Monday, February 6, 2012

Shopping in Los Angeles - The 1950's

There’s a ritual I never fail to observe when traveling to Los Angeles on business. I’ve done it for years now. Once I land, usually at LAX, grab my rental car and hit the road, I call home to let everyone know I arrived safely (transcontinental flight, you know), and at some point in the conversation I exclaim “I love L.A.!” in my best, most frazzled Randy Newman voice. It’s the title line from his 1983 hit song, and sometimes I’ll throw it in more than once. It’s an old shtick, but my wife still humors me each time.

And I really do love it. Not because I’m driving a convertible (just an “intermediate” car, which is rental car company language for “yogurt cup on wheels”) or wearing a Hawaiian shirt (“business casual” isn’t that casual, I’m afraid) or accompanied by bikini-clad women (the call home would be awkward to say the least), but because of all of the great-looking old retail buildings there: Spanish-style, mid-century modern, bizarre and uncategorizable, you name it. Sure, scads of them have been torn down over the years, but there’s still a lot to see - simply because so many were built there in the first place.

Thankfully, much of this is well-documented in still photographs, but I can’t help but wonder what it all must have looked like from the windshield perspective in its heyday. The amazing film clip above, from 1954 (sincere thanks to Julie for bringing it to my attention) is the closest thing I’ve found to that. Only 1:50 long, it provides a great, if fleeting, full-color snapshot of the City of Angels at an exciting point in the early postwar era.

I don’t know the origin of this particular clip, but it was likely made for a commercial purpose of some type. It’s a nice example of a genre known today as “ephemeral films” – educational films for classroom use or promotional movies produced for tourism bureaus, trade associations or corporations. They were glowing salutes to The American Way - progress and prosperity, the natural result of virtue, ingenuity and hard work. These films provide a fascinating, if not complete, slice of life from those times. And they always seemed to feature bouncy, optimistic soundtracks with plucking strings and insanely peppy woodwinds. I’m tempted to think that music like this just played in the air in those days, and could be heard whenever you stepped outside. (Someone, please tell me this was true!)

The local icons are well represented here - starting out with the approach to downtown L.A., we see the famous City Hall in a perfect “Dragnet establishing shot”, followed by the Angels Flight inclined railway in the Bunker Hill area of town. Then on to some of the main drags, including South Broadway in downtown L.A., Wilshire Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, where a crowd is lined up outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (only the side of the building is shown – the Kodak theatre now sits in that spot next door, square atop the intersection of Hollywood and Orchid) for a showing of “The Robe”, one of those films the late movie palace historian Ben Hall would have called “the latest version of the Bible according to Cinemascope”.

And then (you knew we’d get around to this, didn’t you?) comes the really fun stuff, as far as those who regularly visit this site are concerned. In addition to the “postcard scenes” described above, the film depicts some of the L.A. area’s most noteworthy retail properties of the day, which by default means some of the most noteworthy anywhere. A few notes:

First up is a great pan shot of the Broadway-Crenshaw Center, opened in late 1947 in southwest Los Angeles and sporting subtleties of color one wouldn’t imagine based on the many period black and white photos that exist of the place. Interestingly, the facades seen here facing the parking lot were virtually duplicated on the opposite side of the shopping center, which lined the sidewalk along Crenshaw Boulevard.

Two years earlier the intersection of Crenshaw and Santa Barbara Avenue (renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in the 1980’s) was home to only trees, grass and assorted wildlife, but the nearby population was beginning to boom. When The May Company announced plans to build a large branch store there, the Broadway reciprocated with plans for a huge Crenshaw location of its own, with a strip of some 15 supporting stores in tow, right across the street. Among the other tenants were Woolworth’s, Lerner Shops, Owl Rexall Drugs, Silverwoods (a downtown L.A.-based men’s clothing store) and a detached Von’s supermarket.

The design of the center was the work of architect Albert B. Gardner, who also had a hand in designing the circa-1928 City Hall seen at the beginning of the clip. One of the very largest shopping centers in the country at the time it opened, Broadway-Crenshaw yielded some important lessons for future retail development. I’ve summarized a few of them from Richard Longstreth’s great book “City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, 1920-1950” which devotes several pages to the center: For one, the head-to-head competition that both May Co. and The Broadway were dreading turned out to be a net plus, an early example of the drawing power of multiple large department stores in close proximity. Secondly, there was no need for the “duplicate storefronts” along the street line. Most customers drove to the center and used the parking lot, so “sidewalk shoppers” accounted for a low percentage of sales. Future shopping centers like this, for the most part, were slid to the middle of the parking lot. Third, Broadway-Crenshaw really needed a second large anchor to balance the traffic flow to the other stores. (The May Co. store didn’t count in that regard, of course.) This helped lead to the opposite ends or “dumbbell” configuration for 2-anchor malls seen countless times in the ensuing years. It also became clear that anchor department stores of this type could handle, and really needed, far more than 15 supporting stores.

The shopping center is now known as Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, which encompasses both the former Broadway and May Company properties. The Broadway store building still exists as the best-looking Walmart that will ever be, while the May Co. store is now a Macy’s. The smaller stores were torn down and replaced years ago. The photo above (same pic, two different “zoom levels”) is from the 1951 book “Shopping Centers – Design and Operation” by Geoffrey Baker and Bruno Funaro, a vital early text on the subject.The Von’s (apostrophe long since dropped) supermarket at Crenshaw Center was not designed by Mr. Gardner, but by another L.A.-based architectural heavyweight, Stiles Clements. Mr. Clements had already done a great deal of work for Ralphs, one of Von’s main competitors, with designs ranging from exquisite Spanish-styled markets to some of the most striking streamlined buildings ever seen in retail. In later years, Clements played a key role in refining Sears’ distinctive “West Coast look”.

Lauded in an August 24, 1950 Los Angeles Times article as being “Rated the World’s Largest Grocery”, the store was indeed huge for the times at over 58,000 square feet (roughly half of that selling space), and it featured a mural depicting scenes of California history along the entire back wall, painted by artist Bert Makos. This photo also comes from the Baker and Funaro book cited above. Note the windmill on the corner - the beloved trademark of Van de Kamp’s, operator of supermarket bakery departments all over SoCal as well as their own coffee/bakery shops. Then, a brief glimpse of an early fifties Safeway store from an unidentified location. (I first assumed it was the nearby 39th and Crenshaw location that opened in 1952, but an opening day photo in the Los Angeles Times proved otherwise.) This store is typical of those Safeway was opening in many locations at that time, before the yellow-pyloned exteriors of the mid-fifties and the Marina family of designs launched at decade’s end. With over 10,000 feet of selling space, these stores must have seemed immense compared to the small, white-painted masonry units the company favored (note the first photo here) just a few years earlier.

The similarly-designed store pictured above was located in Lancaster, California. This photo appears here by the kind courtesy of Jacques Gautreaux, and is part of his great collection of retail photos from northern L.A. County’s Antelope Valley, taken in 1966.
The legendary Westwood Village Ralphs market appears next, a subject already covered in some depth here. Many thanks to “vieilles_annonces” (check out her astounding collection of vintage slides and magazine articles here) for use of the photo above. It predates the film clip by more than a decade, but offers a wonderful color view of the approach into town on Westwood Boulevard. Among other iconic structures are the Ralphs store to the right, Westwood’s unique Sears store in the middle, and the A&P (only the spire is visible) to the left.

A relatively minor entry in the SoCal retail history books is long-gone independent supermarket chain McDaniel’s Markets, which featured a jaunty Scotsman as their mascot and a tartan pattern as a key design element in their ads and on stores. By mid-1957, McDaniel’s had six stores, located in North Hollywood, Beverly Hills, East L.A. (famous as the birthplace of Cheech Marin), Maywood and Baldwin Park, according to the Los Angeles Times. That year, McDaniel’s bought out the six-store Walker’s Market chain, and between those stores and additional units built over the years, the company eventually grew to almost 25 stores.

In the early 60’s McDaniel’s went bankrupt, selling their choicest locations to Food Giant Markets. I wonder if some creative sloganeering would helped, like “Visit the Plaid Pylon, where we pile on the deals!” or “More buying power under the Tartan Tower!” (Or maybe it would have hastened their demise, you say.) The photo above, an artist’s rendering of the Oxnard, California location, appears here courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.
After that comes the sleek, curved facade of the Owl Rexall Drug at the corner of Beverly and La Cienega Boulevards (near the border of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills), which opened in the fall of 1947 and is shown here in a publicity photo taken shortly thereafter. The huge, ultramodern drugstore was only the (curved) tip of the iceberg in this case, as it was attached to the new world headquarters of United-Rexall Drug Inc., which relocated there from Boston. The move was the brainchild of company president Justin Dart, a dashing, enigmatic former Walgreen executive (and former Walgreen son-in-law) who came to United in 1941 and wasted no time casting the company in his own image. Indeed, the firm would eventually be known as Dart Industries, with interests that ranged far beyond drugstores.

Owl, Rexall’s major west coast banner, was closely controlled by the parent company, as was its eastern counterpart Liggett, and hundreds of Rexall drug stores were operated under these two names. While neither Owl nor Liggett were strictly confined to the coasts, most Rexall stores in between (in what hipsters like you and I call “flyover country”) were more likely to sport one of multitudes of franchisee names on the familiar orange-and-blue signs.

The four-day grand opening kicked off on September 15, 1947 and at the podium, along with Dart himself, was California Governor Earl Warren (this was six years before he was appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and had better things to do, like reshaping American life), Wisconsin Governor Oscar Rennebohm (Because he owned 14 Rexall drugstores in Madison, that’s why!), the mayor and the sheriff of Los Angeles, executives from Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola and Lambert Pharmacal (later known as Warner-Lambert) and other dignitaries too numerous to name here.

And there were celebrities galore, owing to Rexall’s prominence as a national sponsor and advertiser in those years when radio was the undisputed media king and many people went to the movies every single week – Jimmy Durante emceed each of the four days, and there were appearances by Dorothy Lamour, Red Skelton, Mickey Rooney, Peter Lawford, Pat O’Brien, Alan Young of future “Mister Ed” TV fame, Lynn Bari - a beautiful 20th Century Fox contract actress who deserved greater fame, and legendary newspaper gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. (Gosh, you’d think they would’ve put some more thought into this. I mean, drugstores don’t open every day, you know.)

Today the location is home to a CVS Pharmacy, Marshalls and a number of other retail tenants. The corner facade is still curved, leading me to believe the building shell may be original, but I don’t know that for a fact.
Another drugstore icon immediately follows. We see the Thrifty Drug location at the corner of Rodeo Road and La Brea Avenue in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles, just a mile and a half from Crenshaw Center. By this time Thrifty, a fixture of the L.A. retail scene for decades, was well underway with a program to open larger stores in shopping center settings versus the traditional smaller streetfront units, although the latter type still made up the bulk of Thrifty’s then 100-plus stores.

Thrifty’s largest store yet, it was part of a shopping center developed by the company that also boasted a new Alpha Beta supermarket as a key tenant. As with the Owl Rexall store above, the store was built in conjunction with a new home office for the company (Thrifty was the third largest drug chain in America at that time) on the property.

The Baldwin Hills Thrifty attained instant landmark status due to its massive sign tower, affectionately named the “Trilon”. At 65 feet tall with three 15 by 35 foot faces (Weighing in at 12 tons, according to the Los Angeles Times. Did somebody throw this thing on a scale?) and a unique, funky steel structure design that brings to (my) mind some of Alexander Calder’s “stabile” sculpture pieces, the Trilon certainly served its purpose as an attention-getter for Thrifty.

The shopping center’s “premiere” (I just thought of that. Nice, huh?) took place on November 13, 1952 with actress Anne Baxter performing the ceremonial duties, an experience I’m sure she ranked right up there with her recent Oscar nomination for “All About Eve”. (Well, kinda sure, that is…) The next evening, singer/actor Tony Martin performed live at the Thrifty store. Mr. Martin, still kicking at age 99 and performing as recently as 2010, is one of the last survivors among America’s great crooners. He was married to Cyd Charisse, the great star of such classic MGM musicals as Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings, (shown all the time on TCM – if you haven’t seen them, you should) for 60 years until her passing in 2008.

The sign, which survived the infamous 1963 Baldwin Hills dam break and flood, still stands while the accompanying building bears scant resemblance to the original. It now sports the name of Rite Aid, Thrifty’s successor. The picture above is a detail from the store’s grand opening ad.
Last is an interesting curiosity - the Big Owl Market, or as the sign reads, “The Market of Tomorrow”. This venture by Owl Drug (United-Rexall) was a very early, largely forgotten attempt at a supermarket-drugstore combination, a format that would catch on big in the following decade, and indeed remains the template for the industry today.

Tested out on a smaller basis in Ontario, California a few months previously, the Big Owl opened on November 1, 1951 at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Kittredge Street in North Hollywood, just a couple of blocks up from the giant new Sears store on Victory Boulevard. The opening-day celebrity here was Lorraine Cugat, singer and (soon to be ex-) wife of bandleader Xavier Cugat. The store really did foreshadow some key elements of the combination store/superstore idea, with “a See’s candy shop (Is it legal to leave the State of California without a box of See’s candy? I don’t want to find out.), Van de Kamp’s bakery, dry cleaning shop, a liquor, tobacco, pen and camera room (all you need, right?), a gift shop and a 12-chair barber shop with a jet fire engine chair for the youngsters”, along with “a watch and jewelry repair shop, a check-cash service, a bill-paying service and a soda fountain grill.”, according to a pre-opening write-up in the Los Angeles Times. To my knowledge, they never opened another one.

The clip’s closing scenes reinforce the “America, land of plenty” theme, starting with a really nice shot of a grocery store checkout lane in action. It’s interesting to note the still-familiar brand names as they whizz past the wood grain-painted metal cash register. What’s striking is how small the package sizes were in that era before “economy size” became the rule. Ironically, with manufacturers reducing package sizes as a response to the current economy, we just might be trending that way again.

From there, there’s a glimpse of the Ford Assembly Plant in Long Beach, followed by one of its General Motors counterpart in Van Nuys, two important cogs in the economic engine that helped make all of this prosperity possible. Both have long since closed, and sadly we won’t be trending that way again. Then it’s back on the open road, a fine place to be indeed.

I think next time I’m out that way I’ll try to whistle a few bars of the “insanely peppy woodwinds” theme. I’ve been practicing. Or maybe I should just stick with Randy Newman.


  1. Because this happens to intersect with another of my interests:

    Ford Long Beach Assembly closed during 1959 following ongoing complications from a 1956 flood. Operations were moved not so far away to Pico Riviera which held on until 1980.

    GM Van Nuys Assembly held out until 1992 when reduction in demand for Camaros and Firebirds caused GM to consolidate those operations in Canada.

  2. Great write-up, Dave! I had seen that video, serendipitously, through a link. Searching videos, I also would like to share this one of LA in the 50's & 60's. It is a compilation of still shots, but it flows nicely and you can't beat that vivid color!

    This channel on YouTube has a fine selection of video for LA:

    On facebook, the page "Vintage Los Angeles" is a treasure trove of information, visuals, videos.

    Somewhere, I saw a link to a fascinating city promo film on that site, from 1967, about 10 minutes long, that I thought was fabulous! Wish I could find it, now.

  3. The Van Nuys GM plant was reconverted into a shopping mall, as was a Ford plant up the coast in San Jose.

  4. Another wonderful post! I came to the LA area well after the "pleasant family shopping" era ended so it's nice to see stuff like this bringing to life the hints of things remaining from those days I can still see that so often seem so dead. Special thanks for the piece of the Thifty ad featuring the Trilon sign!

  5. A great write-up on a city that has long fascinated me. California has had a mystique for me since I was little. My mother and her parents lived in L.A. and surrounding areas during the WWII area. I have never been to L.A., but mom's dad's family still lives out there.

    Loved the way you walked us through the film, with its soundtrack apparently by Perky Perkyson and his Chippertones. I looked up on Google Map's street view some of the locations you pointed out, and had pictures for. So much has changed. Concerning the great color picture of Westwood Blvd from the late 40s that you posted, so sad so much of the charm is gone from that same vantage point today.

  6. Angrystan – Thanks for those details on the two automotive plants. I didn’t realize the Long Beach Ford plant closed that far back!

    Julie – Thanks, and thanks again to you for finding that amazing clip! I’ve seen some of the clips in the “dantanasgirl” You Tube page, and they are great as well. And there’s some neat stuff on the Vintage Los Angeles page as you mention. I still wonder who made the 1954 film – with all of the store shots, it seems like it had to be for a retail association of some kind. Let us know if you can locate the 1967 clip!

    Paul – Interesting bit of irony there with the conversion those plants to shopping space, thanks for pointing that out. If I remember right, there’s a 1920’s-era former Ford plant in Atlanta that’s been retail/mixed use since the seventies.

    KoHoSo – Thanks! These are just some of the higher-profile relics. The L.A. area is teeming with old retail buildings that have been remodeled and reused umpteen times, to the point where very few people are aware of their history. Any number of them would probably make your jaw drop if vintage photos existed!

    And I’ve gotta hit the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw area myself one of these days. I’ve been remiss in not doing so on previous visits.

    Mike – Thanks so much! I’m certainly fascinated by the area as well.

    I’m glad you liked the “walk-through” approach. I felt that the clip really lent itself to that.
    And I agree with you about Westwood – some of the classic buildings still stand (and still look great), but the ambience has changed greatly and not for the better. I was fortunate to visit Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, which bears a few similarities to Westwood, and was impressed by how much charm has been retained, despite a much changed retail roster over the years.

  7. I'd be a bit wary of a drug store if it was advertised as "cut rate"

  8. It's happened in other places, too. In the Boston area, a Ford plant that was closed in the late 1950's was converted into the regional warehouse for the First National supermarket chain. When they closed down their operations in the mid 1970's, the building became the Assembly Square shopping mall, which still exists today. The Model-T era plant building it replaced is now office space.

  9. The grocery checker in that video has to read and key in the price of each item manually, yet she is moving as fast as scanner-assisted checkout today.

  10. That video clip made my day. I honestly could watch it over and over for a while just to go over it all carefully. I completely agree on the music! :) Mid-century L.A. is a fascinating topic to me; it seems like it was ground zero for all things MCM that we love. I love all the stories from the fabled restaurants on "Restaurant Row," as well. I was in L.A. recently again and I'm still bummed at how little, really, is left of the MCM golden years.

    Awesome article, as usual! I just can't tell you how much I love your blog. It's like a big cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter's night to a retro fanatic like myself. I recently found the link to the Kresge background music you posted and thought I had died and gone to MCM heaven. Thank you for all of your efforts on this site!

    Gosh, I'd love to see you do one of your astoundingly in-depth articles about Meijer (or Meijers, as any Michigander calls it). I've lived in MI all my life and "Meijers" is almost unthinkable to live without. :) Miss it when I travel! I have such GREAT memories of the stores as a kid, too; they had interesting features and events and even an amazing Christmas theme song that I'd give my right arm to hear again ("Have a Merry Meijer Christmas!"). Have so many stories of growing up going to the store (both good and bad!) I still like to tell to my DH who's a transplant from Pittsburgh. I think my good memories of Meijers as a kid and the corny loyalty my family and I have towards the store still are big reasons I was drawn to your site!


  11. Once again, Dave, I know I am late in the game, but wonderful piece. I havways been iintrigued by LA but your wonderful descriptions of the era make me want to visit what is left.

    A book that I adore from our library where I work owns this great title called L.A. in the thirties, 1931-1941 by David Gebhard and Harriette Von Breton. You may want to check it out if you haven't already. Wonderful pics of art deco and steamline architecture.

  12. Pseudo3D - Believe it or not, “cut-rate” was a popular tagline for a number of drug chains back in the day. Katz Drug of Kansas City is one that comes to mind that used it for years. Seems quaint and dated now, of course.

    Paul – I hadn’t even thought of the best example, Ford City Mall in Chicago, which opened in 1965 and prior to that housed a WWII bomber plant, the Tucker car plant (immortalized in one of my all-time favorite movies, “Tucker: the Man and his Dream”) and a Ford plant in the years prior to its conversion to a mall.

    Anonymous - You’re right! Maybe she was in the running for “Checker of the Year” – an honor given out a local and national basis in those days. When you think about it, that job must’ve required a great deal of skill in those days prior to UPCs and scanners. Even today, the efficiency of the checker has a great impact on the overall shopping experience.

    Anne – Thank you so much, that’s one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. :)

    I totally agree about mid-century L.A. being fascinating, and the interesting stuff, as you say, is not limited to stores. I’m always on the lookout for shots of the Brown Derby and other famous places when watching L.A.-based movies of the 1950’s.

    That Kresge music is great, isn’t it? Really sets the mood.

    I would love to write about Meijer, and am finally starting to get my hands on some decent photographs of their stores. I particularly like the “Thrifty Acres” era, with the little Dutch Boy mascot on their signs. For 12 years I worked for a Grand Rapids-based company, and used to travel up there often. We had many folks of Dutch ancestry at our home office, and the name pronunciation was daunting at first, but eventually I felt I became something of an expert at it! (And you’re right, it definitely is “Meijers”!)

    Thanks again!

    Didi – Late, early or on time, I always appreciate what you have to say. Hope everything is well with you!

    And thanks for the tip on that book – I’ll have to check it out!

  13. Dave-

    I couldn't agree more with the rave comments from fellow readers. I can remember much of what was mentioned here and it's fun to re-visit it.

    The only thing I'd add is a correction to the original name for Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd - which was in fact Santa Barbara Blvd.

  14. Nanook - Much appreciated! Thanks also for catching my typo on the original street name - I've corrected it on the post.

    Must have been great to experience those sights firsthand!

  15. Hi Dave, just blundered onto your blog, loved & shared it with a couple old friends who also grew up in baby-boom LA. Don't know where else to mention this...but you might be interested to dig around for some info or images on a great, long-time Hollywood institution called (among many name varients) Bert Wheeler's House of Magic, which occupied a big shopfront on Hollywood Blvd & Las Palmas. Besides carrying lite & industrial-strength magic supplies, the store was famous for its extensive stock of Halloween masks, makeup supplies, wigs, etc -- & so occupied a distinctly LA movie-industry showbiz niche. Some folks like myself are especially intrigued by a line of artisanal, uniquely high-quality monster masks crafted by the late Hollywood craftsman Ellis Burman that were exclusively carried by Wheeler's magic shop starting in the early '60s. If anyone is interested in learning more about these now very rare pieces, here is an ever-evolving discussion about them:

    1. Vayapues, sorry for the late reply on this...thanks very much, and I'm glad you enjoyed these L.A. memories.

      I'm always amazed to read about the mini-industries and specialty stores that sprang up around Hollywood in those exciting years - movie poster shops and the like. I've heard of Bert Wheeler's store but didn't know about he famous monster masks. This was the age of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine and camp flicks such as Mad Monster Party - fun stuff!

  16. Just came back to this post and noticed the reference to Tony Martin, who sadly died earlier this week.

    And before I saw your explanation, I was wondering about the Thrifty "cut rate" slogan as well.

    1. This is the first I've heard of Mr. Martin's passing, Jacob. He was certainly the longest living of the great crooners! Funny, just this weekend we saw "The Band Wagon" (for the umteenth time) on TCM, one of Tony's wife Cyd Charisse's best. They had one of the great Hollywood marriages.

  17. Regarding the Owl Rexall at Beverly and La Cienega in Los Angeles, for years it was known as Dart Square which was mostly office space and behind, a large parking lot with a fairly nice looking bank at the back of the lot on the corner of 3rd and La Cienega -- that building is still there, too. Across the street was a small amusement park called Beverly Park. The pony rides remained for years afterwards. The Beverly Center, built about 30 years ago, now occupies that site. Recently it was announced that the Beverly Center will undergo a complete remodel, including a new exterior skin.

    Not too long after the Beverly Center was built, Dart Square was converted to the Beverly Connection, certainly one of the stranger retail transformations I've ever seen. The original office building was gutted, though the Rexall was pretty much left alone, and a new parking structure was constructed in the parking lot with some new stores strung along La Cienega BLVD. As I recall, the Rexall stayed open throughout the construction. It has been remodeled, but that's about all. The curve you talk about is orginal. There had been a Ralph's, which left, and then a multiplex, which was recently torn down. But it remains remarkably vital. Now it's going to add a Target store.

  18. I have fond Christmas memories of May Co and Broadway windows -- we used to walk back and forth, dragging our parents across the street for one more look at each big beautiful window. Each store undoubtedly tried to outdo the other -- mechanical/moving displays were always my favorites. I grew up at those stores starting with baby clothes and ending with the British invasion fashions and Cher knockoffs in the 60's. My grandparents lived not far from the center, up in what was then called Angeles Vista. A trip to this shopping center for "back to school" clothes always ended with Buster brown shoes, Lollipop underwear, and roasted peanuts from the back end of Sears. Ah, the smell of those peanuts!

  19. Thanks for posting the video and your article. I miss the architecture of those beautiful buildings back in the 50's. There's a CVS drugstore here in Huntington beach that recently built a retro-styled building for their new store. I really miss that old style.

  20. As someone who grew up near the Crenshaw Center during the early 1960's. Eating Sunday breakfast at the Ontra cafeteria. The Von's supermarket at the Crenshaw Center had a standing lunch counter (you had to stand-no seating). The one thing that I can remember that you could pick out a steak from the meat department and for the price of the steak plus 75 cents. The cook would fry your steak and you would get a cup of coffee, salad with dressing, a vegetable and a potato. also close by was a Mobil Oil Service Station. Lots of gasoline pumps and service bays. On the roof of the Mobil Oil station was a revolving Pegasas (The Mobil Oil Mascot) that was lighted by fluorescent lights.