Monday, November 09, 2009

It's a Mod Mod Mod Mod City

Yesterday, Larry and I had a marvelous time on the L.A. Conservancy / Modern Committee Tour of Mid-20th Century commercial buildings in the Westchester area. This is part of a year-long program called "The Sixties Turn 50" to highlight the fact than many of our mid-20th century buildings are now eligible for historic landmark status.
We started out at the former IBM headquarters (1964) which is now Otis College of Art and Design. The building is easy to see from Lincoln Blvd., just north of LAX. The precast concrete panels on the seven storey building were designed to look like a computer punch card. Our docent, Leah is also a knitter friend of mine. We saw a wonderful exhibit in the lobby of other IBM ephemera and machines.
Next stop was the Flight Path Learning Center and Museum on Imperial Highway, at the end of the LAX runway. I didn't even know this museum existed. It's free and definitely a perfect place to take out of town visitors. The entire history of the airport is detailed within the walls of this nice little building (1969). Volunteers that are former airport workers are there to answer all of your questions. The exhibit of former stewardess uniforms was a highlight.
There was a shuttle from the Museum to the Theme Building (1961) at LAX. This building, which houses the Encounter Restaurant is being rennovated at the moment, but we were allowed to zoom up to the Observation Deck and tour the restaurant. I've always LOVED this building. It really is the centerpiece of LAX.
We stopped for a quick lunch in Westchester at Paco's Tacos. Yum.
Then, we headed up to La Tijera to St. Jerome Catholic Church (1966). Wow! I've passed by this church hundreds of times, but never took the time to really drive around the back and tour the interior. It's a beautiful, modern church...very uplifting! The 91 year-old architect was there to answer a few questions while we toured the church.
We were tired, but we headed south to Northrop Grumman, the former TRW Space Park Campus in Redondo Beach (1960). This is truly a beautiful campus. We were given a tour of the exterior buildings. The guide then took us into the lobby of one building where there were historic models and displays of spacecraft designed by the TRW team. It was very impressive.
Our last destination was the Proud Bird Restaurant (1967). It's a "destination" restaurant with an aviation theme. We were given a tour of the gardens and patios, along with the extensive airplane and helicopter collection. The restaurant has huge windows so you can watch the planes and jets land at LAX. We were very tired after our long day. Perfect time for a cocktail at the Proud Bird!
To see many more photos of our day, check out this slide show:

It was a really inspiring tour. There are more events planned for "The Sixties Turn 50" next year. Be sure to check the L.A. Conservancy site for updated info.

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At 4:58 PM PST, Blogger Laurie Ann said...

I just checked out the menu at the Proud Bird. They had me at Beer Cheese Soup.

At 5:28 PM PST, Blogger Leah said...

The problem with being a docent is one doesn't have time for the whole tour. So I got the highlights, the Church, the theme restaurant and that wonderful funky museum.
Did you see those paper uniforms that TWA stewardesses had to wear??
One of the guides there was a stewardess in those days, she said the program lasted for 7 months, they had to bring different shoes to work since they never knew what dress they'd be wearing. It was one time wear only, so she gave the discarded ones to nieces for dress up.
Also, twice people tried to light her dresses on fire, remember in those days stewardesses handed out cigarettes and matches. All in all, she loved the all days of flying, even though she worked hard it was glamorous.

At 5:31 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Leah!
I LOVED that gold "paper" dress. Uh Oh! Didn't know it was flammable!
I just loved the Flight Path Museum. I'm adding it to my list of tourist stops for guests!
Great to see you yesterday. You did a fine job of docenting!

At 9:09 PM PST, Blogger Jean said...

You have so much energy! Looks like a great way to learn about that architecture, I'm sure you got lots of extra little tidbits during your tour.

At 10:42 PM PST, Blogger Natalie said...

That looks like one heck of a tour and a long day. I love the uniforms.

At 8:39 AM PST, Blogger Kath said...

Wow - great tour! And definitely the right ending place! I remember those great views from the Proud Bird, it was an excellent happy hour spot for a few years.

Any idea what the Flight Path Museum building housed before the museum was founded? I lived in El Segundo for several years and drove that street regularly - but just can't picture the building's location on the street or what was there.

At 10:37 AM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hey Kath!
The Flight Path Museum was the LAX Imperial Terminal. I think I remember going to that terminal for a special flight once...a private plane.


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