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There’s a dream like quality to LA - it’s like a big blank canvas for people to project their desires upon. From the earliest days of America, people followed their dreams west in search of new beginnings. Then, in the early years of the 20th century, film studios set up their dream factories, and LA suddenly discovered glamour. Hundreds of young Americans and Europeans arrived in search of stardom and money. The music industry followed in the 40s and 50s, and they brought record companies, clubs and jazz bands to the West Coast.
In the 60s, LA's image was moulded by TV images of 77 Sunset Strip, the movies of Gidget, and the songs of the Beach Boys. With the rise of the twangy guitar and tight harmonies, Los Angeles was transformed, in the collective conciousness of the world’s teenagers, into a golden land of Endless Summer, Cars, California Girls, and Eternal Youth. When the Mamas and Papas were California Dreaming, it was LA they had in mind
But later in the 60s, LA's dreams started to become bad dreams. LA flirted with ever more exotic drugs and more extreme lifestyles. Charles Manson was well known in the LA rock world, he had cut a demo tape, hung out with the Beach Boys, and even had one of his songs recorded by Brian Wilson.
The decade started with the Beach Boys, hot rods and surf, but it ended with Charles Manson driving Beach Buggies around LA’s desert and plotting murder. The distance between innocence and evil, from Surf City to Spahn Ranch, somehow seem to map the range of possibilities in modern LA.
Macarthur Park (Sunset Boulevard)
The park, which was immortalised in Richard Harris’ maudlin hit song from the 60s, is located between Downtown and Hollywood. It is quite run down, and there are no cakes to be seen. The park can be reached on the Red Line subway.
Morrison Hotel (1246 South Hope St)
Like many LA landmarks, this skid row hotel is long gone, torn down in the ongoing urban redevelopment of the city. Its moment of fame came when it was featured on the cover of the Door’s album, Morrison Hotel.
Bradbury Building (304 South Broadway)
The Bradbury Building was featured in Ridley Scott’s movie, Blade Runner, as the location of the final confrontation between Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. The building is still recognisable from the inside, but it has been completely renovated. Before looking around, it is advisable to check with the security staff first.
Del-Fi Records (6277 Selma)
The basement of this former bank building was converted into a recording studio and echo chamber, where Bobby Fuller recorded I Fought the Law, and Led Zeppelin recorded Whole Lotta Love. The building is now occupied by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Shrine Auditorium (665 W. Jefferson Blvd)
This is the venue for the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards, and the MTV Awards. Back in the 1930s, the auditorium was featured in the original King Kong movie, where the big ape was put on show.
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