Saturday, June 01, 2013

Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

Wilshire Boulevard is one of the main arteries through Los Angeles (east-west); it is nearly 16 miles long, going all the way from downtown L.A. to just a few blocks shy of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. It runs through Beverly Hills, past the L.A. County Art Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, Westwood Village, and includes the famous "Miracle Mile". I have a number of vintage slides of Wilshire, and thought I would share two of them today.

There it is, near the corner of Fairfax Avenue, circa 1963. To the extreme right you can just see a "Googie"-style coffee shop called "Rams" at this point (it was originally called "Romeo's", and is now Johnie's" - the building still stands but is closed). The most distinctive building is the May Company department store, with its gold-tiled pilaster.

Here's a screen grab from Google Maps showing approximately the same view today. I'm always happy to see that the golden pilaster is still with us, though there are plans underway to convert the building to the David Geffen Theater at some point. Frowny face.  

Heading a few miles east, we arrive at an area called "Wilshire Center" (also called "Koreatown" due to the large Korean American population), one of the oldest communities in Los Angeles. The Wilshire Christian Church at the corner of Normandie Avenue is notable (to our left), the first church built on the boulevard in 1911.  You can also see the Gaylord apartment building, named after Henry Gaylord Wilshire. I believe that this photo dates from the early 1960's, though it is undated.

And here's the same area as it looks today!


Nanook said...

We love Wilshire & Fairfax. Besides accompanying my mom to the May Company more times than I can count, I shopped many a time at the Thrifty Drug Store, whose sign is obscuring the sign on the then Seibu Department Store, with its "exotic" Japanese-brand escalators.

The May Company Wilshire is designed by Albert C. Martin, Sr. Among his other designs, are: (one of three) architects to design the LA CIty Hall; St. Vincent's Catholic Church; Santa Monica Catholic Church; the Million Dollar Theatre Tower and The Ventura County Courthouse, among others, totaling some 1,500 buildings.

The May Co. Wilshire has some wonderful examples of Streamline Moderne scattered throughout the store - my favorite of which was the interiors of the elevator cabs.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

These are great. They bring back lots of memories of when I used to take long walks in this area back in the day.

On summer visits I stayed at my sister's house on N. Fuller and Melrose. I'd have a Pinks hot dog for lunch then start walking from La Brea and Melrose over to Fairfax then down to Wilshire and then along the area in today's pics. Not sure if I could do that walk today but it was fun back then. Thanks for posting these. I love 'em.

Nanook - Thanks for sharing the info on the May Co. Wilshire. I always loved that building.

Melissa said...

I feel like I need a pair of cool sunglasses just to look at these pictures!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I love the old May Co. building as well; I am going to be very bummed if they remove that golden cylinder (for the proposed David Geffen Theater). I wish I had experienced the Seibu Department Store, just the idea sounds cool. Thanks for the info about the May Company!

K. Martinez, I always think of my grandma when I am in this area, since she loved to go to Bullock's Wilshire, and loved the L.A. County Museum of Art. And I still have to try Pinks!!

Melissa, cool sunglasses AND a babushka.

Nanook said...


From what I can tell, the "famous" gold corner is to remain. The new design of the building would be done in such a way: "...that would satisfy the city Office of Historic Resources (since the building is a historic-cultural monument)".

"The design fully restores the Wilshire and Fairfax street-front facades of the 1938 Streamline Moderne building, and includes a spherical glass addition at the back of the original building..." Actually the rear of the building was added on in 1946, so technically, it's not 'original'. The changes do sound intriguing.

Anonymous said...

@Nanook, thanks for the architecture info. I appreciate that. I knew the building was by a big name firm, but A.C. Martin is one of the biggest in LA (local at least).

I loved this building and the general neighborhood. My Dad would sometimes drive us over this way on the way home from Disneyland. When he was a young man working in LA, he sold fruit and vegetables(or maybe bought them) at the Farmers' Market (opened 1929) at 3rd and Fairfax, just down the block. So this was his beat, at least for awhile in the mid to late 30's. I'm sure he overlapped this building since he always commented on it when we passed.

Thank you Major.


Anonymous said...

I wish the city would repave Wilshire. It's like driving through Kabul. So glad Mayor Dumbtonio Villa is on his way out. Worst mayor in the history of LA

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this photo - I grew up in Carthay Circle from '62 - '70 that Thrifty's photo is the holy grail!! Thanks again!!