Sunday, September 14, 2014

Memories of Wilshire Blvd

Me and our old Ford Falcon wagon in 1970

Several years ago, the L.A. Conservancy solicited members' stories about Wilshire Blvd., my favorite street in Los Angeles. I submitted a written memory, which appeared briefly on the Conservancy's website, and then forgot all about it.

Well, imagine my surprise when I visited the Conservancy's new "Explore L.A." microsite, this morning, and there, featured prominently on the Wilshire Blvd. page, was my short story under the headline, "The Most Glamorous Street in the World"! You can link to my memories here or enjoy them right now below:

Like most of the kids in my high school, I got my driver's license as soon as I turned sixteen. But unlike everyone else, I was too afraid to drive the freeway; and so that entire first summer (1970), my younger sister and I regularly drove the family's 10-year-old Ford Falcon over 25+ miles of L.A. streets to go to the beach.
From Burbank we took Barham over the hill to Highland and then down to Wilshire, where we turned right and headed toward the ocean. Our favorite beach was Sorrento, located at the foot of the California Incline.
Just west of La Brea were the tar pits, the art museum (only one building in those days), and the amazing gold column of the Fairfax May Co. -- all only a few steps away from curly-q French fries at Dolores drive-thru.
Further down was Beverly Hills, with its beautiful hotels and department stores, and of course Wilson's House of Leather, where we always decided to continue on Wilshire rather than turning onto the probably more suitable Santa Monica Blvd.
Approaching the beach head-on down the hill from Westwood somehow seemed a lot more exciting than sneaking up behind it from Santa Monica Blvd.
Years later, I frequently retraced this route as a UCLA graduate student, even though I had conquered my fear of freeways by then.
To me, Wilshire Blvd. remains the most glamorous street in the world and is the very epitome of Los Angeles.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Wiltern Theatre

The Wiltern's neon sign

Clad in blue-green Gladding-McBean terracotta tile, the Wiltern Theatre is one of the most magnificent buildings in Los Angeles and may, indeed, be one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the U.S. Built in 1931, the theater majestically sits at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Western. Hence its name: Wiltern.

Blue-green terracotta exterior

Exterior entrance: art deco detail above the old box office

We’ve seen many concerts here—plus, I love showing it off to out-of-towners—so we know the Wiltern. However, the day before leaving for Alaska (see below), we got the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour with the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and truly saw the building for the first time.


Wall detail

Wall and ceiling detail

Art deco staircase: ceiling detail

Auditorium wall detail

The stage: view from the balcony

Stage rigging

Stage from the catwalk above

Fire curtain, lowered right before we left

Auditorium ceiling

OK, so we kinda went berserk taking pictures of lamps. But seriously, aren’t these the most beautiful light fixtures you’ve ever seen? Be sure to click on the images to enlarge.


Wall lamp

Inside the auditorium

More lobby

More ceiling

Main chandelier

Chandelier mural detail