Saturday, December 14, 2019

Westwood Village, Los Angeles

I have two nice vintage views of beautiful Westwood Village, in Los Angeles (I like to pronounce it "Ang-ga-leez"). We've been there before - HERE and HERE

Both of today's examples are undated, but certainly mid-1950's. The photographer was standing in the middle of Westwood Boulevard facing north toward the domed Bank of America building. Westwood Blvd. curves to the right; straight ahead of us, up Broxton Avenue, is the wonderful Fox Village Theater, which opened in 1931. If you saw Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood", Sharon Tate went there to see the audience reaction to one of her movies. To our left is Desmond's department store,  which opened in 1930.

This photo was the reason I decided to visit Westwood Village today; I love those classic mid-century Christmas decorations along the boulevard. Sparkly garlands and festive red bells, along with stylized poinsettias. Any idea what "Taffy's" was (to our right)? I would guess it was a women's clothing store, but have had no luck finding info about it online.


K. Martinez said...

I spent quite a bit of time in and around Westwood Village in the 1970's as my sister lived in the area while attending UCLA. I loved the area and even went to a few movies at the Fox Village Theater. The only movie I remember seeing there though was "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox" with George Segal and Goldie Hawn. I don't remember if the movie was good or not as I haven't seen it since. Man, that was ages ago. These images do bring up memories from my fun visits in the 1970's. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...


I should be able to answer your question about Taffy's, but sadly I cannot. However, you've erroneously identified the building in the first image as "Desmond's" Since Lincoln was President. It's located on the SW corner of Westwood Bl. & Weyburn Av. The 'mystery' store was a Warehouse Records for many years, though.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Whatever that store is on the left, they are having a SALE! Does the first word on the store's sign read, "Diamonds"?

My mom used to talk about going to the movies in Westwood often, while she was going to UCLA. That would have been in the late fifties, and now I'm wondering which movies she might have seen there!


In the second picture - in the distance you can see the clock tower to Holmby Hall. Built in 1929, it’s Spanish revival architecture was the inspiration for Walt Disney World’s CARIBBEAN PLAZA clock tower. While the real 18th Century colonial Caribbean was famous for its clock towers at one time - most were just not what Imagineers were expecting and WED lifted this Los Angeles landmark for the entrance to Florida’s Pirates of the Caribbean!!

.............the more you know!!


K.Martinez: “The Duchesses and the Dirtwater Fox” is a awful movie - but fun. When I see it show up on TV I always like to see Goldie Hawn’s Saloon girl character singing “Please Don’t Touch Mee Plumbs” !

Nanook said...

Back to the 'mystery' store - I can tell you that back in the 1930's it was originally Crawford Drugs.

@ TM!-
It looks like 'Diamond's Shoe Bazaar' to me.

Yes, Holmby Hall, or the Holmby Building, or the Holmby Hall Building. (Of course, underneath the clock tower it originally housed Janss Drugs; and by the late 1940's, it became Westwood Drug).

JC Shannon said...

What I wouldn't give to take a back in time stroll around Westwood. I would put on my "I like Ike" button and check out all the coolness the 50s had to offer. These are seriously great photos, thanks Major.

Andrew said...

Those decorations have so much mid-century character. It seems like decorations on Main Streets are more or less the same everywhere nowadays. Thanks Major!

stu29573 said...

Taffy's sold taffy and common items made of taffy; suits, ash trays, snow tires, etc....

Sunday Night said...

In the 70s I would often drive across town to see movies in Westwood since it was always fun to take a walk around the village after the show. Pretty sure I saw Yellow Submarine at the Fox Village Theater.

Chuck said...

Holy cow! Four Big Blue Buses in action on Westwood Ave!

It's hard to tell from this angle, but I'm pretty sure the buses on the far left and right are GM TDH-3714s. I think the one in the left distance is a TDH-4512 based on the straight line above the number board that looks like a set of lights. The third one that's mostly obscured behind the palm trees and decorations in the median could be a TDH-4512, a TDH-3714, or maybe a TDH-4801 if this was taken as late as 1957 (Santa Monica Municipal Bus had all three), but beyond that I can't see enough to tell.

Thanks for the early Christmas present, Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, yeah, years ago it seems like I would go all over L.A., often in the search for good record stores. There were a few in the Westwood area, long gone now of course. Gosh, that movie “The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox”… what a weird blast from the past, a name I hadn’t heard or thought of for decades!

Nanook, well that’s what I get for not looking that closely… I thought that sign said “Desmond’s”, but I think it says “Diamonds” now!

TokyoMagic!, ha ha, yes, “Diamonds”. I’ll take six diamonds and four emeralds. Just put them in a bag. I used to go see movies in Westwood, I remember “Edward Scissorhands” at one of those famous art deco theaters (which one? can’t recall) and they had some of the topiaries (a giant hand!) on display in the courtyard.

Mike Cozart, I have a better photo of Holmby Hall at this link (can't seem to make it into a clickable link for some reason) I sure didn’t know about any connection to WDW’s Caribbean Plaza clock tower! Very interesting.

Nanook, it sounds like Westwood Village had the highest concentration of drugstores in the nation! So many.

Jonathan, the last time I went to Westwood I was kind of shocked at how many empty storefronts there were - not like the more vital days of the past. So much for our “strong economy”!

Andrew, it really does seem as if cities and towns all got their Christmas decorations from the same place. Maybe there was one supplier that everyone used?

stu29573, finally, the mystery of Taffy’s has been solved!

Sunday Night, ah, what a cool memory - Yellow Submarine at the Fox Village Theater!

Chuck, ha ha, I didn’t even notice one bus, much less four. It never ceases to amaze me how much an informed person can glean from a single photo! Very impressive. Thanks for the info! Did you do all of that off the top of your head?

Melissa said...

I thought it was BLANCHE'S Shoe Bazaar, but my nickname ain't "Blindy McGee" for nothing. Anyway, I'm heading there first for some cheap saddle shoes and bobby sox.

Was the obelisk on the theater Marquee a permanent fixture, or a temporary decoration? It'd be great for promoting King Kong.

I am enchanted by the spiky mid-century Christmas decorations, esp. the minimalist poinsettia. I did my whole Christmas tree in that style one year; I call it "Atomic Snowflake.
I love how the right-hand cloud is imitating the bank's white dome. There was a bank called Goldome when I was growing up in Western New York, and I still get their "Goldome, your financial home!" jingle stuck in my head sometimes. Like right now. (The mail branch in Buffalo had a big, well, gold dome, and my college choir used to go and carol in the domed lobby every Christmas. Good times.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
The "FOX" obelisk was (is) most-definitely permanent - a part of a 170-foot, white Spanish Revival/Moderne tower. Just LOOKIE HERE to see a lovely view of the sign at sunset.

After many, many years of poor, regular maintenance and downright neglect, sometime in the late 80's the entire sign - from the tip of its finial, right on down to its base below the "X", was crane-hoisted down to terra firma, and then whisked-away to a sign shop so it could receive proper maintenance - more than likely the first such TLC it received since its original installation when the theatre opened, back in 1931. Although the surrounding area below the sign/tower often resembles a ghost town these days, its beacon still beckons those passers-by of the curious type to come on in, and nose-around.

Also of note... the Bank of America branch was originally the headquarters of the Janss Investment Company - who sold to the UC Board of Regents [at fire sale prices] 375 acres of nearby land to become the new home of UCLA, and then go on to develop the surrounding area with lovely homes, and Westwood Village, itself. The Janss Investment Co. building, built in 1929, was leased to the BofA in 1936; then eventually purchased by them in 1954. It ultimately became a Japanese restaurant (Yamato), but closed its doors in 2016, after almost nine years of service. I have no idea if the building is currently occupied, and if so, by whom.

Chuck said...

Major, no, not all of it. I like buses, but I'm not as well-informed about buses as I am about trains, and I'm not as well-informed about trains as I am about airplanes. But I'm learning. :-) I did recognize the Santa Monica Municipal Bus livery, and I knew they used GMC buses in the '50s, so that gave me a starting point to begin my research. Sweet, sweet research...

JG said...

Very nice photos of Westwood. I always enjoyed driving through here during my LA working years.

I never had time to stop or enjoy any of things you are all describing, but it sounds like a lot of fun.

My digs were always over further west in West LA and Westwood was just on the route downtown or wherever job site I was heading toward. At the end of the day, I just headed back "home" since I didn't know anyone to hang out with.

Thanks for posting these, Major, and to all for the memories and backstories. I enjoyed this very much.