Saturday, April 27, 2019

Random SoCal

I have some rather random (and odd) vintage slide scans from around Los Angeles.

Let's start with this one from the 1950's, featuring a nondescript storefront. Maybe the photographer worked there? I really wanted to figure out where this was, and the "Kwik Kafé" shop next door seemed to be my only real clue. I found plenty of Google references to Kwik Kafé, but it took me a while to find an address for L.A.

But I did it! Here's a screen grab from Google's street view, showing the very same shop - little changed over the past 60+ years, though it is now a bookstore. Hey, I like bookstores! It's at 1639 South La Cienega Boulevard. The Kwik Kafé has been replaced by a business I can't quite place. The proprietor is a Ph.D, but the establishment is called "Two-Snake Studios". Yoga? Tattoo parlor? Physical therapy?

Next is this view from Mulholland Drive, which (for a stretch) follows the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains. You can look north into the San Fernando Valley, or south into Hollywood/Los Angeles. At night the lights are pretty spectacular (see "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"). Here we're looking down from some unknown vantage point along Mulholland, with mid-century houses below us (how many of those survive to today?). Down below we can see the Hollywood 101 Freeway, as it passes through Hollywood. Sharp eyes might spy the famous cylindrical Capitol Building ("The House that Nat Built").

I couldn't find a modern view from that exact same perspective, but Google Maps had this shot, taken from a roadside turnout. Downtown has a lot more  tall buildings these days.

Another turnout is closer to the 101 Freeway, and gives us a look down into the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater. Love that smog!

And here's another oddball scan; I had no idea where this is, but a freeway sign identifies a "Sassafras Street" exit, which places this along the 405 in San Diego. That's the San Diego Airport to our left. The American gas station is something I haven't seen for years. 

I couldn't figure out how the previous photograph had been taken from that elevated viewpoint; could have been from a low-flying plane? Here's a Google Earth screen grab showing roughly the same area, though Sassafras Street is glitchy and looks like it's melting.

I hope you have enjoyed today's random photos!


Nanook said...


And I was gonna say Venice Blvd. for that first image. Great sleuthing work today.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I love your random photo posts, but even more so when the photos were taken in my home state and county!

Curiosity made me want to know more about that business (in the old Kwik Kafe's space) and it's owner. I came across this interesting article about the owner, who apparently has been in that building for 50 years now:

Andrew said...

I've done some similar Street View searching, based on old postcards or such. Sometimes you luck out, sometimes you don't, but when you do, it's quite a feeling of satisfaction!

And I think the random photos are cool, too!

Chuck said...

Excellent sleuthing, Major!

I was going to suggest that last photo was taken from a jetpack, but then I remembered those weren't commercially available until October of 1979, just a few weeks after the crew returned from NASA's third 180-day LESA mission to the Moon. I remember discussing it with my grandmother over our new Western Electric Picturephone™ IV. Amazing when you think how far we've come from all that quaint 20th Century technology.

My guess is that it was probably taken from a helicopter. Note that San Diego Harbor's other airfield, NAS North Island, is off to our left, and the Navy (and, to a lesser extent, the other services) flies a lot of helicopters in and out of there.

That photo has to be pre-1971, as that's when Amoco rebranded all of their American stations as Amoco stations. After their 1998 merger with BP, they rebranded almost all of their stations "BP" over the course of the next decade, although they relaunched the brand in certain markets (including where I live) in 2017. Lccally, we have the largest Amoco sign in the world, located at the SW corner of Forest Park in St Louis.

K. Martinez said...

I really like the first pic of 1639 South La Cienega Blvd. Looks like there's a bookshop there now. I love old bookshops as they're a place where treasures can be found.

Nice randomness today. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic!, I don't know what it is, but whenever I try to read an article from the LA Times or OC Register, it says "You've reached your monthly free article limit" and I can't access it unless I pay for a subscription. And it looked like an interesting article too.

Omnispace said...

I'd say that the last photo is taken from a hotel at 1st Avenue and Cedar St, (1st in the foreground). The ramp to the left is the southbound Cedar St. exit. The American gas station is now a Chevron, and the hotel a 4-Points Sheraton. It looks like it used to be one of those cool round Holiday Inn's. :)

Anonymous said...

Love these random images and your detective work. I know there are a lot of classic film fans here and they might enjoy the Silent Locations site if they don't know of it already. The author searches and documents predominantly silent film locations but occasionally includes later film and occasional TV filming sites around Los Angeles.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, Venice Blvd. would have been a good guess! I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to find the actual location.

TokyoMagic!, wow, incredible! An actual article about the proprietor and the place (and more of course). Very cool, thanks!

Penna. Andrew, yes, I think my success rate is higher than 50%, but it can be very frustrating when I can’t figure one out. As you said, when it *does* work out, it is satisfying as heck.

Chuck, my family didn’t start flying around with jetpacks until the mid-80’s. Picturephones… even as a kid I wasn’t sure I wanted people to see me when I was on the phone. I don’t do “face time” nowadays, either. I could see grandparents wanting to see their grandkids, or other particular situations. A helicopter, I didn’t consider that possibility - but it could be! I wish I could remember more about the box of slides that it was from, maybe there were Navy-related images. That is a BIG Amoco sign!

K. Martinez, if you want to read articles from sites that block you after you’ve read a certain number of stories, you can try pasting the link into It works almost every time for me!

Omnispace, gosh, I looked for buildings that I thought could be likely vantage points, but didn’t think that any “worked”. That Sheraton seems like a good guess though, thanks!

Anon, I think I’ve heard of the Silent Locations site, but I might be mixing it up with other sites that show locations from famous films. I looked it up and it looks neat; readers, go to: Thanks Anon!

MRaymond said...

Picture 3 looks similar to the corner at Mulholland and Outpost Dr. A similar (but not identical house is in the forground as well.

Chuck said...

MRaymond, thanks for the vector! I found the foreground house from the vintage Mulholland photo here, not far from the intersection of Outpost & Mulholland. The photo would have been taken from right about here.

Major Pepperidge said...

MRaymond, I actually “drove” along Mulholland via Google Maps, and had a hard time finding the place that looks just the same. Of course the angles are different, and the houses have often changed.

Chuck, by gum I think you found it! Amazing job.

Anonymous said...

This was fun to read after the fact, seeing all the comments and research lining up.

Major, these kinds of posts are a lot of fun, not only the old random photos, but the Junior Gorilla Research Foundation rooting them out and confirming the details. Thanks!

@Ken Martinez. Those article limit notices are sometimes triggered by cookies that the news site sets in your browser. Try clearing your browser cache, and if that fails, open a private window and paste the link. If this doesn't work, then I am out of ideas.