Let Us Ascend To the Heights Like the Angels Do...

Then return to earth, like the Angelenos do!

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

Tomorrow at noon we go live with A Cultural History of Angels Flight Railway, 1901-2020, and you can watch this webinar all week at your leisure. This special program will reveal aspects of the funicular’s history and operations not known by the general public. Joining us are descendants of two of the mid-century independent operators, the current operator, Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison and historian Nathan Marsak. Tune in for tales of Edwardian innovation, misguided redevelopment, film noir cameos, deadly amateur engineering and fevered preservation advocacy, all in a celebration of the recently restored treasure.

Next Saturday, December 19, we’re joined by architect and historian Alan Hess and serial restorer of programmatic landmarks Bobby Green of 1933 Group for an exploration of the coolest, kookiest and most California-istic of architectural styles, The Weird World of Programmatic Los Angeles Architecture. We’ll set our time machine for the 1920s, when creative retailers and cooks crafted buildings that were designed to get a passing driver to pull over and pull out their wallet. These cheap confections weren’t meant to last—and yet a few survive today. Let’s go find ‘em, and share stories about the strange landmarks we’ve lost and the cool buildings Bobby Green is saving, including the much lamented Tail o’ the Pup.

Just announced for Christmas weekend is A Love Letter to the Cafeterias of Old Los Angeles (12/26). For this holiday program, we’ll celebrate culinary visionaries, tracing the famous and forgotten cafeterias that once dotted the Southland, and the fascinating things that happened within. Tune in for a full tray of vintage cafeteria philosophy, architecture and lore, with a virtual plate of multicolored confetti jello on the side.

You’ll get a little clue about what to expect from the Angels Flight Railway, Programmatic Architecture and Cafeteria history webinars from tonight’s Facebook Live preview.

And we’ve got a new subscriber’s edition newsletter up, featuring our visit to Lompoc’s most beautiful restaurant, and the very strange thing we learned within. Do you already love the special subscriber posts and feel like sharing with a friend? Click here to gift a subscription by the month or year.

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can watch the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see A Cultural History of Grand Central Market, 1917-2020 through Saturday night, and to hear about the Japanese vendor leases that we helped get accessioned to the Huntington Library.

Ohio River Valley, Bunker Hill, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, Black Dahlia, Dutch Chocolate Shop, Bradbury Building, Tunnels, L.A. Times Bombing and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for A Cultural History of Angels Flight Railway, 1901-2020.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—A Wartime Obsession Shared Beneath The Flickering Neon Tubes of Lompoc's Rice Bowl Café—we share one of the wildest things anyone has ever told us about how a landmark came to be built. Here’s a hint: a little bit of Hitler lives in Lompoc.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for (or gifting) the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Gift certificates are available for any webinar in our library or upcoming calendar, starting at $10. Printed matter? We’ve got a swell selection of books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.


We're dark until public health officials determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to weekly webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.


Road Trip! Although public bus tours are on hiatus, we still get around on our social distancing road trips around our beloved Los Angeles. Be a virtual backseat companion when you click the #esotouricroadtrip hashtag, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

We're saddened by the L.A. Times exposé on abusive management at the Magic Castle. This place is special. There are such great people in the member and artist community, and salvaged relics of lost L.A. mansions inside. We hope the good folks can clean house and Save the Castle.

Demolition permit sought for Casey Kasem's over-the-top Greek Revival estate in Holmby Hills. 7600 square feet just won't do anymore. The new structure will be 32,994 square feet. Bye bye green lawns and heart-shaped pool. Here’s what’s planned for the site.

Try Joan Crawford's favorite salad recipes, from Fashions in Foods in Beverly Hills (1931). And if you love them, buy a copy of the cookbook—autographed by La Joan herself!— from Stories Books in Echo Park.

We love the mmhmm app that makes our webinars look nothing at all like a City Council meeting, and are proud to be featured on their blog.

Developer sues Los Angeles to halt landmark process of the 1935 Chili Bowl (PDF link), as Michelin-starred tenant Shunji sushi departs L.A. for Santa Monica, taking prestige and tax revenue with it. You can still click NEW to make public comment supporting landmarking.

Sad news from a city where too many good old buildings with expansive grounds are demolished: add Buster and Eleanor Keaton's ranch home in Woodland Hills to the list. What a pity fans didn't get a chance to salvage relics.

Not so fast, billionaire jerk Charlie Munger: heroic Los Angeles land use attorney Robert Silverstein is representing the neighbors who object to demolition of the landmark Barry Building (formerly Dutton's Books) as "blighted" (PDF link).

L.A. Taco branching out into California beverage marketing history with a fascinating profile of Orange Bang creator David Fox. From Capitol Records' PR team to the king of frothy all-natural deliciousness, the secret ingredient is love.

Frank Gehry’s 8150 Sunset project, which insists on demolishing the landmark Kurt Meyer Lytton Savings building, has shrunk significantly. And the developer is removing the charming artwork that was builder Bart Lytton’s gift to Angelenos.

Writing a detective novel set in L.A. in the early 1960s? Use this handy dandy TELE-CO$T guide to know what it would cost to dial your client in Beverly Hills from your HI-lcrest exchange bachelor pad in Arcadia.

It is peak Michael Govan to have commissioned Vera Lutter to document the beautiful and beloved William Pereira LACMA campus whose death warrant he signed, and brand it as “mindful," “empathetic" and “connected." Ugh, please go away.

New newsletter for fans of weird history: Nathan Marsak on Old Los Angeles. Episode 1 previews his deranged new zine, Bunker Noir—the sleazy true crime outtakes from his recent Angel City book about Bunker Hill.

On 12/17 the Cultural Heritage Commission rules on landmarking Taix French Restaurant, threatened by demolition by an out-of-state developer with a terrible track record of operating illegal Airbnbs in "new housing." Plus: Sister Corita's Studio. (PDF link.)

Stox diner, the oldest restaurant in Downey (since 1962), seeks community support to keep the lights on and staff paid until it is safe and legal to open again.