By 1927, Los Angeles had an Egyptian Theatre and a Chinese Theatre, so what came next? A Mayan Theater of course, because when you think theaters, you naturally think the Mayan aesthetic. Or at least, that’s what oil magnate Edward Doheny thought when built his Mayan Theater at 1038 S. Hill St. in downtown LA, between 10th and 11th and opened it on August 15, 1927 starring Elsie Janis in the Gershwin musical “Oh, Kay!” This photo and the one below were taken not long after the opening.
Andie says: I know a little about this. I was at a dog show sometime in the ’60s and I was sitting with some people and Dickey Doheny Washington came and sat with us. I mentioned that I had been to a foreign film event at the Mayan and someone had told me that it was built by her father. She admitted that it was and he got the idea when he was on a business trip to Texas and had seen the Aztec theater in San Antonio which had just opened. He wanted his theater to be bigger, more elaborate and more colorful.
This photo was taken not long after the opening. Unfortunately, black-and-white photos don’t do it justice because it’s really quite a colorful venue, so when I was in downtown L.A. yesterday, I took some photos (it’s now a nightclub):
I was recent led to a fascinating website “Matte Shot – A Tribute to Golden Era Special FX” which displays matte paintings used in Hollywood movies. My favorite is this one which shows how the ballpark from the MGM musical Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949) was really just a painting. Ah! The magic of the movies.
This one from Green Dolphin Street (1947) which won the Oscar for its mattes and miniatures:
You can see more here: http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/2014/09/
One of my favorite buildings in Los Angeles is the old Bullocks Wilshire department store on Wilshire Boulevard. Although it no longer houses a store, the building still stands in all its glory. This photo is circa WWII (the original caption said 1949 but all those cars appear to be pre-war) and what strikes me about this shot is how clean the streets are—no congestion, no trash, no crowding. I actually found this photo quite calming.
The same view in September 2017:
I love these casual across-the-hood-of-the car-while-driving shots. It gives us a palpable sense of what it was like to drive east along Wilshire Blvd back in the day. We are looking east toward downtown from about Highland; the tower in the distance is the Wilshire United Methodist Church. Can anyone identify the cars in this photo so that we can get a more accurate date?
This bucolic scene could be pretty much anywhere in the countryside…except for the newly opened Beverly Hills Hotel smack dab in the middle of it. This photo was taken in 1912, the year the hotel opened as a rural get away from the madness of Los Angeles, which largely meant what we now think of as downtown L.A. This photo was taken in the foothills of Beverly Hills, so we’re facing southwest across Lexington and Crescent Drives, and Sunset Blvd is that white strip on the far side of hotel.
I don’t have a specific date for this charming postcard showing us the fountain in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, but going by the fashions of the female passers-by, it looks circa 1920s. What a shame that lovely fountain and that greenery is no longer there, however there are plans to restore it. (See: Restore Pershing Square) This view is looking toward the corner of Olive and 6th St, where we can see the Pacific Mutual Building, which by some miracle is still with us.
Pacific Mutual Building at the corner of Sixth and Olive Streets, downtown Los Angeles, Oct 2017:
Here’s a story about the Hollywood sign I never knew. Back in the early 1940s, the sign’s caretaker, Albert Kothe lost control of his car (the guy was drunk!) and drove into the sign, destroying both his 1928 Ford Model A and the 50-foot letter H. This is a newspaper photo from 1947 featuring a model asked to pose precariously the still-crumpled “H” that wasn’t repaired until 1949!
There’s something about the gas stations of yesteryear that seem to be far more memorable that the ones we pull into these days. Every inch of this Gilmore gas station appears to be covered in light, which must have made for a quite a striking sight as you drove past at night, luring you to stop by and fill ‘er up.
As far as I knew, the Formosa Café was the only golden-era Hollywood restaurant made out of a carriage. But this place – Sardi’s Wilshire Restaurant, 6594 San Vicente Blvd at Wilshire Boulevard seems to be completely constructed out of a train carriage. Even at the busy corner of San Vicente Blvd and Wilshire, it must have been a sight. Below is a newspaper ad encouraging patrons to come see the 1942 new year in with them, so it looks like it was around in the mid-1940s.