Monday, April 30, 2012

Coordinates: 6067 Wilshire

Photo Credit: Myself

The Miracle Mile District is bordered by the Fairfax District, Hancock Park, Mid-City, West Pico, and Carthay. I never even knew that it existed, yet I have been down the Wilshire Stretch of the district many times. Wilshire Boulevard, west of Western Avenue, used to be a farm road, before becoming a part of the Pacific Electric Railroad System. But developer A.W. Ross saw its potential and set out on a journey to make it a commercial district that would cater to automobile traffic, rather than foot traffic. Many retailers and department stores were built, in a fashion so as to attract the most attention from cars, on this strip of Wilshire. Among them was the May Company, a department store chain that went out of business in 1993. Many of its stores were turned into Macy’s.
But not the May Company Building on Wilshire. This building, easily recognizable by the gold cylinder on its front, was acquired by LACMA and sits on the western end of Museum Row. It is now known as LACMA West. It is an impressive building, one that I have seen before but never paid much attention to because there are many other things to look at. It was built in 1939 and LACMA bought it in 1994 and moved some of their staff into it. While you can not go inside the building (yet), LACMA’s blog has some wonderful photos of what the portions that have not converted look like now. There is an outstanding employees Walk of Fame, a space for candy refrigeration, and a grid through which employees would look to make sure no one was shoplifting (before security cameras). The building was featured in many old movies, such as “Volcano” and “The Star.” The outside of the building looks virtually unchanged, except the giant letters spelling out MAY CO. have been taken off but not replaced with anything yet.
Photo Credit: taken from the LACMA blog
The building in 1976. Photo credit: found online on University of Washington's Digital Collection
Last year, there were talks of converting the space into a motion picture museum. LACMA and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences teamed up to put this together, however they are still working on fundraising and picking out an architect. 

-- Allie Flinn

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