Friday, November 13, 2015

Sunset and Crescent Heights

I just finished reading Martin Turnbull's "Garden of Allah" series of novels. I was mesmerized and could not put them down. The novels are historical fiction set during the golden era of Hollywood from 1927 through the mid-1950s. I'm anxiously awaiting the next novel in this series, "Reds in the Beds," due in January 2016. 

I love books about Los Angeles, especially when facts, people and places are vividly described. The Garden of Allah Hotel and Apartments was torn down in 1959. I vaguely remember driving by with my parents as a child. I never saw the grounds or interior.
Garden of Allah Hotel. Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection. 1927

Poolside at the Garden of Allah. 1927

Actress, Alla Nazimova built the bungalows around her mansion and turned the property into hotel/apartments as an investment. This was THE place for writers, actors, directors and other entertainment biz folks to live and party. There are numerous accounts about the wild celebrations that went on in the Garden.

Alla Nazimova

After demolition of the hotel, this property became Lytton Savings Bank, among other buildings. The rock 'n roll club, Pandora's Box nightclub was located on the triangular traffic island at this intersection. The club was short-lived and demolished in 1967. 

Pandora's Box Photos. Herald Examiner Photo Collection. Howard Ballew. 1966

During this era, the Sunset Strip had become the meeting place of youth described as the "hippie" generation.  Free love, free speech, loud music, psychedelic drugs were the order of the day. The nearby residents to this property were upset by people lingering and committing lewd "acts" in and around the neighborhood. A 10:00 pm curfew was enforced. This caused rioting by the youths. In fact, a movie was made about this event called "Riot on the Sunset Strip." 

Lytton Bank. Photo, Los Angeles Magazine

A magnificent Spanish Revival Villa and Hotel, a mid-century modern bank building, a controversial rock 'n roll club...all were located on this plot of land on Sunset Boulevard at Crescent Heights. A new development is planned soon. Will the ghosts of the past haunt the new incarnation of this corner? Time will tell.

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At 6:59 AM PST, Blogger Martin Turnbull said...

Hey Ellen, I'm glad you came across my books and am so happy to hear they "mesmerized" you! That's beautiful music to an author's ears. "Reds in the Beds" is with my editor right now, so it won't be too long until it becomes available. BTW, I don't know if you know but my books have been optioned by a film & TV producer so it's entirely possible that we may see golden-era Hollywood (& LA) recreated in front of our eyes! (More info on that at: But thanks for your glowing reviews of my work. It's a wonderful way to start the day. All the best, Martin Turnbull

At 7:03 AM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Martin. I'm honored! I look forward to your January release and upcoming film and TV news!


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