Men slowly arrange scattered clothes into a makeshift tent on the front steps of 126 N. St. Louis St. A few windows in the building's powder-blue facade are broken; an old chimney stains a sliver of the north wall black.
Today, the anonymous building is one among thousands that dot the Los Angeles cityscape, but in the 1930s and 1940s, the Vladeck Center was the secular heart of Jewish Boyle Heights. The building was a base for the Workmen's Circle and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, as well as the founding location of the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC).
The Vladek Center's history was unearthed last year, half a century after most of Los Angeles' Jewish community moved west, when the city began moving forward with plans to demolish the building for an expanded Hollenbeck Police Station. Getting the city to alter course seems a tall order, but the planned demolition has attracted critical attention.