Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Hollywood Tower

Here's a building that may look familiar.  There's a reason for that.

Hollywood Tower, 6138 Franklin Avenue, Los Angeles, built in 1929, architects Cramer and Wise.  The building, which was originally known as La Belle Tour, is often cited as the inspiration for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney World and Disneyland.  But this building isn't least, I don't think it is!

The Hollywood Tower is a faux French-Normandy apartment house and was popular for many years in the entertainment industry.  By the 1980's, it had lost its sophisticated lustre and most residents were senior citizens.  Yet its location up against the 101 Freeway made it a familiar part of the Hollywood scene, notable among other things for its large neon sign.  You can only get a peek at the sign from the Franklin Avenue side...

...but will see it head-on when driving north on the Hollywood Freeway.  Disney's Tower of Terror is emblazoned with a similar sign.

The entrance to the now modernized and renovated apartment house is pure Hollywood, reached after a long walk under a canopy.

Inside, you come to a lobby that is over-the-top Hollywood.  If purple and gilt add up to glamour in your eyes, then this is a lobby made for you.  There are not a lot of the original features to see here, but at least there are comfortable places to sit and look for the ones that remain.

A resident told me the apartments are nice but, like the lobby, do not retain any vintage features.  Let's jump on the elevator and take a ride upstairs...

The hallways are as over the top as the's best that you enjoy purple if you're going to live here.

The good thing is, if you get off at the right floor, there are rooftop terraces with views that make the trip worthwhile.

Here's the view looking south.  That's the Hollywood Freeway with downtown LA in the distance.  Not bad...

To the west is downtown Hollywood.  You can see the new W Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard,  which is across the street from the Pantages Theatre and near the corner of Vine.

And just a little further north, the Capitol Records building.  The Knickerbocker Apartments (formerly hotel) is to the right.  William Frawley (Fred Mertz) died there.  RIP, Fred.

And just in case you've lost track of where you are...

It's a memorable view whichever way you look.  Hmmmm.  I wonder who lives over there?

Back on Franklin Avenue, they've built a new building next door to the Hollywood Tower, so you can choose old or new in the same location.  In either case, you get something of the old, because the name of the addition is La Belle, the original name of the tower.

It's always worth a drive-by at night when the signs are illuminated.

I like the Hollywood Tower very much, but in a sense it's only an old building on the outside these days.  Inside, the vibe is strictly contemporary, hip and cutting edge, all of which are terrific if that's what you're looking for.  As for me....well, next time, I'll show you an LA building that I found that's less known, less polished, and a lot more fun.

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