How bad could a Depression be, with fresh boysenberrries, an Assyrian castle, Shakespeare under the stars and a nudist queen named Zorine?
These, it turns out, are just a few of the wonders that Southern California gained between 1929 and 1941, when so many Americans were losing so much. We came upon them after Travel readers suggested a more localized follow-up to the San Francisco survey we did (“Exploring the Depression’s artistic legacy in San Francisco”).
That sounded right to us. So weve consulted a few historical societies and called a few experts, including Los Angeles architect Brenda Levin and Orange County historian Phil Brigandi.
The result is this list, just as rigorously unscientific as the San Francisco list. Eleven landmarks, no waiting.
— Christopher Reynolds, L.A. Times staff writer (File photo / Los Angeles Times)
Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St. (at Fairfax), Los Angeles, (323) 933-9211
In July 1934, the first group of farmers gathered their trucks to peddle produce on land owned by the Gilmore family. (Promoters added a racing track, football stadium and baseball field around the same time, but they were long ago replaced by other buildings.)
Built in 1939, this was the last major train station constructed in the U.S.
With its tile floor and fanciful roofbeams, its part Mission Revival, part Streamline Moderne. Unfortunately, one of its old restaurant spaces is idle most of the time, but you can eat well on site at Traxx.
This theater and the adjacent Pellissier Building together amount to an art deco wonder (some call it Zig Zag Moderne), clad in turquoise terra cotta, built in 1931.
Notice that the Wiltern stands at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, and try to imagine the genesis of its name. In the late 1970s, it was targeted for demolition, but a rescue campaign prevailed. The venue still hosts concerts.
After a series of floods from 1933 to 1938 killed 85 people, city leaders scrapped plans for a string of parks along the roughly 51-mile river.
Instead they invited the Army Corps of Engineers to contain it with a concrete channel. The corps then spent more than 30 years encasing more than 80% of the riverbed, thereby preventing floods and ensuring that great patches of ugliness would wend their way from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.
(We didn’t say all these places were beautiful, just that they were landmarks.) Now the Friends of the L.A. River lead a campaign for regreening.
Depending on your definition, this could be the first theme park in America.
Though its first building went up in the 1920s and the ghost town didnt go up until the 1940s, the enterprises signature Chicken Dinner Restaurant opened in 1934, and the Knott family began growing their signature boysenberries around the same time. Shown: Cordelia and Walter Knott.
Just about a mile away at 194 N. Atchison St. is the Orange Santa Fe Depot, with its red-tile roof, a Mediterranean Revival building that goes back to 1938 and now handles Metrolink commuters. (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times)
The Globe burned to the ground in 1978, but a facsimile of the facsimile opened in 1982, and the shows go on. (Larry Gordon / Los Angeles Times)
San Diego‘s Balboa Park: Though most of the parks Spanish Renaissance buildings were built for the 1915 Panama- CaliforniaExposition, many got substantial upgrades and others were added for the 1935 expo.