Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Roadside Photos Provide Then & Now Look at Mid-Los Angeles (and More)

1970s shot of the Sanders (originally Murphy) Oldsmobile dealership at 718 S. La Brea. (Modern building to the left was Columbia Savings, at the SE corner of Wilshire and La Brea…and the “Carnation Company” sign peeking up at the right was on the building at 5055 Wilshire Blvd., which used to be that company’s headquarters.)

If you’re like us, you love crawling through old photo collections online, searching for images of familiar landmarks in their earlier days.  And it’s even more fun when the landmarks  are local.

Recently, we read that a large collection of high-resolution “roadside America” photos (11,710 images in all!) by a photographer and architecture critic named John Margolies, have been released by the Library of Congress into the public domain (which means they’re now completely free to download, share, reproduce and use as you’d like).

According to a story about the collection on the Lifehacker website, Margolies “spent forty years documenting his travels along U.S. highways, photographing billboards, drive-ins, diners, car washes, mini-golf, novelty buildings, and other roadside constructions.”  The collection, taken over several decades during the mid-20th century, contains some great images of things like wigwam motels, other “vernacular” architecture such as hot dog stands that look like hot dogs and gas stations that look like teapots, and many other kinds of commercial buildings and fabulous signs…including a giant Texas shrimp in cowboy bandit gear.

You can view the full collection, with photos from all over the U.S., here…or the just images from the Los Angeles area here.  But what we immediately dug into, of course, were the most local images from mid-town L.A…which we couldn’t resist sharing in a “then and now” comparison with the help of some current street view photos from Google Images.  Here’s what we found:


7229 W. Melrose THEN…


Tom’s Auto Body

…and NOW.


Lala’s Argentinian Grill


945 N. Fairfax Ave. THEN…


California Bridge Center

…and NOW.


Ysabel restaurant (yes, it’s the same building…without its Art Deco crown and trim)


7290 Beverly Blvd. THEN…


Roth Draperies

…and NOW


Milk ice cream parlor

6101 Wilshire Blvd. THEN…


Johnies Coffee Shop & Restaurant

…and NOW.


Still looks like Johnie’s, but currently vacant

8053 W. Beverly Blvd. THEN…


Easton’s Gym

…and NOW.


STILL Easton’s Gym!

3377 Wilshire Blvd. THEN…


Original Brown Derby restaurant

…and NOW.


Brown Derby Plaza

7225 W. Beverly Blvd. THEN…


Beverly Upholstering Shop

…and NOW.


NK (Nickey Kehoe) Shop

And finally…


…we’d be remisss in this sequence if we didn’t add the “now” version of the 718 S. La Brea image at the top of this story, so here it is.


Essex Wilshire-La Brea


On second thought, maybe it would be better to leave you with the huge cowboy bandit shrimp, from Texas, while we go back for a deeper dive into this great collection.  Enjoy!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }