Culver City

Culver City is located on the Westside of Los Angeles, extending as far east as La Cienega and as far west to almost Lincoln. Culver City was originally part of the Rancho La Ballona and Rancho Rincon los Bueyes. Later, Harry Culver first established Culver City in 1913 and it was incorporated in 1917. During the roaring 20s, speakeasies and the famous Cotton Club were located on Washington Blvd. The City has served as a backdrop to hundreds of films and television shows throughout the decades.

Early Area Settlers: Agustin Machado, early 1800s, founded Rancho La Ballona with his brother Ygnacio Machado and Felipe and Tom?s Talamantes
City’s area at incorporation: 1.2 square miles
City’s area as of 2001: 4.987 square miles, approx.
Culver City Flower: Lantana
Current Population: 38,000 (2000 census)
Wording on City Seal: City of Culver City-The Heart of Screenland-Incorporated 1917

Current Elected City Officials:
5 member City Council (elections in April, even-numbered years)
Every April, the Council and Redevelopment Agency rotate jobs, including Mayor and Agency Chair.

Culver City has 5 operating public elementary schools (including a language magnet), Culver City Middle school, Culver City High School, Culver Park High School (alternative high school), Adult School, and a Children’s Center.

LA County Board of Supervisors: 2nd District
47th State Assembly District
26th State Senate District
33rd U. S. Congressional District

The film industry history:

Since the 1920s, the movie industry has been the hub of business in Culver City, with the Ince/Triangle Studios being the first studios. The principals were Thomas Ince, D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett. By 1918, however, Samuel Goldwyn took over the lot and it became Goldwyn Studios, where Howard Dietz created the Leo the Lion logo.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer merger took place in 1924, the same year Columbia Pictures was born in Hollywood. MGM rapidly grew to six working studio lots, more than 180 acres by the end of the 1930s, under the management of Russian immigrant Louis B. Mayer. The main lot was like a city within a city, with its own police and fire departments, telegraph and post office, water tower and well, art department, laboratory, and backlot amenities like the mill, electrical, paint and lock shops, as well as the needed wardrobe, make-up, property, lighting and camera departments, etc. By the late 1920s, the glass stages gave way to sound stages (28 during MGM’s tenure), with Stage #15 as the largest in the world, another with a tank for underwater scenes and stages with a proscenium arch. Mrs. Mayer, the studio chief’s wife, taught the commissary chef how to make chicken and matzo ball soup to her husband’s taste. A new commissary was built in the 1930s to keep productivity high on the lot.

Louis B. Mayer was close to his genius head of production, Irving Thalberg, who was married to actress Norma Shearer. The actress’s brother, Doug Shearer headed MGM’s Sound Department. MGM released 50 films a year and the payroll reached 5,000. MGM was famous for its musicals. Mayer had his child stars (like Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and Roddy McDowell) schooled on the lot. Adoring locals waited for autographs at the East Gate of the studio boasting “more stars than there are in the heavens.” The new Administration Building, dedicated in 1938, was named for Irving Thalberg, who died in 1936. The Russian born Mayer grew the studio, but lost power to production chief Dore Schary in 1951. MGM added TV but began to decline in the 1960s.

If zoning had not precluded expansion of producer Hal Roach’s facilities in downtown Los Angeles, The Hal Roach Studios might never have relocated to Culver City. To find new studio space, Hal Roach called his friend Harry Culver and purchased his initial 10 acres at $1,000 an acre. From 1919 to 1963, his “Laugh Factory to the World” was a proud fixture in town. That studio produced 50 comedies a year plus features. In a 1990 interview, 98 year old Hal Roach said that Harold Lloyd was “the best comedian, second only to Chaplin” and the reason he could finance his new studio. He also offered fond remembrances of making Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy comedies. In addition to shooting on the studio lot, Roach filmed “on location” in Culver City. Putting Pants on Philip was the first teaming of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. When you see it again, note the Culver Hotel and Main Street in the background. You will recognize the City Hall in their 1932 County Hospital. Laurel and Hardy’s The Music Box won Roach his first Oscar in 1932, and the Our Gang comedy, Bored of Education, won another in 1936. Roach moved into television with ease, with series like Topper, Amos and Andy, The Life of Riley, Trouble with Father, and My Little Margie. The Hal Roach Studios also produced the screen version of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Hal Roach received an honorary Oscar in 1983 “in recognition of his unparalleled record of distinguished contributions to the motion picture art form.”

During the war, the Roach Studio was known as “Fort Roach,” where training films were made by Ronald Reagan, Alan Ladd and a multitude of other industry folk. Roach sold the studio in 1955 to his son, Hal Roach Jr., who eventually declared bankruptcy. In 1963, the property was sold and became a part of the Landmark Industrial Tract. The Sons of the Desert placed a marker in the parkette at National and Washington Boulevards to commemorate this bastion of family entertainment.

The first phase of the Expo line, a light rail line from Downtown LA to a terminal station at the Culver Junction near Venice and Robertson Blvds in Culver City, started in 2006 with an estimated completion date in 2011.

Neighborhoods in Culver City:

Blair Hills: Developed in the 1950s by developer Stone and Stone. The Blair Hills area boarders of La Cienega to the East. Oil wells to the South and Jefferson and Rodeo to the North.

Blanco: Blanco Park at 5801 Sawtelle is a 3.26-acre park shared by the Culver Crest Community and serves as the centerpiece of the Blanco area.

Carlson Park: Named for Dr Paul Carlson Park, a park at the center of the neighborhood named after the Culver City native and medical missionary who was martyred in the Belgian Congo. The current location was formerly occupied by two racetracks: the first, a horse track, opened in 1923 but closed a year later and the second, a motor raceway (the Los Angeles Speedway), opened shortly thereafter but was closed in 1927 to make way for the current park. At that time, it was named Victory Park, and later renamed after Dr Carlson. The prime access to the Westside of LA, and other parts of the city, the location of Carlson Park provides has contributed to the high desirability of this neighborhood.

Culver Crest: This neighborhood is bordered to the South by Beverlywood West condos, located at Sawtelle Blvd. and Overland Ave, West LA College to the North, Overland Ave to the West and by Holly Cross Cemetery and Baldwin Hills/Ladera Heights to the East/South East. Culver Crest immortalized a part of developer Lewis Crank’s life, with streets named for his boat the Esterina which had been named for his first wife Esther, Linda Way for his eldest daughter, Cranks Road, and Ranch Road as the property had been an avocado ranch among other things during prohibition. Lugo Way was named for Charles Reyes Lugo, a descendent of early settlers, and police captain. Stephon Terrace was named for 1930s Councilman and Police Commissioner, Phillip Stephon. Tellefson Road was named for a city official, Mike Tellefson. Stubbs Lane, a private road, leads to former City Clerk Helene Stubbs’ home. Youngworth Road was named for the early developer, whose home (and former home of Mr. Crank) is still on the Marycrest Manor property.

Culver West: Culver West is bounded on the East by Neosho Ave., on the West by Moore St., on the North by Washington Blvd., and on the South by Short Ave.

Downtown Culver City: A charming collection of outdoor caf�s, unique shops, galleries and nightlife opening onto tree-lined boulevards perfect for an afternoon stroll. Striking landmark buildings are home to a vast array of entrepreneurial business and creative enterprises, as well as a wide selection of services for local residents. It boasts a City Hall of stunning architecture, Center Theatre Group?s nationally renowned Kirk Douglas Theatre and the Guinness World Record holding ?Worlds Smallest Main Street.? Bookended by entertainment powerhouses Sony Studios and The Culver Studios, Downtown Culver City is a perfect combination of small-town charm and urban living – truly Los Angeles? best kept secret!

Fox Hills: Bound by Slauson Ave to the North, 405 Freeway to the Southwest and Wooster Ave to the Southeast. It includes Mt. Sinai Cemetery. It was developed in 1964. The Fox Hills Mall has been remodeled and in 2009 reopened its doors as the Culver City mall with more upscale shopping and dining. The homes in the area are mostly apartments and condos. Fox Hills represents the neighborhood furthest South in Culver City and enjoys easy access to the Westside and LAX. It also has the largest concentration of condos in Culver City.

Hayden Tract: In the 1990s this area was redeveloped with sharp industrial buildings.  The most notable being the redesigned industrial space by Architect Eric Owen for Fredrick and Laurie Smith of Samitaur Constructs.

Helms Bakery District: Originally the site of Helms Bakery, which opened in 1931, and operated as a bakery until 1997. When I was a child In the 1970s, I have fond memories of going to the Antique Guild which was built from part of the old bakery. In the 2000s, the Helms Bakery area received a much-needed ?facelift.? Retailers such as Room and Board and HD Buttercup moved in. The area now includes such trendy mainstays for dining as The Father?s Office.

McManus: This neighborhood includes a park. Originally named McManus Park, but Syd Kronenthal Park was renamed for (now retired) Director of Human Services, Sydney Kronenthal. That park’s prior name was McManus Park. It lies at the foot of McManus Street. Syd Kronenthal was an advocate for park space in Culver City.

Studio Estates: Developed in the 1970s, Studio Estates is a subdivision originally part of MGM.

Sunkist Park: Also called El Marino, it is bound by Ballona Creek, Sepulveda Blvd, Jefferson Blvd, and Playa St. It is close to the 405 freeway and 90 interchange. It is a desirable neighborhood in Culver City with easy access to the all parts of West LA including the ocean.

Tellefson Park: This neighborhood includes Tellefson Park which was  a 1976 Bicentennial dedication of park space, formerly a skating rink, the Rollerdrome. It was named for Mike Tellefson, who served the city in a variety of capacities, including Councilmember and City Attorney, for 31 years.

Veterans Park: The centerpiece of Veteran?s Park is the park with the same name. Situated on 1.5 acres at 4117 Overland

Other neighborhoods in Culver City (please send me any info you may have about these neighborhoods): Beverlywood West, Clarkdale, Federal Park, Higuera, Lucerne, Jefferson, McLaughlin, Park East, Rancho Higuera, Studio Village, Veterans Park (Park West)

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