Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XXXI!!!


Click here to view larger map!

Happy Summer, everyone! The third (of six!) CicLAvia of 2019 and the 31st iteration of Los Angeles' open streets event is here again, this time running through the southern end of Central Los Angeles. While technically not a new route (The first "To The Sea" CicLAvia alignment in April, 2013 ran through the Venice Boulevard section of this route), this does bring the communities of Los Angeles' Mid-City into the CicLAvia fold for the first time. Sandwiched between Hancock Park/Koreatown to the north and South Los Angeles al sur, the Mid-City neighborhoods feature a diverse mix of African American, Latín, Immigrant African, Korean and Caribbean residents.

It's an area that was an "urban suburb" of streetcar corridors (The Pacific Electric on Venice, the Los Angeles Railway on Washington), houses, shops and houses of worship in popular early 20th-century aesthetic styles, with well-defined artistic pockets, both historic and contemporary. So, see you or not see you on the streets this Sunday! And here we go...

1. Powers Place - Shortest Street in Los Angeles
1904
Powers Place and Alvarado Terrace, Pico-Union

You all know the longest street in Los Angeles, right? It's Sepulveda Boulevard. But what's the shortest street in the city? It's right here! It's Powers Place, a whopping 30 feet in length! Named after Los Angeles City Council president Pomeroy Powers, who spearheaded the effort to create a city park (originally named Terrace Park) at the neighborhood of Craftsman, Tudor and Victorian-style houses built in the early 1900s decade. All six historic houses along Alvarado Terrace were designated by the City as Historic-Cultural Monuments in 1971.

2. Iglesia Adventista Central/1st Church of Christ, Scientist
1912
1366 S. Alvarado Street, Pico-Union

Currently the site of a 7th Day Adventist Church catering to a Latín congregation, this 107-year old Mediterranean Romanesque Revival house of worship has changed owners, and even denominations, and has had a long, and even dark, history behind it. Built in 1912 as the 1st Church of Christ, Scientist, it served its Christian Science congregation for six decades, before it became a Jewish synagogue for a few years. In the mid-1970s, it became the Los Angeles location of The People's Temple, the cult founded by Jim Jones, who infamously led over 900 his followers to live in a commune in Jonestown, Guyana, and consequently, to die in the largest mass-suicide in history (which spawned the euphemism, "Don't drink the Kool-Aid"). The current Adventist church has been there since the late 1970s, since, Jim Jones uh...couldn't really use it anymore. The church structure was inducted into the National Register of Historic Sites in 1984.

3. Hoover Street - Original City Boundary
1850
Hoover Street, Pico-Union

CicLAvia only runs for a few yards on this street, but note how all the streets east of Hoover run in a diagonal fashion, and all the streets west run perfectly east-west. Yes, Virginia, Los Angeles was not always big and sprawled. From 1850 to 1896, Hoover was the original western boundary of the City of Los Angeles, which meant that over 120 years ago, you'd be on the Westside. On April 2, 1896, the "Western Addition" was annexed into the City, extending the boundaries a few miles west to Arlington Avenue (more on this latter...)

4. Loyola High School
1917
1901 Venice Blvd, Byzantine-Latino Quarter

Founded in 1865 at St. Vincent Court off of 7th Street in Downtown (a spot on the "Heart of LA" CicLAvia Tour), this Jesuit-run Catholic boys' high school is the oldest continuously-running educational institution in Los Angeles. The school moved to its current location in 1917 after splitting from the affiliated Loyola Marymount University, and after Irish philanthropist Thomas P. Higgins (who owned the Higgins Building on 2nd and Main in Downtown) donated land in what was then the southwestern corner of the city. Home of the Cubs, the school celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2015. Famous alums include volleyball great Sinjin Smith, Vons grocery founder Wilfred Von der Ahe, broadcaster Stan Chambers and holy Homeboy Fr. Greg Boyle.

5. Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery
1884
1831 W. Washington Blvd, West Adams

This 65-acre memorial park, originally established as Rosedale Cemetery, has been serving Los Angeles for the past 135 years, and is the final resting place of a number of historic Angelenos, such as Port of Los Angeles founder Phineas Banning, the City of Burbank's namesake Dr. David Burbank, jazz legend Eric Dolphy, actress Hattie McDaniel and mayors George Alexander, Arthur C. Harper, Owen McAleer, John G. Nichols, Frank Rader and Frederick T. Woodman. One of the most notable graves is that of Catalina Island developer George Shatto, who is interred in a pyramid!

6. Westmoreland Heights Tract Monument
1902
Westmoreland Avenue and Venice Boulevard, Harvard Heights

In an era before cities erected standard street signs on corners, tract home developments established concrete or masonry monuments bearing the name of the development as well as the street. This one bears the name of the Westmoreland Heights tract, established in 1899, featuring homes built in the Craftsman, Tudor/Craftsman and American Foursquare styles. Many of the residents were the owners of large local businesses. If you notice, the sign facing Venice Blvd bears the name "16th Street." West of Downtown, 16th Street is nowhere to be found on any maps (not even in La Guía de los Hermanos Tomas) - that's because 16th Street was re-named Venice Boulevard in 1932.

7. Ray Charles RPM International Studios
1964
2107 W. Washington Blvd, Harvard Heights.

This 11,488 square foot, two -story building, designed by Joe Adams and Ray Charles himself opened in 1964 as the legendary musician's personal recording studio and offices (he lived in nearby Leimert Park at the time). One of his biggest hits, "Georgia On My Mind" was recorded here, as well as his 2004 Grammy-winning swan song album, Genius Loves Company. It was designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 2004, just prior to Charles' death and since 2010 functions as the Ray Charles Memorial Library, a museum dedicated to the singer's career, featuring free tours of the facility (by appointment) on Mondays thru Wednesdays.

8. Arlington Ave - Old City Boundary
1909
Arlington Ave, Arlington Heights

Continuing the Los Angeles City Boundary history, Arlington Avenue was once the westernmost border of the City from 1896 to 1909, when the Colegrove Addition (which stretched north towards Hollywood) was annexed into the City. Note how the street dramatically widens west of Arlington - that, of course, was to accommodate both automobiles and the Pacific Electric Red Car tracks, which run the rest of the way along Venice Blvd.

9. Washington Square Market/Swap Meet
1964
4060 Washington Blvd, Mid-City

This shopping center, built in the mid-1960s used to feature a Ralphs supermarket (hence the vestigal red oval sign) and local shops. Since the 1980s the shopping center has hosted an indoor swap meet, akin to the large Slauson Swap Meet in South Los Angeles and the soon-to-close Union Discounts in East Hollywood, an indoor bazaar featuring clothing, shoes, sporting goods, repair/service stalls, salons and eateries owned by upstart immigrant entrepreneurs.

10. St. Paul's Catholic Church
1937
4120 Washington Blvd, Mid-City

Originally established on the site of a convent in 1917 among bean fields and oil derricks, the current Romanesque church building (inspired by the Basilica Papale San Paolo fuori le Mura in Rome) was built 20 years later and designed by famed Los Angeles architects John C. Austin and Frederick Ashley, who also designed the Griffith Observatory (which opened two years earlier). Today, St. Paul's serves a Spanish, English and Korean-speaking congregation. Their annual Parish Festival also happens to be scheduled concurrently with CicLAvia, so one can check out the rides, games and food in their parking lot.

11. Wellington Square
1914
Victoria Avenue, Wellington Road, Virginia Road and Buckingham Road (south of Washington Boulevard), Mid-City

Developed by M.J. Nolan on land formerly owned by George L. Crenshaw (Yup,, that Crenshaw), this four-block neighborhood features over 200 Spanish Colonial, Tudor, French Norman, Craftsman and Revival-style residences. Today, the neighborhood is starting to get Capital "G," but you can check out their weekly Farmers' Market on the parking lot at Wellington Road and Washington Boulevard, also happening on Sunday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

12. First Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles
1924
1809 West Boulevard, Mid-City

This Presbyterian church community, which moved several times around Los Angeles in its 132-year history, settled at this location in 1924. The congregation became predominantly African American in makeup in the 1960s, which it remains today, although the church shares the building with a separate Korean church. This Gothic Revival church structure was also designed by John C. Austin and Frederick Ashley (architects of St. Paul's down the street, remember?), along with Frederic Roehrig, who designed Pasadena's iconic Hotel Green. Check out the old-school incinerator chimney facing Washington Blvd!

13. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center/Ebony Showcase Theater
2004/1950
4718 Washington Blvd, Mid-City

Named after the longtime African American Los Angeles city councilman (1987-2002), this City-owned facility, which opened in 2004, hosts community-based performing arts and arts education programs. It was built on the site of the Ebony Showcase Theater, the first African American-owned theater building in Los Angeles, which was founded in 1950 by actor Nick Stewart (who voiced Brer Bear in Disney's "Song of the South") and his wife Edna. That theater featured community-based performing arts programs which ran until the 1998, when the City's Community Redevelopment Agency took over the Northridge earthquake-damaged building by eminent domain.

14. Trabue Pittman Building/Willing Workers Building
1931
4801 Washington Blvd, Mid-City

This Art Deco structure, built in 1931 at the northwest corner of Washington and Rimpau (where the Los Angeles Railway's W Line ended) was designed by celebrated architect S. Charles Lee. Owned by the Tabue Pittman Corporation, it was leased to various businesses over the years, including an F.W. Woolworth's store and a Bank of America branch. Today it is the home of Willing Workers, Inc, a non-profit that trains developmentally-disabled adults for workforce employment.

15. St. Elmo Village
1969
4830 St. Elmo Drive, Mid-City

This unique artists community was founded by the late African American artist Rozzell Sykes and his nephew Roderick, who purchased several homes in the neighborhood to save them from demolition and create a multicultural artists' community as an urban experiment. The community organizes the annual St. Elmo Festival every May to celebrate the arts. Fifty years later, now run by Roderick Sykes, the community is still going strong.

16. Dodgers Mural House
2018
1626 S. La Brea Ave, Mid-City

This unoccupied single-story house built in 1927 awaiting rehabilitation became a canvas for muralist and Dodger fan Hector "Tetris" Arias to celebrate the team's appearance in the 2018 World Series. Painted blue and featuring legendary lefties Fernando Valenzuela and Clayton Kershaw, the mural garnered media attention last Fall. The artist also painted a mural of third baseman Justin Turner on a condemned house near 62nd and Broadway in South Los Angeles prior to the team's 2017 World Series appearance, but that has been since demolished and a new structure has taken over. This mural, like the likelhood of the Dodgers' appearing in the next World Series, still remains, so expect the artist to simply upgrade the year on the mural.

17. Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles (New Location)
2019
Washington Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Mid-City

Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles, which was founded by Herb Hudson (no one actually knows who "Roscoe" is...) and first opened on Gower Street in Hollywood in 1975, needs no introduction. But the so-called flagship location on Pico Boulevard (visited by President Barack Obama in 2011) a half-mile north, is slated to be replaced with this new location, opening sometime this Summer, once all the permits are approved and Hudson finally pays off his Chapter 11 debt.

18. U.S. Post Office, West Adams Ray Charles Station
1983
4960 W. Washington Blvd, Mid-City

This post office building, which opened in 1983 and serves the 90016 ZIP code, was dedicated as the Ray Charles Station U.S. Post Office in August 2005, in memory of the one of neighborhood's most prominent figures, whose RPM International Studios is located just a mile and a half east. The post office joins other facilities named after legendary musical artists, such as Nat King Cole on Western and 3rd (seen in last August's "Celebrate LA" CicLAvia Tour) and Marvin Gaye, on Vermont and 35th,  dedicated earlier this month.

Happy CicLAvia!

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Militnt's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XXX!!!



Interactive map! Click here for larger version!

The second CicLAvia of 2019 is also the 30th (count' em!) iteration of Los Angeles' (and vicinity's) regular open streets event, having started just eight and a half years ago. This route is short and sweet -- the shortest CicLAvia route to date at 2.27 miles. It's basically a truncated version and 1/4 of the  "San Pedro Meets Wilmington" route from August 13, 2017.

Speaking of Short and Sweet, this route will only feature 10 points of interest. But these short routes are ideal for hanging out and chillin' as opposed to the whole "We gotta cover every inch of this route! MOVE!" pedaling rush. But hey, at least the DMZ's (Dismount Zones) are at a minimum this time!

As usual, see you or not see you on the streets on Sunday! HAPPY CICLAVIA!

NOTE: When sharing pictures or selfies of any of these locations along your CicLAvia ride on Sunday, don't forget to tag #EpicCicLAviaTour when posting on social media!

1. Wilmington Cemetery
1857
605 East O St, Wilmington

Built on a plot of donated land just north of Banning Park by Mr. Wilmington Himself, Phineas Banning (who was laid to rest here in 1885), this cemetery, one of the oldest in the state of California, is also the final resting place of numerous local Civil War and World War I veterans. It is also designated as a Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monument (#414).

2. Phineas Banning Museum
1864
401 East M St, Wilmington

It's appropo that we start our journey (both literally and metaphorically) here. Phineas Banning was one of them 19th century white dudes who basically did something and changed the shape, size and function of the city of Los Angeles forever. Born in Delaware in 1830, he worked as a young man in the shipyards of nearby Philadelphia. He moved to Southern California at the age of 21, but instead of doin' it wagon style cross-country, he took a long-ass boat ride to pre-canal Panama, and took another long-ass boat ride on the Pacific side to this sleepy fishing village called San Pedro, where he worked a number of odd jobs, including driving stagecoaches (it's like being an 1850s Uber driver). The stagecoaches worked between San Pedro and Los Angeles, and after he made some mad bank driving Ube stagecoaches, he launched his own startup - BanningStagecoaches.com. Then he started buying up vacant marshland property near San Pedro and named it after his Delaware hometown of Wilmington. He also was a big visionary type and thought the whole San Pedro-Wilmington are would make a nice port for Los Angeles. Back then, the city was looking at making Santa Monica a port. That big thing he did? He went next level on all them fools and built a railroad from Los Angeles to San Pedro. The City was all like, "Dude, we got a port now." The reason why the City of Los Angeles has a big skinny stick in the bottom is because of Banning. The reason why millions of tons of cargo goes in and out of ships in this area today is because of Banning. The reason why the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest ship terminal complex in the United States is because of Banning. The Greek Renaissance Revival structure in the middle of this 20-acre park in Wilmington was his residence from 1864 to 1885. The City of Los Angeles bought the site in 1927 for historic preservation.


3. William Wrigley's Court of Nations1927
Lakme Avenue, Banning Boulevard and Cary Avenue between M and L streets, Wilmington

This plot of land south of Banning Park was purchased by chewing gum magnate and Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley, Jr in 1927 from Phineas Banning (This was not the first time Wrigley dealt with Banning; he also purchased Catalina Island from him in 1919). Wrigley built several residences to house the workers of his local companies, which also included the Wilmington Lines ship ferry company, which transported tourists from the mainland to Avalon. He hired architect Sid Spearin, who designed houses in Spanish, Dutch, American Colonial and Tudor Revival styles and called it "The Court of Nations." The neighborhood became a historic preservation zone in 2001. 
 

4. Avalon Palm Trees
1931
Avalon Bl between Pacific Coast Highway and East I St, Wilmington

Palm trees are everywhere in Los Angeles. Okay, so what? Well, these palm trees had a purpose for being here. Considering the City of Angels will be hosting its third Olympic games in 2028, these 218 Mexican Fan Palm trees are a remnant of an early Olympic legacy. They were planted here along Avalon Boulevard in 1931 as part of a citywide beautification effort for the 1932 Olympic Games. Speaking of Avalon Boulevard, did you know that it was originally named Canal Street before 1926? There was once a canal there, which was filled in 1851 and turned into a dirt road.

5. The Don Hotel
1929
906 Avalon Blvd, Wilmington

Opened in July, 1929, The Don Hotel (not to be confused with this guy, but rather its owner, a man named Don Hundredmark) was the most prestigious hotel in Wilmington during the pre-war period. Constructed to cater to tourists going to and from Catalina Island, it became an important gathering place in the area, with luminaries such as William Randolph Hearst and Bing Crosby once staying there. After falling into decay through the 20th century, the building was restored in the 1990s and turned into senior apartments in 1999. The landmark “The Don” neon sign atop the building is a restored sign put up in 2000 that was given the Hollywoodland treatment – it once read, “Don Hotel.”

6. Granada Theater
1926
632 Avalon Blvd, Wilmington

Once Wilmington’s landmark neighborhood Vaudevillian, and later motion picture, theater, it was built with with Renaissance Revival influences and a lighted prominent marquee. The only example of the property type remaining in the area. It was built by C.L. Post (of the Post Cereal family) in 1926 as part of the West Coast Theatres chain. In 1927, Fox Theatres purchased West Coast Theaters and changed the name to the Fox Granada. After falling into decay, it was resurrected (no pun intended) as a church in the 1990s, but was sold in 2015. It is now owned by the nonprofit Wilmington Granada Friends group that hopes to bring it back to its original use as a community entertainment venue.

7. Wilmington Municipal Building
1928
544 N. Avalon Blvd, Wilmington

Originally built in 1928 as the Seaboard Branch of California Bank, this Neoclassical style building has Corinthian columns and pilasters and decorated arches. And that corner clock! More recently, the building, now owned by the City of Los Angeles, is used as the office of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. It was also the former field office for Councilwoman Janice Hahn during the 2000s decade.

8. Brick House
1924
109 W. C Street, Wilmington

She's mighty-mighty, just lettin' it all hang out.

9. Wilmington Waterfront Park/Harry Bridges Blvd
2011
Harry Bridges Blvd between Lagoon Ave and Figueroa St, Wilmington

Wilmington Waterfront Park, which opened in 2011, was created a decade ago as a project to provide a 30-acre buffer zone in the form of public open space between the Port of Los Angeles and the residential community in Wilmington. The park features green space/landscaping, paths and walkways, benches, water features, pedestrian bridges, restrooms, drinking fountains, binoculars and a children’s playground. The project also widened Harry Bridges Boulevard.

And who, exactly, is Harry Bridges? He was a 20th century labor leader in the West Coast best known for forming the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in 1937. The union is a huge presence in the blue-collar port communities of Wilmington and San Pedro.

10. The Southernmost End of Figueroa Street
Figueroa Street at Harry Bridges Blvd, San Pedro

This is the extreme southernmost end of the longest street entirely within Los Angeles City Limits (sorry, Sepulveda, you go through so many other cities), Figueroa was named after General Jose Figueroa, the governor of Mexican-Era Alta California from 1833 to 1835. The 25 mile-long thoroughfare runs up through Harbor Gateway and South Los Angeles through Downtown Los Angeles to the extreme opposite end, just north of the 134 Freeway, right below Eagle Rock’s eponymous geological landmark (Yes, that picture is a trapezoid style sign taken in Downtown Los Angeles, thanks for paying attention). 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XXIX!!!


For larger version of map, click here.


The first CicLAvia of 2019 is the earliest calendar date CicLAvia event and the second during the Winter season. And with a high temperature of 61 degrees, this will beat out the last CicLAvia in December in terms of coldest to date.

This is the 29th iteration of CicLAvia, with a 5.8-mile route that is a truncated version of the March 2017 "Culver City Meets Venice" course, and parts of which were also covered in the August 2015 and April 2013 open streets events.


You should know the drill by now, Share this link on your Facebooks, Twitters and Instagrams, visit the sights yourselves -- and if you do, use the hashtag, #EpicCicLAviaTourAnd here...we...go!


1. Site of King's Tropical Inn
1930
5879 Washington Blvd, Culver City

The sight of this Byzantine domed structure will strike a chord in many older Angelenos. Established in 1925 by restaurateur John G. King, in the era before Zankou, Koo-Koo-Roo, Pioneer Chicken or even Knott's Chicken Dinners, this was the place for a chicken dinner in the Los Angeles area. King's wooden tropical-style hut burned down in a 1930 fire, but was replaced later that year by the familiar domed building that featured an exotic koi goldfish pond in the front. The Southern-style chicken and jumbo squab (that's roast pigeon) dinners were still legendary and the place remained popular through the 1940s and '50s. The restaurant closed down in the mid-1960s and was eventually repurposed as tire and auto body shop in the 1980s. It was demolished in 1994 following damage from the Northridge Earthquake. A Culver City historical marker is placed at the location and the archway of the modern shopping center at Washington and La Cienega pays architectural homage to the dome.

2. Syd Kronenthal Park
1940
3459 McManus Ave, Culver City

This six-acre park on the northeast corner of El Ciudad de Culver is in a unique location: Los Angeles-adjacent, situated along the banks of Ballona Creek, it opened in 1940 as McManus Park where Pacific Electric Red Cars sped by for the next 13 years. In 1992 the park was re-named after longtime Culver City municipal employee "Uncle" Syd Kronenthal (1923-2015) who, during his 52-year tenure, helped develop the city's Recreation and Parks department and established 14 parks in the Heart of Screenland. Today, the park, just two blocks south of the CicLAvia route, is also accessible via the Expo Line Bike Path and the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

3. Hayden Tract
1986
Area bounded by National Blvd, Ballona Creek, Higuera St and Hayden Ave, Culver City

This tell-tale set of architecturally-unique buildings makes up Culver City's Hayden Tract, a collection of offices, art galleries, design firms and entertainment and tech industry studios. What was once Culver City's oldest industrial district, architect Eric Owen Moss and developers Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith created the Hayden Tract in 1986 as a redevelopment project and economic development engine fueled by arts and design. The result is buildings known as "The Beehive," "The Stealth" and "The Umbrella," a dance studio known as Conjuntive Points, Moss' own design studio and one of Los Angeles' most innovative design centers.

4. Helms Bakery
1931
8758 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles

From 1931 to 1969, Angelenos knew their bread, and it came from blue-and-yellow delivery trucks from the legendary Helms Bakery, founded at this site, with eventual satellite bakeries in Montebello and San Bernardino. It was the official bread of the 1932 Olympic Games here in Los Angeles, and the bread was so renowned, it was provided to the U.S. Olympic teams in subsequent Olympiads. It was even the first bread eaten on The Moon, as part of the Apollo 11 astronauts' food rations. But you couldn't buy the bread in any store, it was only from their delivery trucks (yes, the food truck craze is not new round here) with their tell-tale "TOOT! TOOT!" whistle. Ultimately, after an era where people bought food from delivery trucks, the Helms brand succumbed to the rise of the supermarket. This building and its trademark neon sign stand, adaptively reused, as a testament to its history and impact on Southern California. But everything old is new, and the Helms Bakery plans to re-open again!



5. Culver City Metro Expo Line Station/Site of Culver Junction
2012
Venice and National boulevards, Culver City

You may or may not have arrived at CicLAvia via the Metro Expo Line, which is the modern reincarnation of the Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line. Not only can you experience Los Angeles' transportation present, but you're also in the clear presence of its past -- this area was also the site of Culver Junction, where not one, not two, but three Pacific Electric Red Car lines converged, going to Santa Monica, Venice and Redondo Beach. TIP: Make sure you buy a Day Pass or that your TAP card is well-loaded before CicLAvia, so you don't have to queue at the ticket machines! The Militant says "You're Welcome."


6. Ince Boulevard/The Culver Studios
1918
Ince Blvd & Washington Ave, Culver City

As you make your first turn going westbound on the CicLAvia route, take note of the street name: Ince.

If you know your Culver City history, the town was a planned community built by landowner Harry H. Culver, a Spanish-American war veteran who worked for SFV pioneer Isaac N. Van Nuys and purchased a large section of the old Rancho La Ballona. In 1913 he established the town and filmmaker Thomas Ince moved his operation here from Pacific Palisades (via his Triangle Studios down the street -- more on this later...) and bought this section of land from Culver himself to establish the Ince Studio, which featured a large mansion fashioned after George Washington's Mt. Vernon residence, that remains in full view today. Ince's studio was sold to Cecil B. DeMille after his mysterious death and had changed hands and names over the years, finally adopting its current name of The Culver Studios in 1970. Legendary Hollywood films were shot this studio, including Gone With The WindKing KongE.T. and The Matrix.

7. Pacific Electric Ivy Substation
1907
Venice and Culver boulevards, Palms

Downtown  Culver City is already rich in retail and artistic activity, and has a bevy of well-known eateries, like the popular Father's Office. The Militant can cover that in its own post (and kinda already did before). But welcoming people to Downtown Culver City along Venice Blvd (though technically located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Palms), a block from the Culver City station is an appropriate link to the past - the Ivy Substation. The single-story Mission Revival-style structure served as a powerhouse for the Pacific Electric Railway from 1907 to 1953, when the Expo Line's predecessor, the Santa Monica Air Line, ceased operation. Today, it's a 99-seat venue for The Actor's Gang theatre company, renovated in the early 1990s. How interesting that a building originally built for transportation infrastructure was repurposed into a building for the arts, which in turn attract people using the new transportation infrastructure.


8. Culver Hotel
1924
9400 Culver Blvd, Culver City

This 6-story triangular building, originally named Hotel Hunt, opened in 1924 as Culver City's first skyscraper (it was the tallest building between Downtown Los Angeles and Venice)  and housed Harry Culver's personal office on the second floor. Numerous Hollywood stars have stayed here, such as Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Ronald Reagan, and most notably the little people actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz during its filming down the street. Actor John Wayne was one of the later owners, and it was fully restored in the 1990s.

9. The Washington Building
1927
9718 W. Washington Blvd, Culver City

Culver City's other 1920s-era triangular building is just down the street from The Culver Hotel. Built by Charles E. Lindblade, a business associate of Harry Culver who also bears a city street name of his own, this Beaux Arts-style building was designed by Arthur D. Scholz and Orville L. Clark. As it is today, the building housed numerous retail and office businesses over the years, including the Culver City post office, the MGM Studios Fan Club and Lindblade's real estate company.



10. Kirk Douglas Theatre/Culver Theatre
1946
9820 W Washington Blvd, Culver City

Built in 1946 as The Culver Theatre, a 1,100-seat Streamline Moderne cinema designed by Karl G. Moeller that screened 20th Century Fox films as part of the Fox West Coast Theatres chain.
It was later operated by the National General and Mann Pictures chains, and finally as an independent theatre. It was split into three screens circa 1970s, and closed in 1989. In 1994, it suffered damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and underwent a major $8 million renovation later in the '90s, re-opening in 2004 as The Kirk Douglas Theatre (with Spartacus himself as a the major contributor in the renovation), operated by Center Theatre Group. It currently features two stages, one seating about 300 and a smaller stage seating around 100.

11. Sony Pictures Studios/MGM Studios
1915
10202 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City

One can't mention Culver City without mentioning its massive movie lot, originally Thomas Ince's (remember him?) Triangle Studios operation until he moved to the Culver Studios property and sold this site to D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett.  In 1918, the studio was sold to Samuel Goldwyn, which became Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1924 (following the merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Studios and Louis B. Mayer Productions). It became the Columbia Pictures studios in 1989 and Sony Pictures Studios from 1992 to the present. On this lot was filmed a countless list of Hollywood productions, most notably The Wizard of Oz in 1939 (you will be riding next to the actual Land of Oz, think about that...), and currently, TV shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune. Not to be outdone by Universal and Warner Brothers, but you can also take a tour of this studio lot (weekdays only).

If heading northwest along Motor Avenue, please skip to #21.


12. La Ballona Elementary School
1865
10915 W Washington Blvd, Culver City

This local school is literally some old school Culver City right heah! Established in 1865, it's one of the oldest schools in Los Angeles County still in operation. Back in the day, it had an enrollment of 158 pupils between the ages of 5-15, being taught by one teacher, a Miss Craft who made $50 a month, and the school year lasted seven months, since it revolved around the agricultural calendar of the surrounding area.
When it was established, it was in an unincorporated area that eventually became Palms, which was annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1914. When Culver City was founded the year before, it had no schools within its boundaries, so another school was built in the area in 1916. Eventually La Ballona was annexed into Culver City in 1920.

13. King Fahad Mosque
1995
10980 Washington Boulevard, Culver City

This Islamic house of worship was built in 1995 as a gift from Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad to serve the growing community of Muslims in the Westside, named after the king of Saudi Arabia at the time. Its facade features hand made marble tiles from Turkey, and a 72 foot-high minaret topped with a gold leaf crescent.


14. Tellefson Park/Rollerdrome Site
1976/1928
1105 W. Washington Pl, Culver City

There's a designated activity hub here at this 1.5-acre Culver City park, which was dedicated in 1976 as part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations. It was named after former Culver City councilman and city attorney Mike Tellefson, who served the city for 31 years. In 2013, the body of a suicide victim was discovered in the park.

But longtime Culver Citizens remember this site as a legendary roller skating rink called The Rollerdrome,  a wooden structure which opened in 1928 and had a characteristic rounded roof. Roller skating events were centered around the rink's organ, which was played by a live organist, and provided memorable evenings for local families and youths. It was torn down in 1970, which was a shame, since roller skating enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the '70s.

15. Tito's Tacos
1959
11222 Washington Pl, Culver City

Many Angelenos already know of this longtime Westside (American) taco joint known as Tito's Tacos, which as we all know, was founded in 1959 by a businessman who may or may not be an actual Mexican guy named Tito. Everyone has their opinion on Tito's, but three things are indisputable truths: 1) It's a Culver City Institution; 2) It's not authentic Mexican food and 3) People come here for the nostalgia anyway.

During the "Culver City Meets Venice" CicLAvia in August 2015, a minor controversy erupted when the restaurant's owner threatened to sue Culver City government for potential lost revenue due to the CicLAvia route, and everyone, including The Militant got all in on that, but ultimately, cooler heads prevailed, and after an intervention by the CicLAvia organization, Tito's Tacos warmed up to the route, and likely did a 180 once crowds queued up along their sidewalk service windows. Titogate 2015 was now history. All is good now, and Tito's is a mainstay of every Culver City CicLAvia. The moral of the story? Never fear CicLAvia, and a little communication and understanding goes a long way.

16. The Oval District/Palm Place
1912
Area within Washington Place, McLaughlin Ave, Venice Blvd & Inglewood Blvd, Mar Vista

You might not see much from the street level, but this neighborhood just north of the CicLAvia route, a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone known as "The Oval District" is one of the first automobile-oriented property tract developments in Southern California.

When seen from a map or an aerial view. the streets of this 200-unit housing development of predominantly 1- and 2-story homes resembles an hourglass shape with an oval road in the center (which caught The Militant's eye and caused him to investigate the history of the place).

The 137-acre neighborhood was developed in 1912 by a Lillian Charnock Price (there is a "Charnock Road" two blocks north of Venice, BTW) who hired renowned landscape architect and urban planner Wilber David Cook, Jr. (who worked for legendary late 19th/early20th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design an "Aristocratic Suburb" marketed as “Palm Place."

The large-sized lots were unique, and park-like in their large setback from the street and the palm tree-lined parkways, but only a small number of homes were built. Price sold the development to Robert Sheman, who was the stepson of Moses Sherman, the developer of the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway, which built the original rail line on nearby Venice Boulevard. What was originally intended to be the first car-oriented development was going to be a transit-oriented development!

But those didn't sell either. The lots were still too large and pricey. So Sherman sold it to a financier group that marketed it as "Marshall Manor" in 1920 and interest began to pick up. But it wasn't until after World War II, when suburbanization was in vogue and Los Angeles' Westside development boom commenced, that the rest of the lots got built.

17. Mar Vista Hill (a.k.a. The 'Mar Vista' in Mar Vista)
1924
Centinela Ave & Rose Ave, Mar Vista

Everyone know that "Mar Vista" is Español for "sea view." But riding along Centinela or Venice during CicLAvia, you can't even see the sea. Where is it?

Well, The Militant will tell you where to see the "Mar Vista" in Mar Vista. He implores you to take a short detour from the CicLAvia route and continue north along Centinela Avenue, switch your gears (or pedal harder, you fixie heads), and go up the hill (Mar Vista Hill) until you reach Rose Avenue. Then turn right and go  up the hill to the open space that contains the baseball field and community garden. Look to the west, stand on top of the telephone poles laying on the ground in front of the small parking lot, and you can have a semi-unobstructed (damn you, DWP power lines!) view of Santa Monica Bay from the Palos Verdes peninsula to the Santa Monica Mountains.

Mar Vista Hill is a 203-foot-above-sea-level promontory that was once a garbage dump, and was later the site of the Venice Reservoir in 1940 (smart, huh). The reservoir was decommissioned in the 1960s and replaced with the baseball fields you see today.

So come on up to Mar Vista Hill, where you can see the sea, to see all that you can see!

Go visit Mar Vista Hill and tweet a pic of the ocean with the hashtag #EpicCicLAviaTour!


18. State Route CA 187
1964
Venice Boulevard between Lincoln Blvd and the 10 Freeway

You may or may not know that Venice Boulevard, in addition to being a two-time CicLAvia route, was also a Pacific Electric Red Car line, but did you know it's also a designated California State Highway? In 1964, CalTrans designated State Route 187 starting at the Pacific Ocean. In 1994, it was shortened to the 5.4 miles from Lincoln Boulevard to the 10 Freeway. The number "187" also happens to be a reference to the California Penal Code designation for murder, which is most likely why a young, '90s-era, pre-commercialized Snoop Dogg is standing by the sign in this photo.

19. Mario's Brothers Market
12904 Venice Blvd, Mar Vista

No deep history behind this neighborhood Mexican corner market on Venice and Beethoven, but the name caught The Militant's eye. He's seen some of you CicLAvians ride in CicLAvia in Mario/Nintendo cosplay, so this would be a perfect photo/selfie opportunity.

While you're here, support the business and buy something inside. Maybe it really is owned by a Mario. Or a Luigi. Ask where The Princess is. If they're successful enough, they might move to a larger location and rename themselves "Super Mario's Brothers." Tweet a pic of yourself (or your group) in front of Mario's Brothers with the hashtag "#EpicCicLAviaTour"!


20. Venice High School
1920
13000 Venice Blvd, Venice

Venice's namesake secondary school was one of three on-location sites for Rydell High in the 1978 motion picture Greaseand was the school scene in the Britney Spears video for her debut hit, "...Baby One More Time." The main Moderne-style school buildings, built in 1935-37  were designed by local architects John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley, who also designed the Griffith Observatory. The campus is also famous for its statue of legendary Hollywood actress and famous alumna Myrna Loy at the front of the school. Other famous alumni include Beau Bridges, Crispin Glover, the late Ivory Queen of Soul, Teena Marie and In-N-Out Burger founder Harry Snyder. Go Gondoliers!

Motor Avenue Branch:21. Digital Imaging Center
10354 Venice Blvd, Culver City

Not historic, but this is The Militant's go-to place for making physical prints of his digital photographs. Nice folks, nice prices and quick service!


22. The Original Location of Versailles Cuban Restaurant
1981
10319 Venice Blvd, Palms

Home of their legendary garlic chicken and black beans, among other menu items, this restaurant was founded at this location by Cuban immigrant Orlando Garcia in 1981 after opening a restaurant called El Rincon Criollo near Downtown Los Angeles in the late 1970s. So why is does an iconic Cuban restaurant bear the name of a historic palace in France? Originally to be named "El Rincon Criollo #2," it was named "Versailles" at the urging of his son and current owner William Garcia, who recalls visiting a fishing village called Versailles during his youth with his father, and stayed at Miami's Versailles hotel after his own wedding. And during his honeymoon, the cruise ship's dining room was also called Versailles. So his geographical leitmotif won out. The restaurant, now a local chain, eventually grew to five locations, but three (including locations in Encino and near Beverly Hills) operate today.

23. The Guy on Motor and Venice
2002
3771 Motor Ave, Palms

While waiting for his digital prints at Digital Imaging Center and after shopping for the latest camo threads at The Surplus Store across the street, The Militant stumbled on this rather random, eclectic and interesting thrift/antique store, which, depending on your tastes and interests, is either The Most Awesome Place Evar or a total P.O.S.  -- you decide. The guy is one Rick Lamb, who has run this place since 2002 and donates the proceeds of his sales to the organization Friends of Animals.


24. Iman Cultural Center
2006
3376 Motor Ave, Palms

This cultural center, school and house of worship for Los Angeles' Iranian American Shia Muslim community, most of which live in the Westside. Unlike the immigrants from Iran who identify as Persians (who are mostly Jewish) or other Muslims (who are mostly Sunni Muslims, the majority sect of Islam that has had a 1,387-year tiff with the Shiites) this minority-within-a-minority community holds this venue in high regard. And it's expected to be kickin' in a few weeks when it hosts the Nowruz, or Persian New Year festival on March 21.

25. The National Bend
National Blvd & Rose Avenue, Palms

Whatup with National Boulevard? It is perhaps one of the most perplexing throughfares in all of Los Angeles with its constant, excessive twists, turns and bends. But alas, our Freeway Culture is to blame: Before the late 1950s, National was a somewhat more straightforward street but was consequently chopped up and made into a crooked mess due to the construction of the Santa Monica Freeway. This sharp turn near Rose Avenue features an eclectic, multicultural array of restaurants, markets and shops usually not found in the Westside, such as the Simpang Asia Indonesian market, Madre Oaxacan Restaurant, Hu's Szechuan Restaurant, The Vegan Joint, and just around the corner, Mama's Pizza and the Irish Times pub. The Militant covered this curious corner back in 2007.

See you or not see you on the streets this Sunday! Low chance of rain in the morning, but always remember - THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON CICLAVIA! Happy CicLAvia!