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Los Angeles and Environs in the 1930's

If Los Angeles has a tradition, it's a tradition of change. Don't look too closely, it's bound to be gone the next time you look. Los Angeles has always been in flux. We've had numerous transportation plans but to date no real integrated transportation system. We are car-based. Our commitment to place is transitory; we can always drive to somewhere new; and since old is constantly re-inventing itself as new, it's easy to loose touch with who we really are.

Is our interest in L.A. in the 30's nostalgia driven? To have any significant memories say, of L.A. or anyplace else for that matter in 1935 you'd have to be about 75 years old today. What is it then? Maybe by looking at our near past and the buildings, businesses and institutions that are no longer here, we can get a sense of where we are going and plant a seed for getting back what we have lost.

Los Angeles in the 30's was slower paced; we had tea rooms (a more refined version of our coffee houses of today); we had a real preoccupation with Hollywood and the "stars" and certainly viewed them with more naivete; you could get fresh produce from local truck farms; remember that Knotts Berry farm was originally a berry farm where Mrs. Knott served fried chicken dinners and home made berry pies.

So come back with us then to those "days of yesteryear" and experience some of the things that made Los Angeles Los Angeles in the 30's.

The following essays are excerpted from a wonderful little guide to Los Angeles written by Elizabeth Webb-Herrick in 1935 entitled "Curious California Customs" published by Pacific Carbon and Printing Company. Webb-Herrick travelled around, tried the food, looked at the buildings and the lore of L.A. and in doing so brought us this insight into our past. We added a little introduction to each excerpt so you'll know what happened to the places that Webb-Herrick wrote about.

Collegiate Westwood

The Assistance League

Santa Catalina Island

Bullock's Tea Room

Bullock's Wilshire Store

The Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Clifton's Cafeteria

The Brown Derby


The Thistle Cottage

The Mona Lisa

The Bird of Paradise Tea Room

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