Saturday, October 07, 2017

Random USA

Have you ever heard of the "U.S.A"? I've been there multiple times. The folks talk funny but the food is good! 

We'll begin with this unmarked 1954 photo of a broad, palm-lined roadway leading to a stately and rather massive white building. Does a king live there? Is that Elvis's house? Sadly, no; however, thanks to the sign over those three arches, we know that this is the "Hollywood Beach Hotel". Hollywood, Florida, that is. The BEST Hollywood! (Yes, that roadway was Hollywood Boulevard, in case you were wondering).

The Hollywood Beach Hotel opened in 1926, with 500 rooms and an 800-foot stretch of sandy beach. It cost three million dollars (the equivalent of over $40,000,000 dollars today). Hollywood Beach endeavored to be "The Atlantic City of the South", and the hotel quickly became popular the wealthy and/or famous. During WWII the hotel became the site of the U.S. Naval Indoctrination and Training School. Right after the war, the hotel added the largest swimming pool and cabana club in the U.S.

Here's a Google Maps screen grab of the hotel as it looks today. Sadly, developers have their eyes on this grand old landmark; they want to tear it down and build two towers with luxury condos. Seems like it's the same story all over.

Next is this photo dated "September, 1949", showing a ferry called the S.S. Wayne. The ferry was built in 1923 and served on the Detroit River until that service ended in 1942. In 1946 it was owned by the "Duluth-Superior Steamship Co." and ran excursions of St. Louis Bay. After one or two other owners, the S.S. Wayne was towed to Sturgeon Bay (on Lake Michigan) to be used as a yacht club - an idea that never materialized. The last that records seem to show is that it was sold to the Bisso Ferry Co., New Orleans, where the upper works were removed, and the lower part was used as a storehouse through at least 1958.

Here's a vintage postcard that shows the "Wayne" in better days - both the photo above and the postcard show the Aerial Lift Bridge, a landmark that is happily still with us. The lower "roadway" portion of the bridge can lift up to the high level of the arch in order to allow shipping to run beneath it. I have a few vintage photos of this bridge, which I will share someday!


Nanook said...


Looking-around for images of the Hotel, one can see it's quite the hotel. And now it's evidently too dowdy for today's tastes. Too bad.

Thanks, Major.

The Disney Dudebro said...

One thing that always strikes me about these vintage photos is how the men are always dressed as dapper with shirts, ties, and even fedoras and coats. Seems like even an outing out at Disneyland was occasion to dress your best. Not sure if public life is better or worse now that everyone walks around dressed so casually. Eh, I'll stick with my fedora and T-shirt. LOL!

Melissa said...

It's like the hotel the Marx Brothers ran in The Cocoanuts! (Only better-run, or it wouldn't still be standing.)

Vintage people-watching is the best! I love the little girl standing in front of the Wayne doing a Superman pose with her little green jacket over her shoulders!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I suppose that any improvements would not be cost-effective; it seems as if every old building in SoCal is going to be torn down and replaced with “luxury condos”; is there THAT much of a demand for luxury condos?!

The Disney Dudebro, it is true, that was definitely a time when folks generally dressed nicely for almost any occasion. It was not until the 1970’s that clothing really got hideous!

Melissa, maybe that is Supergirl?!