Los Angeles Postcard Collection | Hotels

The Beverly Hilton Hotel
 9876 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Built on 8 ½ acres at a reported cost of $14 million, construction on the Beverly Hilton began in 1953 and was designed by Welton Beckett & Associates. The lavish hotel boasted rooms would feature a built-in radio-TV network, allowing guests to catch the dance club's floor show. The hotel was slated to open in August of 1955 with 450 rooms, 35 suites, eight penthouses, five banquet rooms, seven restaurant/bars and a private cocktail lounge. Indeed no less than Vice-President Richard Nixon was on hand to participate in the flag-raising ceremony. Also in attandance for the glitzy event were Leo Carillo and Police Chief Parker.

Opposition over the name came from nearby Beverly Hills Hotel. The posh Sunset Boulevard hotel filed notice in Santa Monica, arguing that use of the word 'Beverly' would result in confusion and loss of trade. Fortunately for the Hilton chain, a Superior Court judge ruled that a geographic name could not be copyrighted.

The opulent hotel was ready with a host of exciting dining facilties to entice hungry patrons;
  • The Bali Room - "Intoxicating lure of the South Pacific".

  • L'Escoffier - "A small, exclusive and spectacular restaurant".

  • The Star on the Roof - "Under a cluster of floating bronze stars, this room presents a panoramic view of Beverly Hills. The structure itself is in cantilevered suspension over the hotel's pool and patio".

  • Red Lion Bar - "Intimate atmosphere of an old English pub... restricted to gentleman until 6PM".

  • The Traders - "Supervised by famous Trader Vic". Trader Vic aka Victor Bergeron, would also operate Century City's Señor Pico restaurant, which opened in 1967.
In 1961, the hotel was sold on a leaseback basis to Chicago industrialist Henry Crown - a major shareholder in General Dynamic Corporation. Four years later, Hilton repurchased the hotel and soon broke ground on the Hilton's newest addition; a $2M, 181-room, four-storey structure.

More fresh changes were on the horizon and in 1967, Hilton added new facilities;
  • Monseigneur - "sumptous buffet lunch".

  • Gaslight Club - "lively evening entertainment for members and guests".

  • Michelle - "spectacular sundaes, ice-creams and confections".

  • Bar Bizarre - "strange drinks in strange glasses", and it appeared the English pub was now the Red Lion Grille.
Continuing to move forward, Hilton added Mr "H" Garden Cafe and Terrace in 1969, while the International Ballroom added a large closed-circuit TV for sporting events, where guests could enjoy the Lakers versus the Celtics in the NBA Championship. Entering the 1980's, the ballroom would become the setting for the annual Golden Globe Awards, an event previously held at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Century Plaza Hotel.

In 1987, Merv Griffin outbid Japanese investors and purchased the hotel, which he later sold in 2003. The hotel's decline checked in around 2007 when famed Polynesian restaurant Trader Vic's (long a staple of the hotel's landscape) was scaled down, moved, and eventually razed - making way for the Waldorf Astoria. The adjoining Robinson-May site also fell victim to the wrecking ball.

Roosevelt Hotel, 1948
 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA

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Situated on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Orange Drive, the Roosevelt Hotel opened in 1927. The 14-storey, Spanish Renaissance-styled hotel had a number of film industry heavyweights behind it; Joseph Schenck, Sid Grauman, Louis B. Mayer and Marcus Loew.

It was here that the first ever "awards for individual meritorius achievments in motion pictures" were held on May 16, 1929 (originally scheduled for May 1st). Fifteen awards were handed out that night, and biting insider film industry jokes were kept to a minimum.

The glitzy Roosevelt - "where the stars frolic" - featured attractions such as the Blossom Room, the Garden Grill and the Cinegrill (completed in 1935). Sid Grauman was Master of Ceremonies at the gala premiere of the swanky night-time lounge, which remained popular for years.

Well-heeled patrons got a pick-me-up at the Cinegrill's modern coffee shop, and marveled at the famous "TV Wall of Fame". For a memorable night on the town, filmland's finest danced and drank the night away to the sounds of Bill Pannell.

When it came to fine dining, the enchanting atmosphere of South Seas hit the mainland, with the opening of the Roosevelt's new Islander restaurant. Designed by Glendale architect Frank W. Green, the Islander overlooked the lighted swimming pool which provided a lush romantic setting, complete with dramtic planting, bamboo and rattan.

Under the direction of Miss Antoinette Vernon, chefs prepared Cantonese cuisine of barbecued ribs, squab, and whole suckling pig.

Miss Vernon's previous experience in the field came by virtue of her trip to Honolulul with Don the Beachcomber, where she explored Polynesian culinary art. The Polynesian-themed restaurant wouldn't be complete without master mixologists, and a tumbling waterfall that disappears behind tropical foliage.

The Roosevelt expanded in 1955, with the addition of a four-storey, 300-car garage and an additional 31 rooms. The hotel's next restoration ocurred in 1984. The Biggs Hotel Group undertook the nearly $28 million revamp, during which time, countless artifacts were auctioned off.

Holiday Inn Chinatown Arena
 1640 Marengo Street, Los Angeles CA 90033

The 1967 Holiday Inn became the Plaza Hotel in 1985, a Howard Johnson's in 1988, and razed to make way for a new USC Medical Center in 1997.

Mayflower Hotel
 535 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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Built by William H. Anderson, and operated by restauranteur Charles F. De Long, the Mayflower opened in 1927. Designed by Charles Whittlesey in Spanish Moorish style, the Mayflower rose up 13-stories (adhering to the height limit), with 350 room.

Charles De Long's son, John, remained in the hotel business for a number of years. In 1962, De Long managed the downtown Clark Hotel, which underwent a renovation.

After a brief ownership by William and Monte Mallet, the Mayflower was extensively renovated and operated by Hong Kong-based Ayala Hotel chain, and reopened as the Checkers Hotel in 1989. The luxury makeover converted many old rooms to suites, and added two floors to the top. Operates as The Hilton Checkers.

The Statler Center
 930 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA

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Formerly the 1873 family residence belonging to City Librarian Mary Foy (d. 1962), the corner of 7th and Figueroa was later occupied by the Harold L. Arnold Building (1917, Meyer & Holler), and the Paul Hoffman Studebaker agency.

The $20 million venture opened in 1952 to much fanfare. With a proposed 1600 rooms, the complex - comprising of hotel, office and shopping center - would be the largest hotel in Los Angeles.

Preliminary design duties were given to Henry Dreyfuss. Within time, John Wellborn Root of Chicago firm Holabird, Root & Burgee was assigned the job.

The hotel went through various ownerships, starting with Hilton in 1962 and renamed Los Angeles Hilton in 1968. With the new name, the venerable chain appealed to the jet-set with their swinging "Restaurant Row", which included The Veranda, King's Bar and a cocktail lounge called The Tiger ("Exotic Tiger Kittens").

This was a smart move, as L.A. nightlife offered a multitude of places for the beautiful cognoscenti; the Fog Cutter (1635 North La Brea), Charley Brown's (Marina del Rey), Hungry Tiger (7080 Hollywood Blvd.), PJ's (8151 Santa Monica), Smuggler's Inn (4711 Sunset) and the Playboy Club (8560 Sunset), to name just a few.

In 1995, it was announced "Los Angeles Has a New Name in Lights" when Omni Hotels brought new warmth and hospitality as the latest owner. And after a final switcheroo to the Wilshire Grand Hotel in 1999, the whole thing was eventually demolished in 2013 - paving the way for the slightly tall Wilshire Grand Tower.

The Angelus
 405 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Designed by John Parkinson, the downtown Angelus was built for Gustavus S. Holmes of Salt Lake City. Holmes, a former ranch hand in Coloroado, was no stranger to hospitality, having built several hotels in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Angelus was located in the heart of the business center on the southwest corner of 4th and Spring Street, the Angelus claimed it would be the tallest building in the city. Starting with a proposed 230 rooms (150 with private bath), the Angelus would have its own electric plant, steam laundry, cold storage room and two passenger elevators. Holmes sold the hotel to the Loomis Brothers in 1904, who made plans to add a third wing and additional storeys.

The Angelus became campaign headquarters of the Southern California Coolidge in 1924. A meeting for Republican voters was held early that year to pledge support, ahead of the Republican Convention being held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Other notable guests included Russian actress Valentina Zimina. Ms. Zimina had fought the bloody revolution of anarchy and served with the all-female combat unit, The Women's Battalion of Death. After a stint in the Czar's army (disguised as a boy), Valentina escaped from prison and fled her homeland via Siberia and Japan. The young actress, who had also been a nurse and decorated for her efforts, arrived on the Coast in 1919.

Sadly, her screen output was brief. Valentina Zimina's last movie was the Russian spectacle The Scarlet Lady. The 1928 film was notable for its' innovative use of high-powered incandescent lighting (known as Mazda lamp), replacing the traditional use of arcs. The Columbia picture played the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in November. Valentina Zimina passed away a month later.

Things weren't so lofty at the Angelus in 1931, when the Los Angeles Times ran the headline "Another Victim Discovered at Angelus Hotel". A local druggist had sold a batch of poisonous Jamaican ginger extract, and the unsuspecting victims (one of whom was treating influenza) were permanetly paralyzed.

Despite the troubling guest mortality rate, the hotel continued with a revolving door of owners until the Cleveland Wrecking Company (not to be confused with the Hal Blaine outfit) swung the steel ball in July 1956. The Angelus was replaced with a modern parking lot. As for the original owner, Gustavus S. Holmes died in 1935 at his home in Santa Monica. Foul play was not suspected.

Gates Hotel
 830 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

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Occupying the southeastern corner of 6th and Figueroa Streets, the Gates Hotel was commisioned by wealthy real estate developer Carroll W. Gates. The nine-storey building was designed by San Francisco-based architectural firm, Curlett & Son, along with Eisen & Son.

As expected, ownership had changed a hands many times and for a time, the hotel was operated by Carl and Magda Altheim. The couple also purchased the Rex Arms in 1956.

After closing down and seeing off the last 80 guests, wrecking crews arrived at the Gates Hotel, put up barricades and demolition was slated for June 1972. Taking over the spot was a $10 million executive office, known as the Linder Plaza - named for developer Max Linder. Designed by Honnold, Reibsamen & Rex, the new highrise glass and steel tower stands today.

Sadly, the firm's entire archives were destroyed when squatters vandalized an office in their 18th floor suite in the 22-storey Sunset-Vine Tower in 2007 - a building they designed in 1963. Douglas Honnold passed away in 1974.

Alexandria Hotel
 210 W. Fifth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Designed by the prolific British architect John Parkinson, the Alexandria was completed in 1906.

The hotel soon fell into bankruptcy, and by 1932 the hotel waa acquired by Spring Street Properties Company - who sold out to Federated Realty. After Federated went into receivership, the hotel was forced to pay off debts by selling off many prized artifacts. Newspaper accounts reported the hotel shut its doors in 1934.

The fabled property continued to struggle through multiple owners, namely the "The King of Poverty Row" movie producer Phil Goldstone (1937), Julius Epstein and Maxwell Abell (1946-1957) and the Karlin-Alexandra Group (1957-1961).

Goldstone was also behind the Castle Argyle Arms in Hollywood, and purchased the New Orpheum Building in 1956.

Long past its prime, the Alexandra underwent a $1.5 million restoration from banker and real estate developer S. John Kreedman in late 1969. Kreedman, who had taken ownership in 1961, added four new restaurants; Charley O's, the Palm Court Theatre Restaurant (which hosted dinner-theatre), Guv'nor's Grille and the Coffee Mill.

Although Kreedman's renovation failed to give the hotel the boost it needed, the newly-formed Cultural Heritage Commision did recognize the orignal Palm Court as a historic cultural monument (the rest of the building was excluded). They probably wouldn't have bestowed the same award to The Guv'nor's Grille, which fell victim to the times, and reemerged as Disco 500.

Under new ownership once again in 1979, the ambitious and once-elegant hotel suffered it's worst period soon after. Newspaper accounts cited the Alexandria as the center of drug-trafficking. According to the vice unit, a crack laboratory was uncovered on the hotel's 12th floor. And then-Mayor Tom Bradley (clearly unafraid of the hotels' rumored ghosts) declared the Alexandria, "a magnet for parasites of this society."

In 2005, the city made efforts to turn the Alexandria into affordable housing and the following year, the hotel was sold to the Amerland Group in 2006 (who faced a slew of code violation charges).

El Rey Hotel
 511 East 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Built in 1926 by architect Charles F. Whittlesey, and operated by the Stillwell Hotel Company, the Huntley Building (as it was first known) came with a sizeable 620 rooms. Features included a collection of Hupa Indian artifacts in the lobby and ground floor retail space.

Whittlesey, chief architect for the Santa Fe Railway System, went on to design the Globe Medical Building in Hollywood (Vermont and De Longpre, 1930).

In 1983, the hotel received a $1 million remodel and operated by the Los Angeles chapter of Volunteers of America. Soon after, the hotel was officially the Weingart Rehabilitation Center and remains there today.

Engstrum Hotel Apartments
 623 West 5th Street, Los Angeles CA

Citing Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino as guests, the Bunker Hill hotel was built by F. O. Engstrum, a notable contractor on the West Coast. Mr Engstrum ran the construction company that bore his name, and were behind a large number of structures in Los Angeles, namely; the Rex Arms, Hotel Clark, Citizen's National Bank and the Majestic Theatre.

Designed by R. B. Young & Sons, the 6-storey, 200-room fireproof structure began as The Westonia, followed by the Barrone, before settling on Engstrum Apartments. Downtown was familiar to R. B. Young, having been called upon to design the flagship Bullock's department store at Seventh and Broadway.

By the late-1950's, the Engstrum listed Ettie Lee as owner. The former schoolteacher and founder of the non-profit Ettie Lee Homes for Boys, Ettie Lee remained there for twenty years. The Engstrum's next change came in 1978, when The Engstrum Partnership bought the hotel. Leading the change was John Stillion, one of the new owners. Stillion was adamant about refurbishing the 96-unit hotel and restoring many original fixtures.

Unfortunately, the Bunker Hill hotel was reduced to rubble in 1986. Taking over that spot changed the L.A. skyline forever - the long-awaited 73-story Library Tower (Henry N. Cobb, Harold Fredenburg/I. M. Pei & Partners, 1989). Conceived by developer Maguire Thomas Partners and enery company Pacific Lightning Corporation, the Library Tower became L.A.'s tallest building.

Palms Wilshire Hotel
 626 South Alvarado Street, Los Angeles CA 90057

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Formerly the Hotel Park Vista, this Westlake-area hotel was built around 1925. The Palms-Wilshire was operated by Alcarr Hotels and refurbished in 1950. Headed by Alexander Carr, the company also counted the Cortez Hotel (375 Columbia) and Cromwell House (739 South Garland) amongst its properties.

But the 197-unit hotel was in sharp decline by the 1980's when the low-income area was referred to as "Skid Row West". Panhandling, drugs and robberies had swept over the area. City inspectors ordered the owner to shut down for 100 days. Among the issues were; leaking plumbing fixtures, no hot water, rats and roaches running freely, defective doors and a lack of working smoke detectors. Everything but two dead pigeons in the water tank.

In 2011, the refurbished 80-unit building was renamed Parkview on the Park, and converted to affordable housing for seniors.

Sheraton-Universal Hotel
 30 Universal City Plaza, North Hollywood CA 91608

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Overlooking the San Fernando Valley, the multi-million dollar hotel was a joint venture between MCA and Sheraton. Designed by William B. Tabler, plans for the Hotel of the Stars began in 1964, set for completion in 1966. Tabler went on to design Houston's Intercontinental Airport in 1968.

The sleek hotel offered four dining rooms; Captain's Deck, Grenadier Room, Marco Polo Room and the Gold Rush Room.

While it continues to operate as a Sheraton, Chinese real estate firm Shenzhen New World took control in 2011. The hotel experienced financial diffuclties under its previous owner, Lowe Enterprises.

Hacienda International Hotel
 525 North Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90245

Opened by the Thunderbird International Hotel Corporation, the namesake hotel opened in 1959. The hotel chain was run by Allen Siegal, who built Thunderbird's in Hollywood and San Francisco.

Siegel also built the Hollywood Thunderbird Inn on the Sunset Strip. Designed by Herbert R. Kameon, the $3.75 million hotel opened in 1962. Developer Julian Weinstock took over in 1965, renaming the Sunset and Sweetzer spot Hollywood Sunset Hotel, which lasted a few years.

Despite appealing to go-go scenesters with additions such as the Ad-Lib Room ("Free instruction in the Watusi"), the in-crowd moved out and the seniors slowly moved in. The Sunset Strip now had comfortable senior living in the new Golden Crest Hotel. The new owners were Irving and Henry Feld.

But by 1999, hotelier André Balazs replaced the Proton-Pump inhibitors for overpriced cocktails by the pool, and remade the ageing hotel as The Standard.

Down by the airport, the International went through new ownership and became the Hacienda International. Guests were treated to some new facilities, such as Disco-Tiki, the Plantation Room (Chicken Little's Southern Fried Chicken) or dance it off in the Creole Lounge.

By 2011, the Hacienda was long past its prime, and became the Fairfield Inn by Marriott.

International Hotel
 6211 West Century Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90045

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Billed as the world's largest airport hotel, the $22 million International Hotel opened in April 1964. The 14-storey, 650-room hotel was built Robert Carré of International Airport Hotel System Incorporated. Building records indicated The Kratter Corporation as owners.

Situated on 8 ½ acres, the International Hotel was called "An oasis of peace in the heart of the jet-age... the interior design (by Tom Lee) was created to relax travellers who fly at subsonic speeds."

The hotel came with a dizzying array of new facilties, where hungry travelers could enjoy exciting tower-top dining facilities;
  • The Trophy Bar - "a gathering spot for congenial people - entertainment and dancing nightly - be served by a Grecian Goddess".

  • The Hunt Room - "quiet Victorian decor".

  • The Hideaway Bar - "Intimate, convivial... featuring our famous new way to order your drinks 'Liquor by the Pound'".

  • The Penthouse Restaurant - "Spectacular view... Continental flambé cuisine". A namesake adjoining lounge offered dancing and entertainment.

Within a few years, new hotels were popping up all around the airport neighborhoods; the Airport Marina, Ramada, Howard Johnson's and the Pacifica in nearby Fox Hills. By 1976 the Hyatt chain spent $2 million refurbishing the International, renamed the Hyatt House Airport Hotel. More changes were in store when Wyndham Hotels briefly acquired the hotel, but soon sold it.

Today however the jet-set hotel that featured Provocative Playgirls in its Trophy Lounge, is back as the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport.

Built in 1980 as the Century Park Center Airport. Sheraton have operated the hotel since 1981, when the regal name change took place. The name was retired in favor of the Sheraton Gateway around 1995.

Not long after, Starwood Hotels & Resorts acquired Sheraton. The Connecticut-based company were themselves acquired by Marriot International, making them the world's largest hotel chain.

Desirable guests looking for reasonable rates, could take the D car directly to the Hotel Babara, which opened in 1923.

The Westlake-area building, once owned by Jack Dempsey and his manager Jack Kearns, soon adoped the more intimate name "Jack Dempsey's Barbara Inn", where hungry guests dine on 'Good Old Fashioned Virgina Ham Steak' for $1. The former heavyweight champ put the hotel up for sale in 1935 and leased to the owners of the Cadillac and Armondale Hotel (748 South Flower) in 1937.

The hotel changed hands again in 1944, when it was purchased by the owners of the downtown Hotel Belmont. Property owner Sue Barker, former owner of the Barker Hotel (1929 West 3rd), acquired the property in 1951, renaming it Hotel Barbizon.

The hotel is currently low-income housing.

Named after the originator of Wilshire Boulevard, Henry Gaylord Wilshire. The pioneer who counted H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw as a close personal friends, purchased land that would become the Wilshire district ("The Fifth Avenue of the West") in 1887 for a reported $52,000. Wilshire also purchased land in Fullerton and Long Beach

Not just a landowner, Gaylord Wilshire was also responsible for an electric gadget known to cure a wide variety of ailments. The I-ON-A-CO was a lage belt worn around the user, touted as "a scientific, electro-magnetic, therapeutic device which magnetizes the iron in the body, aiding the tranfer of oxygen to the blood cells."

The claims were bold; the IONA Life Belt (as it was previously called) could cure everything from arthritis and hearing loss to constipation.

Perhaps it was this unfounded quackery that made Wilshire's place in history somewhat murky, as the privarely-educated man was remembered as both "charlatan" and "a prototype of a strange and parodoxical breed of man, the liberal politician of great wealth who would someday rule America".

The Gaylord hotel was designed by architects Walker & Eisen, the lavish "own-your-own" apartment-building formely opened in 1924. Directly across from the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel, the magnificent structure was billed as a club, hotel, apartment-house and private home.

The Gaylord Hotel was remodeled in 1948, when Harris Hotels took over. One new addition was the "Gay Room", featuring entertainment by the Buddy Worth Trio and 'Carole' (Roberth Mitchum's sister). Its next major refurbishment came in 1976, with the following announceent, "The Grand Dame is Being Restored... an L.A. Landmark is Returned to Elegance".

Among the Gaylord's notable guests were Rudolph Mayer - brother of movie studio magnate, Louis B. Mayer. Unfortunately, Mayer died in his hotel suite during a blaze in 1951. Ten years later on his return to California to practice law, Richard Nixon moved in to the fabled hostelry while his Trousdale Estate home was being built.

The nautical-themed ground-floor restaurant Secret Harbor opened in 1960, later renamed the Golden Anchor. The seafaring theme was retained when it was replaced by the HMS Bounty in 1962. Los Angeles Chargers running back Ron Waller was listed as proprietor, though Waller was replaced by Gordon Fields, operator of nearby eatery "Bull 'n Bush" (3450 W. 6th).

Gaylord Wilshire passed away in 1927. His son Logan passed away in 1971.


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