployments to overhaul our content-management system, what we call our "CMS."
This office is renowned for having its own private bathroom.
Since I'll probably never have another chance, let's check it out.
Here's one of the section signs from prior to the most recent remodel, with some minor modifications.
Now the "A1" conference room where committees of editors meet to plan news coverage. Its windows look out on 1st Street.
The view of City Hall from Chris Keller's desk in our Graphics Department.
Alright. Enough normal stuff. Let's get weird.
So you just started your new job here at The Times. Someone you don't know sent you an Outlook calendar invitation to attend a mandatory CMS training session in the basement.
This is not a drill. Welcome to the Los Angeles Times Training Center.
Just keep following the arrows, the email said. What could go wrong?
Everything is totally okay. Just keep walking.
This seems like a bad idea.
What. You again? Did you follow me from the library?
Again? No. No thank you.
This probably shouldn't be here.
Why is this beeping?
No. Really. I'm good.
This can't be the right way. Can it?
Phillip Jeffries, is that you? Can you tell me what happened to Laura Palmer?
I guess I just keep going?
Oh no. How do I get back?
Okay. I guess I have to go back upstairs. Yeah. Let's do that.
Wait. Where am I?!
Thus ends my stupid play.
The basements of the Los Angeles Times building hold some of its most exquisite joys.
There was once a "music room" down here where staff were encouraged to hold band practice.
You found it, and I'm not kidding, by following emoji painted on the walls.
What's down there now, you ask. Oh, nothing. Just a full-length basketball court with concrete pillars in play.
I don't know which Times reporter would be best suited as a "Street Fighter II" character, but I think this would have to be the backdrop for their battles.
(Who am I kidding? The answer is obviously James Queally.)
For my final trick of the day, we scale to the top of the old factory building to explore the Chandler Family's inner sanctum.
Ready? Let's hope I don't get locked in.
The Harry Chandler Auditorium, where both Sam Zell and Patrick Soon-Shiong introduced themselves as owners.
Now a coworking space. Locked.
The fifth floor "bullpen" where I joined Meredith Artley, Eric Ulken and latimes.com in 2007? City office space. Locked.
The downtown L.A. skyline and top of The Times' Mirror Building from the executive parking garage's roof. This is the 2nd and Broadway corner.
Another floor up: An atrium surrounded by what I'm told were the Chandlers' private offices.
Nearby: A massive boardroom worthy of The Illuminati.
I'm sorry to report its beautiful, circular table appears to already be gone.
Underneath where it once sat is the logo of the defunct Times-Mirror company.Here's the latest picture of the table I have, taken during a recent visit with Iris Lee.
There's a big corner office.
This one has a shower.
Nearby you can find the "Ladies Lounge."
Definitely not haunted.
You probably can't see in very well but it's the darkened and long-abandoned executive cafeteria. It once displayed works by Picasso. Locked.Nevermind. Where there's a will there's a way. I'm in.
Looks like there's a kitchen back here. Locked.
Outside, the coat room.
And, finally, another favorite spot. The glass-encased salon at the corner of 1st and Spring with a sweeping view of City Hall that is even better at night. It looks down on the spot where I started our tour.
It offers a back door to a catwalk on the roof, which I'll take back down to the newsroom.
That's the end of today's adventure. Thank you for joining me.
This story originally appeared as a series of posts on Twitter. It has been lightly edited for clarity. A small number of photos have been added to expand the original tour.