Saturday, February 21, 2015

Westwood Village, Los Angeles - 1950s

Today I thought I would compare some vintage views of Westwood Village, located near Wilshire Boulevard and the 405 freeway. It opened in 1929, and at the time, the buildings were designed with plenty of charm - at least compared to most developments. There are lots of nice shops, restaurants, and movie theaters in the area, and it is frequented by students from nearby UCLA. All three of today's vintage photos are from a group taken sometime in the mid-1950's. They had turned slightly magenta, but I corrected the color as much as possible.

Here we are on Westwood Boulevard, looking north from the corner of Lindbrook Drive. I love that old Ralph's grocery store building to our right, as well as all of the fabulous vintage vehicles passing by. The domed Bank of America (also known as the "Janss Dome") in the distance is now a sushi restaurant!

Here's a Google Maps screen grab; as you can see the Ralph's building is still there, though it now contains several businesses, including a pizza restaurant and Peet's Coffee. Maybe it's the glowering sky, but this place doesn't look very charming anymore.

Heading a few blocks north on Westwood Blvd, we come to the corner of Weyburn Avenue (facing eastward). The stately building is the Security First National Bank of Los Angeles, looking almost like a structure from a movie lot. To the extreme right you can see part of Bullock's Westwood.

The bank has been replaced by a inelegant structure that houses The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop. Finally, a place to get coffee and/or tea! At least the Bullock's building is still there.

Moving about 1/2 a block north and looking westward, we see more shops. The buildings have an early-California look to them, though some very 1950's fa├žades have been applied to the lower levels. To our left is Holmby Hall - the first retail building in Westwood Village.

Curse you, trees! Your leafy beauty totally messed up my blog post! But Holmby Hall is still there, just visible through the blooming jacarandas. The clock tower was damaged in a fire in 2003, but it still looks OK from the outside. You'll just have to take my word for it!

I hope you enjoyed these vintage views of Westwood Village. I have more, if anybody is interested.


K. Martinez said...

If you have more vintage Westwood Village photos, I'm definitely interested. I used to visit there quite a bit in the early 1970's when my sister attended UCLA back then. She lived in the Westwood area and I found it to be a really nice area. I remember from there we had taken several trips to Disneyland via the RTD buses.

Nice set today. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...


Ahhh, Westwood - my old stomping grounds. Let's check out those cars in the first image: Looks like a beige & green 1951 Pontiac; then a white & green, 1954 Buick; followed by a bluish, 1951 Chevrolet; and coming in on the right is a green, Buick - also 1954.

In the last picture, on the far left edge, we can see the NE corner of Desmond's Department Store - "Since Lincoln was president"

Holmby Hall housed the Janss Drug Store in its early years; then Westwood Drug. Also the unusual name of the Holmby (Hall) Building got its name as the building was used as the first dormitory for female students of UCLA. And we also get a fairly good look of the blue & gold ceramic tiles that adorned the bases of each street light in Westwood Village - UCLA's colors, of course.


Chiana_Chat said...

Yup I enjoy the vintage Americana, Disneyland or not. Wonder what that Ralphs looked like inside back then. Under the coke sign is, I guess, proof Kirk time travelled to earth's past more often than mentioned in Star trek... Classic cars, classic LA, love it.

TokyoMagic! said...

I love your "then and now" comparisons, Major! I would also like to see more vintage Westwood pics (please)!

Chuck said...

I love how there's a bus in the same relative position in your last pair of photos.

The first is a GMC TDH-4801 "Old Look" transit bus in Metropolitan Coach Lines green and white. MCL purchased the passenger operating rights of Pacific Electric's interurban rail lines (the famous "Red Cars") as well as their entire bus operation in 1953, and began replacing existing buses and as much rail service as possible with a new fleet of buses.

The 37 ft, 8 in TDH-4801 was built specifically for California operators to comply with CA-specific rear-axle load requirements for buses longer than 35 feet. MCL received its first 30 TDH-4801s in December 1953 for operations on the Wilshire line, followed by more than 200 more delivered between 1954 and 1956.

The more recent photo shows a New Flyer D40LF operated by Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines (the "Big Blue Bus"), which provides bus service to Santa Monica and West LA. This particular route is Number 12. Santa Monica's D40LF's were delivered from 1997-98.

Tying the two photos together, at one time Santa Monica Municipal Bus also operated GMC TDH-4801's.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I have 7 or 8 additional Westwood Village slides! I'll bet the Village was much different (and nicer) back when your sister was at UCLA.

Nanook, thanks for the car info. I did not know about Desmond's Department Store (since Lincoln, really?), though I did know the stuff about Holmby Hall… I never know how much info to give when doing the write-ups; just because I find something interesting doesn't mean others will!

Chiana, I would LOVE to find an interior of that store! But I'm not holding my breath. Are you sure that Kirk Drugs wasn't founded by a time-traveling Kirk Cameron?

TokyoMagic!, I can't guarantee that it will be soon, but it will happen!

Chuck, I've heard of car enthusiasts, and train enthusiasts, but I did not know that there were bus enthusiasts! Do you just know all of that stuff about the various vintage buses? If so, that is impressive. It IS cool that there is a bus in that one vintage photo, and another in the contemporary view.

Nanook said...

@ Major-

Honest-! Desmond's beagan as a hat store in 1862, with its first location near Olvera Street. Then moved downtown in 1921.

Chuck said...

This was a case where I knew enough to get started ("hey, that looks like a pre-'59 GM bus" and "didn't PE's passenger service get bought out about that time by, oh, what was the name of that company again? I just read about that a couple of years ago..."), but I definitely know more now than when I got up this morning.

There is indeed an entire subculture of motor coach enthusiasts out there, and I discovered they actually have a pretty substantial web presence. Not as numerous as car or train enthusiasts, but they're there, hiding in the shadows, waiting, always waiting...and hoping they have the exact change for their fare.

Nancy said...

:-) nothing else to be have made me smile again!!

Steve DeGaetano said...

Was that first photo taken mere seconds before a massive pile-up? Seriously, with no visible lines on the road, it looks like an automotive free-for-all!


Wow! That clock tower in the 5th picture down looks like the clock tower to Walt Disney World's Pirates of the Caribbean in Caribbean Plaza..........hmmmm......