Curbed has a section on their website dedicated to “deep dives on cities, architecture, design, real estate, and urban planning.” It is called Longform. And they have some great stories, including this one on “the female powerhouse [Florence Casler] who developed 1920s Downtown LA.”
Florence was born in 1869 in Welland, Ontario, about 25 kilometers south of Niagara Falls. She married an American — a plumber — and eventually settled in Buffalo, New York. After her husband left to pursue riches in the gold mines, she became a licensed plumber and took over the business.
Eventually this love of plumbing grew into a love of building, and somehow she found herself, with her daughters, in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 20th century.
By the 1920s, she had become a dominant force in the real estate business. Some 60 buildings are credited to Florence and she is thought to be largely responsible for ushering in a new era of multifamily apartments in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, many of her buildings have since been demolished.