Tag Archives: l.a.’s greatest landmarks

WTF – The Chinese Theater sold???

[Sorry, too angry to dig for a CC photo]

I realize the world will end anyway on May 21st, but The Hollywood Reporter is, well, reporting that Grauman’s Chinese Theater is being sold and we should Expect Some Changes once their deal closes on May 20th.

Bull SHIT, sez me!

There’s a Facebook page to save it but everybody knows what that’s worth.

I’m not completely clear if they’re only getting the Mann Chinese 6 at Hollywood and Highland, or if the rumor that the developers are “considering turning the theater, which has 1,152 seats, into a nightclub,” is anything more than that, but still.

Really? The Chinese Theater? It’s not IT enough for you?

The Chinese is on all the historic registries, but developers (and Samaha in particular) are notorious for moving forward with their nefarious agendas and hoping no one will notice until it’s too late (Yes I Mean You out there bulldozing Johnnie’s Broiler).

Let’s not let this get swept under the rug, Angelenos!

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: Readers’ Choice

Griffith Observatory at Night by Jodi

Remember that series on L.A. Landmarks we did a little while back? Some of you completed our survey to let us know your favorite(s) out of the ones we covered. Apologies for keeping you in suspense!

The results are in and the winner, with a whopping 77.8% of the votes is…The Griffith Observatory. It was followed, but not too closely, by The Hollywood Sign and The Hollywood Bowl, respectively.

I, too, love The Griffith Observatory. I can see it from where I work. In fact, I probably took both of the photos for this post from the top of our parking garage. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not been since it was renovated and reopened four years ago. I really need to do something about that!

We hope you enjoyed our series on what we deemed L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks. We certainly could not, and did not, capture everything so there’s a definite possibility of revisiting this topic in the future.

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: It’s a Wrap! (For Now)

We’re coming to a close on our L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks series and having covered only twenty-three, we’ve just scratched the surface. There are many more such things that are unique to Los Angeles and help define the city.

You might be wondering how we chose the landmarks for the posts. In true blogging.la style, any author who wanted to participate could pick any they wanted to write about. A small group of us came up with a list during a brainstorm session, but those were simply suggestions. I definitely see a subsequent series or two in the future since there is so much more to explore. Stayed tuned for that.

We hope you’ve had as much fun reading our collection as we did writing it. We’re curious to know what you consider to be a great L.A. landmarks. Click on your favorites here and I’ll post the results sometime next week. You can also let us know what you think we missed on this round.

L.A’s Greatest Landmarks: The Hollywood Sign

Photo by Vlasta Juricek, 2005

Perhaps the most recognizable string of letters in the world. A Real Estate Advertising gimmick turned into a Monument and saved by Hugh Hefner, not once but twice. What more fitting tribute to Tinseltown could you ask for? I love The Hollywood Sign.

On Friday the Thirteenth, July 1923, they dedicated The Sign. Thomas Fisk Goff, owner of the Crescent Sign Company, designed it at the behest of real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults. The whole crackpot scheme was the brainchild of H.J Whitley and Harry Chandler, owner of the L.A. Times.

I can almost picture Chandler, with a wild gleam in his eye, exclaiming, “Why, that’s just crazy enough to work!”

The original letters originally read “Hollywoodland,” were five feet taller than the current structure, and festooned with around 4000 light bulbs, plus a giant blinking dot below, 35 foot in diameter, to  “catch the eye.” Because thirteen, fifty foot tall, white, blinking letters are far too subtle on their own.

They put it there to sell land in the hills. And when they were done, they just left it. Bastards! That’s so “ungreen.” Just leaving your garbage on the hill! What are you thinking!

I kid, of course, I love the thing, but that’s kinda what happened. It was never meant to be permanent, at all, let alone to stand up to decades of weather. And I’m sure many, many people felt that way about it as it started to deteriorate over the years. In the early Forties, the signs official caretaker got drunk, drove into the “H” and destroyed it. By 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of L.A. parks Department had come to a deal to repair the sign. The eliminated the last four letters and removed the lightbulbs. The Chamber of Commerce would have had to foot the bill for lighting the thing, so, yeah; no.

But it was still the original letters and they continued to deteriorate into a complete eyesore. By the 1970’s it was determined that it needed a complete overhaul, costing a quarter of a million dollars. To raise the money, the band Fleetwood Mac pledged to do a charity concert on the hill in 1977, but local residents put a stop to it. So, the following year, Hugh Hefner stepped in and held a charity auction at the Playboy Mansion, auctioning off individual letters at $27,777 each.

Thus, in August of 1978 they tore down the old sign and put up the one that stands today, this time on purpose. The letters are 45 foot tall and from 31 to 39 feet wide. No light bulbs. Hugh Hefner owns the “Y,” Andy Williams spotted for the “W,” and Alice Cooper bought the third “O” in honor of Groucho Marx. Warner Brothers owns the second “O,” and I suspect they currently keep The Warner Kids trapped in there, instead of in their old water tower.

Recently, a proposal to develop the surrounding land prompted the “Save the Peak” campaign. $12.5 Million dollars was needed to keep 138 acres adjacent to the sign. Donations came from all over, but at the eleventh hour, the Hollywood Sign’s Number One Fan, Hugh Hefner stepped in again, this time donating the final $900,000 dollars to save it.

Thanks, Hef. I really, really appreciate it.

I would respectfully like to dedicate this post to the Memory of Peg Entwistle. Rest in Peace, Star.

This post is part of the L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks series – click here for the rest of the series!

Peg Entwistle

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: The Hollywood Bowl

Click to embiginate and see the Hollywood sign in the distance.

The Hollywood Bowl is certainly one of L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks. Opened on July 11, 1922, for the past 88 years the Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as hosting countless music festivals, concerts, and cultural events.

Just a few blocks north of a more recent L.A. landmark, Hollywood & Highland, the Hollywood Bowl is built on the hillside of Bolton Canyon in one of the world’s largest natural amphitheaters. Just a few blocks from the heart of Hollywood, yet when you enter the Bowl it’s like leaving that other world behind. The noise of the nearby 101 freeway fades as you sit outdoors in the waning light of a warm summer evening. Sitting in one of the Bowl’s nearly 18,000 seats, you face the majestic white band shell, and beyond that the gentle rolling Hollywood hills with the Hollywood sign on the far ridge. Regardless of the evening’s scheduled performance, there is a certain serenity in that setting.

Satellite photo of Hollywood Bowl courtesy of USGS.

There is something for everyone at the Hollywood Bowl. While it is the summer home of the L.A. Phil and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, it’s not all classical. Wednesday nights during the summer typically feature jazz, Sundays are often world music, and that’s just the beginning. There are latin music festivals, showtune sing-alongs, movie music nights, and rock concerts. Next weekend John Williams will be conducting the L.A. Phil in highlights from the Golden Age of Hollywood, plus music he composed for films such as Star Wars, Jaws and Indiana Jones.

The list of legendary performances at the Hollywood Bowl is incredible. The Beatles played there on their first ever American tour in 1964. The Doors recorded a live album there in 1968. Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald performed on the Hollywood Bowl stage, as well as Billie Holiday, Al Jolson and Judy Garland. Mikhail Baryshnikov and Fred Astaire both danced there, and Abbot & Costello and Monty Python have performed comedy. The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Run DMC, Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfunkle, The Grateful Dead, Coldplay, Luciano Pavarotti, Depeche Mode, Cher…the list goes on and on. And on.

Click to make larger and more spectacular.

The Hollywood Bowl has also been featured in many films, including A Star Is Born (1937,) Anchors Aweigh (1945,) Xanadu (1980,) Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987,) and Escape From L.A. (1996.) There is even a parody of the Bowl seen in the Simpsons called “The Springfield Bowl.”

I’ve been a regular at the Hollywood Bowl every summer for more than 20 years. Nothing beats sitting out under the stars with a picnic and a bottle of wine and a great performance unfolding on the stage in front of you.

I’ve got more favorite shows and tips than will fit here, but for starters, one of my favorite shows (among many favorites) must be my very first concert there. Elton John, in 1982. I also saw Miles Davis‘ last show ever (he passed away a month later) in 1991. One of many pro tips? Park down the hill at Hollywood & Highland and walk up. It’s a short hike, but it’s not stack parked and with a HiHo validation it’s only $2 for the first four hours (as opposed to $16 in Bowl parking lots.)

Anyone who has been to the Bowl more than once or twice has a favorite feature or a tip to improve the experience. What are yours? Leave a note in the comments section below with your favorite thing about the Bowl, best show you’ve seen there, or your best Hollywood Bowl tip.

This post is part of the L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks series on blogging.la. You can find all of the posts in the series here.

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive is one of those immediately recognizable L.A. locations that is used in every other film or television establishing shot once our fair hero arrives in SoCal, and is on every tourist’s agenda. It’s where Julia Roberts got a makeover in Pretty Woman, and was one of the backdrops for the drama of the kids of “Beverly Hills, 90210” (is it weird I can’t think of another legitimate reference not from the 90’s?). It’s the face of the entire city of Beverly Hills, especially considering you’re probably not cool enough to get into so much of the rest of the town’s more scenic areas, hidden behind private gates.


But of course it’s more than just a street, or a particular strip of high-end stores. It’s a neighborhood filled with palm trees, small art galleries and contemporary architecture; a meeting place for locals on their lunch break. During a weekend afternoon the sidewalks overflow with those who just want to say they’ve been there and barely enter a single store. On a weekday night it nearly empties out entirely, with many stores closing at 5 or 6, creating a modern ghost town, with only a lit-up semi-bustling restaurant every block or two to remind you that yes, people do live around here, too.

Rodeo Drive's pedestrian walkway - from Picasa user Aurélien Boffy

I’ll admit, I’m decidedly low-brow in my consumption of local hot spots, and have never bought anything there besides cupcakes (lots and lots of cupcakes). It’s one of the few  tourist venues I know of that has surprisingly ample free parking, but I always take the 720 bus anyhow. There isn’t much history to be found here (aside from a couple of the old hotels now under new names and a few shops, much of the Rodeo Drive shopping center as we know it came to be in the 70’s). But it’s a highly walkable neighborhood to bring visiting friends to on bright, sunny afternoons – those afternoons where the streets are flooded with people, gawking and shopping, from all walks of life and all parts of the world, making up a little microcosm of multicultural Los Angeles itself.

Check out the rest of the L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks series here.

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: A Series

Photo by Jodi

Every city has its landmarks. Some are well-known, others hidden. They can be awe-inspiring or, in some cases, a downright embarrassment to the residents. Los Angeles is no exception and is home to countless buildings, monuments, signs, parks, streets, etc. that define the landscape.

Starting next Monday, August 9th, the authors of blogging.la will begin exploring L.A.’s great, unique landmarks. As with our previous series Songs About Los Angeles and L.A. Plays Itself In The Movies, we will give a personal perspective on the meaning and greatness of the landmarks we’ve chosen.

You very well may disagree with something we include being deemed “great” or even a landmark. And yes, there are many, many, many fantastic and iconic L.A. landmarks that won’t be included in this round of posts. We encourage you to let us know what you think we missed and are looking forward to your input!

Links to posts in this series:

Sunset Boulevard (Tammara)

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (RobNoxious)

Griffith Observatory (Matt Mason)

The Rose Bowl (Frazgo)

Randy’s Donuts (Alexandra Apolloni)

Olvera Street (Kevin Ott)

Hollywood and Highland (Travis Koplow)

Bob’s Big Boy (Jodi Kurland)

Union Station (Julia Frey)

Walt Disney Concert Hall (Joz)

Venice Beach (Matt Mason)

The Hollywood Walk of Fame (Queequeg)

Angels Flight (Janna Smith)

Farmer’s Market (Kevin Ott)

The Capitol Records Building (Alexandra Apolloni)

The La Brea Tar Pits (RobNoxious)

Watts Towers (Travis Koplow)

Colorado Street Bridge (Frazgo)

Rodeo Drive (Janna Smith)

The Hollywood Bowl (Burns!)

Flashback Edition: Angelyne (Julia Frey)

Chateau Marmont (Tammara)

The Hollywood Sign (RobNoxious)