Revisiting the streets of California in its golden days can bring back a lot of fond memories. After all, it was a fantastic time with wondrous fashion styles, carefree days in the sun, and iconic old Hollywood entertainers. It was an age where music and laughter filled the streets, and people lived with so little worries. Oh, what an era to feel a little nostalgic for.
We worked hard on collecting a hand full of vintage photos that will hopefully send you on a trip down memory lane. We hope this collection will give you the Californian feels. There is nothing better than feeling reminiscent over treasured childhood memories while flipping through old photo albums.
Manhattan Beach has always been a hotspot for surfing and beach volleyball since the ’50s. Once, the beach was made up of sand dunes so you could only view the ocean as you got closer to it. But today, they lie beneath the cities buildings and streets. Luckily for locals, the underlying dunes now afford residents an ocean view throughout the western parts of the city.
This gorgeous beach made of sunsets, sandy beaches, and palm trees attracts over 3.8 million visitors a year. We can understand why people refer to the beach as the heart of the city. Even the stars of Hollywood would often find themselves spending many days relaxing upon the coastal shores of sunny Cali.
Yes, you read that right, Hollywoodland. A classic California landmark beloved by the whole world. Back in the early 1900s, the famous landmark was initially made for a marketing ploy for new housing. America had already caught the ‘film fever’ by 1915 and by 1920, the population was already well booming.
The development began selling plots of land in 1923, encouraging an escape from the cities hustle and bustle. The establishers installed the sign hoping it would draw in those who are stuck in traffic, selling them a dream of a life in the hills. Well, with over 4000 lightbulbs that were lit up at night time, the sign was pretty hard to miss.
Palm Springs, Playground for Stars
Dating back to the early ’30s, Palm Springs is famously known as a playground for Hollywood stars. Nestled near the bottom of the Jacinto Mountains in South Cali, stars like Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra have called this city their home, or at least a winter-getaway home!
In the ’60s era, Palm Springs was also known for its lush golf courses, mid-century architecture, and its multi-million dollar vacation homes. Not much has changed. In fact, the number of golf courses is increasing. And if you don’t have a swimming pool in your vacation home, you might as well give it away for free.
ABC Vine Street Theatre
ABC’s Vine Street Theatre’s back story is quite amazing. It was first home to Don Lee (who was formerly a Cadillac dealer), and it was the very first place Johnny Carson went on network television. The building was initially built in 1948 to be a radio and television studio facility.
This nostalgic building is the longest standing structure in Hollywood designed for Television. ABC bought the studio in 1967 and produced shows like The Dating Game, The Joey Bishop Show, and The Newlywed Game. Today it’s home to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts. In 2002, the building was dedicated in honor of the legendary silent film actress, Mary Pickford.
Of course, like most towns and cities, there are always two sides to it, a lush side and a working-class side of it where people lived because of affordability. However, these areas were quite beautiful since people created their own landscapes with hand art and so on.
On the ‘Humble’ side of LA, people from everywhere, locals and tourists, ventured into these neighborhoods. These kinds of neighborhoods deserve to be given much more shine. Many friends from high and low met in this neck of the woods to enjoy a bit of urban life.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
Picture this, 93 years ago from the ’20s, women used to wear brightly colored shorts, low-waisted dresses with smart art designs of the era, bobbed hairstyles, and cloche hats. Now envision thousands of people lining up on Hollywood’s Boulevard for the theatre’s grand opening in their Cadillacs and cars of the era. Do you see the image?
The famous Hollywood Landmark, with over four million visitors annually, has hosted countless movie premieres, three Academy Award ceremonies, and various other events since its opening. Besides its Chinese designs, the theatre’s most unique feature is the famous Forecourt of the Celebs. Over 500 Hollywood stars have engraved their handprints, footprints, and autographs into the cement.
The Youth of Cali
In California, the ’60s was an era of youth exploring with romance, partying, and pop evolution. Born in Cali, it’s a miracle that any of us endured childhood. Parents used to smoke around their kids and let them run wild and free in the streets.
Do you remember the days you’d sit in the passenger seat without a rooftop, nor seat belt? Back then, parents felt comfortable sending their children out of the house from morning until dinner time. That is definitely not the case nowadays.
Vintage Wilshire Boulevard
Since the 20s, spanning across 16 miles from downtown Los Angeles to the ocean, Wilshire Boulevard, also known as Miracle Mile, is the symbolic spine of L.A. It’s neighborhoods reflect nearly every architectural style of the 20th century.
Before being what it is today, Miracle Mile used to be a simple 20-foot-wide dirt road bordered by barley fields and oil wells. A visionary, real estate developer named A.W. Ross transformed the street from a cow path to a commercial artery. Today, the road is home to museums, art Deco structures, and much more.
Since the ’30s, Canter’s Deli is a place that has brought many generations of families, Hollywood stars, and politicians together at all hours of the day and night. Whether it be multi-generation families who dine together or party people who show up in the wee hours of the morning, Canters has always been there for everyone to enjoy.
After some time, Canters became a hotspot for show business personalities, given its late hours and its exceptional location. In the ’60s, the deli became a hot spot for rock musicians, hippies, and other similar groups. Till today, the Canters remains a favorite of rock ‘n’ roll musicians and is still open 24/7.
The Cinerama Dome
Being the entertainment center of the world, L.A. definitely doesn’t suffer from a shortage of historical movie theatres. The Cinerama Dome is one that specifically stands out above the rest, and we will explain why. You know how they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day?’
Surprisingly, this dome was built in the ’60s in just under 16 weeks, and in construction lingo, that’s kind of like a day! The dome was created as a prototype that would be used across the States to showcase a new Cinema idea- a room featuring a curved screen.
What was once a dusty road boarded with wheat trees has since become the Sunset Strip, the most famous place in Los Angeles to misbehave! From the beginning of time, the 1.7-mile street was always a party playground for Hollywood’s finest and normal’s alike. Sunset Blvd can be traced back to the 1800s.
Though many people today see a simple road, believe us, it has a colorful history and there is more than meets the eye. Before the coffee shop and juice bar invasions, the street was famous for its abundant crowds filling up speakeasies and nightclubs. Fortunately, today Sunset Strip still has the tall palm trees over-towering the roads as you walk down them.
Glendale-Burbank Transit Line
As you know, Californians spend most of their lives traveling from one place to another. Over the last three centuries of Los Angeles’ existence, there have been various kinds of transportation systems that got people where they needed to go.
However, the invention of this streetcar transformed many people’s lives. The first one appeared on Pico Street in 1887. The efficient ‘people movers’ were terrific; it enabled people to live further away from overcrowded Downtown L.A. from 1902 until 1955.
Hippie-Haven of Laguna Beach
Growing up, living, or visiting Laguna Beach in the ’60s, you would remember how different the people were then compared to now. Back then, the streets were filled with creative and spiritual people, with Hare Krishnas parading the town in their gold robes, bare feet, and tambourines.
The kids of the 60s used to either take ‘Dial A Ride’ to the beach, hoof it with their surfboards, skateboard down or even hitchhike there. Anything to get down to the water. Los Angeles and Long Beach were like two different worlds compared to Laguna Beach and other small beaches. It’s impossible not to feel nostalgic for those golden, summery days.
Leaving Her Mark
June 26, 1953, marks an amazing 65 years since Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe both places their hands and feet (with shoes on) in wet cement. The two friends were forever immortalized in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre back in the ’50s. Isn’t that beautiful?
Jane Russel told reporters that she would never forget what Marilyn said to her on that day. Marilyn asked her, “It’s for all time, isn’t it?” Jane told her it was for all time, as long as the cement would last. Jane went on to say, “She made me cry, she was so sweet. I really believed in her. We made one hell of a team, and I wish more than anything that we had done another picture together.”
What a Sight
The original 1955 Disneyland has long been a landmark that fills your heart with joy. While driving down the highway, nothing is more exciting for kids and adults alike. Since Disney opened its gates over 65 years ago, it’s been the most loved amusement park on the planet, dubbed the happiest place on earth.
The idea for Disney came about when a father who created animated characters, saw his two daughters playing at Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, having the time of their lives in 1930. While watching them play, he had the idea of creating a park of rides dedicated to the world of animated characters he created.
Rich in California History
As you enter the City of San Fernando, driving down the palm tree-lined boulevard, you would uncover a beautiful community, rich in California’s history. This picturesque, pastel-colored city dates back almost two centuries and has since a community full of charming contrasts.
What once used to be a land of ranches and farms is now a vibrant center of commerce and manufacturing. Regardless of being minutes away from Los Angeles, the City enjoys a sweeping panoramic view of foothills, which provides a satisfying level of privacy.
Pasadena Tournament of Roses
In today’s day and age, it has become a democratic New Years’ tradition. However, the annual Rose Parade’originins can be traced back to the 1800s. The first tournament in 1890, featured a series of sporting events, including foot races, tug of war, and bicycle races, which was held on the east side of Los Robles.
Attendants would gather at an early hour, filling the grandstand by 10:30 am. Roses were bound to each hand, horses were garlanded with lilies and roses, and the stands were filled with brilliant hues of flowers too. With the years, the tournament grew increasingly popular, welcoming people from everywhere to join in the fun.
The First Real American Discotheque
If you were to drive past the Whisky a Go Go, you would see a band van out front getting ready to load in for the night’s gig. “Strange,” you say? That’s because the nightclub is still active and still a very relevant part of the Sunset Strip. It has been running since 1964.
The Whisky is one of the most famous rock ‘n’ roll landmarks in the States. The club was first established in an old bank building. On the club’s opening night, Johnny Rivers’ band performed alongside a female DJ who stood inside of a steel cage. Once she began dancing while djing, the audience assumed it was part of an act. Behold, that was the night the concept of Go Go dancers in cages was born.
The ’60s is a decade we all wish we grew up in. Looking back, everyone seemed free and happy. With rock n’ roll alive and well, romance in the air, and advances in both civil and women’s rights on the rise, things were looking pretty groovy.
These were the good old days when you could socialize with your family and friends, play outside and enjoy everything nature has to offer. This photo alone says so much about the era. Young kids playing outside in the yard is a rare sight to see these days.
The Pike, Fun Zone in Long Beach
The amusement park (which has been renamed various times), in Long Beach, was founded in 1902 along the beachfront, South of Ocean Boulevard. People had a favorite ride at this park, which many will remember forever; The Cyclone Racer. The Cyclone Racer was a wooden dual-track roller coaster that was built over the water.
The last name this famed amusement park received was “Queens Park.” This name was meant to coincide with the public opening of the historic ocean liner RMS Queen Mary. The park remained Queens Park until it was later demolished in 1980.
The One and Only Famous Route 66
Many people from around the world have traveled the much-celebrated roadway. Sadly, the way was made irrelevant by high-speed interstates and eventually decommissioned by the government back in 1985. However, much of the road still remains drivable today.
A man named John Steinbeck was the one who gave Route 66 its famous nickname. Having written a prize-winning 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath, he devoted a chapter to Route 66, which he called “The mother road,” a nickname that stuck.
Do any of you remember the fashion that prowled the Hollywood Boulevard back in the 70s? Those long bell-bottom jeans and unruly hair. Just as trends have changed from back then, so have the streets. The Pussycat Theatre, which first opened in 1974, is now called the Hologram USA Theatre.
Once the theatre was considered the “Golden Age of Steamy Romance.” When it was still the Pussycat, the theatre was designed and decorated with crimson carpeting and massive chandeliers. The theatre showed one ‘steamy’ movie for a record of 10 years until it was closed in 1981.
The original Andersen’s was founded back in 1924 by a man named Anton Andersen and his lovely wife, Juliette. The menu initially only had basic sandwiches and hand food, so drivers using the highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles would stop in and grab something along the way.
As many people remember, Andersen’s was famous for his Pea Soup in the ’50s. Even though he primarily served his soup to travelers who were on the go, he also provided many satisfied customers with warm sit down meals who spread the word about his homey establishment.
Many years ago, when record stores where the wolves of our hometowns, a large store immerged. Known by many, Peaches Records and Tapes was created to be an empire. They did not plan on being just some small corner shop at the bottom of someone’s street.
And boy did they achieve that goal! Peaches Records had a chain store in just about every major city across the States. I guess you could say that it was a one-stop-shop which was similar in scope and size to a modern-day grocery shop franchise.
The Age of Aquarius
In 1968, the iconic Broadway show Hair first hit Los Angeles. The show became an instant hit with show-goers at the Earl Carroll Theater on Sunset Blvd. Although the theater had operated under numerous names since 1938, in 1968 the venue received a major revamp and iconic name change.
In keeping with the times, the theater was renamed as The Aquarius Theater and received a psychedelic face-lift. It later became an iconic landmark in California. The next year, the song The Age of Aquarius was released, as it was inspired by the popular notion that the world had entered the “age of love, light, and humanity.”
Whisky a Go Go
For seasoned Californians, Whisky a Go Go is sure to bring back a flash of nostalgia. The historic chain originated in Paris in 1947, as the world’s very first discotheque. The franchise was then brought to Illinois as the first American discotheque, and finally landed on the Sunset strip in 1964.
Located on Sunset Boulevard, the nightclub soon became a launchpad for some of the most legendary rock bands and artists on the planet. From Linda Ronstadt to the Doors, the venue was a hotbed for live musical talent. In 1970, Sir Paul McCartney had just released his first solo album, so it was the perfect space to advertise on the billboard. The iconic venue was even inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2006.
Audrey’s Effortless Style
During the 1950s and ’60s, Audrey Hepburn reigned as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies. Known for her chic and timeless style, the fashionista became a style goddess and an influencer for her generation. When she wasn’t wearing little black dresses, one of her most memorable looks included cropped cigarette trousers, short blouses, and feminine flats.
Of course, as soon as this iconic photo was released of Audrey Hepburn on her vintage pedal bike, wearing this signature outfit and statement scarf with her beloved pooch; she soon influenced the world of fashion. The casual-chic Californian style became a trending look around the world too.
The LA Boom
In the 1950s and ’60s, Los Angeles was hailed by the world as an industrial, commercial and financial giant. Fueled by the production during the war and plenty of migration, the booming city was pretty ahead of the times and leading the world in numerous areas.
One area, in particular, was the production of automobiles. Los Angeles even held a record as it assembled more cars than any other city across the U.S. This nostalgic shot was captured on the streets of LA in 1954 and reveals just how modern this bustling, car-filled city was in its heyday.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Once upon a time in Hollywood, one of the most infamous landmarks nestled along Hollywood Boulevard was Vogue Theater. Designed by the talented architect S. Charles Lee in 1935, it was then modernized in 1959 and became a popular attraction for cinematic enthusiasts far and wide.
Vogue Theater now holds a special place in Hollywood history. When Quentin Tarantino created the set for his 60s throwback film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he was sure to include the iconic theater sign in the Boulevard scenes.
Santa Cruz Amusement Park
California is sometimes viewed as the playground of dreams. So, to ensure the fun never ends, one of the biggest playground attractions along the Santa Monica Beach Boardwalk was this giant Amusement Park. The Park became a popular destination for Californian natives and tourists alike.
The family-operated Santa Cruz Boulevard has been a tourist attraction since 1907 and this Park was actually the first Amusement Park in California. The Giant Dipper roller coaster and Looff Carousel are now considered Historic Landmarks, and we’re sure this vintage sight evokes plenty of playground memories for generations of Californian dreamers.
The Brown Derby
Another nostalgic landmark on the Californian map was the Brown Derby. Originally constructed in the 1920s, the restaurant fast became a popular chain across Los Angeles. One of the most memorable and recognizable sites was located on Wilshire near the Ambassador Hotel.
The striking restaurant could be easily spotted from afar, as it was created to look like a giant hat. It fast became a hotbed for celebrity clientele too. Interestingly, it was owned by the Cobb family, and known for its signature dish, the Cobb salad, which later became a popular delicacy around the world.
Beauty Queens and Vintage Cars
This magical colorized photo was captured in 1966 in Southern California. As you can see, in the golden era, California was well known for its love of beauty pageants and vintage open-top cars. So what better way to showcase a stunning group of beauty queens than to parade them in a classic convertible?
Back in the day, California was glamorized as a paradise destination, filled with beauty and picture-perfect fun. This photo, captured in Indio, California in 1966 perfectly emphasizes this notion. Located in the Coachella valley of Sothern California, Indio later earned the nickname as “the city of festivals.”
The Sky’s The Limit on Wilshire Boulevard
If you’re familiar with Wilshire Boulard, then you’ll know that it’s one of the most famous stretches running through the city of LA. Running parallel to Santa Monica Boulevard, it was famous for connecting five of LA’s business districts together. Today, it has become one of LA’s most populated districts.
As you can see, in the 1950s the Boulevard was already populated with buildings. In 1956, it also became a hub for high-rise residential houses and commercial skyscrapers. One of the most famous stretches of the road is known as the “Wilshire Corridor,” and is home to the Fox and MGM studio skyscrapers, glitzy condominiums and historic Californian hotels.
All Dressed Up
This fashionable shot was captured by the photographer Dennis Feldman on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard in the 1970s. Initially, this woman caught the photographer’s eye as the personification of the phrase, “All dressed up and nowhere to go.”
While this woman does look a little worried as she stands leaning against the shop window with her suitcases, we have to credit her for her sense of style. She was right on trend in the 70s fashion with her bell-bottom trousers, stylish up-do, platform sandals, and tunic-style top. We just hope she found a stylish place to go!
Everything Was Affordable
As we travel back in time to days gone by, many of us still reminisce about the 1960s as a time where everything was affordable. And that included the price of gas. During the 1960s, gas prices bounced between 30 and 36 cents, which seems like a steal compared to today’s prices.
The 1960s was a time of boom. In the automobile industry, the demand had surged and more cars began to appear on the streets of LA. Still, the engines were not so advanced as they are today, so many of the American cars were pretty gas-guzzling. Still, we’d prefer to think of that time as the ‘good old days.’
In the summer of 1958, Hollywood legend, Dean Martin and his business partner purchased a restaurant, which was formerly known as The Alpine Lodge. They soon gave it a major Hollywood face-lift, revamped it as Dino’s Lodge and planted an enormous sign with Dean Martin’s gorgeous face on it.
The lodge soon became one of Hollywood’s hippest jazz joints and was a hotspot for continuous entertainment, cocktails and one of the swankiest restaurants in town. In the 1960s, sadly Dean Martin sold the restaurant to new owners, but the restaurant’s legacy lived on. People flocked from far and wide in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Hollywood star.
Vintage Road Trips
Ah, we could reminisce for days about the good old days of family road trips. This throwback shot captures the sheer excitement and joy that this young boy felt as he hopped in this vintage car with his dad for an epic road trip along Route 66.
As some of you might remember, old school family road trips were so much better in the ’50s and ’60s. In the good old days, road trips were much freer too. With no seat belts, you could even pop your head out the window to feel the breeze in your hair, while you enjoy endless hours of family-filled fun.
One of the most famous intersections in LA is located between Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Aside from being home to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the intersection also famously housed one of the most well-known restaurant joints in town, Hody’s Restaurant.
We’re sure most Californians would have graced the doors of this iconic family-run restaurant during the ’50s and ’60s. It was originally called Melody Lane and the Coco Tree Cafe, before Hody’s took over the spot and turned it into the iconic restaurant that we all know and love.
This stunning photo was captured in the heart of Koreatown, on Serrano Avenue in the 1970s, when it was common to find these types of villas. Inspired by a mix of Art Deco and Brutalist architecture, these buildings were known for their modern, block-like structures and geometric designs.
In the 1950s and ’60s, these types of buildings started to gain popularity and were seen as the height of modernity. For many, it marked a departure from the more ornate types of buildings constructed in the early part of the century. So yet again, California was always ahead of the trends in every area.
The Peaches Legacy
In 1974, a street-level record hustler, Tom Heiman opened the first Peaches Records and Tapes store on Hollywood Boulevard. The record store was infamous for its exhaustive back catalog of imported vinyl and tapes and became a pilgrimage destination for music lovers far and wide.
Another reason for its success was because the record store offered an experience like no other. One fan recalled how in its heyday, “most of the people there were super die-hard music fans, so we always had something to talk about. It was like family; we were all friends. When we’d do inventory, it was like a big party, music playing full blast.”
Before the glitz and glam, while the roads were still made of dirt, Hollywood Boulevard was initially called Prospect Avenue. The town of Hollywood was later annexed by a neighbor city, Los Angeles. The rest, as we know, is history!
Of course, these days, we now refer to Hollywood Blvd as the old Hollywood. A paparazzi photographer managed to catch American actress Joan Bradshaw turning heads while taking her pooch out for a walk. Oh, how times have changed since the ’50s.