To keep the City's architecture harmonious, prior to the late 1950s the Charter of the City of Los Angeles did not permit any portion of any building other than a purely decorative tower to be more than 150 ft (46 m). Therefore, from its completion in 1928 until 1964, the City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles, and shared the skyline with only a few structures having decorative towers, including the Richfield Tower and the Eastern Columbia Building. City Hall has an observation deck, free to the public.
1888–1928: moved to new Romanesque Revival building on 226-238 South Broadway between 2nd Street and 3rd Street; demolished in 1928 and now site of parking lot between LA Times Parking structure and 240 Broadway.
The building has been featured in the following popular movies and television shows:
Adventures of Superman: The building appears as the Daily Planet building beginning in the second season of the 1950s TV series. At the time the TV program was broadcast, the show's Daily Planet building (Los Angeles City Hall) was frequently confused with the similarly designed Pennsylvania Power & Light Building in Allentown, also built in 1928. Additionally, the exact design of this building is used as the Newstime magazine headquarters in the Superman comic books.
Dragnet: The building appears as itself in the TV series. The first episode of Dragnet (1951) Season 1, Episode 1: "The Human Bomb", Original Air Date: 16 December 1951, was filmed at Los Angeles City Hall. It was embossed on Sgt. Joe Friday's famous badge number 714 that was displayed under the credits.
Perry Mason: The City Hall building appears in the view from Perry's office window. This has led viewers of the show to speculate where the fictional office would have been located in downtown Los Angeles.
L.A. Confidential: The police in the 1997 neo-noir film operate out of the City hall, as well as the police badges featuring a depiction the building itself. At the time the film takes place no building in Los Angeles was allowed to be taller than city hall, so the cameras were placed at certain points so that any building taller than city hall would not be seen.
Tower of Terror: In this 1997 made-for-TV movie, the main character's love interest works at a fictional newspaper, The Los Angeles Banner. The newspaper's logo is based on the top of the city hall.
Adam-12: During the seventh season opening credits montage, City Hall is shown directly at the end, as the building that officers Reed and Malloy drive away from. It is also shown on the embossed badges numbered 744 (Malloy) and 2430 (Reed).
The 2003 Dragnet series used the L.A. City Hall building aerial shot and badge throughout its introduction.
War of the Worlds: The City Hall was destroyed in the 1953 film version (although the H.G. Wells book has the aliens attacking London, the setting was changed to Los Angeles for the film).
V: The City Hall was destroyed when the Visitors attack earth. The same footage of the tower being destroyed from War of the Worlds was used but with different energy weapons superimposed.
The 1976 film The Bad News Bears included a scene both shot and set in the city council chamber that included a close-up of the electronic voting board with the names of the incumbent council members.
The 2013 film The Employer uses City Hall as the headquarters of the fictional Carcharias Corporation.
The 2013 film Gangster Squad features the Los Angeles City Hall, with the members of the Gangster Squad stood in the foreground of the building, as well as it being used in the background of some scenes. Mayor Villaraigosa's conference room was also used for the office of Police Chief Parker.
The building has also been featured in the following other media:
In the video game L.A. Noire, City Hall is featured as itself in 1947 Los Angeles. The building covers almost an entire city block, bounded by 1st Street to the South, Spring Street to the West, Main Street to the East and Temple Street to the North. It is impossible to enter the building.
In Mission: Impossible, "Ultimatum" 1972: A thermonuclear bomb is planted under City hall in a sewer duct by a frustrated nuclear scientist in order to blackmail the US government into changing of its foreign policy and replacing some "corrupt" Congress and cabinet members. If demands are not met, the 50-megaton bomb will detonate, destroying all of Los Angeles County. The IMF must locate and defuse the bomb before it is too late.