Russell Lee's Farm Security Photos
of Pacific Beach: 1940-1941


                                            Russell Lee              Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother
Russell Lee was an American photographer and photojournalist, best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). His images documented the ethnography of various American classes and cultures.  In the fall of 1936, during the Great Depression, Lee was hired for the federally-sponsored Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. He joined a team assembled under Roy Stryker, along with Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Walker Evans. Stryker provided direction and bureaucratic protection to the group, leaving the photographers free to compile what in 1973 was described as "the greatest documentary collection which has ever been assembled."  Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, taken in 1936 in Nipomo, California is one of the iconic photos of the collection.  (Lee's photo captions below are in italics)

There were still a couple of trailer parks on the ocean when Howard Rozelle took this aerial in 1946.  Hornblend is the wide street just south of Crystal Pier.  I suspect Russell Lee stood there near the alley when he took the three photos below in June of 1941.

From the December 31, 1940 San Diego Union classifieds

The tower of the Pacific Beach Fire Station at Mission and Grand is visible at the left.

Houses under construction, Pacific Beach.  Communities and towns near San Diego are in a building boom

Roofing a house under construction at Pacific Beach, California

This Howard Rozelle aerial was taken on June 21,1959, so the trailer parks shown may not show the location of the two Russell Lee photos below.   The photo looks north, with Highway 101 on the right and Pacific Coast Highway (Mission Bay Drive) on the left and Balboa Avenue at the very top of the shot.