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Los Angeles’ Untold History of Griffith Park, Prohibition Tunnels, Mount Wilson Observatory and More Featured in New Season of KCET’s ‘LOST LA’

Allison Gray
For Downloadable Artwork, please visit KCET.org/pressroom

Fourth Season of Historical Documentary Series Premieres October 15

Scenes from the fourth season of Lost LA

(Scenes from season four of LOST LA. Photo courtesy of KCET.)

Also streaming on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Roku and Apple TV.

BURBANK, Calif.Sept. 13, 2019KCET, a producer of award-winning and diverse original content for public media, announced today the return of the Emmy® -winning historical documentary series LOST LA, a co-production with the University of Southern California Libraries. Public historian and writer Nathan Masters of the USC Libraries returns as Host with untold histories behind Griffith Park, Manzanar, Los Angeles’ prohibition tunnels, architect Paul Revere Williams, the Shindana Toy Company and the Mount Wilson Observatory. Now in its fourth season, LOST LA explores our region’s hidden past through documents, photos and other rare artifacts from California libraries and archives. Season four of LOST LA premieres on Tues., Oct. 15 at 8:30 p.m. on KCET in Southern California with encores airing one week later on PBS SoCal at 7:30 p.m. 

Following the broadcast, each episode will stream at kcet.org/lostla and on the free PBS Video app (available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, the App Store and Google Play), as well as on YouTube and Amazon Prime.

LOST LA originally premiered as a series on KCET in January of 2016 based on an “online to on-air” incubation model where high-trafficked web content was produced for broadcast. Since then, the series has continued to challenge the assumption that Los Angeles is a city without a history. Instead, LOST LA offers a history of Southern California that is not often told, or has been forgotten, bringing primary sources of Los Angeles history to the screen and connecting them to the Los Angeles of today.
The episodes will be telecast as follows (subject to change):

Griffith Park” – Tues., Oct. 15
Short: Explore one of the nation’s largest municipal parks and discover how it hasn’t always lived up to its founder’s vision of a public recreation ground for all.
Long: At more than 4,500 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. Its founder, the controversial and complicated Griffith J. Griffith, donated the land to the city as a public recreation ground for all the people — an ideal that has been challenged over the years. In this episode, Sarah Wilson, director of Education at the Autry Museum of the American West, explains the upcoming “Investigating Griffith Park,” exhibition and the effort to create an archive of all things Griffith Park.

Three Views of Manzanar” – Tues., Oct. 22
One of ten camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII, California’s Manzanar was photographed by outsiders Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams—and by incarceree Tōyō Miyatake, who captured scenes from within.
Long: Despite the trauma of their incarceration during World War II, Japanese Americans built new lives while detained at concentration camps like Manzanar. They played baseball, planted gardens and made the honor roll. Three renowned photographers captured these scenes: outsiders Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams and incarceree Tōyō Miyatake who boldly smuggled in a camera lens to document life from within the camp. All three trained their lenses on small yet profound moments of dignity and domesticity, documenting resilience in the face of civil injustice.

Bootlegger Tunnels” – Tues., Oct. 29
Short: Explore the subterranean myths of Prohibition-era Los Angeles, crawl through bootlegger tunnels and visit some of the city’s oldest speakeasies.
Long: There is always lore ingrained in a city’s history, particularly one like Los Angeles. It is no secret that throughout the Prohibition Era individuals living in the city continued to enjoy their vices as much, if not more, than they ever had before. But it is how they subverted the law that still remains unclear. In this episode, we explore the myths of subterranean Los Angeles, crawl through claimed prohibition-era bootlegger tunnels and visit some of the city’s oldest speakeasies along the way.

Paul Revere Williams” – Tues., Nov. 5
Short: Pioneering African-American architect Paul Revere Williams contributed to some of the city’s most recognizable civic structures—all while confronting racial barriers.
Long: Although best known for designing the homes of celebrities like Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra, the pioneering African-American architect Paul Revere Williams also contributed to some of the city’s most recognizable civic structures — all while confronting racial barriers.

Discovering the Universe” – Tues., Nov. 12
Short: Visit the underground vault of the Carnegie Observatories and the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, once the world capital of astronomy.
Long: As recently as a century ago, scientists doubted whether the universe extended beyond our own Milky Way — until astronomer Edwin Hubble, working with the world’s most powerful telescope in the mountains high above Los Angeles, discovered just how vast the universe truly is. Visit the underground vault of the Carnegie Observatories, where paradigm-shifting discoveries are annotated by hand on glass photographic slides; and the historic Mount Wilson observatory.

Shindana Toy Company” – Tues., Nov. 19
Short: Manufacturing ethnically correct black dolls in the wake of the Watts uprising, South Los Angeles-based Shindana Toy Company left a lasting mark on the American doll industry.
Long: The Watts riots (also known as the Watts Rebellion or Uprising) left South Los Angeles in social and economic distress. In its wake, Operation Bootstrap, a non-profit community-based organization was formed, with hopes of facilitating change through community empowerment. This episode explores the lasting impact of one Operation Bootstrap initiative, the Shindana Toy Company, which left a lasting mark on the American doll industry by manufacturing ethnically correct black dolls.

Earlier this summer, KCET and the USC Libraries announced the launch of an all-new, statewide K-12 initiative called Lost LA Curriculum Project consisting of lesson plans based on episodes of the show from previous seasons. Currently available to teachers across the state on a portal that can be accessed through kcet.org/lostlacurriculum, teachers and students have been able to navigate digital content pertinent to topics that range from Los Angeles’ coded geographies to the city’s original roots in “The Wild West.” Lost LA Curriculum Project was created by a powerful local alliance comprised of KCET, USC Libraries, the UCLA History-Geography Project and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

An exclusive sneak preview of “Griffith Park: The Untold History” will be presented at the Los Angeles Archives Bazaar, presented by L.A. as Subject and the USC Libraries on Sat., Oct. 12 at USC. For more information, please visit: https://laassubject.org/archives-bazaar.

LOST LA is supported by The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, the California Library and other generous institutional funders.

For more information about LOST LA and to watch episodes online, visit kcet.org/LostLA.

Join the conversation on social media using #LostLA

On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its 54-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children's programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org. Select original programming from KCET is also available for streaming on Apple TV, YouTube, Amazon and Roku platforms. For more information please visit kcet.org/apps. KCET is a content channel of the Public Media Group of Southern California.

The USC Libraries actively support the discovery, creation, and preservation of knowledge at the University of Southern California and beyond. The libraries serve as host institution for L.A. As Subject, an association of more than 230 libraries, cultural institutions, official archives, and private collectors dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden histories of the Los Angeles region. Southern California history is among the USC Libraries’ prominent collections and programming strengths, and Lost LA is an emblem of USC’s connection and commitment to Los Angeles as a Pacific Rim megacity.

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