Saturday, August 22, 2015

Some Vintage Los Angeles

How about some more vintage Los Angeles? Because that's what is on the menu today.

I love this wonderful photo taken along Wilshire Boulevard (from sometime in the mid-1950's) as it passes through Westlake Park (renamed MacArthur Park in 1942). The lake itself would be to our right (out of frame, of course), and for many years people could rent boats for some pleasant time on the water. Whatever that blue convertible is (Nanook? Is it a Ford of some kind? It looks like it says "Fordomatic" on the back), I call dibs - what a beauty. To the left is the sign for the Westlake Theater, opened in 1926 (it is closed now, but listed on the National Register of Historic Places).

Here's a view using Google's street view; all of the charm has been bleached out of the scene! Where's the "Bar-B-Q" restaurant? Where are the cool street lamps? Some of the buildings are still recognizable, though.

This next one is from a faded slide - we're on Broadway at the corner of 6th, looking south. The Palace Theater is showing "Kings Go Forth", a film starring Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, and Natalie Wood from 1958, which helps to date the image. To our right is the venerable Los Angeles Theater, where Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" premiered.

Aaaaand... here is the yucko view from today! It's not that bad really, I just want to be in the 1958 photo.


Nanook said...


You're getting good. Yes, the blue auto is indeed a (1954) Customline Ford; as I suspect the convertible, red car is too. Between them is a light green 1954 Chevrolet. On the opposite side of the street we can see a dark green, 1946-48 Dodge. Behind it is a brown 1949-? Pontiac. Pulling out behind it is, I'm gonna say, a 1953 Buick, and maybe even the lighter blue car behind it. It's getting hard to see some important distinguishing features for positive identification.

In the 1958 image, there appears to be a 1950 Chevrolet, and behind it is a B&W 1958 Chevrolet for LA's finest. And driving away is a beige, 1955 Chevrolet. And I wonder if the painted sign for the "Newsreel Theatre" is the Globe, or maybe the Tower-? We also have a great view of the downtown location of Desmond's Department Store - "Since Lincoln was President".

Thanks, Major.

Monica said...

We've been to Southern CA (near L.A.) SO many times, but haven't been to L.A. since I was little. I'd love to see some things...but I think I'd rather go to 1950's L.A.!

Chuck said...

I was hoping that maybe this street lamp was the "donor" for the base of Disneyland's flagpole (reportedly secured by Emile Kuri for $5 after an accident on Wilshire knocked it down), but sadly, that doesn't appear to be the case:

Love the "flag" window pattern in the modern photo.

And now I want to be in the 1950's...but with air conditioning...and less smog...and my current annual income unadjusted for inflation...and a pony.

K. Martinez said...

I've walked along all these areas back in the 1980's. It gave me a chance to absorb the areas better than if I was driving in my car. Not sure how it would be today though.

I really like the shot of downtown L.A. on Broadway. Thanks, Major.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

LA in its glorious prime! You can’t beat it. The dibs on that ragtop are all yours Major. However, I’d be more than willing to step into that photo and hotwire that sweet little dish for you, but only on the condition that you promised to take me for a ride.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

A pony-? Man - you DO enjoy living the "high life". (Where do I sign up-?)

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I don't know, it looks like that lamppost might be a match. I think that the tall octagonal-shaped base is probably just set deep into the concrete in Town Square. I know the chances of it being the exact one in the photo is slim, but I believe it's the same type/style of base.

Nanook said...

I agree with TokyoMagic! - That lamppost looks like a winner to me.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, as always, I bow to your superior car knowledge! Thanks for pointing out Desmond's.

Monica, I totally agree… I go downtown regularly, but wish I could see it the way it was 60 years ago.

Chuck, I don't think I'd heard that story about the flagpole before… interesting! Even with the smog, I'd still want to go back and see things the way they used to be.

K. Martinez, it definitely gives one a better sense of place if you get to walk around and explore on foot.

Monkey Cage Kurt, you've got a deal!

Nanook, Chuck would wear a monocle while riding his pony.

TokyoMagic!, it's hard to tell, but you might be right… it could be a match. I'm sure it is not this specific lamp, but you see zillions of that kind of lamp post in old L.A. photos.

Nanook, I just can't see the base in the Wilshire photo clearly enough to say for sure.

Nanook said...

@ TokyoMagic!

Prompted by the Major's comment, and upon more careful observation, it appears the lamppost - although very similar in design - isn't the exact base. However, a look thru This site, and scrolling down to a view of West Adams Street, in 1919, you'll see the real deal. Also - this site is a treasure-trove of swell images from very early Los Angeles well into present day. It's really worth a gander.

Anonymous said...

@Nanook, thanks for the old LA pic site.

Others might also enjoy "Lost Los Angeles" by Pam Greyson. I found her account on Twitter, but you can see the timeline without a twitter account >>

She has a YouTube channel with video of various places and things, rides down the streets etc. Website/blog >>

Major, I love old LA even though I never lived there, thank you.