Los Angeles’s Bradbury Building is a gorgeous edifice built in 1893. You’ve seen the Bradbury if you’ve seen “Blade Runner;” the Bradbury was the setting for the Toymaker’s workshop. And the building has been featured in a million other movies and TV shows.

99% Invisible:

From the outside, the Bradbury just looks like a brick office building at the corner of 3rd and Broadway, downtown. It seems unremarkable, but the magic happens when you step inside.

The Bradbury is basically a tall, narrow courtyard, walled in with terra cotta, covered with a glass ceiling, and flanked with two iron, clanking hydraulic-powered elevators. Human conductors still operate them.

There’s a reason the Bradbury is in so many films. Aside from being beautiful, it’s also practical. The balconies allow the crew to shoot from many different angles and create a whole range of different moods for various genres. The Bradbury’s ceiling height can accommodate all the lights and the camera equipment. Also, the Bradbury is located near a parking lot (for all the vans and trailers), as well as places downtown where a film crew can go get lunch.

Lewis Bradbury, a gold-mining millionaire, commissioned the buillding in 1892, from notable architect Sumner Hunt.

As the story goes, Bradbury didn’t like any of the plans that Hunt showed him, and so, disappointed, was on his way out when, for some reason, one of Hunt’s young draftsmen caught his eye. George Wyman, the draftsman, had no professional training as an architect.

Bradbury pulled Wyman aside and asked him to build his very important half-million dollar office building.

Wyman consulted the spirit of his dead brother before deciding to take the offer.

The design of the Bradbury was directly inspired by a novel called Looking Backwards by Edward Bellamy. Written in 1887, the book takes place in the year 2000.

In other words, the design is a 19th Century vision of what a 21st Century skyscraper would look like. And the vision was fulfilled, because the Bradbury is still standing today.

As of the time this article was published, 2015, the Bradbury was being used as office space for the Los Angeles Police Department internal affairs division. And that’s why I called up this article to re-read it: I’m currently reading “Angel’s Flight,” a police procedural murder mystery by Michael Connelly, and some of the action takes place in the Bradbury. The novel was made into a season of the TV series “Bosch”—another place you can see the Bradbury on-screen

… movies don’t shoot in the Bradbury as frequently as they once did. Generally, filming is not as welcome downtown now that people live and work there. These days, film crews can’t blow up cars in the street or have 300 zombies stampede down Broadway in the middle of the workday.

Mitch W @MitchW