The only thing cooler than a Los Angeles landmark is a tiny one you can hold in your hands and cuddle

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.

This Thursday at 8pm, we’re resuming our live webinars, with Miniature Los Angeles, a round table celebrating the wee world of hand-crafted tabletop Los Angeles landmarks. We hope you can join us, either to watch live, or later on demand.

In addition to the previously announced miniaturists Mike Battle (@mikesbattle), C.C. de Vere (@littlelostangeles), Bruce Heller (@cornerstonebrickdesigns), Kieran Wright (@smallscalela) and architectural historian Nathan Marsak, we’ve added a couple of additional presenters you won’t want to miss.

Book your Miniature Los Angeles ticket

Animator and special effects artist Chris Casady launched his career with the first Star Wars movie, and pushed the envelope of optical effects, hand drawn animation and rotoscope techniques, all before the advent of CGI. For this webinar, Chris will talk about his personal work with a now obsolete Macintosh program called Bryce, which he used to model virtual versions of Los Angeles landmarks and landscapes including Griffith Park Observatory, the Shakespeare Bridge, Krotona Apartments and the original, since demolished, circular Velaslavasay Panorama in Hollywood.

Art conservator Donna Williams has travelled the world to treat and maintain objects owned by museums as well as private, government and corporate collections, working with every scale of three-dimensional art, from twenty-foot-tall Calder stabiles to microscopic fragments of Roman glass. When Hollywood Heritage leased a retail space and installed Hollywood in Miniature, as a board member, Donna assisted in formulating plans for its conservation and restoration, and the challenge and thrill of bringing this historically accurate model of Hollywood’s core from the 1930s, into the present day. In this webinar, Donna will share what she’s learned from her careful inspection, cleaning and repair of the tiny town.

It promises to be an illuminating evening that just might inspire you to pick up some balsa wood and and X-Acto blade and start building your own miniature marvel. And if that happens, we hope you’ll throw some business to Kit Kraft, a legacy business with a thriving mail order trade that’s rumored to be shutting down their Studio City storefront soon. Ordering online is convenient, but it’s no match for roaming the aisles of a well stocked hobby shop, discovering new tools and benefiting from the expertise of fellow builders and staff. We hope they’ll reconsider and stick around for another 75(!!) years.

One thing that might help Kit Kraft, and other legacy businesses that are feeling the combined pinch of the pandemic, real estate pressure, aging owners and the normal ebb and flow of trade would be if Los Angeles joined other cities and implemented a Legacy Business Registry. There’s actually a motion that’s been stuck in City Hall committee since 2019—it will expire on September 6. We recently sent in public comment asking that it be brought to a vote before then, and you can, too (click “New”).

Your emailed comment can be brief and personal, asking for them to act and mentioning a legacy business you would love to see helped by such a program, or one you’re sorry has closed down. If you’d like to see our comment, you’ll find it here.

Even if the city does something, it will be too late for Greenblatt’s Deli, shuttered last week after 95 years of service, and that’s a loss that won’t ever stop aching. But it’s not too late for Kit Kraft or the other venerable businesses that help define our city.

And on that note, we’re wishing a happy publication day to our pal George Geary, whose Made In California: The California-Born Diners, Burger Joints, Restaurants & Fast Food that Changed America shares the fascinating origin stories of iconic local legacy eateries from See's to El Cholo, Orange Julius to iHop, House of Pies to In-N-Out. The hardcover is available from your local independent bookshop or on Amazon in hardcover or ebook format.

When we think about how many lasting and original ideas took root in this fertile soil, it seems like the least we can do is speak up in their defense—and of course to patronize them.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard

Esotouric


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Remembering Pat Adler, History Detective: she sleuthed the mean streets of 1960s Los Angeles, in search of likely landmarks and treasures soon to be demolished—a remarkable archive reveals a city at once familiar and wonderfully strange.


CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS

Councilman Gil Cedillo meets privately with billionaire Jeffrey Katzenberg (and has a reporter ejected from City Hall for asking for an interview), sends staffers to meet with displaced Avenue 26 street vendors, and has nothing to offer them. They deserve better.

Spied on Central Avenue on an #esotouricroadtrip: According to folks who sleuthed out Raymond Chandler locations in the '80s, Florian's—where that sap Moose Malloy mooned over Velma—was still quite recognizable from the description in Farewell My Lovely. And we've got maps!

Hello, whistleblowers! Do you know of foreign state assets laundered through Los Angeles real estate, contributing to the displacement of Angelenos and the corruption of elected officials and staff? The FBI has a Kleptocracy unit and a dedicated tip line.

Here are our live tweets of the August 5 Cultural Heritage Commission hearing on the Fairfax Theatre, Nishiyama Residence/ Otomisan Japanese Restaurant and John (and Myra!) Van Pelt Estate, all of them recommended to become city landmarks, but it wasn’t easy going.

And if you’re interested in seeing the landmark sausage get made, tune in on Thursday for the next Cultural Heritage hearing, featuring consideration for the mid-century modern Cantarow Residence (owner nominated—yay!), the National Register Fire Station 14, demolition threatened Kuromi-Ito residence and artesian springs and the Chinatown Bank of America. Agenda (PDF link).

Will Frank Gehry's dullest tower ever break ground? After developers demolished the landmarked (but still doomed by a crooked City Hall) Lytton Savings, the City Planning department resets the clock on the long-stalled 8150 Sunset project to April 2, 2028!

Historic-Cultural Monument application submitted for Paul Revere Williams' first home where he began career. This sweet 1905 craftsman bungalow on West 35th is presently on the market as a $1.6M tear down for USC student housing.

In 1939, Williams designed a Hollywood Regency Georgian manor house in Medford, OR for pear king Harry Holmes. Now a non-profit hospice, it's just been added to the National Register. What a lovely place to die.

Learn more about this remarkable Angeleno in our on-demand webinar, A Celebration of Paul R. Williams, Architect: From Hollywood Regency to SeaView Palos Verdes.

What the hell happened on Scarff Street? A row of Victorians in the St. James Park National Register district was demolished in 2007 and now density permits are sought for redevelopment. Cheers to Jim Childs, who fought hard for the block.

First Mitch O'Farrell set L.A. preservation back decades with his shameful Taix demolition giveaway to Washington state developer Clyde Holland. Now he wastes civic resources to force city landmark status on unthreatened National Register landmark, Hollywood Forever. To what end?

RIP Billy Scott Wilson, an old school Malibu cat, made homeless by the Woolsey Fire. He died in his truck at Surfrider Beach Parking Lot. Here he is with his toes in the sand, playing the blues on a 1929 dobro. Sweet sound.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a controversial Brazilian org with ties to the Bolsonaro government, illegally demolished much of Hardy's, Fresno’s oldest theater, after the Historic Preservation Commission expressed concern in March. It's essential that citizens monitor these hearings, and demand action, because political appointees will never rock the boat. (UCKG rents Loew's State Theater on Broadway.)

Odd the L.A. Times calls Level, where the LAPD fireworks blast displaced are housed at city expense, "a luxury hotel." Yelpers say it's filthy, lacks basic hospitality, with creepy late night room searches that freak out female guests. Politically connected owners Onni Group plan to demolish half of the historic L.A. Times buildings.

And here’s an extraordinary and disturbing piece of reporting on the blog of the California Streets Initiative: "Anatomy of an Officer-Involved Explosion: a Post-Mortem on LAPD’s E. 27th Street Fireworks Blast."

Shen Zhen New World seeks to be tried separately in the City Hall public corruption case, claiming so much crime could confuse a jury. "The allegations... concern unrelated alleged schemes and are only joined together by a single common denominator: Jose Huizar." (Who the Feds are allowing to travel to Mexico, which seems awfully risky.)

After years of talk, Mike Bonin moves to lease the derelict 1950 LAFD station at Centinela and Windward to the Friends of Historic Fire Station 62 non-profit as a community center and green technology clearinghouse, to be named for Bill Rosendahl. And Paul Koretz moves that the Armenian Cultural Foundation's lapsed lease for Old Encino Station 83 be re-authorized.

Pope and Edson are unclear on the science behind the La Brea fossil deposits, but we dig this goofy poem and the etching of dinosaurs trapped in the tar! (from Los Angeles from the Sierras to the Sea, a love letter to the growing city of the 1910s.)

Eleven months after ELACC's El Nuevo Amanecer project burned, displacing families and businesses from the landmark Unique Theatre building, they claim work will soon resume. They didn't actually test the GoFundMe link for those harmed. It's here.

Santa Maria Raceway was established in 1964. A subdivision was built nearby and new residents have sued the racetrack into shutting down. On Facebook, fans want to hire lawyers, cruise loud cars and bikes around the neighborhood.

Lost landmark alert: During construction of Frank Gehry's Grand Avenue Project, Los Angeles historic resource Air Raid Siren No. 93 was removed without notice. Its present whereabouts are unknown. Bring it back!

The rotated Lombardi House is the oldest residence "on" Hollywood Boulevard. The rent controlled apartments operate as an inn and event space, and a proposed 7 story addition has morphed to a towering 24(!!). We worry it won't be housing for Angelenos. Planning document here and venue website here.

Near Century City, a small street of 1940s-50s rent controlled apartments, including streamline moderne bungalows and the former home of author Gavin Lambert, are threatened by luxury senior assisted living facility project. Case file here, and our email to City Planning is here.

Over the weekend, LAFD responded to a fire at the vacant house at 1326 S. Mariposa. Two years ago, this beautiful 1895 folk Victorian captured our heart—and broke it on the spot. This should be a home, not Berkshire Hathaway upzone speculation.

Ever wanted to be a part of Downtown Los Angeles cultural history? Angels Flight Railway is hiring funicular operators! Part time, $15/hour. For more info or to apply, click here.

Samantha Millman is President of the L.A. Planning Commission, which regularly ignores the pleas of real constituents to approve land use that harms communities. Maybe it's because she knows her husband pays people to astroturf public hearings at the Port? We attend a lot of public hearings, and the fake comments around high value projects is obvious and disturbing. To learn that Millman personally benefits from this activity should be shocking, but it’s just how L.A.’s "city family" works.

Hollywood Heritage has taken up silent cinema sleuth John Bengtson's noble crusade to get a nameless chunk of Hollywood formally designated Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley—and you can help! Save the date of 9/29 for some kind of gathering of film fan tribes.

The Pickwick Bowl has been a precious third place for generations of Burbank folk, but now SB 35, pushed by legislators bought by the real estate industry, spells its doom. Zoning? Planning? Community? All trumped by profit. And city staff is in on it!

May 24, 1946 on Holly Drive in the Hollywood Dell neighborhood: a water main broke and created a spectacular waterfall effect. The 1923 Spanish house and streetlamp look much the same after 75 years, but the permit parking signs are much more aggressive.