Plate from Clifton’s Pacific Seas Cafeteria, 618 South Olive Street, downtown Los Angeles

Plate from Clifton’s Pacific Seas Cafeteria, 618 South Olive Street, downtown Los AngelesHere we have a plate from Clifton’s Pacific Seas Cafeteria, 618 South Olive Street, downtown Los Angeles. Note the words at the bottom: DINE FREE UNLESS DELIGHTED. Clifton’s was a chain of LA cafeterias that opened at the nadir of the depression. Unwilling to turn away a guest just because they couldn’t pay, Clifton’s instituted a “Pay What You Wish” policy. Ironically, very few people paid nothing. At a time when dignity was scarce, the pride taken in the ability to pay for one’s meal, if only a few cents, was valuable.

I think this is an interesting detail, too – “The GARDEN for meditation”

Plate from Clifton’s Pacific Seas Cafeteria, 618 South Olive Street, downtown Los Angeles

See also: Spotlight on…Clifton’s Cafeteria

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Jean Harlow at her 2nd forecourt ceremony outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, September 29, 1933

Jean Harlow at her 2nd forecourt ceremony outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, September 29, 1933In this photo, we get to witness Jean Harlow’s second forecourt ceremony outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on September 29, 1933. Unfortunately, her first one, which took place four days earlier didn’t go so well. Sid Grauman wanted to try holding the ceremony on the stage but while the cement block was being moved, it was accidentally dropped to the floor and smashed into bits in front of the audience. #oops #awkward #do-over Jean was a good sport about it and happily turned up again four days later. In the new block, she inserted three “good luck pennies” into the wet concrete but as you can imagine, they’ve long since disappeared.

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Wilshire Boulevard circa 1956 as seen from the dashboard of a car driving went crossing Dunsmuir Avenue, Los Angeles

Wilshire Boulevard circa 1956 as seen from the dashboard of a car driving went crossing Dunsmuir Avenue, Los AngelesI love these from-the-dashboard photos—they show us a slice of real life on the streets of LA. This one is from 1956 and shows us Wilshire Blvd from Dunsmuir Ave. We can juuust see Desmond’s department store on the far right, and a little farther down, Mullen Bluett, which was an upscale menswear store. On the north side of Wilshire, we can see the El Rey Theatre, which is still around and still in operation.

Kinda sorta that same view today, but with a lot more greenery, which is nice to see:

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Angelenos dressed to the nines arrive in Santa Monica on the Pasadena & Pacific Railway, 1896

Angelenos dressed to the nines arrive in Santa Monica on the Pasadena & Pacific Railway, 1896In this photo we have a large group of Angelenos dressed to the nines arriving in Santa Monica on the Pasadena & Pacific Railway in 1896. The motto of the Pasadena & Pacific Railway was “from the mountains to the sea” so I’m guessing they’re all on an outing to the beach. Electric trolleys were still fairly new back then, so this was probably quite an exciting event, hence the reason why everybody is dressed in what looks to me like their Sunday best.

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Schwab’s Pharmacy, 8024 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1949

Schwab’s Pharmacy, 8024 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1949I recently came across this 1949 photo of Schwab’s Pharmacy at 8024 Sunset Blvd and found it was the clearest one I’d seen which shows us what was in the window. It reminds us that you could get everything at Schwab’s – toiletries (or “toilet articles” as the sign says), cosmetics and facial creams, booze, prescriptions (with free delivery), stamps, candy, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And at the far right, it seems you could even rent a car from the lot next door where Googie’s would later be built.

Schwab’s Pharmacy - 8024 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1949 -2Schwab’s Pharmacy - 8024 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1949 -3

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Los Angeles Herald Express building at 11th Street and Broadway, downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Herald Express building at 11th Street and Broadway, downtown Los AngelesI think we can all agree that this building deserves to be filed under “They Sure Don’t Build ‘em Like That Anymore.” This is the Los Angeles Herald Express building, built in 1914 and designed by Hearst favorite, Julia Morgan who built Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The amount of ornate detail is quite staggering for a hardworking newspaper building, so hats off to Hearst for wanting something both functional and pleasing to the eye. Bonus points: the building is still there.

February 2017:

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Opening day parade for Union Station, Los Angeles, May 4, 1939

Opening day parade for Union Station, Los Angeles, May 4, 1939Union Station at the edge of downtown Los Angeles opened on May 4th 1939. It was a huge achievement to unify all three rail services (the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific Railroads) into one building. The project took 5 years and entailed moving Chinatown, so the opening ceremony was a big deal. I’m just not so sure why the organizers felt they needed to include a big gun in the parade. On the other hand, it was 1939 and war was looming on the European horizon. Still, it was a big day for LA and the glorious Union Station remains intact to this day.

There are a few more palm tress nowadays (February 2017):

Union Station, Los Angeles, 1940:

Union Station, Los Angeles, 1940

Downtown’s Union Station in 1939, the year it opened:

Downtown's Union Station in 1939, the year it opened

Union Station under construction 1933:

Union Station under construction 1933

 

 

 

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Exterior view of the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, 1949

Exterior view of the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, 1949To my way of thinking, this shot is about as “LA” as you can get: Sunset Boulevard in the foreground, a line of swaying palm trees in front of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. This photo was taken in 1949, the year that Paramount’s Samson and Delilah earned nearly six times its nearest competitor, MGM’s Battleground. Movie audiences were also treated to Adam’s Rib, The Heiress, Little Women, and The Barkleys of Broadway the last of 10 films starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

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Warner Brothers Studios entrance, Olive Ave, Burbank, California – circa early 1930s versus 2016

Warner Brothers Studios entrance, Olive Ave, Burbank, California - circa early 1930s versus 2016Here we have a “then and now” comparison of the main entrance to Warner Brothers studios on Olive Ave in Burbank. The top photo was taken in the early 1930s and the bottom one in 2016. Apart from the huge billboard advertising current WB projects and those palm tress, there’s not a significant difference between the two shots, which is a rare and wondrous thing in Los Angeles.

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Interior set of Rick’s Café Américain on the set of “Casablanca” (1942)

Interior set of Rick's Café Américain on the set of "Casablanca" (1942)This is a production still of one of my favorite sets from one of my favorite movies: Rick’s Café Américain from “Casablanca” (1942). I love how those two lights at the top of the photo cast those frond-like shadows against the wall. And take a look at the chalkboard on the seat. It spells the movie as two words: “Casa Blanca” – I’ve never seen it spelled that way before.

Everett said: “They often used what was referred to as a ‘gobo’ which was a pattern placed over fresnel lights that created patterns. Scenes that were shot in studio that were supposed to be outdoor locations would often contain shots where gobos where used to create leaf patterns on the actors faces as they walked beneath the faux trees. Just part of the incredible craft that was put into these classic films. Gobos, by the way are still used in movies and still photography.”

I’ve always thought the front of Rick’s Café Américain was pretty spectacular, too:

Humphrey Bogart outside Rick's Cafe Americain in "Casablanca" (1942)

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