Santa Anita Park | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo from L.A. Conservancy archives

Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita Park opened on Christmas Day, 1934, and quickly established itself as one of the region’s premiere thoroughbred racetracks. 

The nearly 300 acre site contains numerous features and structures, in addition to the grandstand building, which are integrally linked to the history and significance of Santa Anita Park. These include the main track, track house, several stables, paddock, receiving and saddling barns, and east and south gates.

Santa Anita Park played a pioneering role in the development of the California thoroughbred racing industry. The photographic documentation of the finish was first used at Santa Anita Park in the inaugural season of 1934-35. The “photo finish” is regarded as one of the great contributions of the park to the sport.

In addition to its architectural significance and its associations with thoroughbred racing history, Santa Anita was the largest Assembly Center for the Japanese American internment in World War II. About 20,000 Japanese-Americans lived at the racetrack during 1942, in temporary housing in the stable area and in barracks constructed on the site’s parking lot. The racetrack was identified eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Architect Gordon B. Kaufmann had visited various racetracks throughout the country while working on the initial design for Santa Anita Park. He was disappointed to find them mostly similar in design and planning. For the Arcadia racetrack, Kaufmann chose both Colonial Revival and Moderne architectural styles, which he used to complementary effect.

Still painted in their original blue-green with cream trim, Kaufmann’s original grandstand and clubhouse buildings have been expanded significantly, beginning with additions he designed in 1937 and 1938. Later additions by other architects further enlarged the size of the grandstand and clubhouse buildings, which by the 1950s became linked structurally.

Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Eastern Columbia Lofts

From its spectacular clock tower emblazoned with the name Eastern in neon down to its multi-colored terrazzo sidewalks, this 1930 downtown landmark was one of the largest buildings constructed in downtown until after WWII.