Who was here before me?
May 30, 2018 5:37 PM   Subscribe

How can I find out who lived at my address in the late 1970s or early 1980s?

My downtown Los Angeles neighborhood reportedly has had unauthorized live-work lofts and studios for over 30 years but where do I search to find out who may have lived in my building?
posted by Ideefixe to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
One place to start is with property tax records. Usually, locality websites have a page for payment of real estate taxes for specific parcels, which can be checked by address, map grid number, or (rarely) owner name. The record will often have a "sales" or "transaction" tab where recent sales and descriptions of the real estate (e.g., "built on concrete slab") can be traced.
posted by Qex Rodriguez at 6:14 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Los Angeles Public Library has digitized city and street directories that might be useful for you. You can also access the LA Times archives for free through them - I searched my address and found the original listing for my house in the classifieds. They also have access to Ancestry.com, but you have to go to the Central Library to use it.

I'd head over to the Central Library and go to the History & Genealogy department and see what they have that's not online.
posted by mogget at 6:17 PM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I had friends who lived in some of those spaces in the late 90s, back when DTLA was a ghost town. I’m not sure their names would appear on any official paperwork. There were all sorts of shenanigans to hide the truth from building inspectors.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:01 PM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Maybe the address would appear on voter registration records?
posted by bq at 8:34 PM on May 30, 2018


At the assessor's website you can look up quite a bit of information as to when the building was bought and sold and how much it was sold for, etc etc. It doesn't have names of past owners (that I could find in a 5 minute glance) but it does have document ID numbers, so you may be able to get the actual document somehow. I don't know LA at all, so I picked a totally random parcel as an example. Here is the general search page.
posted by AFABulous at 8:45 PM on May 30, 2018


To help with mogget's suggestion, ask for the Polk City Directory.
posted by megatherium at 4:02 AM on May 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


...unauthorized live-work lofts and studios...

This might make it tough to find out who actually lived there -- tax records will show who owned the property and not tenants, and a City Directory (my usual go-to answer) is unlikely to have "unofficial" tenants listed. You might luck out with the city directory, but it may be spotty. Your best bet might be to find the owner of the building during that time from tax records, and you might get in touch with the owner and find that they kept records of tenants.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:04 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know who all the past building owners were, but am looking for people who resided here, legally or not. I have a suspicion that roger ackroyd is right. Thanks!
posted by Ideefixe at 9:57 AM on May 31, 2018


As a note, I have friends who live in that sort of space right now and you can't even get mail delivered to them because they um, don't live there. If you can't tell they're there now, you certainly won't be able to in 40 years...
posted by epanalepsis at 11:19 AM on May 31, 2018


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