Miracle Mile is one of LA’s iconic districts, located along Wilshire Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea Avenue. The strip was originally developed in 1921 with the hope of becoming the city’s version of New York’s Fifth Avenue. While Miracle Mile never achieved such status, in its heyday it lured many glamorous department stores like Desmond’s, Coulter’s, May, and Orbach’s. In the 1970s, however, the strip suffered a decline when the middle class moved even further westward to the coastal suburbs. The department stores have all left and the strip is now occupied by celebrity-backed nightclubs, stylish galleries, and offices for film producers and agents. The neighborhood is today home to some of the city’s most remarkable Art Deco buildings, some have been neglected and abandoned while others have been restored. There are also period revival structures, the most notable series are the period revival apartment blocks between La Brea and Burnside Avenue around Sixth Street. These blocks manage to impress with wild 1920s and 1930s styling, everything from French chateaux to Hansel-and-Gretel cottages to pop-Baroque confections, many of them preserved with their original designs.
Security Pacific Bank Building
Security Pacific Bank Building is located east of La Brea Avenue at 5209 Wilshire Boulevard and is one of the better remaining examples of Art Deco left in LA. The building was designed by Morgan, Walls and Clements, the city’s greatest purveyor of Historic Revival and Art Deco styles.
The Wilson Building at 5217 Wilshire Boulevard is a grand Zizag tower famous for its colossal neon beer sign on its roof.
The former Dark Room at 5370 Wilshire Boulevard is a Streamline Moderne retail shop with a faced that is shaped like a camera. It has now been converted into a Cuban restaurant.
Desmond’s Department Store
Desmond’s Department Store at 5514 Wilshire Boulevard is another classic Art Deco structure with a bold Moderne tower and wraparound corners that have been partially restored.
El Rey Theater
The El Rey Theater at 5519 Wilshire Boulevard is the most vibrant classic Deco building in LA, originally built in 1936 to be used as a single-screen movie theater. It served this role for 50 years before it was turned into a dance club in the 1980s and early 90s. Today, the theater is used as a live concert venue.
Park La Brea
Park La Brea is a huge housing complex with a collection of postwar apartment units – more than 4,000 – that look more like a high-rise housing project. Some of the apartments are garden-style.
Dickey, Jeff. Los Angeles, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides, 2003. ISBN: 1843530589.
“El Rey Theatre.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Rey_Theatre>
“Park La Brea.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_La_Brea>
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