Photos: The Storefronts And Signs Of Wilshire Boulevard In The '70s
The skies were smoggy, the Rams were good, and the city was in the midst of overtaking the Big Apple as America's pop music capital. Welcome to Los Angeles in the 1970s. Skaters ruled Dogtown, a Chicano art and activist movement was rising on the Eastside, West Hollywood was a nascent hub for gay rights, and the canyons were still full of music—though not for long.
By the end of the decade, a then-dreamy Jerry Brown would be elected for his first term as Governor, Steven Spielberg would create the blockbuster as we know it today with Jaws, X would record the first cut of their anthem "Los Angeles," the Bloods and the Crips would emerge in the post-Black Panther power vacuum of South Los Angeles, and Marlene Laskey and her teenage daughter would have photographed the better part of Wilshire Boulevard.
Marlene and her daughter Anne are reflected in the mirrored exterior of the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, circa 1978. (Photo by Anne Laskey, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
For two years in the latter part of the decade, Laskey and her 15-year-old daughter Annie would walk Wilshire Boulevard on Tuesday afternoons, shooting gorgeous slides and documenting the city as it was, from the beach to downtown. Marlene, who had moved from Michigan in the 1950s, was a historian and architecture enthusiast. Her teenage daughter was the primary photographer. These photos are now part of the Los Angeles Public Library's amazing photo collection, available for all to see.
Most of the businesses—and the buildings—in the photographs are long since gone. Here are some of the storefronts of the city, seen through their eyes: