Back to Los Angeles Region main page

       The Pacific Bell/SBC "Madison Complex"  in downtown Los Angeles (LSANCA01, LSANCA02 and LSANCA03) is one of the largest telephone central offices in the nation.  This complex is actually made up of three adjoining buildings built during different years as load growth warranted.  The original building is long gone but was built on the same site in the 1900s as part of the Home Telephone Company.  During 1907 this office had the capacity of 10,000 lines, quite a difference from today.  Two new offices were built at the site in 1925, the second office was enlarged in 1945 to allow for load growth.  The third office was constructed in 1961 and is 17 stories tall and 450 feet high.  This building was provide long distance service and DDD capabilities for AT&T and Pacific Telephone.  Atop this building was a "modern" microwave tower with numerous antenna horns (see below).   These multi-storied buildings cover one city block and are all connected through catwalks and corridors.  (The third office is 17 stories and 450 feet high).

  Besides PacBell/SBC, AT&T and numerous other telecomm/wireless companies are collocated here.  This is a tandem office for the 213 area code. The theoretical number of telephone lines that can be served from this office are 1.3 million and this office also serves as a foreign exchange carrier to neighboring area codes. 

L-3I coaxial cables once connected the Madison Complex to Mojave, El Paso (terminal station as part of that transcontinental cable), Sherman Oaks, Santa Barbara (GTE), Covina (GTE) and Santa Monica (GTE). Other Coax connections were to Alhambra, Anaheim, San Diego, Ventura and San Bernardino. Early fiber connected to Gardena and Sherman Oaks.  Today the complex hosts thousands of trunks to network the local CO's and long distance carriers.

From the northside.


Tallest "building" in the complex along with the microwave structure at 420 S. Grand.  Thos is the Tandem office for Pacific Bell/SBC and the toll office for AT&T.  "Doors" on left side of the building that go up in a line are actually maintenance doors the allow equipment (Switch machines) to be moved in and out using a crane.  Switch equipment is considered permanent because of their bulky size and can't be moved down internal stairs or elevators.  But if one needs to be actually taken "off-premises" they have to be moved externally through these doors.

Looking toward the northeast


Two of the Madison Complex Buildings.  One on far left houses Long Distance carrier AT&T and others.

Looking toward the northwest


One of the original central offices built in 1925 at 433 S. Olive.  One of the local Pacific Bell/SBC buildings at the complex providing local switching and CO functions for the 213 area code.

Looking toward the west


Long Distance/Foreign Exchange complex building.



A very colorful and unique facade adorns the black granite entrance to the Madison Complex on the west side of the building (420 S. Grand).  This artwork was commissioned in 1961 to commemorate the new building and evolution of the Bell system.  Inlaid tile and retired pieces of telephone switches and equipment make up this striking example of public art.  



Close-up of facade shows detail and various phone equipment "step-by-step switches", "phone-hooks" and copper cabling that make up this unique piece of art.



The stylized tower on top of the building was once used for microwave transmission during the periods 1960s-1990s.  The tower, designed by Parkinson Field Associates was constructed in 1961 and for many years was the highest structure in the LA skyline. The Madison Complex was a centralized hub for both long distance and local calls.  There were numerous paths to/from Madison including links to Oat Mountain, Mt. Gleason, Santiago Peak, Padua Hills and Corona Del Mar.  These microwave paths connected Madison to the entire AT&T Long Lines long distance system.  Local paths connected Anaheim, Gardena/Compton, Arcadia and LA Airport to the Madison Complex.  


 Back to: Los Angeles Region