Friday, May 15, 2015

Corner History


I was perusing the "Miracle Mile" photos on our Los Angeles Public Library photo archives site and came across some interesting history about the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Masselin Avenue, Los Angeles. 
Click on Photo to Enlarge

Most of the buildings along Wilshire Boulevard's Miracle Mile were originally built between 1925 through the mid to late 1930s, many in the Art Deco style. You can read about the development of the Miracle Mile here.  I came across a photo of The Wilshire Bowl on the corner of Wilshire and Masselin.  After further research, I found out The Wilshire Bowl was NOT a bowling alley.  It was a very popular restaurant and nightclub that opened in 1933. The nightclub offered dinner and dancing to the big band sounds of Phil Harris' orchestra for the flat rate of $1.50 ($2 on Saturdays). 




The Wilshire Bowl must have been very popular with the Hollywood crowd. In 1941 artist John Decker created a set of four caricature murals for the restaurant.  They were installed in September 1941 to accompany a cabaret production about the golden age of film entitled "The Silver Screen."  The actors, from left, are Bob Hope, Joe E. Brown, Charles Winninger, Charles Boyer, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Humphrey Bogart, W.C. Fields, Mae West and George Arliss.  This mural now resides in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.
Caricature by John Decker for The Wilshire Bowl

In 1942 this same building became The Louisiana Club, but that only lasted a year.  In 1943, Slapsy Maxie's, which had been on Beverly Boulevard, moved into the building.


In 1950 Van de Kamp's took over the lease on this building and turned it into a coffee shop. I do believe that Welton Becket's firm were the architects for this mid-century transformation. By 1981 it was the Chinese Furniture Center. 


Van de Kamp's Restaurant, Wilshire Boulevard

The area was cleared for a large commercial development in 1982 and now our local Office Depot is on this corner. This mile is not such a miracle anymore. Sigh


Today, 5665 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

If you're out and about this weekend, rain or shine, look at the buildings around you. They might have an interesting history!

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