Of Scrap & Steel: free rooftop screening of rare 1949 color film set on Main Street, Downtown L.A.

Please use the form on the left to register for this event. No “Plus Ones.”


LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association is pleased to announce a free roof-top screening of a newly-discovered circa 1949 short color film of Main Street and other downtown Los Angeles locations, the Union Rescue Mission-produced Of Scrap & Steel. The screening is in conjunction with a series of downtown stories on the In SRO Land time travel blog, featuring material from the Union Rescue Mission Archives.

ABOUT THE FILM: In mid-1948 the Board of Directors of the Union Rescue Mission approved the expenditure of $5,000 to make the 30-minute film Of Scrap & Steel which portrays the redemption and good works of Arthur Hawkins, an alcoholic executive who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles and whose life was saved when he turned to the URM for help. Porter Hall (Arthur Hawkins) is one of only two actors in a film otherwise populated by real Los Angeles characters. (You may recall Hall’s performance as the pesky guy on the train in Double Indemnity.)

Of Scrap & Steel was only shown in screenings organized by the URM or related organizations, and would have been completely lost if Liz Mooradian, URM historian, had not saved a deteriorating 16mm print and had it transferred to video before it was too late. Of Scrap & Steel is just one of the remarkable artifacts discovered in the Union Rescue Mission archives and explored in the In SRO Land blog.

This entertaining and powerful short film is a compelling snapshot of life on Skid Row (Main Street) circa 1949, and a fascinating document of the important work that the URM continues to do with the most needy in the community. Although downtown Los Angeles features in numerous noir films, it is extremely rare to see color images of eastern downtown, and rarer still to see full-color live-action footage of the vibrant street scene that included rescue missions, pawn shops, amusement parlors, bars, restaurants and the ever-patrolling paddy wagon in search of drunkards to haul away to jail or County work crews.

This free rooftop screening is jointly organized by LAVA–The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the In SRO Land time travel blog and the Union Rescue Mission. Attendees are encouraged to dress warmly for the cool night air. Refreshments will be provided compliments of URM.

This screening is held in conjunction with the Skid Row Walking Tour, a separate free event beginning two hours before the screening. Separate registration for each event is required if you wish to attend both the screening and walking tour.

Nearest Metro station is Little Tokyo.

Limited free parking is available at the URM’s underground parking lot. Just tell the attendant you are there for the film. Please carpool: if each guest arrives with one other person in their car, there should be enough parking for all. Those arriving later will have to leave their keys with the parking attendant.

In addition, there will be overflow parking in the San Julian parking lot located just behind the URM, on San Julian Street between 5th & 6th Streets, on the east side of the street, adjacent to URM. Registered attendees will be able to enter the URM from the Women’s entrance on San Julian. There will be ample staff to direct you from the lot to this entrance.

In the event of rain, we will screen the film in the Chapel.


6pm – Doors open (reserved guests check in at the main entrance and are sent up to the roof)

7pm-7.30pm – Refreshments served compliments of the URM. Guests can watch the sunset (7:45pm)

7.30pm – 8pm – Rev. Andy Bales (URM), Richard Schave (Esotouric) and Prof. Paul Rood (BIOLA) will introduce the film in the context of the neighborhood’s history, and their work on the In SRO Land time travel blog, and a brief introduction to the life and legacy of the URM‘s founder, Lyman Stewart.

8pm – Film screening

8.30pm – Q & A 

9pm – Event ends

Of Scrap & Steel screen shot