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OLYMPIC NEON SIGN
Photo date: 1932
(Exact Location Unknown)
Downtown Area

The Games of the X Olympiad were hosted by Los Angeles between July 30 and August 14, 1932 at venues throughout the metropolitan L.A. area. This neon sign sponsored by Standard Oil of California was just one of many major promotional efforts designed to encourage attendance at the games. Apparently those efforts were successful because the games netted the host city a profit of about one million dollars.




MACARTHUR PARK
Photo date: 1937
Wilshire Boulevard @ S. Park View Street
Westlake Neighborhood

Originally called Westlake Park and created in the 1880s, MacArthur Park occupies 32 acres on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown Los Angeles. The park is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreation.




WILSHIRE BOULEVARD
Photo date: 1941
3700-3900 blocks of Wilshire Boulevard
Koreatown Neighborhood

Wilshire Boulevard is the 16-mile thoroughfare connecting downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica on the coast. Wilshire was established in the 1890s.

The 12-story structure at the center-right of this photo is the Pellissier Building housing the Wiltern Theater. The very Deco Pellissier Building was designed by Stiles O. Clements and G. Albert Lansburgh in 1930 and was completed in 1931.




COULTER'S DEPARTMENT STORE
Construction date: 1937
5600 Wilshire Boulevard
Miracle Mile Shopping District

The six-story Coulter's Department Store building is an outstanding example of streamline/moderne' architecture (designed by Stiles O. Clements). It also illustrates the importance of the automobile in Los Angeles culture, being one of the first commercial buildings designed for easy access from customers' cars with a main entrance adjacent to a large parking lot behind the building.




MIRACLE MILE
Photo date: 1941
Wilshire Blvd. between Highland Ave. & Fairfax Ave.
Mid-Wilshire & Westside Districts

During the 1920s--long before the advent of regional shopping centers--this 1.5-mile stretch of Wilshire Blvd. was promoted as downtown L.A.'s first-class shopping. Stores included the Coulter and May Company department stores, along with many clothing stores and other retail shops.

Today, a renewed Miracle Mile is home to the L.A. County Art Museum, the Peterson Automobile Museum, and many high-end boutiques. The "Miracle Mile signs are still there.




AMBASSADOR HOTEL POOL
Photo date: 1938
3400 Wilshire Boulevard
Mid_Wilshire District

Finished in 1921, the Ambassador Hotel was one of L.A.'s leading luxury hotels and home to the popular Cocoanut Grove night club. The Grove was a popular gathering spot for film stars, producers and directors, and the venue for three Academy Award ceremonies. Three additional Oscar ceremonies were held in the hotel's Fiesta Room.

It was in the Ambassador's kitchen that Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. The sprawling landmark was demolished in 2006.




COCA-COLA BOTTLING PLANT
Photo date: 1937
1334 South Central Avenue
Downtown District

Designed by Robert Derrah to resemble an ocean liner, complete with porthole windows and a ship's bridge, the Los Angeles Coca-Cola bottling plant was completed in 1936. This extreme example of streamline/moderne' architecture is still used as a bottling plant by Coca-Cola. The ship motif is also seen extensively throughout the building's interior.




LOS ANGELES TIMES BUILDING
Construction date: 1935
202 West First Street
Downtown District

Designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann and completed in 1935, the Times building was described by Harry Chandler, then the president and general manager of Times-Mirror Company, as a "monument to the progress of our city and Southern California." Although the original eight-story building has been expanded by two large additions, the original Times facility is still in use today.




FEDERAL BUILDING
Construction date: 1940
312 North Spring Street
Downtown District

G. Stanley Underwood designed this 15-story morderne'-style building completed in 1940. Originally planned as a 13-story stricture, the top two stories along with a penthouse were added shortly after the original building was completed. The facility was constructed to house larger, up to date court rooms--the venues for many well-publicized celebrity trials in its 70+ years.

In this photo the federal building seems a fitting neighbor for the easily recognized Los Angeles City Hall in the next block.




UNION STATION
Construction date: 1938
800 North Alameda Street
Downtown District

Union station opened in 1939 as a consolidated depot serving Southern Pacific and Union Pacific passengers. A blend of Spanish and Art Deco styles enhanced by southwestern plantings gave arriving passenger an immediate sense of being in Los Angeles.

The part of the building beyond the arched walkway on the right (not visible in this photo) housed the last Harvey House--Fred Harvey's famous chain of restaurants serving train and bus passengers throughout the southwest. The Judy Garland film, The Harvey Girls was based on the Harvey House tradition.




ENGINE COMPANY #1 FIREHOUSE
Construction date: 1940
2260 Pasadena Avenue
Lincoln Heights District

Planned as a WPA project near the end of the Great Depression, the Engine #1 - Truck #1 firehouse is a simple and effective example of the Streamline architectural style. The building still exists and looks much the today as it does in this period photo.




WYVERNWOOD VILLAGE
Construction date: 1938-1939
Olympic Boulevard & Soto Street
Baldwin Hills District

Wyvernwood Village was the first large-scale, privately funded housing development on the west coast. It was also a prime example of the Garden City approach to low income housing--a concept whereby apartment buildings were separated by large planted spaces to create attractive, low density living areas. Rents ranged from $30-$55 when the complex opened. Wyvernwood Village exists today, looking much as it did 70+ years ago.


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All of the photographs on this page are Copyright 1975 by David Gebhard & Harriette Von Breton