The city of Los Angeles has one of the richest architectural histories in the United States. Despite the new development and construction that is constantly threatening these historical landmarks, there remain quite a few Art Deco edifices to see. The following buildings are still standing in Los Angeles as an inspiring reminder of the city’s beautiful Art Deco architecture.
Immediately recognizable for its green facade and the 45 degree angle with which it faces the street, The Wiltern is a true treasure. Originally a movie house boasting one of the largest Wulitzer organs in the country, the opening night premiered Alexander Hamilton starring George Arliss. After the theater was sold in 1956, the building’s health steadily declined until two demolitions were intervened by the Los Angeles Conservancy in the 1970s. After a large scale renovation, it was renamed for its intersection – Wilshire and Western. It now operates as a music venue of alternative indie and revival bands.
Named after James Zera Oviatt, who had it built for his department store of finer European goods and lived in the penthouse. During the Depression, he was able to remain open, without laying off one employee, even giving everyone a raise before the recession ended. Oviatt was a bachelor until the 50s, when he fell in love with a customer who married him on a whim for picking up her layaway bill. The Oviatt Store closed in 1969 with mass produced items flooding the market and the decline of the downtown shopping experience, while his family continued to live in the penthouse. The building is known for it’s intense glasswork ceilings, chandeliers, and elevator doors, as well as its attention to detail and subtle lavishness. Maxwell DeMille’s Cicada Club, a swing-era club, now operates on the ground floor.
The Philanthropist Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, donated the land of Griffith Park to the city of Los Angeles in 1896. His vision was to make astronomy available and accessible to the public, regardless of wealth or education. The Works Progress Administration Project employed the workers that constructed this building, which was later renovated and expanded in the early 2000s. It’s been a popular filming location since the 30s, and an even more popular tourist destination for it’s breathtaking views. Since its function was never theater or offices, it’s the only example of Art Deco’s take on the museum.
Warner Brothers called upon B. Marcus Prieteca and Anthony Heinsbergen to collaborate and construct the Warner Grand movie theater in San Pedro. One of three in a series, the others were built in Beverly Hills and Huntington Park. They have since been demolished and closed down. This one faced a similar fate, but was saved from demolition in the 1990s by the group, Grand Vision Foundation. Now it operates as a community theater, showing local and touring bands, opera, comedy, and film festivals.
Built as the gathering hall for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, then a hotel, The Park Plaza has seen few constructional changes since its completion. It has witnessed the Macarthur Park neighborhood decay and gentrify, as well as hosting auxiliary swim meets for the Olympics. The main entrance’s construction straight is to the point, but it’s the ceilings above that speak to it’s opulence. Designed by Anthony Heinsbergen and Co. who are also responsible for the paintings of the Wiltern and Warner Grand, this building is a slice of history
The Eastern Columbia Building (1930)
Architect: Calud Beelman
Despite only taking nine months to build, there is no shortage of glamour to The Eastern Columbia Building. It’s unmistakable for its turquoise terracotta exterior and lavish ornamentation of sunbursts, chevrons, and zigzags. It’s original intention was for the headquarters of the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company. At the time, it was the largest building in the United States. Now it is home to luxury lofts, with a pool on the roof underneath as its trademark clocktower. It is the most all encompassing example of the Art Deco style in Los Angeles.
Eastern Columbia Building, 849 S Broadway St, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213-478-0755
By Hannah D
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