In the 60's when "Old Hollywood" was still pretty new, they just bulldozed. By the 1980's when preservationists began to protest, the Hollywood Developer of Every Valuable Inch of Land, lets call him D.E.V.I.L. for short, got crafty to get around the annoying "neighborhood" types with their whining about "history" and "architecture," bossy judges with their "court orders," and that STUPID Federal Government with its "National Register Of Historic Places." For example, the if the owner of the Garden Court Apartments couldn't get permission to demolish it he COULD get a permit to do roof work. The work he did was remove the roof. After the winters rains, the birdies of spring and the flocks of bats that used to be around the Boulevard, some nice person came from downtown and put a shiny red tag on his building. That technique was being used by the LAUSD as recently as a decade ago. I witnessed it myself on my first time inside the Ambassador, on a rainy day. Those weren't leaks, they were HOLES. More on The Ambassador in a moment.
The next technique, also learned at the Garden Court, was the usefulness of allowing runaways and junkies into your building by making sure the gate was always unlocked or one window in back was always unboarded. It was just a matter of time before it went up in a pretty orange blaze, and the owner would be the VICTIM! I talked to a former street kid, years ago, who had lived in The Vine Street Brown Derby for months. He said it was the best place he ever lived. They smashed up the inside, humped in the banquettes, shot up at the bar, and lit parts of the structure on fire. While that's a typical Friday Night club behavior in "New Hollywood," the old girl couldn't take it and HAD to be demolished. Squatters also got The Pan Pacific, and almost The Hillview.
I've already discussed in previous posts, and a youtube video, the recent spate of Spontaneous Hollywood Combustion (like Spontaneous Human Combustion, only WAY more frequent, and way less mysterious), so we won't go into detail on that one here. Suffice it to say, it's sweeping the town. In fact it's swept an entire corner of Hollywood and Vine entirely clear, just waiting for a high rise full of condos.But the NEW fad, the one that is actually the smartest on the part of the D.E.V.I.L. (should have thought of it YEARS ago) is to make a deal with the preservationist by agreeing to preserve a something, then when you have a work permits and a crew, demolish it anyway and laugh at the preservationists, the courts, and The National Register.
The first time I remember this little gag, (Pia-Fair not withstanding) was when Trizec Hahn wanted to cut a giant hole in the side of Grauman's Chinese Theatre to allow "easy access" to their ugly mall. We certainly couldn't have anyone walking around the historic Landmark, and out three feet on to, EGADS! Hollywood BOULEVARD! No, must have Forecourtotomy, rip out a fountain, a pond, and a set of handprints from the 1940's (which has gone unaccounted for...my hunch is it was jackhammered out).
But if we let the Las Vegas Casino Developers (who could be trusted MORE with preservation?) chop up our single most important landmark, oh the riches we would receive in return! The interior of theatre would be refurbished top to bottom, all the missing metal pieces on the outside (of which there are many) would be recreated and replaced, the feather palms would be replanted at the sidewalk, and the hanging garden's restored to the roof. They cut the hole first. That other stuff...well, they painted it and replaced the smelly seats from 1974!
The most egregious example of course is the LAUSD finding that they just COULDN'T save the Cocoanut Grove (which made a brick shit house look unsturdy). I hope they are teaching your kids to lie as good as them, because they're certainly not teaching them any other skills useful in today's world. Well, taking a walk the other day, just from Sunset and Western to Hollywood And Vine, I saw several more things being "preserved!"
While you might think it was just a Spaghetti joint, the building was actually the first location of KNX, making it very important. The building itself is just a box, but the part of note is the columns and steps out front. The developer has said that these will be "preserved." And by "preserved" they mean smashed to shit. I assume they got their preservation instructions from Chris Breed who claims to have "restored" the interior of the Pig n' Whistle, when in actuality, he had four day laborers SLEDGEHAMMER OUT the original ceiling, and throw it in a dumpster in the back. They then quickly replaced it with NEW paper thin, prefab molded sheets and tacks. If you don't believe me, I can show you the huge chunks of the "restored" ceiling of the Pig n Whistle I dragged out of the dumpster. "It" is not "restored" if "it" is "thrown in the garbage" and something brand new that "looks like it" is put in its place.
Which brings us to our last fraud of this post (but stay tuned for the next...LAUSD Renderings!), the Bernard Luggage Building. Unconstitutionally condemned by the city through imminent domain, using a "blighted neighborhood" law used for crack houses, it was handed directly to W Hotels. Utterly baffling is why, if the neighborhood was "blighted," W Hotels would want to build a highrise hotel/condos there? It was an excuse, of course, to STEAL the land from a family that had owned and worked it for decades. What was the D.E.V.I.L. going to do with this newly acquired building, "rescued" from the "blight?" Why demolish it of course! The problem is, it is on that DAMN Hollywood Boulevard Historic Monument thingamajig, therefore it is ILLEGAL to tear it down, even if you DID steal the land. Well...people complained on this one...usually developers wreck buildings on their OWN land, but stealing it from a family was a step too far. And the Department of The Interior tends to take their list a little more seriously than grafty fascist LA Council Members (I say fascist, because that stunt was the exact dictionary definition of fascism, look it up). So W announced that the Bernard Luggage Building would be SAVED (because it would be a Federal Crime to demolish it) and "incorporated into the new project."
Look carefully at the above picture. Do you see The Bernard Luggage Building? Do you see ANY building? Do you see anything old? Historic? I see a giant open space where a now demolished historic building WAS, being filled in with brand new W Hotel. "Incorporated into," huh? A paper thin fig leaf of stucco, leaning against a new non-historic everything. The D.E.V.I.L. wins this time, but someday we'll beat them.
And if you believe that I have an entire corner of Hollywood And Vine available for you to put anything you want on! No, honestly!