A Grocery Store Like No Other: Crawford's Markets Fed The San Gabriel Valley... and blew its collective mind

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 George Mann’s Fabulous Vintage Views of Los Angeles, and you can watch this webinar all week at your leisure.

Come discover an utterly unique character and the beautiful things he left behind. This Santa Monica kid with the gangly limbs and dancer’s grace took Vaudeville by storm, then returned to California for a second career manufacturing 3-D waiting room viewing boxes packed with the coolest L.A. scenes imaginable. We’re joined by Mann’s family and 3-D photographer Chris Casady, Bunker Hill historian Nathan Marsak and native son Gordon Pattison to reveal, contextualize and astonish. You won’t want to miss this (2-D) time travel trip.

Next Saturday, January 16, it’s John Bengtson’s “Silent Echoes in Westlake” Early Los Angeles Film Locations. We’re so pleased that silent cinema sleuth John Bengtson will be taking us on a then-and-now virtual tour of the architecturally rich Westlake neighborhood, spotlighting the time capsule locations that are immortalized in the comic films of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. You’ll be astonished to learn how he uses vintage photos and film clips, maps, archival sources, shoe leather and dumb luck to pinpoint the spots where motion picture history was made.

And just announced for January 23 is The Biggest Little Country Store in the World: How Crawford’s Markets Fed the San Gabriel Valley and Transformed The Industry. Come spend an afternoon with Mitchell Crawford as he shares the rollicking tale of his grandparents’ beloved and innovative supermarket chain, home of the world’s largest Cheddar cheese round, whimsical architecture, offbeat events, unforgettable characters and a little jolt of noirish true crime to keep you on your toes.

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 our epic 3+ hour New Years program Pershing Square, Los Angeles: the History, Tragedy and Potential of Our Original Central Park, 1866-2020 through Saturday night.

Cafeterias of Old L.A., Programmatic Architecture, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, 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 George Mann’s Fabulous Vintage Views of Los Angeles.

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.


New on the Esotouric blog: we’ve updated the post Is Jose Huizar's Crony Art Gastelum Trying to Kill El Pino, with guest appearances by local politicians, new video showing metal jammed into the tree, and a powerful public address by a neighbor who thinks the lot should become a public space.

Video Vault: Take a virtual tour of the Palos Verdes Peninsula as our archivist pal Monique Sugimoto hops on her electric bike to trace the route of a 1930s map, with call outs to cultural history sites…. From the Southern California Edison archive at the Huntington, here's official footage of the opening of the Aqueduct. (But keep watching after the Cascades start to flow for some wonderful 1920s/40s city scenes and signage.)

Corruption Corner: According to the DOJ, Jose Huizar tried to get developer Carmel Partners to give him a job after he was removed from City Council. Since he couldn't fix their Arts District zoning anymore, his contact blew him off…. Amazing find in our b-roll from Jose Huizar's 2014 press conference announcing his Pershing Square redesign contest. L.A. Times reporter David Zahniser asks where the $1 Million to fund the competition came from. Huizar doesn't know how to pronounce the name of donor Victor MacFarlane. So who brokered this deal?

From Hyperallergic's L.A. art 2020 in review: "In a mostly dark year, it was a beautiful thing to see Sheila Klein’s iconic lamppost artwork, ‘Vermonica,’ shine in Los Angeles again." We’re honored to have helped.

Hollywood's 101 Coffee Shop, a perfect early 21st century spin on a mid-century Googie diner, quietly closed and nobody noticed, until they did.

How strange that the Ghost Adventures crew got inside the Hotel Cecil to look for paranormal things, but its 600+ rooms are still locked up tight when it comes to the tens of thousands sleeping rough through this pandemic and winter weather.

An Historic Cultural Monument application was submitted for Robert Stacy-Judd’s Atwater Bungalows, perhaps the only Hopi Revival structure in the city of Los Angeles, and still owned and loved by the family that commissioned it.

Petition Update: At Last The Public Has A Voice About The Egyptian Theatre's Future. Concerned citizens called in yesterday morning, when the Cultural Heritage Commission reviewed Netflix' major (yet strangely underwhelming) renovation plans (see them here), but made no determination about the scope of work.

Rumor mill: Is George Lucas trying to poach the San Francisco Art Institute's Diego Rivera?

"Spirits are there to mess with you!" Tune in to Episode 2 of the dark side of design podcast Clever Confidential as we help unspool The Supernatural Beginnings of The Bradbury Building.

The unexpected second life of The Flutter of an Eyelid, perhaps the weirdest and wildest Los Angeles novel of them all.

Psst! Is your name George (or would you like it to be)? Do you like vintage neon signs? Can you repair a vacuum cleaner (or are you willing to learn)? An old school Temple City business is for sale, and we would hate to see the sign come down!

The City Attorney is seeking legal advice on the impacts of the proposed gift of Angel City Press to Los Angeles Public Library. Many questions are raised by a commercial press being folded into a city department—for its authors especially, who apparently were not informed about this in advance.

Cahuenga Pass-ite Cary Baker shares the sad but predictable news that Leon Russell's home studio Skyhill has been gutted by the new owners. See the"Fixer Alert!" property listing photos here. And here’s “A Song For You.”

Farewell to Tom La Bonge, that rare politician who loved Los Angeles and cared about Angelenos as individuals. He gave us invaluable policy advice in the Pershing Square restoration campaign, and this moving memorial interview about his pal Huell Howser.