Saturday, August 03, 2013

Vintage Los Angeles - Broadway, 1958

I am a sucker for vintage L.A., and while I don't have nearly as many photos of the city as I'd like, I still have a few worth sharing.

This first one is from the corner of Broadway and 7th (that's Broadway running left to right). On the corner is the Loew's State Theater, which I would imagine had seen better days by 1958, like so many other movie palaces. It opened in 1921and showed movies and vaudeville acts (such as Judy Garland, as one of the Gumm sisters). Above the marquee (showing "How to Make a Monster" and "Teenage Caveman") you can barely see a banner featuring an ad for the L.A. County Fair; the mascot is a pig named "Thummer", because he is hitch-hiking!

In 1998, the State stopped showing movies, and the space now operates as a Spanish language church. 

We're still on Broadway, this time just north of 6th Street. My favorite details are the many movie theaters visible. The Arcade is showing "Loving You" starring Elvis Presley (only his second film), along with "Operation Mad Ball" with Jack Lemmon and Mickey Rooney. The Cameo is showing "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" starring Robert Mitchum, on a double bill with "Man Without a Star" featuring Kirk Douglas (these were not new movies in 1958). And the Roxie has "The Bravados" with Gregory Peck, along with "Tank Force" starring Victor Mature.

This is about as close as I could get to replicating the same view using Google Maps' Street View. The area looks fairly neat and clean, but lacks all of the vitality seen in the previous picture.


Nancy said...

Love these! I happen to collect books about my town, Pittsburgh, showing these very kinds of images, one is even a book called Pittsburgh, Then and Now.

I have always wanted to learn how to make a monster, so I think I should rent this movie!!

Love these vintage shots, especially the second one. All the signs..making me swoon!!
In the first one, the doorway to the left of the State Theater marquis seems a bit modern compared to the rest of the building.

I am also a big fan of when they painted adverts on the walls of buildings, which I have taken a lot of pictures of on buildings here in Pittsburgh when I find them. I actually love that they are fading, makes them that much more vintage.

We have two nice ones here; in your modern-day image of Broadway and 7th we can see the words Preckles Bldg on the right on the building next to the theater building.

In the second one, we see the word something-LINE on our left hand side of the street on that tall building where we see the overhanging rooftop. In the modern-day likeness, we see something written above a 537 also on the left on the first tall building we can see.

Thanks for these today...needed a smile since its raining here today

Nanook said...

I think for those of us 'Baby Boomers', the mid-50's thru mid-60's hold particular interest, especially when viewing images from back in the day. And in many ways, it may have been the peak of the American Way, before we (collectively) realized that not all of the great things we had came without future consequences.

I see on the corner marquee of the State Theatre, one could pick-up tickets for the film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific (in Todd-AO) which was playing at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. And indeed, my father and I saw South Pacific there; when at the time we attended was a display in the theatre lobby demonstrating the relatively-new, stereophonic LP-record, with all the attendant equipment needed for accurate reproduction. Welcome to the wonderful world of analog audio.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nancy, I suppose many people have a special interest in their home towns; there are a number of places around LA where you can see the faded remnants of painted signs; like you, I think they are amazing relics of a bygone era. Did you notice the trash can? "Stow it, Don't Throw it!".

Nanook, downtown LA is starting to look a little seedy, but it got worse; fortunately, a lot of downtown has been revitalized to some degree. I saw South Pacific on TV when I was a kid, I don't remember much about it except that some of it was filmed with weird color filters.

Melissa said...

Of all the second careers I've seen old movie palaces have, church is one of the neatest. It seems like an obvious fit, and yet I suppose it could also seem irreverent. There's an absolutely amazing example here on the east coast:

(They added wings and clothes to a few formerly nude sculpted figures!)

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, wow, that is a spectacular movie palace! Amazing. We still have a few here in LA, thankfully, though I know a few others are sitting vacant. Hopefully they won't be torn down for office space.

Joey said...

I assume that lady standing on the street inbetween those white lines is waiting to board a red car?

Major Pepperidge said...

Joey, it hadn't occurred to me, but you could be right! Very cool, thanks for mentioning it.

Nancy said...

Melissa, that is breathtaking! :)

TokyoMagic! said...

I remember during an L.A. Conservancy tour of the Broadway theaters, we were told that the state used to have a second entrance facing 7th St. that had been sealed up at some point. It looks like it might have still existed in 1958 since there is a "State" sign hanging on that side of the building. The last time I walked past the Roxie, there was a make-shift luggage shop set up in the foyer. Sad! By the 1930's, Broadway had the highest concentration of movie theaters in the world. I know they have been trying for years to turn Broadway back to what it once was in it's glory days. I hope they are successful.

Anonymous said...

I remember how surprised I was to see that downtown LA was much like other cities. My LA experience up to then was mostly Santa Monica, West side and Orange County. What a shock to see downtown architecture similar to SF or even Chicago.

I do like these old pics since they remind me how cities used to be. Makes me want to go back to visit.


Anonymous said...

I'm certain the woman standing in the street is waiting for a streetcar, i think the rail is visible in front of her. If she wanted to cross the street, she could just do so. While waiting, she is planning to come back and visit Thom McAn for some shoes.

Also, I wish that the Google vans were allowed to drive on the sidewalk, in order to better reproduce the vantage points of these old photos.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I need to take one of those L.A. Conservancy tours, (I've been telling myself that for years).

JG, you can certainly see the "trolley lines" running above the street too!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, as for the Historic Broadway Theaters Tour, it was excellent and we went into at least 8 of the existing theaters. This was back in the mid-nineties and I remember the docents had the keys to many of the theaters that weren't open for business yet that day. Now I've heard that they don't have access to as many theaters as they once did. I've wanted to go on the tour again, but that has been what's keeping me from doing it. Maybe I should look into it a little further.

Also, I just noticed what looks like glass block in the sidewalk (far left of photo) in your vintage "Arcade" pic. I remember the Palace Theater on Broadway had glass block just like that in the sidewalk out in front of the theater. The men's restroom was actually located underneath the sidewalk and you could look up and see the shadows of people walking by over you. It was pretty cool.....I hope that little detail still exists. Disney put some glass block into the sidewalks along Buena Vista St. when they were renovating DCA. There are even lights underneath them at nighttime.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, it figures, NOW the tours aren't as good as they used to be. Oh well, Even seeing a few of the old theaters is better than nothing. There are still a few streets in Pasadena that have glass blocks in the sidewalks (I forget if it is South Raymond or Fair Oaks); some of them are now dark purple from the manganese in the glass. I love that they are still there.

Anonymous said...

I happened across this as I was looking for the origin of the very busy street view that is used by LinkedIn as the home landing page. The picture (very faintly) shows "Preckles Bldg" and that allowed me to track it back to here and find out that it's physically located in LA.

I really enjoy the "then and now" images. Many years ago, I toured around Paris reshooting views that Eugene Atget had taken in the 1890's. Fun project.