6671 Sunset Boulevard & Las Palmas, Hollywood
The view from our place
Now that Ragtag Design has moved to Hollywood, we’re getting all into Old Hollywood sites. The obvious place to start is the place practically next door to our new office: Hollywood’s Cross Roads of the World. From our balcony, we can see the spinning globe on top of its tower as it lights up at night.
Cross Roads, one of the U.S.’s first outdoor shopping malls, had a dark and notorious origin – it was built in 1936 by L.A. mobster Charlie “Good Time Charlie” Crawford’s widow Ella on the site of the gangster’s murder. (You can read the background on his history, crimes and violent death in the October 3rd, 1999 Los Angeles Times article by Cecilia Rasmussion posted in our photo gallery.) Designed to look like an ocean liner, set down in an old-world & international village of cottages, it was planned in the Streamline Modern style by Robert V. Derrah, also architect of downtown L.A.’s Coca-Cola Building from around the same time, and of the Southern California Gas Company Buildings later in 1942.
Originally home to retail shops (you can see them all in the ad insert in the photo gallery), over the years Cross Roads has housed a number of music and film industry luminaries, including Jackson Browne, America, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Alice Cooper – and on its descent down into urban decay, it housed less stellar tenants, including porn production companies, bank robbers, prostitutes and pimps. It was rescued by its current owner Morton La Kretz, who has restored and protected it since its purchase in 1977. It became a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1974 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It is currently home to a handful of casting agencies, L.A. film & TV writers, industry publicists, and Taschen Books.
Slews of commercials, films and TV shows (including a episode of TV’s Angel, in 2000) have been shot over the years at Cross Roads – you can see screenshots from L.A. Confidential in the photo gallery, in which Cross Roads fictionally held the offices of Danny DeVito’s character Sid Hudgens tattletale magazine, Hush-Hush. (You can read a comprehensive list of location shoots here.)
For those Disney aficionados among you, there are replicas of the Crossroads spinning globe tower on the backlot of Disney’s California Adventures and in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida – for which usage they paid the kingly sum of $1.
A substantial teaser of a beautiful and informative book about Cross Roads of the World by designer Christopher Kosek – containing an interview with the current owners – can be found here, and you can see more of his design work here. You can also check out a number of Cross Roads photos through the decades at The Bruce Torrance Hollywood Photograph Collection.