Car Culture | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Michael Locke

Greater L.A.'s symbiotic relationship with the automobile reshaped architecture and the way people lived.

The urban environment began reflecting people's reliance on cars: the shift away from mass transit, the infrastructure built to support cars and how people used them in daily life and commerce, and the increasing distances to which people were moving.

Los Angeles is filled with examples of architecture developed in direct response to the new curbside culture. From exuberant Googie coffee shops and car washes, to poetically intricate freeway systems, nothing says Car Culture like L.A.

Arthur Murray Office and Studio
Photo by Devri Richmond

Arthur Murray Office and Studio

Featuring front studios with floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls, Arthur Murray's ultramodern Los Angeles office and studio was a precursor to the mid- and high-rise office buildings that would dominate Wilshire Boulevard in the coming decades.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Auto Chek Smog Center

A new industry, minimal marketing budget, and artist as designer yielded a truly unique collection of buildings that are quintessentially Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy www.you-are-here.com

Bob's Big Boy

This Toluca Lake landmark escaped the wrecking ball, thanks to the Conservancy's Modern Committee.
Brunswick Sands Bowl interior
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Brunswick Sands Bowl

The Sands Bowl's Googie-esque, Egyptian-themed design is a great example of a bowling center in the "California style," with cocktail lounge, sunken dining room, and exotic decor.
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Cafetales

One of the finest of Inglewood's storied Mid-Century Modern classics and a stellar example of playful Googie-style coffee shops.
Car Wash
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Car Wash

Originally known as the Auto Laundry, this Googie-style Ventura Boulevard gem is one of few that retains its spectacular original details that unmistakably advertise it as a car wash.
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Casa de Cadillac

A well-known landmark of San Fernando Valley Modernism, Casa de Cadillac has been showcasing cars continuously since 1949, but only recently has it been restored to its original grandeur.
Photo by Tony Hoffarth on Flickr

Chips

With its exaggerated rooflines, tall windows, and eye-catching signage, this quintessential Googie coffee shop, in continuous operation since its opening, was designed by Taliesin-trained Harry Harrison.
Photo by John Eng

Covina Bowl

Southern California has a few mid-century bowling alleys that survive as a testament to the glory days of the building type. One of the most exuberant is the Covina Bowl.
Photo by Michael Locke

Denny's

The lone surviving hallmark of an L.A. institution lives on in part because of a public outcry and a chain of greasy spoon diners.
Photo by Adriene Biondo

Driftwood Dairy

A very rare example of an intact drive-thru dairy, the Driftwood Dairy recently survived a demolition threat and stands as a truly spectacular example of Googie design.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Five Points Car Wash

Googie-style car washes are fairly commonplace in L.A., but few are as intact and as exuberant as the Five Points.
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Fleetwood Center

A strip mall renowned for its Cadillac facade has never been home to a Cadillac-related business, let alone a dealership.
Four-Level Interchange
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Four-Level Interchange

As the only interchange in the region to be certified as a civil engineering landmark, its robust elegance is a true aesthetic achievement.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

George's 50s Diner

An iconic building with all the essential ingredients of the drive-in diner with a building that served as its own best advertising at the busy intersection of Atlantic Avenue and San Antonio Drive.

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