Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Historic Googie Building Demolished

L.A. Observed reports that Harvey's (later Johnie's) Broiler in Downey, California, considered by many to be one of the finest examples of '50s Googie architecture, was illegally demolished this weekend.

More from the L.A. Times and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

It's very sad to see such a wonderful piece of California architectural history ground to bits.

For more on Googie architecture, including a link to a fine book on the topic, see my post from October 2005.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Googie is going fast. I used to pass that place every day 20 years ago when I worked in South Gate. It was badly delapidated even then, and I'm surprised it's survived the wrecking ball this long. It's only when I read Alan Hess' first book on Googie that I realized it's architectural and cultural significance. I became a part-time Googie photographer in the '80s, running around SoCal taking pictures of these Space Age structures. I used to get funny looks from people coming out of these sleazy motels I used to snap in the middle of the day. Best thing I did was photograph the Disneyland area before it was "redeveloped" into the generic ugliness it is today. I donated my collection to the Anaheim Public Library in 1999 where it's available for everyone. The librarian told me Anaheim city fathers were so intent on demolishing all Googie remnants in the '90s that they failed to properly document the area. Harbor-Katella in Anaheim used to be absolute Ground Zero for Googie, even though Walt Disney detested the "clutter" and it became seedy with prostitutes and homeless. Only places original Googie is surviving these days is rundown strips like Garden Grove Boulevard around the pink adult bookstores. Some retro Googie is popping up in Orange COunty, like the Block Of Orange and that Wal-Mart mall on Euclid Ave., but it's not the real thing. I once belonged to the L.A. Conservancy so I know how mindless, greedy politicians and corporate pencil-pushers like to erase our cultural history if they can make a few extra bucks with a parking garage. It took a Herculean effort to save the orginal 1950s Googie-type McDonalds in Downey from McDonalds corporate riffraff and Downey officials who wanted to wreck that as well. Recently, the Fox Theater in Fullerton was salvaged at the last moment from nitwits at City Hall. A few of us care--very few--but I fear our built landscape is going to be endless duplications of ugly stucco boxes. Sadly, once-funky Huntington Beach is completing its final phases of downtown "redevelopment" as I post this.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A postscript . . . in my own backyard in Buena Park, Calif. they closed the Googie-style Movieland Wax Museum in October, 2005 and it's scheduled for demolition. In its place we can all be thankful for another big-box retailer. This time it's Best Buy, so get out your party hats. Built in 1962, Movieland had one of the classic Googie signs, full of spacey dingbats. It was perhaps the best Googie sign west of the Stardust in Vegas, along with the old Eden Roc Motel on West Street in Anaheim by Disneyland. Beyond its vivid Googie appeal, Movieland was probably the greatest 1960s-style kitsch-tacky tourist traps every concocted, right down to a replica of unleafed David in the courtyard. Any John Waters fan should be required to make a pilgrimage to Movieland before it turns to stardust. Wax museums full of old, dead movie stars--another part of Americana that's vanished. Meanwhile, let me get out the No-Doz . . . President Vincente Bush is about to unveil his new plan on Iraq that can only come from his brilliant mind.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on Googie in Southern California. I well remember the "Space Age" and other motels around Disneyland. Best wishes, Laura

11:29 PM  

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