Friday, June 10, 2016

Los Angeles, 1939

This is a repeat post from 2011 with a few minor changes.
Click on photo to make larger

I was looking through my copy of "Los Angeles in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to The City Of Angels." This guidbook was re-issued a few years ago with an introduction by David Kipen, owner of Libros Schmibros, a used bookstore and free lending library in Boyle Heights. 
This book is a WEALTH of information for people interested in the history of our beautiful City. Basically, the book chronicles everything available to the tourist and resident during the year 1939, along with a bit of history. There are chapters with photos and diagrams on architecture, making movies, art and education, industry and commerce, recreation, street scenes and trips out of Los Angeles....along the highway. There are listings for restaurants, hotels, roller rinks, beaches and more.
Architecture Photos in the 1939 WPA Guide to Los Angeles
Each section of the book for various areas of the City contains a "tour" of sorts detailing the highlights of that area. When you're in the Wilshire and West sections of L.A., don't forget to visit Coulter's Department Store...."located on Wilshire Blvd. between Ridgeley Dr. and Hauser Blvd., a four-story commercial structure designed in 1938 by Stiles O. Clements and Irving L. Osgood, is one of the few large buildings of a very modern type in Los Angeles." Nearby, "renowned as the scene of motion-picture 'world premieres,' the Carthay Circle Theater (open only during performances) 6316 San Vicente Blvd., is a white concrete building trimmed in bright blue and dominated by a high tower ornamented with multi-colored tiles and equipped with searchlights. The theatre is something of a repository for Californiana." 
Oh, how I wish both of those buildings were there all of their splendor!
1939 Los Angeles Coast. NO Marina del Rey!
When I was a child, my parents held a few birthday parties for me at the Rollerdrome. I knew it was on Washington Blvd. in Culver City, but I wasn't sure of the exact location. Well, The "Guide" has the address, 11105 W. Washington Blvd. Sadly, the dome-shaped building that I remembered is gone. Thanks to Google Street View Maps, I can see that it is now a nondescript office building.
I was most interested in seeing the restaurant listings for the Beverly Hills area. That's where my mother's family lived and where we grew up. There are only two restaurants that were still there when I was a kid, Armstrong & Schroder, 9766 Wilshire Blvd. (later to become the western branch of Nibbler's) and Lawry's Inc., 150 No. La Cienega Blvd. (across the street from the current Lawry's, now the Stinking Rose Restaurant). Other places listed that I'd heard my folks talk about: Bit of Sweden, 9051 Sunset Blvd., Bublichki Russian Cafe, 8846 Sunset Blvd., (both in nearby WeHo) House of Murphy, 4th St. @ La Cienega (just outside BH), Perino's Roof, 9600 Wilshire Blvd. @ Saks Fifth Ave., and The Victor Hugo, 233 No. Beverly Dr.
I can't wait to read the rest of this book!
Another chapter that jumped out at me was the one on tours outside of Los Angeles. You should read the route to get to Palm Springs! Oy! It must have taken a full day to get to the desert before the freeway was built. Hey, wait a minute. I do remember traveling all the way down La Brea until it turned into Hawthorne Blvd. and continuing on blue highways to the desert when I was a tiny girl. I didn't pay too much attention to the route. I was usually asleep by the time we reached Palm Springs!
La Cienega Blvd. & Wilshire, Beverly Hills, 1930. 
Photo by Herman Schultheis, courtesy of LA Public Library Archives

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At 7:35 AM PDT, Blogger ken bloom said...

You probably don't remember but we did a lot of those trips to Palm Springs in the back of a Studebaker Silver Hawk! It was black with red interior and we sang songs from Broadway shows until one or both of us finally fell asleep giving our poor parents a break from our "vocal stylings". Goes to show3 how much patience they really had!


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