By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
I’ve written before about historic chiropractic schools (like Manhattan Chiropractic College), places that existed as long as 100 years ago, but are no longer around today. In cases like the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (now SCUHS and currently in Whittier, California), I’ve shared advertising from when the school was located at 920 Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles California around 1946. While LACC was established in 1911 in Southern California, it was not the first school of chiropractic on the West Coast. That honor goes to the Ratledge System of Chiropractic Schools, established in 1908, and initially located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
The historical image shown here is of a classified ad placed in a 1912 publication of the Los Angeles Times. Among the Hollywood School for Girls, the Page Military Academy, and a Girls Collegiate School, is a liner ad for the Ratledge System of Chiropractic Schools (highlighted in red). The advertisement also reads… The Only Chiropractic School on the Pacific Coast. It’s location is marked as the Fourth Floor of the Hamburger Building, on the corner of 8th and Hill Streets, in Los Angeles, California.
For those of you into chiropractic history, you may be interested to know that DD Palmer himself (the founder of chiropractic) was at one time an instructor at the Ratledge Chiropractic School. During the same decade, Palmer also maintained chiropractic practice hours, in the city of Pasadena.
Here’s where it gets interesting (at least for me). You likely don’t recall that the original Planet Chiropractic office was located in the 1913 built 548 building on S. Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles (a one-time very popular filming location). Around the time of 1999, real estate developers in the downtown LA area were purchasing buildings and converting them into lofts. Thinking about purchasing a loft myself I began doing some research on the area. Someone had introduced me to a 90ish year old property owner in the downtown area, and he showed me the inside of buildings that hadn’t had tenants in what appeared like 40 to 50 years (downtown LA was quite run down by the mid-1990s). One was the Hamburger Building. Go figure.
Dr. Ratledge and his school of chiropractic was certainly not the only tenet in this massive and ornately designed building (later purchased by May Company in 1923). I believe at one time the ground-level housed the largest department store (Hamburgers Department Store) on the West Coast. In 1908, the City of Los Angeles Public Library occupied 31,000 square feet along the third floor of the same building, possibly being one floor directly below the West Coast’s first school of chiropractic.
The Ratledge School later moved to the address of 3511 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles, with the school later being sold to Carl S. Cleveland Junior, and being renamed to Cleveland Chiropractic College Los Angeles (the school I graduated from). Just shy of 100 years later, we see the cycle of history come near full circle, with the closing of the Los Angeles CCCLA campus taking place in August 2011.
I’ve walked 8th Street and Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles numerous times since Planet Chiropractic was established in the 1990s, but it was only today that I discovered this was the building, housing a chiropractic school that evolved into the one I would attend almost 90 years later.