Streamline moderne in California


Image: 1939 May Co. Wilshire from .

“Completed in 1939, the May Company Building …in the Wilshire district, Los Angeles, is a celebrated example of Streamline Moderne architecture. The building’s architect Albert C. Martin, Sr., also designed the Million Dollar Theater and Los Angeles City Hall. The May Company Building is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

“The Los Angeles Conservancy calls it ‘the grandest example of Streamline Moderne remaining in Los Angeles’. It is especially noted for its gold-tiled cylindrical section that faces the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue, of which it occupies the northeast corner.”

Excerpts from,_Los_Angeles) .

To see streamline moderne buildings in California that are likely to still be standing click on: .


Beverly Hills


Image: unknown source via .

“Beverly Hills was a prosperous and sought-after location long before it was discovered by the movie industry. At the beginning, our fabled El Dorado was blessed with the most precious commodity in Southern California: water…

“Attracted to an elegant lifestyle made possible by the [1912-built Beverly Hills Hotel], Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford led the wave of movie stars here when they bought an existing hunting lodge and had it redesigned into the their mansion, Pickfair, in 1919…

“…[Will] Rogers, a wise cracking political humorist, became honorary first mayor of Beverly Hills. Rogers went on to play a part in the development of Beverly Hills by fostering construction of a new City Hall in 1932 and the establishment of a U.S. Post Office in 1934.

“Beverly Hills continued to grow. Promotional materials from the period touted the young metropolis as ‘center of the next million.’ Fortunately, human-scale public improvements helped soften the effects of growth. In the 1930s, Santa Monica Park was renamed Beverly Gardens and was extended to span the length of the City. The famous Electric Fountain was installed. A finely modeled sculpture atop the fountain shows a Tongva in prayer, homage to Beverly Hills’ heritage as a wellspring of fertility and abundance.”

Excerpts from . Click on the link to learn more about the city and its history.


17oct11beverly2Image: 1938 tourist map from .

Acme traffic signal


Image: circa 1939 on Ventura Blvd. at Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

The Acme traffic signal was manufactured in Los Angeles beginning in the 1920s. See more of these kinds of signals at .

See a modern video of a restored Acme signal: . The bell rings, the semaphore blades move and the lights illuminate in sequence.


Movie filming


Here’s a behind-the-scenes view of movie filming. The location wasn’t given but we can deduce that it was in southern California by the “PE” on the gondola car near the center. It’s a Pacific Electric freight car that would have been rarely, if ever, out of the area. The scene appears to be 1939 filming for the 1940 Marx Brothers Go West comedy.

Ben Messick, artist


Watercolor sketch for a later oil painting: Main Street Cafe Society, 1939.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art description (from the link below):

A man shares a newspaper with a faceless woman while an elderly gentleman hungrily slurps his soup in a sparsely furnished restaurant. Main Street Cafe Society is painted in a palette of earth tones. Color was essential to Messick for conveying the mood of his scenes, and he usually selected a restricted color scheme for each painting. While the browns and beiges of this painting bespeak a poor and spare life, the overall pink cast of the palette suggests a positive, almost rosy attitude toward it. Messick also believed a good composition should move rhythmically, and in Main Street Cafe Society the viewer proceeds through the scene by means of fluid lines and alternating areas of light and dark.

“Ben Messick (1901-1981) Born: Strafford, MO; Studied: Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles); Member: California Art Club… By the mid-1930s, he had developed his own style of painting and became known as one of the West Coast’s key Regionalist artists. While Messick was an extremely competent watercolorist, these works were not exhibited frequently and did not receive the attention given to his oils on canvas.”

Image and excerpts from .