Yesterday I drove down the Sunset Strip for a literary event at Book Soup. It was the first time I’d driven the Strip in a while and it struck me how super-built-up it’s become, especially with the opening of two new hotels. It was a stark contrast to how the Strip looked in 1950, when this photo was taken, with its vacant lot just down from the Chateau Marmont and all that elbow room for motorists. #1950sEnvy
Looks like John Barrymore and his wife Dolores Costello had quite the stunning view across Beverly Hills. I’d love to have been able to sit on that tower balcony and gaze across Beverly Hills as the sun started to set, perhaps sipping a gin and tonic. And if it was a Barrymore house, you know there was plenty of gin to be sipped.
The grandly named (and grandly designed) El Royale Apartments at 450 N Rossmore Ave, Los Angeles opened in 1927. This photo was taken in 1931 from the Rosewood Ave corner where we can see that the land around it was only just starting to be developed. So the El Royale must have really stood out when it opened. At least until the Ravenswood apartment building opened a few years later. While its surrounds may have changed dramatically, the El Royale itself remains largely how you see it here.
The El Royale apartments in 2016:
In this photograph, we’re treated to the view of Hollywood as seen from the Hollywood hills in 1905. Hollywood Boulevard – back then it was called Prospect Ave – runs horizontally through the middle; the street running vertically at the right is Orange Dr. The large white building at the bottom was the home of actor Conway Tearle. It now belongs to the American Society of Cinematographers who have preserved it—it’s the only structure in this photo that survives today.
Here we are looking north along the Ocean Front Walk on Venice Beach on November 17, 1929. In the distance, we can see the Santa Monica pier rollercoaster. Today, this same view is jam-packed with a never-ending and crazy kaleidoscope of strollers, joggers, fortunetellers, street performers, evangelicals, artists, homeless people, musicians, musclemen, cafés, marijuana clinics, and bars. I have to admit, it’s quite shocking to see it so empty and peaceful. I quite like the wild phantasmagoria of the Venice Beach scene, but it would be nice if could still be like this.
And in 1926:
The Toonerville Trolley sandwich shop located at 1635 W. Manchester Ave in 1920. Did Disney get the idea for Toontown from this???
Here’s a rare shot of the original Brown Derby restaurant on Wilshire Blvd under construction, 1926. It was later moved to 3377 Wilshire, half a block east, but was first here at 3427 Wilshire between Mariposa and Alexandria. This photo also gives us an idea of how sparsely populated Wilshire Blvd was back then. There’s lots of empty fields and elbowroom—little wonder it was dotted with billboards, like that one we can see for Frigidaire.
This dynamic night shot from Life magazine shows us glimpse of the view looking east along Wilshire Blvd from Fairfax Ave in 1949. None of the places we can see – May Co. department store, Prudential, Coulter’s department store, and Arthur Murray dance studio – are still around, but at least the May Co. building is getting a second life with the opening of the Academy museum. Does anybody reading this remember Coulter’s? I don’t know much about it. What was it like? What sort of merchandise did they sell?
Susan Milner says “Coulter’s was located downtown LA first, before it moved out to this Wilshire building toward the end of the 30s. Coulter’s was a lot like Broadway or May Co. It was mostly fashion and home soft goods that catered to middle class tastes typically, though they did have a cocktail wear/Bridal type salon. I think Broadway bought out Coulter’s by the very late 60s or early 70s, and they were the ones to close it down after 10 or so years best I can recall. I can recall they had a nice fabric and knitting dept on the 3rd floor. I can remember buying a few foundation items there in their nice foundation dept. I didn’t however regularly shop at Coulter’s.”