Posts tagged “Los Angeles

Street of Memory: Olvera Street in the 1930s

Posted on May 4, 2012

“The courtesy of the past is maintained: soft voices, soft footsteps, soft music. The busy world is forgotten. Around the corner they still live as they did yesterday. . . . And who can say which is the envious one? The aged plaza that lifts its tired eyes to the modern, admired City Hall of Los Angeles, or the sunburned building that looks down on the peace and restfulness of the Street of Memory?” So said the narrator of Street of Memory (1937), a tourist-oriented documentary film that attempted to situate Los Angeles’s Olvera Street as a piece of Old Mexico surrounded by a modern American city. The fixation on surviving relics that seemed to defy the march of time was (and is) a tried-and-true way…

Venice Beach’s Battle of the Boardwalk

Posted on April 24, 2012

Venice Beach is widely known for its carefree, bohemian air. Having enticed successive waves of Beats, hippies, punks, roller-derby fiends, and other nonconformists for decades, the funky Los Angeles neighborhood along the Pacific is among the inheritors of a long tradition of quirky enclaves in America: New York’s Greenwich Village, New Orleans’s French Quarter, San Francisco’s North Beach and Haight-Ashbury, Cleveland’s Coventry Village, Miami’s Coconut Grove, and Atlanta’s Little Five Points, to name but a few. This image is so pervasive that few can believe Venice had its origin as a master-planned residential community laced with gondola-plied canals that conjured its Italian namesake, as architectural historian Philip Gruen describes in American Tourism. Like other counterculture havens, Venice Beach became noted for the free-spirited joie…