RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Snapshots along Wilshire Boulevard from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills


Wilshire Boulevard Crenshaw to Beverly Hills

Let me loose with a good pair of walking shoes and a camera and I am as happy as a clam! Although I have heard this expression many times I have often wondered, how do we know clams are happy? So I had to Google it and apparently, to quote phrases.org: “the fuller version of the phrase, now rarely heard [is] – ‘as happy as a clam at high water’. Hide tide is when clams are free from the attentions of predators…”

So now you know and we can proceed with my blog post of the day!

I have been a member of the Sierra Club, Angeles Chapter, since around 1980. I took a hiatus for a while but in the past year or so I have been participating in, as well as leading, walks around the Los Angeles area. This particular walk took place on the first Sunday of April, starting at Crenshaw and Wilshire Boulevards about 8 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, ending at Beverly Hills. In this case, I was happy as a clam to tag along and not be the leader. This gave me the opportunity to take some snapshots as we walked.

I had to be quick. Point, shoot, then run to catch up with the rest of the group. So I didn’t have time to line anything up or wait for the perfect shot. A lot of my photos around town are taken that way. But that’s okay, they are impressions of a moment in time seen through my eyes.

Taking photos forces me to see things I might otherwise walk right by, not noticing the details. Sometimes I have to get home, drop everything into Bridge and then look at the photos in Photoshop before I even realize what I was looking at! (I bought Adobe Lightroom a year ago but I still haven’t gotten around to using it… on my list of things to do…)

The best part for me is identifying and researching the story behind the photo. I have learned a lot about Los Angeles by doing that. So all in all it’s a winning situation for me.

Photo above is of the Wilshire United Methodist Church. The building was erected in 1925 as a Congregational church and has been home to the Methodists since 1931. The marquee lists services in Phillipino, Spanish and Korean, as well as English… to give you an idea of the neighborhood culture.

Wilshire Boulveard from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills

Detail of the 1960 Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, vacant since 1994 when the owners could no longer afford to maintain the property. The building was designed by Millard Sheets, famous in southern California for his work on dozens of Home Savings branches.

Ebell Theater

Wilshire Ebell Theater, 1927. Aviator Amelia Earhart’s last public appearance before  the 1937 around-the-world flight during which she disappeared. Judy Garland was discovered here.

wilshire boulvard bougainvillea

Bougainvillea, oh magnificent bougainvillea.

wilshire boulevard

Built in the early 1920s as a Mediterranean Villa, the property was converted into commercial offices in 1982. Recently listed at $3,695,000.

wilshire boulevard

Farmer’s Insurance built this three-story building at Wilshire and Rimpau in the 1930’s after the depression. In 1948 Farmers added four more stories and in 1967 doubled the size of its headquarters.

Wilshire Boulevard

An attractive way to jazz up an otherwise boring building with different varieties of palms in pots.

Wilshire Boulevard

More plants livening up the blah architecture. A nice touch with the geraniums hanging down from the balcony.

Wilshire Boulevard

A healthy Lantana bush. This is the official flower of Culver City. One of these days I have to find out why!!

wilshire boulevard

 This 1932 Art Deco movie theatre, Oasis, is now used as a Foursquare church. The original church was founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in Los Angeles in 1927.

wilshire boulevard

E. Clem Wilson Building, 1930. It was owned for many years by Mutual of Omaha who were probably responsible (although I don’t know for sure) for installing that nightmare of a sign at the top of the tower. I can only wish that Samsung had the guts to remove it. I own several Samsung products but it makes me sad to see the company’s advertisement destroying an otherwise beautiful building.

clemson building

Detail of the building under the shadow of that hideous sign.

wilshire boulevard

As you have probably figured out by now, Wilshire Boulevard in the 1920s and 1930s was a smorgasbord of lovely art deco buildings. Now they are few and far between, many of them demolished to make way for more “modern” (read “ugly”) edifices. Who knows what architecturally significant buildings used to stand at this corner several decades ago?

wilshire boulevard

I couldn’t find any information on this cute art deco-ish building at Wilshire and Detroit. If you can look past the “modern” frontage, the rest of the building has some lovely details. Probably early 1930s.

wilshire boulevard

Originally known as The Dominguez-Wilshire Building, 5410 Wilshire was built in 1931. In 2000, the building was honored by the Los Angeles Conservancy with the Preservation Award for meticulous and authentic restoration. The interior is exquisite and worth a visit.

wilshire-boulevard-040713-054-C-800px el rey theater

Two views of the terrazzo paving outside the El Rey Theater. Now a live music venue, the El Rey started out as an art deco movie theater in 1936 and remained as a cinema for almost 50 years.  Terrazzo pavements were a staple of these theaters. Many have been replaced with concrete or sidewalk pavers.

wilshire boulevardLooking west on Wilshire. The old May Company building, now a part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is peeking out from behind the trees on the right. On the left under the orange awning is the  Architecture and Design Museum (A + D)… one of those places I keep threatening to visit “when I have more time.” Beyond that is the Petersen Automotive Museum, originally Seibu Department Store, then Ohrbach’s. The fins at the top were added in 1994 when Petersen moved in.

wilshire boulevard

The Saban Theatre, opened as the Fox Wilshire Theater in 1930 and was one of Fox’s premiere theaters. In 1981 it was converted to a live stage venue.

lamp post

I can only assume this street lamp is from the 1930s.

wilshire boulevard

Fine Arts Theater, opened 1937 as the Wilshire Regina Theatre. Closed as a regular run movie theater in 2004, I believe (but not sure) it is available for special showings and events. In the 60s and 70s, the Fine Arts was one of the major Los Angeles art houses showing movies such as “David and Lisa,” “Never on Sunday,”  “Zorba the Greek,” and “Last Tango in Paris.”

wilshire boulevard

I have no idea what this building is. I just couldn’t get over the odd white balcony sticking out of the side of the building.

wilshire boulevard

The Music Hall Theatre opened in 1936 as the Elite Theatre. As far as I know it still runs “art” films. A nice little art deco-ish building next to a modern attempt to emulate a Romanesque building and dwarfed by those 1970s (?) office buildings. You can imagine what had to be demolished to erect those boxes.  

Wilshire Boulevard Crenshaw to Beverly Hills

And to end our walk we arrive in Beverly Hills across the street from the world-renowned Beverly Wilshire Hotel (of Pretty Woman fame). I really took the photo as I liked the flowers hanging from the lamp post.

“One of these days,” ha ha ha, I hope to walk around this area on my own and get some details of the buildings you have seen here. This is just a little taste.

Thanks for sticking with me and making it all the way to the end of this post!

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!


Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles, California. A few years ago I rediscovered photography which is a great excuse to get outside and look. I'm also in the process of re-writing some of my unpublished short stories and possibly a novel. .

4 thoughts on “Snapshots along Wilshire Boulevard from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills

  1. What a great way to know about LA by walking. Thank you for the walking tour!


  2. Yes, walking is the only way to go exploring!


  3. Wonderful pix of amazing building and architecture. Would you happen to have an pix of the inside of the El Rey. I’m using it as a backdrop for one of my chapters in my fictional novel The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress and Although I went swing dancing there years ago I can’t remember what the lobby or foyer looked like. I remember, a coat check, a VIP lounge the raised sides with table from the middle floor and the stage, chandeliers. At any rate. Thanks for the gorgeous pix of the tile, I’m describing them as well 🙂 Thank you.


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