Lakeside Car Wash | Los Angeles Conservancy
Lakeside Car Wash
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Lakeside Car Wash

In a city full of gas stations, car dealerships, and aluminum-pylon car washes, Lakeside Car Wash stands out with its unusual ranch house-meets-Googie coffee shop style. The 1956 building is long, low, and rambling like the ranch houses of surrounding San Fernando Valley neighborhoods. Its exaggerated neon signage and design flourishes give it an unmistakably Googie vibe.

The enormous freestanding sign features a stylized arrow that guides drivers to a rear entrance. Upon entering, drivers get out of their cars below a shaded carport. The cars turn a corner and are hidden from view as they pass through the mechanized wash tunnel. Only the parts of the wash that are done by hand can be seen in plain sight. After leaving their cars, customers proceed through a series of rooms: the cashier, the shoe shine, and the Palm Room. Offering respite from the summertime Valley heat, the air-conditioned Palm Room is tucked behind broad aluminum windows framed by palms and lava rock cladding.

The Googie coffee shop-atmosphere of Lakeside Car Wash is most apparent while waiting inside the Palm Room below the exaggerated neon cursive letters along the roofline. Cars are parked in front of the building around a lava rock-clad basin that holds towels. Every car in view is shiny and clean, attracting a continuing stream of passing drivers on busy Riverside Drive.

Sunset Car Wash
Photo by Devri Richmond

Sunset Car Wash

This Sunset Boulevard gem is a low concrete monument to Late Modern architecture, with a tip of the hat to Brutalism.
Mel's
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Mel's

A great example of Louis Armet and Eldon Davis early Googie designs, showing their use of angled rooflines, dramatic signage, and other space-age elements that would become even more angled and dramatic in their later work.
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.