Sam Watters, a chronicler of the architecture of Los Angeles, wrote his post-Christmas column on the buildings constructed in the early years of the 20th century by Isaias and Herman Hellman.
Watters tries to draw a parallel between the actions of the Hellmans with today's bankers:
"Brinks must be stuffing its armored delivery trucks with Goldman Sachs' annual bonuses. The company's compensation and benefit pool for 2009 is expected to top $20 billion, an average of more than $600,000 for each of the 31,700 company employees whose jobs were saved a year ago by a taxpayer bailout. Among the questions raised by this bonanza: What will bankers do with the money? "
As you see, today's bankers come up short. Watters then goes on to talk about how each Hellman brother constructed a building on their old homesteads that still stand today.
A few years later, Isaias Hellman hired the architectural firm Morgan and Wells to design a new headquarters for the Farmers and Merchants Bank, Los Angeles' first successful bank. The building on Fourth and Main streets still stands and is used for commercials and parties. I gave a talk last year there for the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California.
Watters' piece is nice. He even mentions my name. My only complaint is that much of the information comes from Towers of Gold and he never mentions the title of my book.