LAistory: The Garden of Allah
"Don’t it always seem to go / That you don't know what you’ve got / ‘Til it's gone / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot"
--Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi"
Urban legend has it that folk music legend and "lady of the canyon" Joni Mitchell penned her 1970 song "Big Yellow Taxi,"--an eerily cheerful lament about green space turning into concrete businesses--about something in Los Angeles that wasn't there anymore: The Garden of Allah. The accuracy of the urban legend aside, Mitchell did land on one truism never more true than in a city like Los Angeles: We don't know what we've got 'til it's gone.
A kind of paradise used to be at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights. Built when Hollywood was young and in need of a playground, the Garden of Allah was a home, or a home-away-from-home for stars of the silver screen, the literary world, and the uppercrust.