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Parker Center, iconic LAPD headquarters, closes doors

January 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Parker Center, the Los Angeles Police Department's iconic headquarters for nearly 60 years, closed its doors Tuesday.

The boxy, glass-windowed structure at 150 N. Los Angeles St. in downtown Los Angeles is recognized the world over in movies and TV shows like "Dragnet." It is considered a classic representation of 1950s architecture.

"When the Parker Center was created, it was created to be a true headquarters," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said. "It had communications, it had scientific investigation, all the specialized detectives, plus it had traffic and all of central patrol."

The structure was originally named the Police Administration Building when it was completed in 1954. It wasn't called Parker Center until July 1966 when legendary LAPD Chief William Parker - the department's longest-service chief - died that year after suffering a heart attack and the building was named in his honor.

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan and countless other well-known menaces to society have been through the now deserted halls. It has seen triumph and crisis. During the 1992 L.A. riots after the Rodney King verdict, angry crowds protested outside.

"I was working the day in 1992 when our parking kiosk was burned right next door," Beck said.

The building was formally closed Tuesday during a ceremony. Vintage police cars parked out front reminded those at the ceremony how things have changed over the years. LAPD Det. Gus Villanueva remembers first coming to the building as a young police explorer in the 1970s.

"There are a lot of good memories out of this building, a lot of great people that I worked with over the years, so it's bittersweet, actually, to see it close," Villanueva said.

As the flag was lowered for the last time, the front door was locked using handcuffs.

The chief today says the building has history, but it's the people who have worked here who made that history.

"It is the history, the ghost and the glory of Parker Center that have made us what we are," Beck said.

LAPD spokesman Richard French said officials aren't sure what the future holds for the old building.

A new, more modern downtown headquarters opened nearby at 100 W. 1st St. in 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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