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Arts and Entertainment

The Hollywood Palladium Is Now Officially A Los Angeles Landmark

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The Palladium. (Photo by Michael Locke via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Last week, the L.A. City Council unanimously voted to deem the Hollywood Palladium a historic-cultural monument, reports the Beverly Press. This means that any changes made to the building will have to adhere to some very strict guidelines.

What prompted the move? For one thing, developer Crescent Heights is planning to erect a pair of 30-story towers right next to the Palladium, reports the L.A. Times. The towers are expected to include more than 700 apartments altogether, as well as 24,000 square feet of retail space. As part of the project, Crescent Heights has also promised to restore part of the Palladium itself, as well as adding an "Historic Interpretive Exhibit" that will expound on the Palladium's place in the history of Hollywood.

The project package has been stalled, however. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is housed just across the street from the Palladium, has sued the city and the developers, saying that the council had allowed developers to bypass a number of height and density codes that exist in the neighborhood. AHS, it should be noted, is a key backer of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a measure that aims to curb (or bring to a screeching halt) the number of new housing developments in the city.

It seems that, by deeming the Palladium a historic-cultural monument, the council aimed to strike a middle-ground in Hollywood's contentious relationship with big development—they're allowing a couple of high-rises to sprout up, but they also want to preserve pieces of the city's architectural identity.

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"This investment will continue to establish Hollywood as a world-class, transit-oriented community, while protecting and preserving our unique historical resources," Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said of Crescent Heights' project in a previous statement.

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Shirley Manson of Garbage playing at the Palladium in 2012. (Photo by D A Nguyen via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
The Palladium, which opened in 1940, has certainly earned its designation as a monument. The building was designed by famed L.A. architect Gordon B. Kaufmann, who was also responsible for Santa Anita Park and the Times Mirror Square building that houses the L.A. Times (this building, it should be noted, just got sold to a Canadian developer who might add apartments and retail spaces).

Inside and out, the design of the Palladium was very intentional, says the Los Angeles Conservancy:

The curving rear automobile entrance leads into a circular foyer topped by a domed ceiling with a central Art Deco wood relief. The rounded columns, walls, ceiling soffit, and balcony stair railing in the entrance foyer from Sunset Boulevard convey a quiet glamour. In the main ballroom, the curved balcony, ceiling, and wood floor pattern all align to create a dynamic space.

Over the history of its existence the Palladium has hosted a wide array of events (as well as a motley crew of guests). According to Los Angeles Confidential, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, and Jack Benny were in attendance for the venue's opening party. It also later turned into a dining hall for visiting presidents (like, John Kennedy, who rolled by in 1961), and had served as a stage for a civil rights speech by Martin Luther King Jr. The venue was also a popular filming location. The first Blues Brothers was shot here, as well as Galaxy Quest! In this clip of Tim Allen's best cinematic effort, you can see the venue's sinuous balconies in the background:

Oh yeah, there was music too. As a music venue the Palladium had carved out a niche, thanks to its size. It was bigger than the Wiltern and the Henry Fonda, but it also wasn't a sports arena. As such, it was the go-to spot for bands who were big enough to pack a large space, but also wanted the intimate feel/acoustics of a proper music venue. A (very truncated) list of visiting musicians include The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Alice in Chains, the Beastie Boys, and Bob Marley.

In 2007, when the Palladium was facing an uncertain future, Live Nation took out a lease on the space and spent a year refurbishing the somewhat dilapidated venue. It re-opened in 2008 in a truly celebratory fashion: by hosting a Jay-Z concert.

Anyway, we're glad the Palladium is safe from any wayward wrecking balls. Though, could we possibly restore the facade to how it looked like in the past? Cause it was pretty cool:

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The front of the Palladium in 1965. (Photo by courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Images)