The Bradbury Building and Blade Runner

Bradbury Building - Los Angeles, California

Bradbury Building – Los Angeles, California

The original Blade Runner, released in 1982, is one of my favorite films. I’ve made several references to the movie over the years. Despite my hesitancy going downtown alone at night, I wanted to see and document the Bradbury Building. A pivotal scene from the movie took place there.

I don’t know much about LA, but Google Maps indicated that the Bradbury was located on South Broadway. The neighborhood looked iffy. I didn’t know what to expect, and much of my fear might have been misplaced. I was working from ignorance, after all. Yet, the pull of documenting the building got me out of the car. I parked close by and quickly took some pictures.

The building itself, at least the facade, looked modest. However, an adequately ornate entrance hinted at the riches inside.

Bradbury Building - Los Angeles, California

Peeking through the front door window, I got a tantalizing glimpse. The ornate interior immediately reminded me of Blade Runner. The beauty of the Bradbury was locked inside. Understandably, it was closed. This was late at night, after all, when most sane people were already asleep.

I pushed the Fuji X-T10 and the kit lens to the limit. I made this modest interior photograph at an 82.5mm equivalent at 1/8 of a second, and the ISO pushed uncomfortably to 2500. The telephoto compression stacked a few flights of ornate stairways together. The soft glow and rich reflection beckoned.

What I won’t give to make high-resolution images of the interior during the daytime. Though there is a sign that restricts photography to only cell phones. I wonder how strictly that is enforced?

Bradbury Building - Los Angeles, California

The Bradbury was built in 1893 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. I find the exterior, however, rather boring. It’s really the inside that shines. The building has been in numerous Hollywood movies beyond Blade Runner. I never realized it was this famous.

Remarkably, I took these photographs in December 2019 in Los Angeles. The story of Blade Runner took place in November 2019 in Los Angeles. What a coincidence. When I first saw the movie in a theater in 1982 in New York City, I would’ve never imagined that I would be in LA pretty much on the same date. No flying cars, however, which is disappointing. Luckily, we don’t have any maniacal Replicants either.

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