Early Los Angeles Historical Buildings (1925 +)

Historical Photos of Early Los Angeles

 
(1933)* - A man sits on a steel girder on the half-completed dome of the Griffith Observatory as other construction workers are on scaffolds on the building behind the dome. Construction rubble is scattered around the Observatory's foundation. Photo dated: 1933.  

 

Historical Notes

3,015 acres of land surrounding the observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Colonel Griffith J. Griffith on December 16, 1896. In his will Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land.

Construction began on June 20, 1933, using a design developed by architect John C. Austin based on preliminary sketches by Russell W. Porter. *

 

 

 

 
(1934)* - The construction of Griffith Observatory in the final phases. The exterior domes can be seen here.  

 

Historical Notes

Griffith Observatory was shaped not only by the minds of scientists but also by the times in which it was built. A major earthquake in Long Beach in March 1933 -- just as construction plans were being finalized -- led the architects to abandon the planned terra cotta exterior in favor of strengthening and thickening the building's concrete walls. Lower-than-usual prices caused by the Great Depression enabled the selection of the finest materials of the day for the interior walls, floors, and finishes, making the building both beautiful and durable.^***

 

 

 
(1934)* - The Griffith Observatory and the main building, the planetarium, are seen from below and from the back. A hiking path has been cut into the hillside below, on the south side, but brush still covers much of the area.  

 

Historical Notes

Griffith Observatory's unique architecture and setting, compelling programmatic offerings, and cinematic exposure have made it one of the most famous and visited landmarks in Southern California.^***

 

 

 
(ca. 1934)^*# - Profile view of the Griffith Park Observatory on the Hollywood hillside.  

 

Historical Notes

Caltech and Mount Wilson engineers drew up plans for the Observatory's fundamental exhibits: a Foucault Pendulum, a 38-foot-diameter model of a section of the Moon sculpted by artist Roger Hayward, and a "three-in-one" coelostat (three tracking mirrors on one mount to feed three separate solar telescopes) so that the public could study the Sun in the Hall of Science. The Trust judged the 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope as the best commercially available instrument of its kind and selected it to be used as the public telescope. A 75-foot-wide theater --one of the largest in the world -- was designed to hold a Zeiss planetarium projector.

The planetarium had been invented in 1923, four years after Griffith's death, and his family agreed with the Trustees that it more fully honored his intent than the originally planned cinematic theater. The Observatory's planetarium was the third to be completed in the United States.^***

 

 

 
(1935)^*# - The iconic Griffith Observatory stands out in its brilliance as it is illuminated in the Hollywood Hills.  

 

Historical Notes

The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935. On that day, the Griffith Trust transferred ownership of the building to the City of Los Angeles; the City's Department of Recreation and Parks (called the Department of Parks at the time of the transfer) has operated the facility ever since.^***

 

 

 
(1930s)* - View of the Griffith Park observatory and planetarium with the Astronomers Monument. Several people are on the walks, coming and going to the planetarium (the central section of the building). The domes on the left and the right ends of the building contain the triple-beam solar telescope and the 12-inch Zeiss Refracting Telescope respectively.  

 

Historical Notes

The Astronomers Monument on the front lawn of Griffith Observatory pays homage to six of the greatest astronomers: Hipparchus, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Herschel. Artist Archibald Garner designed the sculpture commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). Garner worked with five other artists (each responsible for sculpting one astronomer) including George Stanley responsible for the "Oscar" statuette. The monument was dedicated November 25, 1934, six months before the Observatory opened.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)* - Three men gaze at the Foucault pendulum in the foyer of the Griffith Observatory. The pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth.  

 

Historical Notes

The first exhibit visitors encountered was the Foucault pendulum, which was designed to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)* - View of the 12-inch telescope located within one of the two smaller domes at the end of the Griffith Observatory.  

 

Historical Notes

The genesis of Griffith Observatory's public telescope occurred when Griffith J. Griffith was invited to visit to Mount Wilson Observatory, then home to the world's largest operating telescope, the 60-inch reflector. While there, he was given the opportunity to view a celestial wonder through the telescope. Profoundly moved by the experience, Griffith seized on the idea of constructing a public observatory with a telescope that could be used by all residents of Los Angeles. He specified in his will that the telescope was to be "at least 12-inches in diameter" and "complete in all its details" and was to be located "high and above the Hall of Science." In 1931, the Griffith Trust ordered the telescope from the Carl Zeiss Company of Jena, Germany; the $14,900 spent on the instrument was the first purchase of material for Griffith Observatory.^**^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1936)^*^** - The 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope with dome opened for viewing.  

 

Historical Notes

Since opening in 1935, more than seven million people have put an eye to Griffith Observatory's original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope. More people have looked though it than any other telescope in the world.^**^

 

 

 

 
(1938)* – Aerial view showing the symmetry of the beautiful art-deco Griffith Observatory.  

 

 

 

 
(1935)* - Aerial view of the top and front view of the observatory/planetarium. The Astronomers Monument, designed by Archibald Garner, is out front on the well manicured front lawn, and some parking with cars is seen around the back side (probably for the staff). Behind the planetarium are the tree covered hills and farther back the beginnings of buildings and homes in Hollywood.  

 

 

 

 
(1935)* – View looking out through the front doors of the Griffith Observatory with two women appearing to be walking out. The Astronomers Monument stands tall behind them and Mt. Hollywood peak can be seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)**^ – View of the Griffith Park Observatory on a clear day with the Los Angeles cityscape in the background.  Several cars are parked in front of the observatory.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1943)* - Seen from a nearby (trail to Mt. Hollywood) hillside is the front of the planetarium, the lawn and parking lot, and road leading down from the Griffith Observatory. Los Feliz, East Hollywood, Hollywood and greater Los Angeles is visible in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1940)* - Outline of Griffith Observatory is silhouetted against the brilliance of Hollywood lights. Night view taken from Mt. Hollywood.  

 

Historical Notes

Since the observatory opened in 1935, admission has been free, in accordance with Griffith's will.*^

 

 

 

 
(1976)* - A young man sits at one of many view points at the Griffith Observatory at sunset time.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1976, the Griffith Observatory was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 168 (Click HERE for complete listing).

In 2002, the observatory closed for renovation and a major expansion of exhibit space. It reopened to the public on November 3, 2006, retaining its art deco exterior. The $93 million renovation, paid largely by a public bond issue, restored the building, as well as replaced the aging planetarium dome.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 2006)* - Panoramic view of Los Feliz, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, taken from outside of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium at Griffith Observatory.  

 

Historical Notes

For over 75 years, the planetarium has been used to present astronomical programs overseen by a lecturer. The view reveals a variety of buildings, homes and the numerous skyscrapers located in Downtown L.A. in the background. This photograph was taken not long after the observatory reopened on November 3, 2006, after having been closed since 2002 for an extensive renovation. John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley were the original architects of the Art Deco structure.^

 

 

 
(2008)#* – View looking northeast showing the Griffith Observatory with the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains acting as a backdrop.  

 

 

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Van Nuys City Hall

 
(1933)^^ - Front view of Van Nuys City Hall, also known as the Valley Municipal Building, as seen from across Sylvan Street.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1932 as the Valley Municipal Building and designed as a miniature of Los Angeles City Hall by architect Peter K. Schaborum, Van Nuys City Hall gained recognition as a Historic-Cultural Monument in 1978.*#*

 

 

 
(1933)^^ - View looking up toward the top of the Van Nuys City Hall.  Note the bas relief details of the panel above the front entryway that appears to be supported by two Greek-style columns.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Van Nuys City Hall (aka Valley Municipal Building), located at 14410 Sylvan Street, Van Nuys.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally, the Valley Municipal Bulding housed a Hospital in one wing of the base and the Police Department and Municipal Court, complete with jail, in the other. With the population growth in the fifties and sixties, the hospital and police station were eventually relocated to roomier sites, and the building was remodeled to house other City offices.*#*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)##^# - Postcard view of the Valley Municipal Building looking east on Sylvan Street. A Safeway Market can be seen in the lower right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1947)^* - Workers repairing the roof aerials on the Van Nuys City Hall.  

 

Historical Notes

On October 18, 1978, the Valley Municipal Building (Van Nuys City Hall) was declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 202 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the San Fernando Valley

 

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Los Altos Apartments

 
(ca. 1934)* - Exterior view of the Spanish style Los Altos Apartments, located at 4121 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1926 by Edward B. Rust and Luther Mayo in a Mission Revival style, it was originally developed as a "co-op", but went bankrupt during the Great Depression. It is rumored that William Randolph Hearst once kept his mistress, actress Marion Davies, in the penthouse apartment. Other Hollywood stars also rumored to have stayed at the famed hotel include Bette Davis, Mae West, Judy Garland and Loretta Young, among others.*

 

 

 
(1949)* - Exterior view of Spanish style Los Altos Apartments and Hotel, located on Wilshire Boulevard between Norton and Bronson Avenues.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1986, the Los Altos Apartments was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 311 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

In 1999, Los Altos received a design award from the California Preservation Foundation, it was also added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1999 - Building #99000765.*

 

 

 
(2010s)###^ - Close-up view of the Los Altos Apartments as it appears today, 4121 Wilshire Boulevard. Click HERE to see Google Street View.  

 

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Rancho La Brea Adobe (Gilmore Adobe)

 
(1930s)* - Exterior view of Rancho La Brea adobe, located in the vicinity of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue. The adobe was built in 1852 by sheriff James Thompson, on land owned by Portuguese sailor Antonio Rocha. The home was later purchased by Earl B. Gilmore in 1901.  

 

Historical Notes

Nestled between Farmers Market and CBS Studios, shielded from public view by a fortress of foliage, the Gilmore Adobe dates back to 1852. Originally called the Rancho La Brea Adobe, it eventually became the home of rancher-turned-oilman Arthur F. Gilmore, whose son Earl turned the Gilmore Oil Company into a legendary part of America's burgeoning car culture.^^

 

 

 
(1936)* - A closer view of the Rancho La Brea adobe at 6301 West Third Street.  

 

Historical Notes

Earl Bell Gilmore (1887-1964), whose family had owned the land surrounding the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles since 1880, was a legendary entrepreneur who with his father (Arthur F. Gilmore) built Gilmore Oil Company, the largest distributor of petroleum products in the Western U.S.

Gilmore is noted with having invented the self-serve gas station, the "gas-a-teria", where customers saved .05 cents per gallon by filling their own tanks. He also built Gilmore Field, and Gilmore Stadium, as well as turning the family dairy farm into one of the world's most beloved destinations, the original Farmers Market. In 1944, Gilmore's 1,200 filling stations became Mobil stations.*

 

 

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Vogue Theatre (Hollywood)

 
(ca. 1935)^*# - View of the Vogue Theatre located at 6675 Hollywood Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed by noted theatre architect S. Charles Lee, the Vogue Theatre opened on July 16th, 1935 with a seating capacity of 897, all on one floor. The Vogue Theatre was run by Fox West Coast Theatres for many years until Mann Theatres took over in the early-1990’s.

One of the better mid-sized theatres on Hollywood Boulevard, the theatre is located on Hollywood Boulevard & North Las Palmas Avenue, across the next block from the Egyptian Theatre.^^#

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)^*# - Interior view of the Vogue Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard with its unique oval ceiling fixture.  

 

Historical Notes

Legend has it this theatre is haunted by a former projectionist, named Fritz, who once worked at the theatre.
The Vogue Theatre closed in around 1995 and for a short time was used as a theatre for psychic performances. It then had occasional use as a film location space. In December 2001, the theatre fittings were stripped out and sold off.^^#

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)^*#- The Vogue Theater marquee is lit for business. Two early model cars are parked in front.  

 

Historical Notes

In 2009, the building was fitted out as live performance space named the Supper Club, which caters for an adult audience.^^#

 

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Crossroads of the World

 
(1936)##** - Front view of Crossroads of the World, the world’s first planned outdoor shopping mall located at 6671 Sunset Blvd.  

 

Historical Notes

Crossroads of the World has been called America's first outdoor shopping mall. Located on Sunset Boulevard and Las Palmas in Los Angeles, the mall features a central building designed to resemble an ocean liner surrounded by a small village of cottage-style bungalows. It was designed by Robert V. Derrah and built in 1936.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - Postcard view of Crossroads of the World in Hollywood. Shops at the other end of the building from the tower are in the Spanish Colonial, Tudor, and French Provincial architectural styles.  

 

Historical Notes

Once a busy shopping center, the Crossroads now hosts private offices, primarily for the entertainment industry. It has been used for location shooting in many films, including L.A. Confidential and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, in TV shows including Dragnet and Remington Steele, and in commercials by McDonald's, Ford and Mattel. A reproduction of Crossroads' iconic tower and spinning globe can be seen just inside the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida.*^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Entrance to the Crossroads of the World shopping center designed to look like a Streamline Moderne ship. It has a tall, open tower that is topped with a lighted globe. In the foreground is the John Macsoud shop, located at 6671 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  

 

Historical Notes

Today, Crossroads is the creative home of a variety of music publishers and producers, television and film script writers, film and recording companies, novelists, costume designers, publicists and casting agencies.*^

 

 

 
(n.d.)**^ - Day & Night view of the Cross Roads globe tower.  

 

Historical Notes

The Crossroads can also be seen in the 2012 movie Argo when Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) and Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) go to an office there to buy the script for the movie Argo.*^

 

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Ravenswood Apartments

 
(1930s)**^ - View looking southeast showing the Ravenswood Apartments (570 S. Rossmore Ave) as seen from Clinton Street. Caption reads: "Mae West's Apartments". The lighted Ravenswood sign and the giant revolving "R" (now gone) were visible from Hollywood and Vine.  

 

Historical Notes

Throughout the years, the Ravenswood Apartments housed several movie stars, including Mae West, Ava Gardner and Clark Gable.

 

 

 

 
(1936)^*^** – Postcard view showing the Art Deco Ravenswood Apartments at 570 S. Rossmore Ave.  Caption reads:  “Home of Mae West, Ravenswood Apts., Hollywood, California”  

 

Historical Notes

Mae West moved into Apartment #611, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit, shortly after her arrival in Hollywood in 1932. The apartment had been reserved for her by Paramount and she liked it so much she never left. Offered a lifetime lease, she eventually had a share in the building when she lent the owners some money and they used the building as collateral. West lived there until her death in 1980.*^

 

 

 

 
(2003)*^ – View of the Ravenswood Apartments on Rossmore Avenue just south of Clinton Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The Ravenswood is a historic apartment building at 570 North Rossmore Avenue in Hollywood. Designed by architect Max Maltzman and built by Paramount Pictures in 1930, it is considered a landmark Art Deco masterpiece. It has been declared a Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 768) by the City of Los Angeles (Click HERE to see complete listing).*^

 

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Engine Compnay No. 14

 
(1936)* - Los Angeles Fire Department, Engine Company No. 14, located at 3401 S. Central Avenue and the corner of 34th Street. Engine Co. #14 operated out of this station from 1902 to 1919. Prior to that, from 1900 to 1902, Chemical Engine Company No. 2 occupied this location. A group of firemen pose in front of the station next to two engines, and are part of the "A" and "B" Platoons.  

 

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Hollenbeck Police Station and Receiving Hospital

 
(1936)* - Exterior view of the Hollenbeck police station and receiving hospital, located at 2015 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights, in September 1936. Two uniformed officers stand in front, one next to a receiving hospital ambulance.  

 

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Lincoln Heights Jail

 
(1936)*- View showing the Lincoln Heights Jail located at 401 North Avenue 19.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1927 at a cost of $5 million, the Lincoln Heights Jail officially opened in 1931.

The five-story, Art Deco-style jail was designed to accommodate 625 prisoners at full capacity. By the early 1950s, the jail was known to hold up to 2,800 prisoners. As a result of overcrowding, the City of Los Angeles approved an expansion in 1951.

Some of the notable individuals held at the Lincoln Heights Jail included Al Capone and people arrested during the Zoot Suit Riots and Watts Riots. ^#^

 

 

 
(1940s)* - Exterior view of the Los Angeles City Jail at 419 North Avenue 19, in Lincoln Heights.  

 

Historical Notes

The prison was also known for the high volume of inmates who had been arrested over suspicions regarding their sexual orientation, leading to the creation of a separate wing for gay prisoners.

The jail was decommissioned in 1965, when the Los Angeles City Council and the County Board of Supervisors determined that it would be more cost effective to close the prison and place inmates in the nearby county jail.

Since the jail's closing, many new uses have been proposed for the building, including a state prison, trade technical high school, mixed-use space, and a 24,000-square-foot urban rooftop garden.

From 1979 to 2014, the building housed the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts. It has also been used as a filming location and for sports tournaments. ^#^

Click HERE to see contemporary view.

 

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Los Angeles Times Building

 
(1934)* - Scaffolding covers portions of the emerging L.A. Times Buildings as cranes clamp to the top like stick insects. The construction fence advertises "New Home of Los Angeles Times - largest newspaper in the West". A truck delivering construction material is parked by the curb and a ladder extends from the truck to the top of the fence. Next to the Times is the Bryson Building, left. A pharmacy is across the street.  

 

Historical Notes

The Los Angeles Times Building is an art moderne building located at 1st and Spring Streets.  It was designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann and is the current headquarter of the Los Angeles Times. It was built to replace the old Times Building located at 1st and Broadway.*^

 

 

 
(1934)**^ - View looking south on Broadway at 1st Street. The old Times Building (3rd Times Bldg.) with its ornate castle-like tower stands guard while the new Times Building on First and Spring is still under construction. The new building was completed in 1935.  

 

 

 

 

(1937)^^* - The current Times Building rises behind a worker demolishing the paper's previous home located on the northeast corner of 1st and Broadway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1936)* - View of the current Times Building on the southwest corner of 1st and Spring Streets in 1936, one year after it opened.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1935, when the first part of the building was opened, Harry Chandler, then the president and general manager of Times-Mirror Co., declared the building a "monument to the progress of our city and Southern California".

The building, despite its historic and architecturally significant appearance, appears not to be listed as a historic landmark. It does not appear in listings of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, California Historical Landmarks, or U.S. Registered Historic Landmarks in Los Angeles.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1936)* - View of the interior of the Times Building. A giant model of Earth is seen in the center of the building lobby.  

 

Historical Notes

The building architect, Gordon B. Kaufmann, also designed the giant, revolving globe that was mounted on a pedestal in the building's lobby.*^

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^**- Bas relief details on face of LA Times Bldg.    

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of the Los Angeles Times Building at Times Mirror Square at First and Spring Streets on May 4, 1939. In the foreground are the grounds of City Hall.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)**^ - View looking south on Spring toward 1st Street with the LA Times Building seen on the S/W corner.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)#* – Street view showing the LA Times Building on the S/W corner of 1st and Spring streets  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950)#++# – View looking north on Spring Street from north of 2nd Street showing the massive Los Angeles Times Building and Annex on the left.  The top of City Hall can be seen in upper-right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)**^ – View looking east on 1st Street from Main Street showing the LA Times Building on the S/W corner of 1st and Spring.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1980)*++ – View looking down from the top of City Hall toward the intersection of First and Spring streets showing the LA Times Building with the downtown skyline in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Times Building was originally completed in 1935. In 1948, a 10 story addition at the northwest corner of South Spring Street and West 3rd Street was added. To the west of the older building, a six story addition was added from 1970-1973 that consisted of two horizontal boxes hovering over various vertical boxes below.

 

 

 
(2005)*^  - Close-up view showing the Los Angeles Times Building as it appears today. Photo by Jim Winstead   

 

Historical Notes

This is the Los Angeles Times's fourth building since it started publishing in 1881. Click HERE to see views of the earlier LA Times buildings.

 

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Wilshire Tower Building

 
(1929)* - Exterior view of Desmond's Clothing Store in the Wilshire Tower on Miracle Mile, 5514 Wilshire Blvd.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1929, Wilshire Tower was the first store and office building erected in the area. Developer A. W. Ross wanted to create the Miracle Mile out of a section of Wilshire used as a service road for nearby oil fields. He persuaded Desmond's, the largest men's clothing store downtown at the time, to open a branch on the tower's ground floor, and other fashionable stores soon followed (Silverwood’s, W. Jay Saylor and Phelps Terkel).*^

 

 

 
(1930s)+^^ – View showing the entrance to the Desmond’s store located in the Wilshire Tower Building. Note the huge window displays.  

 

Historical Notes

Desmond’s was the first major clothing retailer on the Miracle Mile when it opened in 1929. Its main entrance opened onto the sidewalk, but many shoppers entered through the rear; in a nod to the automobile's ascendency, the store's owners built a large parking lot behind the store and reserved additional space for future parking needs.

The first Desmond's Department Store was opened on Olvera Street in 1862. In 1921, Ralph R. Huesman purchased the store from the Desmond family and led the expansion of the retailer to several locations throughout the Southern California market.*

 

 

 
(1936)* - A view of Silverwood's in Wilshire Tower and of traffic on Miracle Mile. A large sign on top of the store displays "Silverwoods, Hart Schaffner & Marx, clothes". The corner of the building is curved and has a large expanse of glass that covers two stories. A 20 mph speed limit sign is posted on a street light. Photo dated: Jun. 24, 1936.
 

 

Historical Notes

The historic Art Deco Wilshire Tower was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and built in 1928-1929.  It is a Zig-Zag Moderne two-story building with an eight-story office tower.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)^*# - Close-up view of the Wilshire Tower Building. The Silverwood's sign uppears both on the face of the top of the tower as well as on the roof of the store on the southeast corner of Wilshire and Burnside.  

 

Historical Notes

Silverwood's was founded in 1894 by Francis Bernard ("Daddy") Silverwood, Los Angeles clothier, merchant, and businessman, originally from Canada, near Lindsay, Ontario. The first store was located at 124 South Spring St. in Los Angeles, and soon moved to larger quarters at 221 South Spring St. The flagship store was established in 1904 at Sixth & Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.*^##

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)^*# - Looking east at the neon signage of the Silverwoods in the Wilshire Tower Building.  

 

Historical Notes

The Wishire Tower Building was declared Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 332  in 1987 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

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Silverwoods Department Store (Hollywood)

 
(ca. 1936)^^ - View of the Art Deco Silverwoods Department Store of Hollywood featuring Hart Schaffner & Marx Clothes located at 611 West 7th Street beside Stetson Hats for Women. Photo by Dick Whittington  

 

Historical Notes

Hartmarx, one of the nation's largest clothing manufacturers and retailers, bought the chain in 1941 and kept the name. The Silverwood's chain of clothing stores folded in the 1990s.*^

 

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Western Air Express Terminal (Alhambra Field)

 
(1930)**^ - Panoramic view showing a crowd of about 10,000 at the dedication of Western Air Express terminal at Alhambra Field. The crowd is centered around the new 12-passenger Fokker transport plane just purchased by Western Air Express (later Western Airlines). The Good Year blimp can be seen in the background. Photo Date: April 17, 1930  

 

Historical Notes

The Fokker F-32 aircraft proved to be underpowered and costly to operate. Western Air Service retired them within just a couple of years of putting them into service.^^*

 

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Bob's Air Mail Service Station

 
(1936)*^^ - You could gas up your car beneath the wings of a grounded airplane at Bob’s Air Mail Service Station on the n/w corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Cochran Ave.  

 

Historical Notes

Bob’s Air Mail Service utilized a real twin-prop airplane to top its station, with the wings serving as canopies to shade its General Petroleum pumps. The plane was one of two Fokker F-32 aircraft operated by Western Air Express, circa 1930-31. The four engine F-32 was a design failure due to overheating of the two pusher engines and was only briefly in commercial service.

Click HERE to see more in Aviation in Early L.A.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1936)**^ - Bob's Airmail Service Station on Wilshire. It almost appears as if the plane's propellers are moving. In the background can be seen the Wilshire Tower with the name Desmonds just visible on the top.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1920s and 30s, as the automobile was becoming the default way to get around the Southland, buildings and structures in the area became more unique, often resembling the merchandise or services they hawked.  These “hey-you-can’t miss-me!” buildings (referred to as Novelty or Programmatic Architecture) were made to pull automobile drivers right off the road.

 

 

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Chili Bowl Restaurant

 
(1937)* - One of the six Chili Bowl restaurants, located at 3012 Crenshaw Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

Art Whizin established the Chili Bowl restaurant chain in Los Angeles in 1931, known for its distinctive shape in the form of a chili bowl. Whizin was a 25-year-old former amateur boxer when he established the business on Crenshaw Boulevard near Jefferson Boulevard with funding raised by selling "his wife's wedding ring and his roadster." Other businesses at the time were also modeled with architecture featuring eye-catching architectural depictions of the goods sold including ice a cream cones and coffee kettles.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - One of the six Chili Bowl restaurants, located at 801 N. La Brea Avenue. The neon sign mounted on the roof reads, "Get the Chili Bowl Habit!"  Photo by Herman Schultheis  

 

Historical Notes

Chili Bowl restaurants were arranged with 26 stools around a circular counter (no tables) and employed college "kids" as burger flippers. The specialty dish was an open-faced burger smothered in chili and there were 22 restaurants within a decade of the eatery's opening.  After WWII many of the stores were converted into Punch & Judy Ice Cream Parlors that were later closed, and Whizin also built a mall in Agoura Hills that still bears his name.*^

 

 

 
(1961)* - Exterior of Theater Ninety, located at 972 Vine Street at Willoughby Avenue (lower left). A Texaco service station is on the far right. This structure's shape and size give away its former life as a Chili Bowl restaurant; it has since been demolished.  

 

Historical Notes

Four Chili Bowl structures survive, one in Huntington Park, Long Beach that is now the Guadalajara Nightclub, another became Kim Chuy Chinese restaurant on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, the one on Pico Boulevard (that remained open 24 hours during the war effort for nearby workers), is now Mr. Cecil's California Ribs, and the one on San Fernando Road in Glendale is a used-car dealership.*^

 

 

 
(2010)##* - View of Mr. Cecil's California Ribs on Pico Boulevard in West L.A. in a former Chili Bowl building.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more examples of Programmatic Architecture.

 

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State Armory Building (Exposition Park)

 
(ca. 1936)* - View of the State Armory Building in Exposition Park. A round fountain stands in the foreground and two gazebos are seen in the Rose Garden between the fountain and the State Armory Buidling.
 

 

Historical Notes

Originally named Agricultural Park in 1876, the 160-acre site was developed and served as an agricultural and horticultural fairground until approximately 1910, at which point it was re-named Exposition Park. On November 6, 1913, Exposition Park was formally dedicated, and became the home to a state Exposition Building and the county Museum of History, Science and Art, and was slated to gain a National Guard Armory.*

 

 

 

 
(1935)* - View of the Rose Garden, at Exposition Park, formerly called Agricultural Park, with State armory building in the background. The photo was taken from the steps of the County Museum of History Science and Art Building.  

 

Historical Notes

The seven and a half acre Rose Garden, also called Sunken Garden, evolved from the redevelopment of Agricultural Park, and was completed in 1928; 15,793 rose bushes were in full bloom for the opening ceremonies. In August 1987, the Exposition Park Rose Garden was designated a Los Angeles County Point of Historical Interest. Through the years, the Exposition Building and the armory have given way to the California Science Center.*

On November 6, 1913, a celebration was held as a joint dedication of both the opening of Exposition Park and the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Click HERE to see more in the Opening of the LA Aqueduct.

 

 

Museum of History, Science, and Art (Exposition Park)

 
(ca. 1937)* - Past a light pole and up a wide stairway is the central dome and original north facing entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art in Exposition Park. The building stands at the far end of the Rose Garden opposite from the State Armory.  

 

Historical Notes

On November 6, 1913 the Museum of History, Science, and Art opened in Exposition Park. In 1961, it was "divided" into the Los Angeles County Museum of History and Science, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (known as LACMA, and since moved to new quarters on Wilshire Blvd). Years later, the museum was again renamed, becoming the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The Beaux Arts/Romanesque style building, located at 900 Exposition Boulevard between Vermont and Figueroa, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Above the stone arches the words "Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum" are etched into the facade.*

On the day before the museum’s opening, November 5, 1913, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was opened providing a new source of water for the City of Los Angeles.  This was one of the most significant events in the history of Los Angeles.

A dedication of the opening of both the Los Angeles Aqueduct and Exposition Park was held on November 6, 1913.

 

 

Click HERE to see the Official Commemorative Publication for Exposition Park and the LA Aqueduct.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Pan-Pacific Auditorium

 
(ca. 1937)* - Exterior view of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, located at 7600 Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax district.  

 

Historical Notes

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium opened on May 18, 1935. Its green and white western-facing 228 foot long facade featured four stylized towers and flagpoles meant to represent upswept aircraft fins above the entrance.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* – In front of the iconic towers, steel letters spell out Pan-Pacific Auditorium across the striking roof line of this building.  

 

Historical Notes

With all the many Streamline Moderne houses and structures popping up in the 30s, many say the Pan Pacific Auditorium really was the single most famous Streamline Moderne building in Los Angeles.^*^*

 

 

 
(1935)* - Exterior view of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, a major Los Angeles expression of Streamline Moderne architectural style, designed by architects Wurdemann & Becket.  

 

Historical Notes

The first event held at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was the 1935 Home Show. The show was aimed at hyping then-President Roosevelt's signing of the Title I legislative act "which authorized government loans" to aid homeowners with repairs and renovations.^*^*

 

 

 

 
(1937)* - A man reads a newspaper on the bench while people arrive for the silver jubilee auto show, held in October 1937 at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. A sign on the far right indicates the dealers' entrance.  

 

Historical Notes

For 35 years, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was home to a multitude of events, ranging from auto, boat and home shows to sporting events like hockey games, basketball (Harlem Globetrotters included), concerts, and political events like a dinner for Eisenhower and Nixon, and many more.^*^*

 

 

 
(1937)* -  A billboard in front of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium advertises the auto show silver jubilee from October 30 through November 7, 1937, admission just 50 cents.   

 

 

 

 
(1935)* - Interior view of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium showroom floor at the L.A. Auto Show of 1935.  

 

Historical Notes

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium was constructed by brothers Clifford and Phillip Henderson who were convinced that Los Angeles needed a convention or public facility to accommodate the annual automobile show and a wide variety of cultural, recreational and sports events. In 1937, Errett Lobban Cord purchased the Pan-Pacific. He was
known for his prominence in the automotive industry who moved to Los Angeles to retire, halting production of his vehicles and shifting his focus to the Pan-Pacific Auditorium and other entertainment and electronics industry endeavors.^*^*

 

 

 
(1940)#^* – People head back to their cars as an event lets out at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium.  

 

Historical Notes

The Pan-Pacific would host the Ice Capades and the Harlem Globetrotters, serve as home to the Los Angeles Monarchs of the Pacific Coast Hockey League along with UCLA ice hockey, UCLA men's basketball, USC men's basketball, professional tennis, car shows, political rallies and circuses. During the 1940s it was used for audience-attended national radio broadcasts and in the 1950s for televised professional wrestling shows.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)* - Interior view of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium during the Ice Capades.  

 

Historical Notes

The widely known and much photographed facade belied a modest rectilinear wooden structure resembling an overgrown gymnasium inside and out. The auditorium sprawled across 100,000 square feet and had seating for up to 6,000. *^

 

 

 
(1930s)* - Interior of Pan-Pacific Auditorium with seating set up for what appears to be an event where an orchestra will perform. View is from the stage, where chairs and music stands are seen.  

 

Historical Notes

At its height, most major indoor events in Los Angeles were held at the Pan-Pacific. Leopold Stokowski conducted there in 1936, 1950s actress Jeanne Crain was crowned "Miss Pan-Pacific" there in the early 1940s, General Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to a beyond-capacity crowd of 10,000 in 1952 a month before being elected President of the United States, Elvis Presley performed there in 1957 shortly before he was drafted into the Army and Vice President Richard Nixon addressed a national audience from the Pan-Pacific in November 1960.*^

 

 

 
(1942)*++ – View showing the Pan-Pacific Auditorium as seen from the dirt parking lot across the street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1970s)*^^ - The Pan-Pacific Auditorium, which stood near the site of the current Grove shopping complex. Built in 1935, burned to the ground in 1989. Featured in movies such as Xanadu and Miracle Mile.  

 

Historical Notes

The exterior of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was a masterpiece in Streamline Moderne design with its four towers reaching skyward that resembled aircraft fins. Behind the glorious facade, however, was a more modest wooden structure that was more of a sprawling gymnasium; there was little remarkable about the design of the interior that was 100,000 square feet and could seat up to 6,000 patrons. The fact that it was wooden (highly flammable) is what eventually made its fiery demise possible.^*^*

 

 

 
(ca. 1970s)**^ - The Pan-Pacific Auditorium in its last days.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1971, the Los Angeles Convention Center opened and essentially rendered the Pan-Pacific Auditorium utterly useless. By 1972, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium dwindled in use, and, after some small expos in the spring, finally shut its doors for good.^*^*

Today, you can see a re-creation of the Pan-Pacific as the ticket office at Disney's California Adventures.

 

* * * * *

 

Pan-Pacific Theatre

 
(1940)*++ – View looking southwest showing the Pan Pacific Theatre (left) located at 7554 Beverly Boulevard as seen from across the street.  

 

Historical Notes

The theatre building that fronted on Beverly Blvd. also housed a cafe, ice rink and bowling alley. It was a structure separate from the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, which was behind the theatre building.

 

 

 
(1940)^^#* – View looking east showing the front of the Pan-Pacific Theatre located on the southwest corner of Beverly Boulevard and Gardner Avenue.  Double Feature is showing:  “Flight Commando” with Robert Taylor and Walter Pigeon and "Made for Each Other" with James Stewart and Carol Lombard. Across the street (S/E corner) is an early Gilmore Gas Stations.  

 

Historical Notes

The opening year for the Pan-Pacific Theatre was probably either 1936 or 1937, as the entry for architect Welton Beckett (William Pereira’s partner) in the AIA’s 1956 American Architects Directory lists the design as a 1936 project.^^#

 

 

 
(1942)*++ - Interior view of the Pan Pacific Theatre - One screen and 850 seats.  

 

 

 

 
(1941)^^# – Close-up view of the front to the Pan-Pacific Theatre on Beverly, designed by William Pereira. A concrete slab serves as a movie marquee and projects over an outdoor foyer in a dramatic overture to Los Angeles' car culture. Now showing “Skylark” with Ray Milland and Claudette Colbert.  Also, “Buy Me That Town”.  

 

 

 

 
(1942)*++ – Dusk view of the Pan-Pacific Theatre with double feature plus a Disney Cartoon.  The weekday ‘Bargain Matinee’ price is 20¢ until 5 p.m.  

 

Historical Notes

The Pan-Pacific Theatre was closed in 1984 and soon thereafter demolished.^^#

 

* * * * *

 

Slapsy Maxie's Nightclub - 1st Location (Currently the Beverly Cinema Theatre)

 
(1937)+*+ – View showing opening night at Slapsy Maxie’s nightclub located at 7165 Beverly Boulevard (November 7, 1937)  

 

Historical Notes

Slapsy Maxie’s nightclub opened on November 7, 1937 and became a celebrity hotspot. But in 1943, performance permits were denied by the police commission. Officers testiified that “show skits went beyond the limits of decency.” So on November 3, 1943, Slapsy Maxie’s opened at their new location, the former Wilshire Bowl nightclub at 5665 Wilshire Blvd. It is at this larger location that Jackie Gleason and Spike Jones performed, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made their L.A. debut. +*+

 

 

 
(2014)+*+ - View showing the New Beverly Cinema Theatre located at 7165 Beverly Boulevard, reopened by Quentin Tarantino in October, 2014.  

 

Historical Notes

Since it opened in 1929, the simple Spanish-style building at 7165 Beverly Boulevard has been home to dozens of venues including: a candy manufacturer, nightclubs, restaurants, theaters, a center of Yiddish drama, cinemas, and culminating with its reopening as the New Beverly Cinema Theatre in 2014 by Quentin Tarantino.

LA Magazine has a great comprehensive history of the 85 year saga of the building.

 

Wilshire Bowl - Slapsy Maxie's Nightclub

 
(ca. 1939)^#^ – View showing the Wilshire Bowl with its Art Deco tower, located at 5665 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

This site originally housed the petite Art Deco tower of the Wilshire Bowl, a nightclub that offered dinner and dancing to the big-band sounds of Phil Harris' orchestra for the flat rate of $1.50 ($2 on Saturdays).

The building later changed owners and became Slapsy Maxie's, then the Mardi Gras, both nightclubs. ^#^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)**#* – Postcard view showing front of the Wilshire Bowl located on the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Masselin Avenue.  

 

Historical Notes

The Wilshire Bowl was a nightclub (and not a bowling alley). It opened in 1933, by 1941 it was the Louisiana Restaurant. Slapsy Maxie’s took over around 1943. **#*

 

 

 

 
(1943)**^ – View showing a man standing by the front entrance to Slapsy Maxie’s.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1940s, with a host of cops and judges on his payroll, gangster Mickey Cohen was so much of an LA kingpin that he was making $160,000 a month from his bookmaking operations alone. Some of his loot went into Slapsy Maxie’s, a club named after a prominent prizefighter (Maxie Rosenbloom) that was a popular pit stop for both Hollywood celebs and local hoods. ^^*

 

 

 
(1940s)^#^ – Night view of Slapsy Maxie’s on the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Masselin Avenue.  

 

Historical Notes

The building was eventually demolished to make way for the sleek lines of the modern Van de Kamp's coffee shop designed by Welton Becket and Associates, whose offices were next door at 5657 Wilshire.

The large coffee shop was designed to serve 13,000 individuals a day and beckoned to Wilshire motorists with a bright canopy, glass walls, and pair of huge Van de Kamp's windmills attached to an integrated sign pylon. ^#^

The structure was eventually demolished, and an office supply store now occupies the site.

Click HERE to see a contemporary view.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Coca-Cola Building

 
(1930s)* - Exterior view of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Los Angeles at 1334 South Central Avenue.  

 

Historical Notes

The Coca Cola Building is a Coca-Cola bottling plant modeled as a Streamline Moderne building designed by architect Robert V. Derrah with the appearance of a ship with portholes, catwalk and a bridge from five existing industrial buildings in 1939.*^

 

 

 
(1972)* - View of some processing machinery and the ornate steel beams that support the roof of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. building at 1334 S. Central Ave.  

 

Historical Notes

The Coca-Cola Building was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 138 in 1975 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

 
(1982)* - View of the Coca-Cola Building, a legendary building on a legendary street, 1334 South Central Avenue, as it appeared in 1982.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Sunkist Building

 
(ca. 1935)* - Front view of the Sunkist Building showing roof gardens and strong vertical lines. The building was home to the California Fruit Growers Exchange.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed by Architects Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen , the Sunkist Building was built in 1935 across from the LA Central Library. It was the first earthquake reinforced building in Los Angeles.

In the late 1880s, California citrus growers began organizing themselves into cooperatives, with the goal of increasing profits by pooling their risk and increasing their collective bargaining power with jobbers and packers.

In 1893, P.J. Dreher and his son, the "father of the California citrus industry" Edward L. Dreher (1877-1964), formed the Southern California Fruit Exchange.  By 1905, the group represented 5,000 members, 45% of the California citrus industry, and renamed itself the California Fruit Growers Exchange. In 1908, it changed its name to Sunkist Growers, Inc. *^

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* – View of the Sunkist Building as seen from the front of the Los Angeles Central Library.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)^^ - View of the Sunkist Building on the corner of Fifth Street and Hope Street in Los Angeles. The Sunkist Building is at right and is a large building made up of many connected rectangular sections. Large rectangular windows can be seen on the sides of the building, and a tower in the middle bears the name of the company. In the background at right are the Engstrum Hotel Apartments and the One Bunker Hill Building (Edison Building). In the foreground at right is the front lawn of the Los Angeles Central Library. Hope Street is the raised street between the Sunkist Building and the Engstrum Building center-right.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)^^ - Panoramic view of downtown Los Angeles looking northeast. In the foreground is the Sunkist Building located on 5th street, running diagonally in the foreground. In the lower-center right is the raised Hope Street which separates the Sunkist and Engstrum Buildings. To the left of the Sunkist Building is the rear of the Touraine Apartments, which fronts on Hope Street. To the far right is the Edison Building.  

 

 

 

 
(1955)*++ – View looking east from Figueroa Street showing the side of the Sunkist Building with the LA Central Library to its right across 5th Street.  On the left is the rear of the Touraine Apartments with the Edison Building in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1970, Sunkist traded its downtown land and building for a larger property in Sherman Oaks in a deal valued at about $1.6 million. Before the Sunkist building was demolished in 1972, it sat empty for two years on the approaches to Bunker Hill. In 1981, Wells Fargo Bank was built on the empty land. Five years later, Wells Fargo bought Crocker Bank and moved to South Grand Avenue. Today, the old Wells Fargo Building has become the 48-story Four Forty-Four Plaza, housing about 80 firms.^^*

Click HERE to see the new Sunkist Headquarters located in Sherman Oaks (1970 - 2014).

 

* * * * *

 

 

Touraine Apartments

 
(1938)* - View looking southwest of the Neoclassical Touraine Apartments, located at 457 S. Hope Street. Fire escapes run down the face of the Beaux Arts Sunkist Building next door. Top of the Richfield Tower can be seen. The photo was taken from across Hope Street where the Engstrum Building is located.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed in 1903 by architect A.L. Haley, who was also responsible for the Higgins Building on Main Street, the Touraine's columned facade stood three stories high, while the rear of the structure was eight stories, sloping with the natural terrain of Bunker Hill. Aimed at attracting wealthy renters, the Touraine's elegant grand staircase lead up to a large rooftop garden and sun room. Unlike other boarding houses and mansions on the Hill which contained spacious muti-roomed residences, the Touraine's apartments claimed to have all the functions of seven rooms squeezed into two, plus a kitchen.

The beds actually folded into the wall. One could be disguised as a mantle during the day, the other as a large plate glass mirror. A writing desk and bookcase were built into a door that concealed a large closet and the dining room table could be folded and hung up. The kitchen contained swinging doors with the stove attached, so that once the cooking was done, the door could be swung out into the living room and the stove used as a heater.

The building, which would have traditionally housed six or seven units contained twenty eight. The inventors of the floor plan were so impressed with their design that they patented the plan, as well as the built-in appliances. The gimmick of having the comforts of seven rooms in two was successful, and the Touraine Apartments became a fashionable residence for many wealthy patrons. #**#

The Neoclassical Touraine Building was demolished in the mid 1960's as part of the area's redevelopment.*

 

* * * * *

 

 

Phineas Banning Residence

 
(ca. 1937)* - Exterior view of the Greek Revival style residence of Phineas Banning, Located at 401 East M Street in Banning Park in Wilmington.  

 

Historical Notes

Phineas Banning (1830 – 1885) was an American businessman, financier, and entrepreneur.  Known as "The Father of the Port of Los Angeles," he was one of the founders of the town of Wilmington, which was named for his birthplace. His drive and ambition laid the foundations for what would become one of the busiest ports in the world.

Besides operating a freighting business, Banning operated a stage coach line between San Pedro and Wilmington, and later between Banning, California, which was named in his honor, and Yuma, Arizona.

During the Civil War, he ceded land to the Union Army to build a fort at Wilmington, the Drum Barracks. He was appointed a Brigadier General of the First Brigade of the militia, and used the title of general for the rest of his life.

Banning's chief residence, constructed in Wilmington in 1864, is open to the public as a museum devoted to the Victorian era in California.*^

 

 

 
(1937)* - Exterior view of Phineas Banning's residence in Banning Park in Wilmington. Large trees and greenery may be seen on both sides of the home.  

 

Historical Notes

The historic Greek Revival-Victorian Banning House was built in 1863 by Phineas Banning near the original San Pedro Bay. It remained in the Banning family until 1925 and has been owned by the City of Los Angeles since 1927. The home, barn and gardens are now operated as a museum.*^

 

 

 
(n.d.)^*#* - Exterior rear view, looking northeast, of the General Phineas Banning House, built in 1864 in the Greek Revival style.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1963, the Banning House property, also known as Banning Park, was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 25 (Click HERE to see complete listing).  It is also California Historical Landmark No. 147 (Click HERE to see more in California Historical Landmarks in LA) as well as being federally listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington

 

* * * * *

 

Plaza Methodist Church

 
(ca. 1935)* – View looking north showing the La Plaza (United) Methodist Church, Plaza Community Center, and the Methodist Headquarters Building, with a portion of the Plaza in the foreground.  

 

Historical Notes

The Plaza Methodist Church was located to its present site, in the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, in 1916.  The Church was re-located from Bloom Street when it bought the adobe once owned by Agustí­n Olvera (the man for whom Olvera Street is named).  Built on the Olvera Adobe site, The Plaza Community Center included the chapel and various social service offices including the first Goodwill Industries in Los Angeles.

The Church provided spiritual, economic, and medical services to Mexican, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese immigrants in the poor urban neighborhoods.  In order to expand its facilities in 1925 the Plaza Community Center was razed and the Spanish Colonial Revival church, that is seen today, was completed in 1926.  The Plaza Community Center’s dental, medical clinic, social services and Methodist Headquarters is housed in the building next door, the Biscailuz Building. #+++

 

 

 

 
(1936)**^ - View of the Plaza as seen from the roof of the Brunswig Building. The Plaza Methodist Church can be seen on the left, where once stood the Olvera Adobe. Several large gas storage tanks are in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 

(1892)** - View showing the LA Plaza with the Olvera Adobe at left background and Olvera Street adjacent to it.

 

(1936)**^ - View of the LA Plaza showing the Plaza Methodist Church at upper-left where the Olvera Adobe once stood.

Historical Notes

The Olvera adobe was torn down in 1917 and, nine years later, architects Train and Williams completed the Churrigeresque-style Methodist Church. +^#^

Agustin Olvera (1818-1876) served as captain in Flores' campaign against Frémont and was one of the commission of three that negotiated peace with the American forces at Cahuenga. As a commissioner Olvera signed the Treaty of Cahuenga in 1847 ending the war in California. In 1850 he was elected the first county judge of the newly formed County of Los Angeles and held the first LA County Court trials in his home. Along with his legal duties, Olvera was responsible, with his two associate justices, for administering county business until the establishment of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1852. After retiring from the Bench Olvera was an LA County Supervisor in 1855-57. In 1877 the Los Angeles Common Council changed the name of Wine Street to Olvera Street in his honor.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(1955)^^* - Close-up view of the Plaza Methodist Church's beautiful clock tower. LA Times Photo Dated: Dec. 13, 1955  

 

 

 

 
(2010s)**++ – View looking northeast toward the entrance to Olvera Street as seen from the Plaza showing the Plaza Methodist Church with its clock tower. To the right of the Church is the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles.  

 

Historical Notes

The State of California purchased the Church, Community Center and Headquarters in 1956 under the threat of eminent domain to create the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District.  The Church signed a 50-year lease to continue operations that was successfully renegotiated in 2011 with the City of Los Angeles.  Located next to the church in the Biscailuz Building is the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, which is the premier venue for the expression of traditional and contemporary art and culture from the Mexican, Mexican American and Chicano perspective. #+++

 

 

 

 
(2011)***+ - Front view of the Plaza Methodist Church with the Biscailuz Building next door to the right. Note the ornate 5-bulb lamp in the foreground.  

 

Historical Notes

The building to the right of the Plaza Methodist Church is the Biscaliuz Building. Located on the site of the Juan Sepulveda adobe, it was designed as the Untied Methodist Church Conference Headquarters and the Plaza Community Center.  In 1968, the building was re-named after Eugene Biscailuz, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff, who had helped Christine Sterling in her struggle to save this historic section of Los Angeles.  In 1979, Leo Politi painted a mural on the south and east facades that depicts the Blessing of the Animals, a traditional event held in the Park every year on Easter Sunday.**#^

Juan Sepulveda (1814-1898) served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1854.*^

The Medthodists bought and destroyed the Augustin Olvera adobe in 1916, first putting up some temporary buildings and then erecting a church (1925) and regional conference center (the Biscailuz Building, 1926) in its place (space was let in the conference center to the Mexican consulate for 30 years).

The Biscailuz Building, originally much more utilitarian looking, was given a "Spanish-themed" makeover after Olvera Street opened as a tourist destination.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Old Plaza Church

 
(ca. 1937)* - A man is crossing Main Street directly outside of La Plaza Church. Signage on a water tower (upper left) promotes the nearby "Brunswig Drug Co."  Photo by Herman J. Schultheis  

 

Historical Notes

Mission Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (Church of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels), was founded on September 4, 1781 by a group of Spanish settlers. The church was considered an asistencia ("sub-mission") of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. Priests from Mission San Gabriel divided their time between the mission and the Asistencia site, but ultimately the installation was never granted mission status and the missionaries eventually abandoned the site.

The surrounding area was named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula ("The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the River Porciúncula", which is the present-day City of Los Angeles). A chapel, La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles, was later erected and dedicated on December 8, 1822, and for years served as the sole Roman Catholic church in the Pueblo. It is the oldest church in the city of Los Angeles.*^

 

 

 

 
(1937)* - According to the sign above the awning "giant malts" and "coloso ice cream cones" can be found at this Mexican ice cream store. Located at 523 North Main Street, El Popo is seen next door to the bells and crosses of the Plaza Church.  

 

Historical Notes

The Church of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels (also known as The Plaza Church), was founded in 1814, though the structure was not completed and dedicated until 1822. The structure incorporated a three-bell campanario, or "bell wall" which was removed and replaced by a gazebo-like structure in 1861 and then re-installed again in the early 1900s.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - View of the main facade of the "Old Plaza Church" as it is now called. The older part of the building is seen here with the three bells; the church was expanded and the courtyard was added much later, which includes a hall and rectory.  

 

Historical Notes

The Plaza Church was one of the first three sites designated as Historic Cultural Monuments by the City of Los Angeles, and has been designated as a California Historical Landmark No. 144 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Los Angeles Plaza.

 

* * * * *

 

 

La Casa Santa Cruz (Sonora Town)

 
(1936)* - La Casa Santa Cruz located at 728 N. Broadway was bought by Senora Ysabel Santa Cruz from Benito Valle in 1864. This typical Mexican town house was occupied in 1936 by a gypsy fortuneteller. A sign in Spanish posted between the doors reads: "Cuartos para rentar. A precios muy moderados. Informes en el patio de 643 N. Broadway - Sra. Amperano".  

 

Historical Notes

The part of the city called "Sonora Town" was an old adobe village north of the Plaza and Church of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels. It was Los Angeles' first Mexican quarters, or barrio. The area was named for the numerous miners and families who came from Sonora, Mexico, and may have still been around in the 1930s. Now it is Los Angeles' Chinatown District.*

 

* * * * *

 

 

Little Joe's Restaurant

 
(ca. 1920s)* - Exterior view of D.W. Davis Groceries and Provisions store. This would become the site of Little Joe's Restaurant at 900 North Broadway at the northeast corner of N. Broadway and College St. The building was originally constructed in 1886 and demolished in 2013.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1927)* - Exterior view of Italian American Grocery Co. at 900 North Broadway. Photo was probably taken to document purchase of the building by John Gadeschi and Joe Vivalda. At the left is the restaurant room which was acquired by Gadeschi and Vivalda around 1933.  

 

Historical Notes

The expansion of the grocery business into the restaurant business was necessitated in the early 1930s by an increasing number of construction workers frequenting the grocery store for meals and driving away other customers from the grocery business. By expanding to the cafe next door, John and Joe were able to keep their grocery customers and accommodate an increasing number of restaurant/meal customers. The Italian American Grocery Co. bought its first stove in 1933. The grocery business site remained an active grocery store at the corner of the building shown in photo until 1984. Note the red car tracks and paved street surface.*

Little Joe's began in 1897 as the Italiano-Americano Grocery company by Italian-born Charles Viottou at the corner of 5th and Hewitt streets. When Italia sided badly in the war, many Italianos businesses changed their names; one famous example was the change in name from Bank of Italia to Bank of America. Subsequently, the Italiano-Americano Grocery Company became Little Joe's after maitre d' and then co-owner Joe Vivalda. Little Joe's is not affiliated to any other restaurant that took the same name.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - Exterior view of Little Joe's Restaurant and Little Joe's Groceries at 900 North Broadway. Photo was probably taken to document business name change from Italian American Grocery Co. to Little Joe's. Photo shows restaurant room on the left and grocery store on right. A sign that reads HOTEL is seen below the corner window of the second floor.   

 

Historical Notes

Little Joe's roots go back to the turn of the century. It was started by Italian-born Charley Viotto at the corner of 5th and Hewitt streets in 1897 as the Italian-American Grocery Co.

When the city's Italian immigrant community relocated to the North Broadway area after the turn of the century, the grocery store followed--moving to the ground level of a three-story hotel at the corner of Broadway and College Street in 1927.

The family skirted Prohibition laws and was soon catering to the Hollywood crowd--including comedian W.C. Fields, who slipped in for drinks weekly from a nearby sanitarium where he was staying.^^*

 

 

 
(ca. 1962)* - Exterior view of Little Joe's Restaurant, 900 North Broadway. Photo taken before major remodeling of the building took place. Another renovation took place even earlier (see previous photo).  

 

Historical Notes

Bob Nuccio is the great-grandson of the restaurant's founder. That makes Little Joe's one of Los Angeles' oldest family owned and operated businesses (founded 1897).^^*

 

 

 
(ca. 1972)* - Exterior view of Little Joe's Restaurant, 900 North Broadway. Photo taken after major remodeling of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

Bob Nuccio, his brother Steve and their mother, Marion, decided to close because the restaurant needed to be remodeled and updated. But to do that, they would be required to retrofit the over 100-year-old building (constructed in 1886) to make it earthquake-resistant and make it comply with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. That would cost $800,000, more than they can afford.^^*

Little Joe's closed for business in December of 1998. The building would remain vacant until it was demolished December 2013 to make room for a mixed-use housing project.^^*

 

 

 

 
(2014)^^* - View of a section of L.A.'s original Zanja Madre unearthed at a constuction site located on the northeast corner of Broadway and College Street in Chinatown, previously occupied by Little Joe's Restaurant.  

 

Historical Notes

In December of 2013, developer Forest City Enterprises started demolishing Little Joe's to make way for a five-story project (Blossom Plaza) that will link Broadway with the elevated Chinatown Metro Rail station above North Spring Street to the east. Blossom Plaza will have 237 residential units, including 53 apartments where rents will be reduced for low-income tenants. It will also house 175 parking spaces open to the public and a landscaped courtyard next to the Metro Rail stop.^^*

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Zanja Madre - L.A.'s Oringinal Aqueduct

 

* * * * *

 

 

United States Hotel and Amestoy Block

 
(1935)* - Exterior view of the old United States Hotel on March 16, 1935, once the center of the city's social life. For 80 years it stood on the southeast corner of Market and North Main Streets. The hotel was owned by the Mesmer family from 1863 until 1939 when the building was demolished.  

 

Historical Notes

The U.S. Hotel was built around 1863 at 170 North Main by Louis Mesmer, then remodeled and expanded in 1886. The hotel attracted a swanky crowd and served the “best two-bit meal in Southern California” in its dining room, according to advertisements and articles published in the Los Angeles Times. By the early 1930s, it was still owned by the Mesmer family and lodged only men, many on public assistance. #^

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)^^- View of Main Street looking north.  Two three-story Victorian-style buildings are pictured at center wedged between commercial shop fronts. The U.S. Hotel is closest to the foreground, while the Amestoy Building can be seen farther back. Both buildings feature a tower of sorts, the hotel's sprouting from the flat roof, the Amestoy Building's extending from a column of windows at its corner. The New Palace Cafe and a sign that reads "Shoe Store. Shoes for the whole family" can be seen at right. A sign to the left reads "Victor's". Cars are parked along the sidewalk. Street car cables are attached to the top of a streetlamp visible in the left foreground. The U.S. Hotel would be domolished two years after this photo was taken.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)^^ - View looking down from the top of City Hall showing the U.S. Hotel at 170 North Main Street at the southeast corner of Market Street (center of photo). Across the street is the Amestoy Building (left) which featured the Leighton Restaurant on the ground floor.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)^^ - View looking East from across North Main at Market Street showing both the Amestoy Building (left) and the U.S. Hotel (right). This photo was taken shortly before the U.S. Hotel was razed.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)* – View showing the U.S. Hotel being torn down.  The old U. S. Hotel stood on the southeast corner of North Main and Market streets since 1863.  It was the 3rd hotel built in Los Angeles (Bella Union and Lafayette hotels were built in the 1850's).  

 

Historical Notes

A gaunt ghost of bygone gaiety of the early days of Los Angeles, the old United States Hotel is shown as it is being torn down to make room for a more modern building. New sadness accompanied its demolishment when Mrs. Matilda M. Mesmer, widow of its manager for many years, Louis A. "Tony" Mesmer, died. She was the sister-in-law of Joseph Mesmer, prominent pioneer, who was the owner of the historic landmark. Photo dated: March 25, 1939.*

 

 

 
(1952)* - View of the Amestoy Block on the northeast corner of Main and Market Streets. Fagan's Cafeteria and Fountain is on the first floor.   

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1887 by Domingo Amestoy, the structure was Los Angeles' first brick office building and the first to have an elevator.^#*^

Note: The Nadeau Hotel also claims to have had the first elevator (built in 1882).

 

 

 
(1955)^#*^ - View of the Amestoy Building just before it was torn down. City Hall East now sits at this location. Note that the photo also shows a lounge called the Stake Out. This was a favorite hangout for police officers as it was across from headquarters, which was then located in City Hall.  

 

Historical Notes

On May 28, 1958, Times columnist Jack Smith wrote a column on the Amestoy Building:

“It was built by Domingo Amestoy in 1887 and it still stands at the northeast corner of Main and Market, across from City Hall.

It is alone now among the white concrete monoliths that have shouldered up around it, making it seem to grow smaller, like a very old man.

It has been condemned.  It will give way to the magnificent civic master plan.  Its doors are padlocked now and its bay windows have that blind look of windows in abandoned buildings.

It stands three stories high, not counting the cupola.  It is built of dark-red brick ornamented by elegant cornices and stone scrolls.

Its plump bay windows, like bustles, look obsolete and unnecessary, but beguiling.
It is a splendid example of the vogue of 1887, and once it has gone, its like may not be seen on earth again.

But Los Angeles is a city that forever renews itself.  The past is simply bulldozed away…” ^#*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Safeway Market (Hollywood)

 
(1937)* - View of the open air Safeway market with its Spanish tiled roof located on 5509 Sunset Boulevard near Western. Just behind the Safeway market on the upper right can be seen the sign board for the more modern Sam Seelig Market at 1515 N. Western.  

 

Historical Notes

Sam Seelig Company was founded in April 1912 by Sam Seelig, who had come to California from Arizona in 1911. Seelig opened a single grocery store in Los Angeles at the corner of Pico and Figueroa streets. The chain had grown to 71 stores by 1922. After World War I, the firm became deeply indebted to its main grocery wholesaler, a firm owned by W.R.H. Weldon. In a swap of stock for debt, Weldon assumed control of the chain, leaving Seelig in charge of retail operations. Seelig then left the company in 1924 to enter the real estate business, forming Sam Seelig Realty.

As a result of Seelig's departure, the company held a contest in 1925 to develop a new name, the result of which was Safeway. The original slogan was "an admonition and an invitation" to "Drive the Safeway; Buy the Safeway.” The point of the name was that the grocery operated on a cash-and-carry basis; it did not offer credit, as had been traditional for grocers. It was the "safe way" to buy because a family could not get into debt via its grocery bill (as many families did, especially during the Great Depression). By 1926, Safeway Stores had 322 stores centered in Southern California.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Beverly Hills City Hall

 
(1932)*^^ - View of Beverly Hills City Hall the year it opened.  

 

Historical Notes

In February 1932, the cornerstone for City Hall was laid. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution planted the new facility's first tree. In April 1932, The Citizen commemorated a City Proclamation that read:

On this day, April 28, 1932, this souvenir issue of The Beverly Hills Citizen is dedicated to the first completed unit of the magnificent civic center project. ...Such an edifice, heart of America's most perfect residential city is pride-inspiring. ...Crowned with the approbation of those it serves, the new civic building will stand through the years, a monument to the sterling foresight, solid principles and pride of its citizens.*^*^

 

 

 
(ca 1936)^^ – Corner view of Beverly Hills City Hall located at 451 Crescent Drive.  Photo my Dick Whittington  

 

Historical Notes

Beverly Hills City Hall is a fanciful Spanish Renaissance building known for its pale blue exterior paint accents, its blue, green and gold tile dome, gilded cupola and architectural elements representing government and commerce.*^*^

 

 

 
(1937)* - Main entrance to Beverly Hills City Hall on August 9, 1937. This is a front (west) view of the office building erected in 1932 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1932)^*# - View of the Beverly Hills City Hall courtyard showing two fountains surrounded by palm trees. Note the detail design of the arch entry. Designed by architect William Gage.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1932 and renovated in 1982, Beverly Hills City Hall features a low base with an eight-story tower with marble walls, terrazzo floors and intricate ceilings.*^*^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of Beverly Hills City Hall and street as seen on August 7, 1939  

 

The building appears in the movie In a Lonely Place (dir. Nicholas Ray, 1950).  It is also used as the police department building in Beverly Hills Cop (dir. Martin Brest, 1984).*^

 

 

 
(2009)*^ – Close-up view of the Beverly Hills City Hall showing the detailed Spanish Colonial Revival style designs on its copula.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2012)*^ - Panoramic view of Beverly Hills City Hall as seen from Crescent Drive.  Photo by John O'Neill  

 

Historical Notes

The City Hall building houses the city administration, including the office of the Mayor of Beverly Hills and board meetings of the Beverly Hills City Council.  Additionally, it houses the Municipal Gallery, an evolving art space designed by interior designer Gere Kavanaugh. Inside the building, a sculpture by Auguste Rodin called Torso of a Walking Man can be seen. 

In May 2013, the Beverly Hills City Council voted to add the building to its list of historical preservations.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurant

 
(1938)^^#* – Night view showing Lawry’s - The Prime Rib Restaurant shortly after it opened, located on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1922 Lawrence L. "Lawry" Frank and Walter Van de Kamp founded the Lawry's company and created the Tam O'Shanter Inn restaurant in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, which claims to be the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles still operated by the same family in the same location. Frank created a special seasoned salt for use at Tam O'Shanter, which was available only to customers.

In 1938 the two opened Lawry's The Prime Rib on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The same year, Lawry's began marketing its signature seasoned salt in retail stores. This was the beginning of a food products empire under the Lawry's name that today sells a wide range of seasonings and flavorings. The line was sold to Lipton/Unilever in 1979, which in turn sold it to McCormick & Company in 2008.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1947)^^#* – View of Lawry’s Restaurant at its second location at 55 N. La Cienega Boulevard (Today's location of the Stinking Rose Restaurant).  

 

Historical Notes

In 1947 Lawry's restaurant moved from its original location on La Cienega across the street and a few blocks further south to a larger, mostly windowless, strikingly modernistic building designed by Wayne McAllister.

In 1956, just prior to the 1957 Rose Bowl Game between the Oregon State Beavers and the Iowa Hawkeyes, Lawry's entertained the two competing teams. The Beavers were fed a prime rib dinner at the Beverly Hills restaurant and the Hawkeyes the same on the Pasadena City College football field following their practice. This started an annual tradition of hosting both Rose Bowl-bound teams, although following the inaugural event with Iowa the Big Ten teams were served outside Rose Bowl Stadium from 1957-1962. By 1963, when Illinois and Washington both dined at the restaurant on separate nights prior to the 1964 Rose Bowl Game, the two team events had become known as "Lawry's Beef Bowl." The Beef Bowl has expanded to the Dallas, Texas, location for the two Cotton Bowl participants.*^

 

 

 
(2007)*^ – View of Lawry’s Prime Rib Restaurant located at 100 N. La Cienega Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1993 Lawry’s moved again to a new building located on the original site. McAllister's building is now occupied by The Stinking Rose, a well-known garlic-themed Italian restaurant.

In 1974, Lawry's opened a satellite in Chicago's River North district, followed by restaurants in Dallas in 1983 and Las Vegas in 1997. Internationally, Lawry's opened in Jakarta in 1996, Singapore 1999, Tokyo 2001, Taipei 2002, Hong Kong 2006, Shanghai & Osaka in 2008, and Seoul in 2013.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Municipal Light, Water and Power Branch Building (DWP)

 
(1932)* - Exterior view of the Municipal Light-Water-Power (later DWP) Hollywood branch office located at 1613 North Cahuenga Boulevard. Note the Art Deco facade on the front of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1902, Los Angeles formed its first municipal water utility and named it the Water Department. Nine years later the Bureau of Power and Light came along. A total of six different names have been used to refer to the two separate water and power organizations since that time. Not until 1937 did both organizations merge and become the Department of Water and Power. Click HERE to see more in DWP - Name Change Chronology.

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - A salesman is standing next to the electric range display at the Hollywood DWP Branch office on Caheunga.  

 

Historical Notes

For decades DWP was in direct competition with the Souhern California Gas Co. They promoted the use of electricity by putting on display electric ranges, electric refrigerators and smaller electric appliances in most of their commercial branch offices.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Los Angeles Gas and Electric

 
(1937)**^^ - “Gas: The Modern Fuel”: The Los Angeles Gas and Electric showroom at night. The company was purchased by the city and merged with the DWP shortly after this photo was taken.  

 

Historical Notes

In December of 1936 Los Angeles city voters approved a charter amendment authorizing the Bureau of Power and Light to issue revenue bonds in the amount of $46 million and purchase the electric system of Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation, the last remaining privately-owned system in LA.

On January 29th, 1937 the Bureau of Power and Light completed the purchase of Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation. Click HERE to see more in First Electricity in Los Angeles.

 

 

 
(1937)^*# - Close-up view of the Art-Deco front entrance to a Los Angeles Gas and Electric showroom.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more in LA Gas and Electric Corporation.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Early DWP Branch Office

 
(1936)* - The luminous glass front of the new Vermont Avenue branch commercial office creates a striking effect. Location: 59th Place and Vermont Avenue.  

 

 

 

 
(1938)* - View of a woman and young child walking into the new Commercial Branch office located at 2417 Daly Street.  Yet to be added above the marquee are the words "Municipal Light--Water—Power" (now DWP).  

 

Historical Notes

In 1988, the Los Angeles City Council declared the 2417 Daly Street Building LA Historic-Cultural Monument No. 384 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early DWP Branch Offices

 

* * * * *

 

 

El Patio Auto Laundry

 
(ca. 1927)^*^# – View showing cars lined up at the El Patio Auto Laundry and Gas Station, located at the rear of 260 S. Vermont Avenue. The large building with the ornate towers on the left is the El Patio Ballroom (later Rainbow Gardens).  

 

Historical Notes

Some writers have claimed that this is the first car wash ever built, but not sure if this is correct.  The El Patio, owned by B.K. Gillespie, may have been the most influential of the early car washes, and Gillespie is credited with coming up with the super service station concept.

By 1928, Gillespie and other investors began opening a chain of super centers under the Gillespie Automobile Laundry System name which included a gas station. One of these early backers was Will Hays, a cleaner of motion picture content.^*^#

Click HERE to see more Early Views of LA Gas Stations.

 

Rainbow Gardens (originally El Patio Ballroom - later Palomar Ballroom)

 
(1930s)**^ - View showing the Rainbow Gardens (previously the El Patio and later the Palomar) located near the intersection of 3rd and Vermont.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally named the El Patio Ballroom and located on the east side of Vermont Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Street, it boasted being “the largest and most famous dance hall on the West Coast."

The dance hall was renamed Rainbow Gardens by real estate developer Raymond Lewis, who purchased the property, added an indoor miniature golf course and changed the name to the Palomar Ballroom. It soon became a prime venue for the well-known bands that were rapidly gaining popularity. On August 21, 1935, Benny Goodman began his first Palomar engagement that marked the start of the swing era.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)* - View of cars parked along Vermont in front of the Palomar Ballroom showing the twin domes above its main entryway. The famous ballroom had a succession of names (El Patio, Rainbow Gardens, and the Palomar) since it opened in 1925.  

 

Historical Notes

Architect Samuel B. Bird designed the 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival style El Patio Ballroom, which could house up to 10,000 patrons. The amusement center, located at 245 South Vermont Avenue was later known as the Rainbow Gardens and finally the Palomar.*

 

 

 
(1930s)##** – Interior view of the Palomar Ballroom showing its over-sized dance floor.  

 

Historical Notes

The dance floor could accommodate four thousand couples. Admission was 40 cents for gentlemen and 25 cents for ladies. Opening night was attended by 20,000, including many of Hollywood’s silent screen stars.*^

 

 

 
(1939)* - The exterior of the Palomar as seen from across the street. Hedge level lettering gives the name 'CHARLIE BARNET' as entertainment for those who come for dining and dancing.  

 

Historical Notes

The ballroom hosted popular bands including those led by Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Glen Gray, Jimmy Dorsey and Kay Kyser, among others. Nightly radio broadcasts on local station KFLJ attracted large crowds to the “Dining, Dancing and Entertainment Center of the West.”

The famed structure was the backdrop for several major Hollywood films that included The Big Broadcast of 1937, made during Benny Goodman’s return engagement, and Dancing Coed, which starred Lana Turner and Artie Shaw’s band.*^

 

 

 
(1930s)* - Night view showing the well-lighted exterior of the Palomar.   The restaurant offers dining, dancing, and cocktails--"open 3 pm to 2 am". Note that the windows in the cocktail room door, and the window to the right of the corner of the building are both round.  

 

Historical Notes

The Palomar burned to the ground on October 2, 1939. A Ralphs Market now stands where the ballroom once stood.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Ambassador Hotel

 
(ca. 1938)* - Exterior view of the Ambassador Hotel and its renouned Cocoanut Grove from a distance.  

 

Historical Notes

The massive 500-room Ambassador Hotel, designed by renowned architect Myron Hunt, opened for business in 1921 on the site of a former dairy farm. It occupied 23.7 acres at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, bordered by 8th Street, Catalina Street, and nearly to Mariposa Avenue. The hotel served as the stomping grounds for a staggering list of Hollywood legends, heads of state, and an endless list of famous personalities from the 20th Century. It is said that as many as seven U.S. Presidents stayed at the Ambassador, from Hoover to Nixon, along with heads of state from around the world.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)* - Three golfers watch a fourth golfer putt outside of the Ambassador Hotel, located at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard. A partial view of the Cocoanut Grove can be seen.  

 

Historical Notes

For decades, the the Ambassador Hotel's famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub hosted well-known entertainers, such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Liza Minnelli, Martin and Lewis, The Supremes, Merv Griffin, Dorothy Dandridge, Vikki Carr, Evelyn Knight, Vivian Vance, Dick Haymes, Sergio Franchi, Perry Como, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Sammy Davis Jr., Little Richard, Liberace, Natalie Cole, and Richard Pryor.

From 1930 to 1943, six Academy Awards ceremonies were performed at the hotel.*^

 

 

 
(1946)^*# - View of the Ambassador Hotel and the Cocoanut Grove. The marquee reads "Freddy Martin Band".  

 

Historical Notes

Freddy Martin, led a big band for more than 50 years and helped establish the ''sweet'' jazz sound.  Martin’s career skyrocketed in 1941 when his band recorded ''Tonight We Love,'' which he had adapted from the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in B flat.

Among the members of Martin's band who went on to success were Russ Morgan, a trombonist who formed a big band of his own, and Merv Griffin, who sang and played piano for the band in the 1940's and 50's, and went on to become a television talk-show host. ##^^

 

 

 

 
(1946)^*# - Front view of the Ambassador Hotel. Photo by "Dick" Whittington  

 

Historical Notes

A pivotal moment in world history happened in 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was shot in a pantry off of the Embassy Room (and died 25 hours later), following his California Primary victory speech. The death of RFK coincided with the beginning of the hotel's demise.*

 

 

 

 
(2004)*^ - View of the Ambassador Hotel and Cocoanut Grove a year before being demolished.  

 

Historical Notes

The Schine family had owned the Ambassador for about 50 years, until its doors were closed on January 3, 1989 after 68 years of service, selling for $64 million. The landmark hotel was eventually demolished between late 2005 and early 2006.

The Central Los Angeles New Learning Center #1 K-3, and Central Los Angeles New Learning Center #1 4–8/HS, along with the Robert F. Kennedy Inspiration Park, were built on the site. The six schools were named as the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools.*

 

* * * * *

 

Immanuel Presbyterian Church

 
(ca. 1935)* - View looking southwest showing the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Berendo Street.  The building on the far left is the Talmadge Apartments, a Renaissance revival apartment house.  

 

Historical Notes

Modeled after French Gothic cathedrals, the Immanuel Presbyterian Church was designed by architect Chauncey Skilling and built in 1928.  The building's stone-clad corner tower soars 205 feet above Wilshire, supported by a steel frame that allows for a strikingly spacious interior. The richly textured main sanctuary features intricately carved woodwork and stenciled vaulted ceilings. ^#^

 

 

 
(1937)* - View looking southeast across Wilshire Boulevard showing the front of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

The vast array of traditional stained-glass windows were created by the Dixon Art Glass Company of Los Angeles. They are in marked contrast to the modern faceted glass windows in the Westminster Chapel by Judson Studios of Highland Park. ^#^

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)* - Corner view of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Berendo Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The church has two addresses: 663 S. Berendo for the Westminister Chapel, one of the smaller sanctuaries, and 3300 Wilshire Boulevard for the main sanctuary.*

 

 

 
(1975)* – Street view showing cars passing by Immanuel Presbyterian Church, S/W corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Berendo Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The church houses a congregation that dates to 1888 and today serves nearby Latino, Filipino, Korean, and Ethiopian communities.

 

 

 
(2013)*^ - Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Boulevard, as it appears today.  

 

Historical Notes

On February 4, 2003, Immanuel Presbyterian Church was dedicated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 743.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Security-First National Bank Building (Wilshire)

 
(ca. 1938)^^ - View showing the Security-First National Bank of Los Angeles located at 5209 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

The Security-First National Bank Building was built in 1929.  It was designed by Morgan, Walls, and Clements, one of the oldest continuously operating architectural firms on the West Coast. The building is notable as one of the city's last remaining black-and-gold Art Deco structures, a diminutive version of the firm's downtown Richfield Building (built in 1928; demolished in 1968).^#^

 

 

 
(n.d.)##** - Detail view of the First National Bank Building on Wilshire near La Brea.  

 

Historical Notes

In 2005, the Security-First National Bank Building, 5207-5209 Wilshire Boulevard, was declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 813 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

 
(1970s)^*#* – Front view of Security-First National Bank (later became known as the Security Pacific National Bank).  

 

Historical Notes

It was originally built as a neighborhood branch bank and served this purpose until 1970. The building was used as a restaurant/nightclub and later a Christian center.^#^

 

 

 

 
(2011)##^^^ - Google street view showing the Security-First National Bank Building adjacent to the 1929-built E. Clem Wilson Building.++  

 

Historical Notes

Though only two stories high and dwarfed by its neighbors, this dazzling black-and-gold terra cotta building with zigzag moderne ornamentation makes its presence known.^#^

++Over the years several corporate names adorned The Wilson Building including (in chronological order): General Insurance, Mutual of Omaha (until 1990), Asashi, and Samsung.

 

* * * * *

 

 

French Chateau Apartments

 
(1937)###^ – View of The French Chateau Apartments located at 900 S. Hobart at the southeast corner of Hobart and James M. Woods boulevards.  

 

Historical Notes

The French Chateau Apartments was designed by architect Arlos Sedgley in 1937 and converted to condos in 2007. In 2005, the building was designated LA Historic-Cultural Monument No. 815 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

* * * * *

 

 

Knickerbocker Hotel

 
(1938)* - View of the Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartment Hotel, located on the east side of Ivar Avenue north of Hollywood Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1923 E. M. Frasier built this 11-story hotel in Spanish Colonial style, which catered to Hollywood's film industry and was home to many stars throughout the years. This historic building began life as a luxury apartment building that was at the heart of Hollywood back in the 1920s, before becoming a hotel later in its history; its slogan was "Your home for a year or a day".*

 

 

 

 
(1946)^*# – View showing the front entrance to the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel located at 1714 Ivar Avenue.  

 

Historical Notes

The building has been linked with tragic deaths and because of this, it is considered haunted by some. Some unfortunate occurrences: D.W. Griffith died of a stroke on July 21, 1948 under the crystal chandelier of the lobby; a costume designer named Irene Gibbons jumped to her death from a hotel window; William Frawley, who lived at the hotel for decades, died of a heart attack on the sidewalk in front of the Knickerbocker. Other stars that frequented the hotel with better luck were: Rudolph Valentino, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner, Mae West, and Cecil B. DeMille among many, many others.*

 

 

 

 

(1956)**^ - An Elvis sighting at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Notes

Before it became the allegedly haunted apartment complex it is today, this Hollywood hotel was a revolving door of A-list movie stars. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio used to rendezvous at the hotel bar, and Elvis shacked up here while shooting his first film, “Love me Tender.” *#**

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)#*## - View looking south on Vine Street as seen from the Hollywood Freeway. Spotlights illuminate the sky wih beams of light. From left to right are the: Capitol Records Building, The Broadway-Hollywood Building, and the Hotel Knickerbocker.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1970 a renovation project converted the hotel into housing for senior citizens.*

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Earl Carroll Theatre

 
(ca. 1938)* - A photographic postcard showing the Earl Carroll Theater, located at 6230 Sunset Boulevard, as seen from across the street at night.
 

 

Historical Notes

Earl Carroll Theatre was the name of two important theaters owned by Broadway impresario and showman Earl Carroll. One was located on Broadway in New York City and the other on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood.

Earl Carroll built his second famous theatre at 6230 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood that opened on December 26, 1938. As he had done at the New York theatre, over the doors of the entrance Carroll had emblazoned the words "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world." *^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)**^# - View showing the Earl Carroll Theater revolving stage under construction.  What appears to be Earl Carroll is reviewing plans with designers and others while the chorus line girls position themselves on the yet to be completed revolving stage.  

 

Historical Notes

An "entertainment palace," the glamorous supper club-theatre offered shows on a massive stage with a 60-foot wide double revolving turntable and staircase plus swings that could be lowered from the ceiling.*^

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)##** – Interior view of the Earl Carroll Theater as seen from the revolving stage.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)***# - View of the front of the Earl Carroll Theatre with a woman's face in neon outline above the entrance.  

 

Historical Notes

The Earl Carroll Theatre's facade was adorned by what at the time was one of Hollywood's most famous landmarks: a 20-foot high neon head portrait of entertainer Beryl Wallace, one of Earl Carroll's "most beautiful girls in the world," who became his devoted companion. The sign had long since vanished by the 1960s, but a re-creation made from photos is today on display at Universal City Walk, at Universal City, as part of the collection of historic neon signs from the Museum of Neon Art.

Another major feature at the theatre was its "Wall of Fame" where many of Hollywood's most glamorous stars had inscribed personal messages on individual concrete blocks, which were mounted on an outside wall of the building.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - Exterior view of the Earl Carroll Theatre, located at 6230 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Plaques affixed to the building reveal signatures from some of the top performers of the day; from left to right, Edward G. Robinson, Miriam Hopkins, Jean Hersholt, Binnie Barnes, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Bob Hope, Nelson Eddy, Ginger Rogers, and Mickey Rooney. A banner on which most of Jimmy Durante's name is visible hangs a foot or so away from the building.  

 

Historical Notes

The Earl Carroll Theatre  was sold following the 1948 deaths of Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace in a plane crash. After a few changes in ownership over the decades, the building has housed the West Coast production of live-action original series produced for the Nickelodeon cable channel since 1997.*

 

* * * * *

 

 

Fox Theatre (Westwood)

 
(ca. 1930s)* - Architectural drawing showing a wedding cake type of tower with FOX in large vertical letters near the top. On the marquee around and above the movie theater entrance below are the letters: Fox Westwood Village - gala premiere - Friday Oct. 19 - stars-lights-excitement!  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)* - Fox Theater is in the center of the picture, FOX clearly visible at the top of the building, and streamers of flags hanging from mid-high on the building down to the bop of the marquee. Advertised on the marquee is the movie My lucky star with Sonja Henie, R. Greene. On the right in the picture is the Bruin Theater.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed by architect Percy Parke Lewis the Fox opened on August 14, 1931 part of a widespread cinema construction program undertaken by Fox West Coast Theatres. The Fox Theater quickly became the most recognizable symbol of the new Westwood Village, a Mediterranean-style village development adjoining the University of California Los Angeles planned by Harold and Edwin Janss of the Janss Investment Company.*^

 

 

 
(1951)* - Nighttime view of the Fox Westwood Village Theater (later renamed the Mann Village Theater). Crowds of people stand at the front of the theater to attend a premiere.  

 

 

 

 
(1949)**^ - View looking northwest down Broxton Avenue. The Fox Theater tower stands in line with the tall palm trees along the center median of Broxton. The towers of the Sears and Bank of America buildings can also be seen.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Westood and UCLA

 

* * * * *

 

Pico Drive-In Theatre

 
(ca. 1930s)^^#* - Postcard view showing the Pico Drive-In movie theater, with a woman standing on the corner at the intersection of West Pico Boulevard and Westwood Boulevard. The writing on the drive-in signs read "Drive-in theatre sit in your car see and hear talking pictures on the world's largest screen - California's first" "turn all lights out here" and "drive-in theater admission prices adults $.35 per person."  

 

Historical Notes

The Pico Drive-In Theatre was the first theatre of its kind built in the Western United States.  It was constructed in 1934 just one year after the first drive-in was opened in Camden, New Jersey (Hollingshead Drive-In).

In 1934, when it first opened, the name was simply Drive-In Theatre. The name was changed to Pacific and later Pico Drive-In Theatre since more drive-ins were sprouting up.

 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)***# - Close-up view showing the front of the Pico Drive-In Theater near the intersection of Westwood and Pico Boulevards.  

 

 

 

 
(1938)* - View inside the Pico Drive-In Theater with its over-sized speakers.  

 

Historical Notes

Early drive-in theaters had to deal with noise pollution issues. The original Hollingshead drive-in (Camden, New Jersey) had speakers installed on the tower itself which caused a sound delay affecting patrons at the rear of the drive-in's field. In 1935, the Pico Drive-in Theater attempted to solve this problem by having a row of speakers in front of the cars. In 1941, RCA introduced in-car speakers with individual volume controls which solved the noise pollution issue and provided satisfactory sound to drive-in patrons.*^

 

 

 

 
(1934)^^#* - A slightly raised view of two long lines of automobiles waiting to get in to the first drive-in theater in Los Angeles at 10860 West Pico. There is a ticket booth in the bottom right corner, and two young men dressed in white speaking to the drivers of the automobiles at the front of the lines. Across the street there is a grocery store called "Green Spray Market".   

 

 

 

 
(1934)*^^ - Opening night at the "Drive-In Theater" (later Pico Drive-In Theatre), 10850 W. Pico Boulevard, September 9, 1934.  

 

Historical Notes

Later known as the Pacific Drive-In, as it was operated by Pacific Theatres. By 1943, it was known as the Pico Drive-in, and was closed and demolished in 1947. The Picwood Theatre was built on part of the site.^^*

 

 

 

 

 
(1934)^^#*- Rows of automobiles are parked at the “Drive-in Theatre” (later named Pico Drive-in Theatre). The automobiles are parked in rows facing the screen, which has six searchlights illuminated behind it.  Photo by Dick Whittington  

 

 

 

 

 
(1941)***^- An aerial view of Westwood and Rancho Park, taken on May 11, 1941. The Pico Drive-In is located at the left center of the picture.  

 

 

 

 
(1947)**^# - The Pico Drive-In, located at the corner of Pico and Westwood.  

 

Historical Notes

Movies have always held a place at this intersection of West Los Angeles—from the 1948 built Picwood Theatre (which was demolished in 1990) to the 4-screen Landmark Theatre inside the Westside Pavilion, which opened in the 1980’s.^^*

 

 

 

 

(n.d.)***# - Window-mounted drive-in speakers...one for your car...one for the car on the other side of you. Later systems would transmit the signal through your AM radio.

 

 

 

Historical Notes

The outdoor theaters reached the zenith of their popularity during the 1950s.  Piling the kids in the car made for a cheap family night out, and drive-ins were a favorite hangout for teens who'd recently gotten driver's licenses.

The activities of the teenagers prompted another nickname for drive-in theaters — "passion pits". **^^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Chapman Park Hotel

 
(ca. 1938)* - View of Wilshire Boulevard looking west from Mariposa as seen from a double decker tour bus. From right to left this view includes: the Pueblo bungalow court of the Chapman Hotel (before the Zephyr Room was built), the Cord Building with KFAC radio towers, and the Wilshire Christian Church.  

 

Historical Notes

Architect Carleton Monroe Wilson, Sr. designed the 1925 Chapman Park Hotel, located at 3401 Wilshire Boulevard, owned by Samuel James Chapman. In 1936 Wilson designed bungalows and a chapel called the Pueblo extending the grounds to encompass a full city block. The hotel and pueblo were demolished and replaced by the 1969 Equitable Plaza Office Building.*

 

 

 
(1938)* - View showing cars passing by the archway to the courtyard of the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard (before the Zephyr Room was built). Photo by Herman Schultheis  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1947)#^*^ - View of the gated entrance to the Chapman Park Hotel as seen from Wilshire Boulevard. On the right, northwest corner of Wilshire and Alexandria Avenue, is the Zephyr Room.  

 

 

 

Zephyr Room

 
(ca. 1947)#^*^ - View of the Zephyr Room located on the northwest corner of Wilshire and Alexandria Avenue. The sign above the door on the Wilshire side reads "Cocktails". The sign on the Alexandria Avenue side reads: "Coffee Shop". The radio tower in the background belongs to the Packard Bell Building.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1947)* - A postcard view of the Zephyr Room at Chapman Park Hotel, located at 615 South Alexandria Avenue. The "Packard Bell" building, with 2 radio towers near it, is also visible.
 

 

Historical Notes

Architect A. C. Martin designed the1931 Cord Building located at 3443 Wilshire Boulevard, which featured a sandstone and marble exterior and a 30 foot tower. E.L. Cord, owner of a Fuller Motors dealership and producer of Auburn and Cord automobiles, chose his business initials KFAC for a new radio station, and in 1932 the Federal Radio Commission approved a new location for the station and towers in the penthouse of the dealership. In 1945 Packard-Bell moved in and the building was renamed. The building underwent a major remodel in 1949.*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950)**^ - Postcard view of Wilshire Boulevard looking east toward the intersection of Alexandria Avenue and Wilshire. From left to right can be seen the Zephyr Room, Brown Derby Restaurant and the Gaylord Apartments. Across the street, on the south side of Wilshire, is the entrance to the Ambassador Hotel.  

 

* * * * *

 

Union Station

 
(ca. 1930)^^ - View looking northeast from City Hall showing the old part of Los Angeles including the LA Plaza and Chinatown. At left can be seen the ornate Baker Building with its three distinct towers located on the historic 300 Block of N. Main Street. Los Angeles Street runs diagonally from lower-right to upper-left. Aliso Street runs from Los Angeles Street, at center, east and then tunrs diagonally up. The propsed site of the new Union Station would be northeast of the intersection of Los Angeles and Aliso Streets.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1926, a measure was placed on the ballot giving Los Angeles voters the choice between the construction of a vast network of elevated railways or the construction of a much smaller Union Station to consolidate different railroad terminals. The election would take on racial connotations and become a defining moment in the development of Los Angeles. The proposed Union Station was located in the heart of what was Los Angeles' original Chinatown. Reflecting the prejudice of the era, the conservative Los Angeles Times, a lead opponent of elevated railways, argued in editorials that Union Station would not be built in the “midst of Chinatown” but rather would “forever do away with Chinatown and its environs.” *^

 

 

 

 
(1934)^^ - Caption reads:  “Site of new Union Terminal (enclosed by lines), where dirt to be removed from Fort Moore Hill will be used for filling in. This great depot will serve all steam railroads entering Los Angeles. Chinatown is seen in foreground of station site."  

 

Historical Notes

Voters approved demolishing much of Chinatown to build Union Station by a narrow 51 to 48 percent.*^

 

 

 
(1938)^^ - View looking north toward Union Station, still under construction. The main road going along the left side of the photo is Alameda Street. Aliso Street is at the southern end of the station near where the Hollywood Freeway is located today.  

 

Historical Notes

When Union Station was opened in May 1939, it consolidated remaining service from its predecessors La Grande Station and Central Station. It was built on a grand scale and became known as "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)#### – View showing workers at Los Angeles Union Station alongside a Southern Pacific Daylight Special which would link Los Angeles with San Francisco on daily trips.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)^^ - Crowds watch train while celebrating completion of the new Union Station.  

 

Historical Notes

Examiner clipping attached to verso, dated May 4, 1939: "Stirring awake memories that had slumbered for more than a century, railroad officials yesterday staged a colorful pageant of transportation that thrilled thousands of Angelenos for two hours. Gayly costumed ladies of the Gay Nineties -- and the years before -- rode stage coaches and horse cars and stuttering, slow-moving trains of another era. Derby-hatted, mustachioed gentlemen in tight coats pumped high-wheeled bicycles -- 'bone-crushers' they were known as in those days -- all to celebrate formal opening of the new Union Station, pictured in background as oldest Union Pacific train approaches the city's newest in beautiful architecture." ^^

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - View of the main entrance and clock tower of the new Los Angeles Union Station.  

 

Historical Notes

Union Station was designed by the father and son team of John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson, and opened in May 1939. The structure combines Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Streamline Modern style, with Moorish architectural details. It was named the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT), until it's owner, Catellus Development, officially changed the name to Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS).*

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^^* - A giant archway welcoming travelers to Union Station glows in the evening light.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)^^* – View showing visitors two men checking out the work at Union Station’s main concourse during construction.  Photo date: February 24, 1939. Note the man on top of the tall ladder.  

 

Historical Notes

The ticket concourse has 62-foot high ceilings and a 110-foot counter. *^

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Interior view of the new Union Station soaring ticket concourse with its beamed ceiling, arched windows, travertine marble walls and tile floors. The new station covers 40 acres on North Alameda Street near the old Plaza. Photo date: April 15, 1939.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - Interior view of the Harvey House Restaurant in Union Station. Built in 1933-39, it was designed by architects Donald and Charles Parkinson.
 

 

Historical Notes

Attached to the main building to the south is the station restaurant designed by the famed Southwestern architect Mary Colter. It was the last of the "Harvey House" restaurants to be constructed as a part of a passenger terminal. Although today it is padlocked and stripped of many interior furnishings, the topology of its vast rectangular space, rounded central counter, and streamlined booths remains. The spectacular inlaid cement tile floor reproduces the pattern of a Navajo blanket. Colter also designed a sleek, Streamline Moderne cocktail lounge, which is closed now as well. In October 2014, the Harvey House space was leased to leading local restaurateurs for a gastropub.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(1939)*^^ - The iconic leather chairs in Union Station’s waiting area, ready for the coming crowds.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Interior view of the main course, L.A. Union Station, showing the tiled floors and high ceilings.  

 

Historical Notes

Enclosed garden patios are on either side of the waiting room, and passengers exiting the trains were originally directed through the southern garden. The lower parts of the interior walls are covered in travertine marble; the upper parts have an early form of acoustical tile. The floor in the large rooms is terra cotta with a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat unusual in floors since it is soft). The ceiling in the waiting room has the appearance of wood, but is actually made of steel.*^

 

 

 

 
(1939)#* - View of the waiting area at Union Station. The stylish hanging lamps coupled with the large floor-to-ceiling windows provide more than ample light for reading.  

 

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^^* – Long hallways lead from the main terminal to the rail platforms at Union Station.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1940)^^ - View looking south over Union Station and past its clock tower.  City Hall, the Federal Building and the Hall of Justice stand in the background. Photo by "Dick" Whittington  

 

 

 

 
(1939)^^ – View showing Union Station from across its parking lot shortly after the train station's opening. Photo by "Dick" Whittington
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - View of the sidewalk and landscaping outside the entrance to Union Station. View also shows the clock in the tower at the Station and the photographer’s shadow in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 
(1940)* - Exterior view of Los Angeles Union Station, located at 800 N. Alameda Street, showing several palm trees, arched windows, and the large tower and clock.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1979)^^* – Interior view of the iconic Union Station, 40 years after it was built. LA Times Photo by: Ben Olender  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* – View looking northeast across the Union Station parking lot showing its iconic signage.  Photo by Herman J. Schultheis  

 

 

 

 

 
(1939)+++ – Bird’s-eye night view showing a well-lit Union Station with full parking lot.  Terminal Annex Post Office is seen in upper left corner.   

 

Historical Notes

The intersection of Aliso and Los Angeles Streets is seen in the foreground. The 101 Freeway would be built along Aliso Street in the early 1950s. Click HERE to see more.

 

 

 

 

 
(1956)+^^ - Time elapsed photo showing Union Station in the foreground with City Hall, the Federal Courthouse Building, and the Hall of Justice in the distance.  

 

Historical Notes

Union Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It also is listed as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 101 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

Baker Block

 
(ca. 1938)^^ - View of downtown looking southwest from where Union Station sits today. The new Federal Courthouse Building is under construction as seen between City Hall and the Hall of Justice. Alameda Street is in the foreground. The old Baker Block with its distinctive three towers still stands at the center of photo.  

 

Historical Notes

The area in the extreme foreground is now Union Station. The street in front is Alameda Street, and those buildings ahead of Alameda were knocked down and are now landscaping and on ramps to the 101 Hollywood/Santa Ana Freeway. Old Chinatown started being demolished around 1933, and Union Station opened in 1939.**^

To the right-center of the photo is the Pico House in front of the LA Plaza which is out of view to the right. The old 1877-built Baker Block can be seen in the center of the photo just below the Federal Courthouse Building. The Baker Block would be demoished in 1942 to make room for the 101 Freeway.

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)* - Looking across N. Main Street (foreground) towards the French Second Empire style Baker Block, on the southeast corner at Arcadia Street (lower left), and the Grand Central Hotel (right). Photo by Herman Schultheis.  

 

Historical Notes

The ornate three-story Baker Block located on the 300 block of N. Main Strreet was completed around 1877 by Colonel Robert S. Baker. For a number of years, the building housed offices, shops, and apartments. Goodwill Industries of Southern California purchased it in 1919. Despite plans to relocate the structure for another purpose, the city purchased the Baker Block from Goodwill in 1941 and demolished the building a year later. U.S. Route 101 now runs beneath where these buildings once stood.*

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Historic 300 Block of N. Main Street.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Original Water Department Building

 
(ca. 1939)^^ - View looking up Marchessault Street with Alameda Street crossing at bottom and Los Angeles Street crossing at mid distance. The LA Plaza is at upper-center left. The old Water Department Building, now occupied by the F. See On Company, stands on the northwest corner of Marchessault and Alameda.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1939, the first home of the Department of Water and Power was sold to the City to make way for the Civic Center development planned in connection with the new Union Passenger Depot. Located at the corner of Marchessault and Alameda Streets, directly across from the almost completed railroad station, the property was the main office of the municipal water works when the City bought out the private water companies operating here until 1902.^

 

 

 
(1939)^^ - Photo caption reads:   "Another Landmark Gives Way to Progress -- Photo shows wrecking yesterday of first home of the Department of Water and Power, recently purchased by the City, to make a wide approach by way of Marchessault Street to the new Union Station. With work being rushed, thousands of persons will occupy the site of this landmark on May 3, when the celebration's parade passes on Alameda Street. The old building was the main office of the municipal water works when the City bought out the private water companies operation here until 1902."  

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Water Department's Original Office Building.

 

* * * * *

 

 

Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building

 
(ca. 1929)+*^ – Sketch showing the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building located at 619 S. Spring Street.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1929, the eleven-story exchange building was designed by Samuel Lunden in the Moderne style. Ground was broken in October 1929, just as the Great Depression hit, and when the Los Angeles Stock Exchange opened its doors there in 1931, the country was deep into the Depression.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1932)* - View of Spring Street looking north from between 6th and 7th Streets, full of cars, streetcars and pedestrians. At right is the Los Angeles Stock Exchange building (later the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange), located at 618 South Spring Street and built in 1929-1930.  

 

Historical Notes

As Los Angeles expanded southward in the early twentieth century, the city’s banks and financial institutions began to concentrate along Spring Street.*^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building at 618 South Spring Street on May 5, 1939, ten years after it was built.  

 

Historical Notes

The street façade is clad entirely in granite, a rarity in Los Angeles, where terra cotta was more economical. It features massive, fluted pilasters that frame three bas reliefs by sculptor Salvatore Cartaino Scarpitta titled Finance, Research and Discovery, and Production. Above the central entrance is an inscription incised into the granite that proclaims the mission and founding date of the Stock Exchange.^#^

 

 

 
(1931)* - Night view of the main doorway into the building. Note the architectural designs on the door and around the entrance.  

 

Historical Notes

The massive bronze entrance doors, twelve feet high and featuring intricate patterns in low relief, were claimed by the manufacturer to be the largest bronze doors of their type ever fabricated in this part of the country.^#^

 

 

 
(1930s)^^ - Interior view of the trading floor of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange empty of people. Benches can be seen at center back-to-back, while two desks can be seen at left and two at right. Smaller desks line the wall, while what appears to be a balcony extends around the walls. Clocks can be seen on the wall at left and at right, while a pattern is visible on the ceiling. In size - 6,580 square feet - it was second only to the New York Exchange.  

 

Historical Notes

Included in the $1.75 million structure was a fifth floor clearing-house, a statistical department, and a large auditorium in addition to a smaller lecture room with space for fifty. Offices were on the sixth through ninth floors, and a club with a library, card room, billiard room, and reading rooms were planned for the top two floors. A 2,660-square-foot printing room was located in the basement. The building’s highlight was its 90’ x 74’ balconied trading room with a forty-foot ceiling and sixty-four booths.**^^

 

 

 
(1931)^^ - Inside view of the going-ons on the trading floor at the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange (originally the Los Angeles Stock Exchange) at 618 South Spring Street in Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 
(1954)^^ - Exterior view of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, located at 618 South Spring Street in Los Angeles. View is a direct view of the main facade.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed in the Classical Moderne style to impart a sense of financial stability, the building’s imposing, fortress-like street facade rises the equivalent of five stories. A slender twelve-story office tower clad in terra cotta is set back at the rear.^#^

 

 

 
(2009)**^^ – View showing the front of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building as it appears today.  

 

Historical Notes

The Stock Exchange became part of the Pacific Stock Exchange in 1956, and it moved out of the building in 1986. In the 1980s, the building was converted into a nightclub called the Stock Exchange. After undergoing an extensive interior renovation, the building reopened in 2010 as Exchange LA, a nightclub and event venue.^#^

On January 3, 1979, the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building was designated LA Historic-Cultural Monument No. 205 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

* * * * *

 

Hall of Justice

 
(1925)* - Construction of the new Hall of Justice building, with the granite facing nearing completion.  

 

Historical Notes

Constructed in 1925, this Beaux Arts facility was built as an imposing structure meant to convey a sense of justice and public importance. The 14 story, 550,000 square-foot high-rise building was the nation’s first consolidated judicial facility. The Hall was designed in the classic Italianate style.*#*^

 

 

 
(1925)#+ – View looking north on Broadway at Temple Street with the newly constructed Hall of Justice standing on the northeast corner.  The Broadway Tunnel can be seen on the left. Photo courtesy of Malinda Ramsey  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - View from City Hall looking northwest toward the Hall of Justice. The County Courthouse, with banners hanging from its windows, is to the left.  

 

Historical Notes

The Hall of Justice accommodated a wide range of functions for the County of Los Angeles, including the Sheriff’s Department, Coroner, District Attorney, Public Defender, and Tax Collector. Additionally, the building housed 17 courtrooms and a county jail with over 750 cells.*#*^

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of the Hall of Justice looking northwest, taken from Spring Street on May 4, 1939. In the foreground is the retaining wall and yard of the old County Courthouse on Spring and Temple Streets, with the door to its tunnel visible. The historic Beaux Arts building was built in 1925 and is the oldest building in the Civic Center.  

 

Historical Notes

The Hall imprisoned many notorious criminals, such as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Charles Manson, and Sirhan Sirhan, and served as the backdrop for many movies and scores of Hollywood shows including Dragnet and Get Smart. Other historical events included the autopsies of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.*#*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)**^ - View looking northeast of the intersection of Broadway and Temple with the Hall of Justice located on the northeast corner. The Broadway Tunnel, which runs under Fort Moore Hill, is seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Hall of Justice was closed shortly after the 1994 Northridge earthquake and is currently being restored.  It is scheduled to re-open as the Sheriff's and District Attorney's Headquarters in 2014.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1946)* - The Hall of Justice at center. The U. S. Post Office behind and to the right. On the left is the old Broadway Tunnel.  

 

Historical Notes

On June 2, 1949, the Broadway Tunnel was demolished for the construction of the 101 Freeway. The route cut through Fort Moore Hill and made it necessary for a Broadway overpass to be built across the freeway and the old tunnel site.*^

 

 

 
(2005)* - Exterior view of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice and the corner of Spring and Temple Streets, looking northwest. Temple Street runs to the left and Spring Street to the right.  

 

 

 

 
(2005)* - Exterior detail view of the colonnade on the east facade of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice, looking northwest. The colonnade runs along the perimeter of the upper floors and terra cotta detailing can be seen above and below the columns.  

 

 

 

 
(1955)^^ - Driving east on the Hollywood Freeway, Los Angeles' Civic Center provides a massive and impressive appearance. In immediate foreground is the Hall of Justice, with the Federal Building framing it on left and the City Hall and Hall of Records, on right. Grand avenue exit from new freeway is seen in lower right. Just beyond the Civic Center, Hollywood Freeway joins the Santa Ana and Ramona Freeways, both of which are in the process of extension.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Federal Courthouse and United States Post Office Building

 
(1938)^^ - View showing the construction of the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building located on the corner of Main and Temple streets.  

 

Historical Notes

Built between 1937 and 1940, the United States Court House was the third federal building constructed in Los Angeles. The first, constructed between 1889 and 1892, housed the post office, U.S. District Court, and various federal agencies, but it soon proved inadequate. A larger structure was built between 1906 and 1910 at the corner of Main and Temple Streets. The population of Los Angeles grew rapidly in the early part of the twentieth century, and a larger building was needed to serve the courts and federal agencies. The Second Federal Building was razed in 1937 to clear the site for the existing courthouse.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)^^ - View of downtown looking southwest from where Union Station sits today. The new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building is under construction as seen between City Hall and the Hall of Justice. Alameda Street is in the foreground. The historic ornate Baker Block with its distinctive three towers is seen at center of photo.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)**^ - View of the Plaza with the LA downtown skyline in the background. From left to right stand City Hall, the Federal Courthouse still under construction (completed in 1940), the Hall of Records, and the Hall of Justice.  The old Brunswig Building can also be seen on the other side of the LA Plaza across from the Pico House.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)^^ - Aerial view of the Civic Center showing the recently completed Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building with City Hall in the foreground. The new Union Station (built in 1938) is also seen at top of photo.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940) - Postcard view showing the new Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building near City Hall and old Main Street. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the Historic 300 Block of N. Main Street.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)* - View looking at the northwest corner of Temple and Main streets showing the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building.
 

 

Historical Notes

The United States Court House is a Moderne style building that originally served as both a post office and a courthouse. The building was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood and Louis A. Simon, and construction was completed in 1940.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1947)* - View looking at the northeast corner of Temple and Spring streets showing the front of the Federal Courthouse and United States Post Office Building, 312 N. Spring Street.  

 

 

 

 
(1949)* - View of the Los Angeles Civic Center, showing the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building as well as City Hall, as seen from Fort Moore. Numerous cars can be seen on the streets as well as in parking lots.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - View of the Los Angeles Civic Center, showing Los Angeles City Hall and the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)* - Exterior view of the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office Building, located at 312 N. Spring Street. The Stephen M. White Statue, which was previously located on the corner of Temple and Broadway on the lawn of the Hall of Records, is seen here on the corner of 1st and Hill outside the new courthouse.  

 

Historical Notes

Stephen M. White was elected Los Angeles County District Attorney in 1882, State Senator in 1886 and United States Senator in 1893. During his term in the United States Senate, Senator White’s most notable accomplishment was his successful leadership of the fight to create the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro as opposed to Santa Monica Bay, the site that was being advocated by powerful railroad interests.

In 1989, the statue was moved again to its present location, at the entrance to Cabrillo Beach off Stephen M. White Drive, overlooking the breakwater at the L.A. Harbor.^###

 

* * * * *

 

U.S. Post Office Terminal Annex Building

 
(1940)* - Front entrance to the United States Post Office Terminal Annex Building. Located at 900 N. AlamedaSt., the Terminal Annex was built from 1939 to 1940.  

 

Historical Notes

Photo clipping reads: "New United States Post Office Terminal Annex, at Alameda and Macy Streets, which will be open for business Monday. Costing $3,000,000, the building has a score or more 'first, biggest and only features,' including hollow column ventilation, new combination of conveyor belts and gravity chutes and biggest and fastest freight elevators."

 

 

 
(1940s)^^ – View showing the Terminal Annex Building and parking lot.  

 

Historical Notes

The U.S. Post Office - Los Angeles Terminal Annex was the central mail processing facility located on Alameda Street near Union Station in Los Angeles from 1940 to 1989. The Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival building designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)* - United States Post Office Terminal Annex as seen from Union Station across Cesar Chavez (formerly Macy Street).  

 

Historical Notes

Only ten years after its opening, the demands of the city's mail had already outgrown the facility. Accordingly, the Post Office announced plans in 1950 for a $12 million expansion, including an adjoining five-story parcel post building and other structures as well.

By the 1980s, the operations had outgrown even the expanded facilities at the Terminal Annex. The facility's volume had grown by the mid-1980s to 14 million pieces of mail per day, and the annex was plagued by inadequate space, overcrowding and inadequate work areas. Accordingly, the Postal Service Board of Governors in 1984 approved the construction of a new $151 million general post office in South-Central Los Angeles. Almost 50 years after Terminal Annex became the city's main mail-processing facility, the new processing facility in South Central opened in 1989. Despite the move of the processing facility, the customer service windows in the Terminal Annex's ornate lobby remain open.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Mudd Memorial Hall (USC)

 
(1938)#^*^ – Postcard view showing the Mudd Memorial Hall on the campus of University of Southern California.  

 

Historical Notes

Built in 1929, the Italian Romanesque Revival style buildng was designed by architect Ralph C. Flewelling.^##^

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of Mudd Memorial Hall and its tower at U.S.C., designed by architect Ralph C. Flewelling.  

 

Historical Notes

Seeley Mudd Memorial Hall of Philosophy is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings on the USC campus. The Romanesque structure features a cloistered courtyard, a 146-foot campanile, and the double-height library, as well as dramatic spaces filled with elaborate carvings and decorative surfaces.^##^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Side view of Mudd Memorial Hall and clock tower, built in 1929.  

 

Historical Notes

The famous clock tower stands 146 feet above the junction of the North and West wings, equipped with chimes manufactured by Deagan. Ornate sculptures, reliefs, and mosaics adorn the building. The Argonaut's Hall, in which many philosophy seminars and lectures take place, is also ornately decorated and depicts Jason's search for the golden fleece.^^^#

 

 

 
(1946)^^ - View of arched walkway at Mudd Memorial Hall.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of U.S.C.

 

* * * * *

 

 

CBS Columbia Square (Hollywood)

 
(1938)**^ - Grand Opening of CBS West Coast Headquarters on Sunset Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

CBS Columbia Square, opened on April 30, 1938, was built for KNX and as the Columbia Broadcasting System's West Coast operations headquarters on the site of the Nestor Film Company, Hollywood's first movie studio. The Christie Film Company eventually took over operation of Nestor Studios and filmed comedies on the site, originally the location of an early Hollywood roadhouse. Prior to moving to Columbia Square, KNX had been situated at several Hollywood locations.*^

 

 

 
(1938)^*# - Daytime view looking toward the northeast corner of El Centro Ave and Sunset Boulevard showing the newly constructed CBS Columbia Square.  

 

Historical Notes

CBS Columbia Square was designed by Swiss-born architect William Lescaze in the style of International Modernism and built over a year at a cost of two million dollars — more money than had ever been spent on a broadcasting facility.*^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of the CBS Columbia Square building located at 6121 Sunset Boulevard. It was built on the site of the Nestor Studios, the first movie studio in Hollywood.  

 

 

 

 
(1940)* - Exterior view of the CBS Columbia Square building, 6121 Sunset Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

In early 2009, CBS Columbia Square Studios were designated as a historic-cultural monument by Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* - Man sitting at the master control point of CBS, Hollywood Radio Center. Woman is operating the teleplex, an electric typewriter.  

 

Historical Notes

The five-story CBS Columbia Square complex was home to radio stations KNX 1070 and KCBS 83FM, as well as CBS Channel 2 television station.*^

 

 

 

 

(n.d.)+^^ - KNX Radio Control Room at CBS Columbia Square

 

 

 

.

 

Historical Notes

Radio broadcasts had studio audiences. They presented engineers and performers in a theatrical environment including lighting.  The CBS studio was lit for atmosphere.+^^

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performs on a stage to an audience at the CBS Columbia Square building for a KNX radio broadcast.  

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - A night view, with neon signs lit, of the exterior of the studio of CBS radio and its L.A. affiliate KNX.  

 

Historical Notes

In 2005, KNX moved into new studios in the Miracle Mile neighborhood on L.A.'s Wilshire Boulevard which it shares with CBS Radio stations KFWB, KTWV, and KRTH. KNX was the last radio station to operate in Hollywood.

In 2007, KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV also left the building and moved their operations to the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, thus ending Columbia Square's status as a broadcast facility.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1951)#^* – View of CBS Columbia Square looking north from the Gower Gulch shopping center, close to where Denny’s currently is at Sunset and Gower.  The Hollywood Sign is seen in the distance.  

 

Historical Notes

From 1938 to 2007, Columbia Square was home of CBS's L.A./west coast radio/tv operations. The historic site is currently under redevelopment.

 

* * * * *

 

NBC Hollywood Radio City

 
(ca. 1938)^*# - Postcard view looking north on Vine Street at Sunset Boulevard. On the northeast corner stands the newly constructed NBC Radio City. Visible signs in the background include (L to R): Tropics, Hollywood Recreation Center Bowling, Plaza Hotel, The Broadway-Hollywood, Taft Building, and the Brown Derby.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1938)* - An exterior view of NBC's studio, Hollywood Radio City, located in Hollywood on the northeast corner of Sunset Blvd. and Vine St. The art deco station was designed by John Austin and was built in 1938.  

 

Historical Notes

The West Coast Radio City opened in 1938, the same year as the CBS Columbia Square. It served as headquarters to the NBC Radio Networks' (Red and Blue) West Coast operations and replaced NBC's radio broadcast center in San Francisco, which had been around since the network's formation in 1927.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)^*# - View looking northeast at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street. NBC's Radio City stands on the corner. Note the ornate dual-lamp streetlight at the bottom of photo. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of LA Streetlights.  

 

Historical Notes

The National Broadcasting Company originally used the phrase Radio City to describe their studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City.  When NBC opened their new Hollywood studios at Sunset and Vine in 1938, they placed the words Radio City prominently on the front of their new building.  However, the area between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard on Vine Street became known as Radio City for tourists and locals alike who visited the many radio studios and radio themed cocktail lounges and businesses in the area.**^^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)#* - Interior view of the front entrance to the studios at NBC Hollywood Radio City. The floor-to-ceiling glass tile windows allows natural light to fill the very large open spaced lobby.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1938)^*#^ - View of the lobby of NBC’s Hollywood Radio City dominated by a 25 x 40 ft. mural painted by Ed Trumbull of New York. Beneath mural is the master control room.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s the NBC studio complex, coupled with CBS Columbia Square (located just down the street), was home to all the major radio studios that broadcast coast to coast.  It’s where the great personalities of the day, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Al Jolson and many more assembled to entertain America. #^^^

 

 

 
(1938)* - Engineer's control room in NBC's Hollywood Radio City.  

 

Historical Notes

NBC’s West Coast Radio City building had 8 large individual studios, four of which had capacity for several hundred people.  The technical facilities included the most modern RCA equipment.*^

 

 

 

 
(1940s)#* - View of a man walking on Sunset in front of the streamline moderne NBC Radio City building.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1940s)**^ - Dusk view looking at the northwest corner of Sunset and Argyle Avenue showing a lit-up NBC Hollywood Radio City building.  

 

Historical Notes

Architect: John C. Austin (City Hall, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Masonic Temple, Shrine Auditorium).*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1948)+^^ - View looking east on Sunset Boulevard at Vine Street showing the NBC radio studios on the southeast corner.  

 

Historical Notes

The NBC studio complex stood until 1964 when it was demolished to make room for a Home Savings and Loan bank (now Chase Bank). #*

 

* * * * *

 

 

Westlake Theatre

 
(1938)#^* - View of Wilshire Boulevard as it passes through MacArthur Park. The Westlake Theatre Sign stands out in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Westlake Theatre opened in 1926 at 638 S. Alvarado Street, across from Westlake Park (now MacArthur).  It had a seating for 1,949 patrons and was used for both motion pictures and vaudeville shows.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)* - An exterior view of the Westlake Theatre located at 638 South Alvarado Street. The marquee advertises a Fox Picture big studio preview, and the words "Hot News" with Neil Hamilton.  

 

Historical Notes

The theatre was designed by Richard D. Bates Jr. in a Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival style. The façade features cast stone Churrigueresque detailing of floral patterns and cartouche relief. The interior contains Adamesque references and murals by Anthony Heinsbergen. Exterior renovations in 1935 were designed by the noted theater architect S. Charles Lee and included an Art Deco ticket kiosk made of red-painted metal, unvarnished aluminum and glass, new lobby doors, and terrazzo sunburst paving in the foyer and front sidewalk.

Today, one of the theater's intact features is an original steel-frame, three-story neon sign that reads "WESTLAKE THEATRE". *^

 

 

 
(1937)* - Exterior view of the Spanish Baroque style West Coast Westlake Theatre.  

 

Historical Notes

The Westlake was operated as a first-run movie theater from 1926 until the 1960s. As the neighborhood's demographics changed, the theater was sold to Metropolitan Theatres Corp., which showed Spanish-language or Spanish-subtitled movies. In 1991, the building was sold to Mayer Separzadeh, who converted the theater into a swap meet. To protect the building from drastic changes, the building was declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 546 in September 1991 (Click HERE to see complete listing). The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

The theater was purchased by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles in 2008. The Redevelopment Agency announced plans to rehabilitate the theater as a venue for live theater, film, music and other performances.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

I. Magnin Department Store

 
(1939)^*# – View looking toward the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue showing the new I. Magnin Department Store still under construction. This site was once occupied by the Cole House.  

 

Historical Notes

I. Magnin & Company was a San Francisco based high fashion and specialty goods luxury department store. Over the course of its existence, it expanded across the West into Southern California and the adjoining states of Arizona, Oregon, and Washington.

In the early 1870s, Dutch born Mary Ann Magnin and her English husband Isaac Magnin settled in San Francisco. Mary Ann opened a shop in 1876 selling lotions and high-end clothing for infants. Later, she expanded into bridal wear. As her business grew, her exclusive clientele relied on her for the newest fashions from Paris.
At the turn of the century, Mary Ann’s four sons entered the business. While John Magnin, Grover Magnin, and Sam Magnin became associated with the I. Magnin store, the fourth son, Joseph Magnin, became known for his own store (Joseph Magnin Co.).*^

 

 

 
(1939)* - View showing the new six-story Magnin department store, designed in a white modern classic style, rising from a black marble base - located at 3240 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

I. Magnin opened its Wilshire store in 1939.  The new high end department store was located just three blocks west of Bullock's Wilshire and became a formidable competitor.  

The stunning, all-marble I. Magnin was designed by Myron Hunt, architect of the Ambassador Hotel. Hunt experimented with gleaming white marble over steel, putting black granite trim at sidewalk level. The result, said one reviewer, was "a symphony of beauty." ^#^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Corner view of I. Magnin & Co. department store at the corner of Wilshire and New Hampshire.  

 

Historical Notes

Built at a cost of $3,000,000, the building was operated entirely by electricity and completely air-conditioned. The bottom floor is faced with black marble.*

 

 

 
(1939)^#^ - The I. Magnin & Co. building during its first year of operations.  

 

Historical Notes

Magnin specialized in couture fashions and developed a following as loyal as the Bullock's Wilshire partisans down the street. Ownership of the two stores ultimately merged, and in 1990 this Magnin location closed. It reopened after the 1992 civil unrest as the Korean-oriented Wilshire Galleria.^#^

 

 

 
(1949)*++ - Close-up view looking southwest showing the east side and front of the I. Magnin building on Wilshire Blvd.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1991, the I. Magnin & Co. Building was declared Los Angeles Historic Cultural-Monument No. 534 (Click HERE for listing).

 

 

 
(2015)##^^^ – View showing the I. Magnin Building as it appears today at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and New Hampshire Ave.  It is now called the Wilshire Galleria.  

 

* * * * *

 

Western Auto Supply Co.

 
(1930s)**#* - View of the Western Auto Parts store at the northwest corner of Wilshire and Hauser Blvds.  

 

Historical Notes

The Western Auto Parts store was designed by Carl Lindbom and completed in 1931.  It is the current location of a IHOP restaurant.**#*

 

 

 
(1930s)^*# - View of the northwest corner of Wilshire and Hauser showing the Western Auto Supply Co. Building. Several cars are seen parked on Hauser Blvd.  

 

 

 

 
(1930s)^*# - View looking north of the Western Auto Supply Co. Building located at 5655 Wilshire Boulevard. A tall "Wilshire Special" streetlight stands on the corner (Wilshire and Hauser). In the distance also stands an oil derrick. Click HERE to see more Early L.A. Streetlights.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

Coulter's Department Store

 
(1938)^^ – View facing east on Wilshire Boulevard at Hauser Boulevard. Western Auto Supply Company, Ralph’s Supermarket, and Bank of America (left); Coulter’s Department Store (right).  

 

 

 

 
(1939)* - Exterior view of the new Coulter's Department Store at 5600 Wilshire Boulevard (in the "Miracle Mile").
 

 

Historical Notes

Designed by Stiles O. Clements, this classic Streamline Moderne building was built in 1938 and was first occupied by Coulter's Dry Goods.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard. The Coulter Building is seen on the southwest corner of Hauser and Wilshire. Citizens National Trust & Savings Bank may also be seen on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

B. F. Coulter was one of the earliest merchants in Los Angeles. The Coulter's Dry Goods business dates from 1878 and later was called Coulter's. Coulter was an ordained minister and founded the Broadway Christian Church. The business was continued by B.F. Coulter's son-in-law, R. P. McReynolds, and his son, James McReynolds.^^

 

 

 
(1972)^*#* - The Broadway Department Store (formerly Coulter’s), at 5600 Wilshire Boulevard. To the right is the California Federal Bank Building, constructed in 1963, where Citizens National Trust & Savings Bank once stood.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1970s, the store changed hands and became a Broadway. After the building was demolished in 1980, the site remained vacant until the late-2000s, when a 5-story mixed-use structure was built.*

 

* * * * *

 

 

Town House Building

 
(1940)^^ - View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard showing the Town House Building at the northwest corner of Wilshire and Commonwealth, across the street from Lafayette Park (lower-right).  The Bullock's Wilshire tower can be seen at upper-left and Simons Drive-in Restaurant at lower-left, on the southwest corner of Hoover and Wilshire.  

 

Historical Notes

Oil magnate Edward Doheny developed the Towne House Building, completed in 1929, and advertised it as “Southern California’s most distinguished address.” ^#^

Clara R. Shatto donated 35 acres of land that now makes up Lafayette Park to the City of Los Angeles in 1899. The land consisted of tar seeps and oil wells and Shatto requested that it be developed into a park. Shatto was the wife of George Shatto, then-owner of Santa Catalina Island.

Canary Island palm trees and jacaranda were planted in the area of what became known as Sunset Park. Local groups requested that the name be changed to commemorate Marquis de Lafayette, a military officer of the American Revolutionary War. The name was officially changed in 1918. A statue of him was erected in 1937, close to the Wilshire Boulevard entrance.*^

 

 

 
(1946)^*# – View looking northeast on Wilshire Boulevard toward Lafayette Park.  The Town House at  2959-2973 Wilshire Blvd. is seen across the street from the park.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed by Norman W. Alpaugh, in Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and other revival styles, the Town House was once among the most luxurious hotels in Southern California.  It is located on Wilshire Boulevard, adjacent to Lafayette Park in the Westlake district.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)**^# - View from the roof of the Town House looking north toward the Hollywood Hills.  The First Congregational Church, 540 S. Commonwealth, is seen at the lower-right.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1937, the Town House was re-launched as a luxury hotel featuring one of Los Angeles’ storied night clubs, the Zebra Room, with interiors designed by Wayne McAllister. Five years later, in 1942, hotelier Conrad Hilton took over the building.^#^

 

 

 
(1951)^^ – View showing the front entrance to the Town House.  There appears to be a picket line in front of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

Elizabeth Taylor’s first marriage, to hotel heir Nicky Hilton in 1950, was celebrated at the Town House. It was later sold to the Sheraton hotel chain, first operating as the Sheraton Town House and later as the Sheraton West.^#^

 

 

 
(2008)*^ – View of the Town House looking northwest from the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hoover Street.  

 

Historical Notes

The hotel closed in 1993 and was later threatened with demolition, spurring a highly visible advocacy effort that saved the building and resulted in its reuse as family housing with community amenities.^#^

In 1997, the Town House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1994 it was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 576 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

* * * * *

 

 

Taft Building

 
(ca. 1923)* – View looking at the southeast corner of Hollywood and Vine showing the newly completed Taft Building. This was once the location of the Hollywood Memorial Church, the first Hollywood Methodist Episcopal Church.  

 

Historical Notes

Opened in 1923, the building was designed in Neo-Renaissance style by prominent architects Percy A. Eisen and Albert R. Walker, who are also known for designing the Fine Arts Building and the James Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.^^*

 

 

 
(1940s)^^ - View of the Taft Building at 1680 N. Vine Street, S/E corner of Hollywood and Vine. The Owl Drug Company occupies the street level corner space. An early model bus is pulling through the intersection as pedestrians are crossing the street.  

 

Historical Notes

A.Z. Taft, Jr. purchased the Hollywood Memorial Church on the southeast corner of Hollywood and Vine, tore it down, and built the 12-story Taft Building.  All the movie studios had offices in the building as well as actors Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also resided there. Even Clark Gable's dentist was located in the building.*^

 

 

 

 
(1945)* - Postcard view of a crowd looking at the electric billboard on the Taft Building. The view is from the north-west corner of Hollywood and Vine looking south-east. An early traffic sign is in the foreground and in the background the distinctive "hat" of the Brown Derby sign is visible.   

 

 

 

 

 
(1950s)*^^^* - View looking north toward the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The four main buildings located on the corners of the intersection can be seen (L to R): The Broadway-Hollywood, Hody's Restaurant, Equitable Building, and the Taft Building. The iconic Capitol Records Building stands in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)* - View at dusk, with neon signs lit, looking northward on Vine Street from Selma Ave. The Taft Building can be seen with the large Miller High Life signboard on its roof. Also seen are the: Broadway-Hollywood, Plaza Hotel, Mobilgas, Equitable Building, and the Brown Derby Coffee Shop.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)* - Closer view of the Taft Building with its very large neon sign for Miller High Life beer. The Brown Derby is on the right. Architects of the Taft Building were Walker and Eisen.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1999, the Taft Building and Neon Sign were designated Historic-Cultural Monument No. 666 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

 

 

 

 
(2015)^^* - View looking up at the Taft Building after it was renovated. Photo by Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times  

 

Historical Notes

In 2014-15 the Taft Building got a $15-million makeover with a renovation that shored up its seismic strength and uncovered historic architectural details that were under wraps for decades.^^*

 

* * * * *

 

 

La Belle Tour Apartments (Hollywood Tower)

 
(1929)+^^ – View showing the La Belle Tour Apartments at 6200 Franklin Ave, Hollywood, shortly after it opened.  

 

Historical Notes

The Hollywood Tower, originally known as La Belle Tour, was designed by architects Cramer & Wise in a faux French Normandy style, and built in 1929. At the time, it was a Class A building with more than 50 apartments, with three penthouse units, a subterranean garage, and private and public roof gardens.

Actor George Raft owned an interest in the building and lived there for a time.  Also, well-known motion picture character actor Eugene Pallette was one of the first residents and lived in the building for all the 1930s. *^

 

 

 
(1953)**^ – Aerial view looking west showing the construction of the Hollywood Freeway through Hollywood.  The intersection of Argyle and Yucca is at the center of the photo and the Hollywood Tower is in the foreground on the right. Source: Life Magazine  

 

Historical Notes

The building directly abuts the Hollywood Freeway (built in the 1950s), and its neon "HOLLYWOOD TOWER" sign looking directly over the northbound freeway is a Hollywood landmark.

 

 

 
(1991)* - View looking at the southwest corner of Franklin and Vista Del Mar avenues showing the French style Hollywood Tower Apartments.  

 

Historical Notes

Though the architectural styles differ, the Hollywood Tower is "often cited as the inspiration" for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions at Disney parks in Florida, California, Paris and Tokyo. Like the real-life Hollywood Tower, the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" structure at the Disney theme parks bears the same classic "Hollywood Tower" sign and spiraling towers. Disney also released a Tower of Terror movie in 1997, on which the ride is based.*^

 

 

 
(2010s)++^ - View looking up at the Hollywood Tower's iconic sign.  

 

Historical Notes

Hollywood Tower was a popular residence for entertainment industry employees for many years and has often been cited as the inspiration for Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions. The real-life Hollywood Tower was listed in the National Register of Historical Places in 1988.*^

 

 

 

 
(2010)##^^^ – Panoramic view looking northwest showing the Hollywood Tower, appearing to be surrounded by palm trees with sign for the Hollywood Freeway on-ramp in lower-left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(2015)##^^^ - Google Earth view showing the Hollywood Tower (lower-right) standing tall adjacent to the Hollywood Freeway, with the Capitol Records Building (built in 1955-56) seen in the upper-left.  

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LADWP Historic Archive

** DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^* Oviatt Library Digital Archives

^^ USC Digital Library

*# Blogdownton: State Building

#* Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

#^ Historic Hotels of Los Angeles and Hollywood (USC - California Historic Society); U.S. Hotel

#+ Water and Power Associates

**#UCLA Library Digital Archive

^^#Cinema Treasures: Academy Theatre; Vogue Theater; Pico Drive-In Theater

^**Flicker:: Disney Hall: Jeffrey Bass; Steel and Sky: alanek4; Staples Center: jaubele1; Bas Relief - LA Times Building

^^^The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, Richard _Longstreth

^#^Los Angeles Conservancy: LA Stock Exchange Building; Security-First National Bank Building; Towne House Building; I. Magnin; Wilshire Bowl - Slapsy Maxie's; Immanuel Presbyterian Church; Lincoln Heights Jail

^*#California State Library Image Archive

*#*Project Restore: Van Nuys City Hall

**#FarmersMarketla.com

*^#Historical Los Angeles Theatres: Downtown Theatres

^^*LA Times: Easter at the Hollywood Bowl; Little Joe's Restaurant; Zanja Madre; Blossom Plaza; Sunkist Bldg; Demolition of Old Times Bldg; Alhambra Airport Dedication; Taft Building; Slapsy Maxie's: Gangster Squad

*#^historylosangeles.blogspot.com: Ice Skating in Westwood

#^*Facebooki.com - Vintage LA: Wilshire Blvd - Westlake Theater

*##LA Weekly - Warner Bros. Theatre

+##LAIST: The Track Drive-in Restaurant

##*Mr. Cecil's California Ribs

***Los Angeles Historic - Cultural Monuments Listing

*^*California Historical Landmarks Listing (Los Angeles)

^*^LA Street Names - LA Times

+*^Scripophily.net

+*+Los Angeles Magazine: The Fish Shanty; Slapsy Maxie’s / New Beverly Cinema

+^^Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

++^Mapio.com: Hollywood Tower

+++Facebook.com – Los Angeles Heritage Railroad Museum

*^^Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles: losangelespast.com; Bob's Airmail Service Station

*++Getty Research Institute

^***Griffithobservatory.org: History of Griffith Observatory

^**^Griffith Observatory: laparks.org

*^*^Beverly HIlls Patch: Beveryl Hills City Hall; A New City Hall for a New City

*#*^LA County Sheriff Department: Hall of Justice 

^#*^LA Times: Amestory Building

^*#^Art Deco Architecture: LA Radio City

^##^Mattconstruction.com: USC Mudd Hall

^^^#Publicartinla.com: Building on the USC Campus

^*^*LAistory: The Pan-Pacific Auditorium

^*^#Facebook.com - Bizzare Los Angeles

*^##Archive Grid: Silverwoods

#^*^Calisphere: University of California Image Archive

##**MartinTurnbull: Cross Roads of the World; Earl Carroll Theater; Palomar Ballroom; MartinTurnbull.com: Security First National Bank - Wilshire

#+++The Plaza Methodist Church Collection

#**#On Bunker Hill: Touraine

#++#The Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society (PERyHS)

##^^NY Times: Freddy Martin

##^#Facebook.com: San Fernando Valley Relics

###^Pinterest.com: Los Angeles

####Southern Pacific Coast Daylight

**^^Big Orange Landmarks: Los Angeles City Hall; Drive-ins Roared into LA Country; Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building

**++You Are Here: El Pueblo de Los Angeles

***+KPCC - Plaza Methodist Church

**^#Vintage Los Angeles:Facebook.com: Pico Drive-In; Town House; Earl Carroll Revolving Stage

***#Pinterest.com: Vintage Los Angeles; Los Angeles - Carey Vance; Drive-in Speakers; Aerial Westwood - Rancho Park

*#**Elvis Blog

**#*Miraclemilela.com

^*#*Library of Congress Image Archive

*^^^*Vintage Everyday

^*^**Pomona Public Library Poscard Collection

##^^^Google Street View

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; Westwood-Life Magazine; Elvis at Knickerbocker Hotel; Pan-Pacific Auditorium; Hall of Justice; Bob's Airmail Service Station; NBC Hollywood Radio City; Cross Roads of the World; Zephyr Room and Brown Derby Postcard View; Barlow Medical Library Interior; Alhambra Airport; Griffith Observatory; Rainbow Gardens; CBS West Coast Headquarters; North Los Angeles Street; Hollywood Frwy Construction at Argyle; LA Times Building; Ravenswood Apartments

*^ Wikipedia - Leonis. Adobe; Carthay Circle Theatre; Drive-in Theatres; Staples Center; Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; Hollywood Bowl; Los Angeles City Hall; Los Angeles Central Library; Ralphs; Hollywood Pacific Theatre; Hollywood Pantages Theatre; Pellissier Building and Wiltern Theatre; Adamson House and Adohr; Greek Theatre; Farmers Market; Hollywood Palladium; FOX Theatre, Westwood Village; Union Station; Westwood Village; Brown Derby; Big Boy Restaurant; CBS Television City; Spring Street Financial District; Gaylord Wilshire; Mark Taper Forum; Van de Kamp Bakery Building; Egyptian Theatre; Phineas Banning; Safeway Markets; Janss Investment Company; Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena; University of Southern California; Janss Investment Company; Westwood; Bullocks Wilshire; Terminal Annex; US Courthouse - Los Angeles; Shrine Auditorium; Walt Disney Concert Hall; LA Times Building; Westin Bonaventure Hotel; Wilshire Boulevard Temple; Hermosa Beach; Downtown, Los Angeles; Cinerama Dome; Broadway Theatre District - Los Angeles; S. Charles Lee; Los Angeles County Art Museum; Banning House; Coca-Cola Building; CBS Columbia Square; Silverwoods; Earl Carroll Theater; Los Angeles Stock Exchange; Broadway Tunnel; Hall of Justice; The Church of Our Lady the Queen of Angels; Domingo Amestoy; Little Joe's Restaurant ; Ben Bernie; Ambassador Hotel; Chili Bowl Restaurant - Art Whizin; Crossroads of the World; Sunkist; Sheraton Town House; Lafayette Park; Lawry's; The Ravenswood; Palomar Ballroom; I. Magnin

 

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