West Explores LA

In the novel, The Day of the Locust, author Nathaneal West mentions many locations and attractions situated in the city of Los Angeles that are known by people throughout the world. Los Angeles is filled with many touristic and historic landmarks. It is also home to some of the world’s most iconic locations, such as the city of Hollywood, known as the film capital of the world. The author makes it apparent in his novel that Hollywood is a city where people come to suceed or they simply become outcast to the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. West refers to several streets and cities for his audience, but many of these places are non-existent in the history of L.A. These are fictional locations that the author created, perhaps to portray the artificiality of some of his characters, such as Faye and the people who came to California to die.  Examples of these places are The Cinderella Bar, Hodge’s Saddlery Store, The San Bernardino Arms, Chateau Mirabella, Zacarias street, and Lysol Alley. The author was not accurate with many of the locations stated in the novel; however, not every place mentioned was made up. Most of the streets depicted in the novel are large intersections present in the city today. Traffic is a constant, never ending battle for the locals who drive through these streets on a daily basis; however, West does not mention any traffic occurring in the novel. We can assume that in the late 1930s, when Tod drove these streets, traffic was minimal and not much of a problem.

On this page we have provided pictures of the places that still exist in Los Angeles today; these pictures allow you to see the city through Tod’s eyes, as well as the eyes of the people presently living in Los Angeles. Here are some of the locations which are true to Los Angeles today:

 

Vine Street

 photo

“He decided to take the street car as far as Vine Street and walk the rest of the way” (Chapter 1). See pg.22, 23, 26, 88

Vine Street is a well known intersection that runs from Torrance up to the city of Hollywood. The Hollywood Walk of Fame begins in the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Here, you can often see tourist walking around and taking pictures of these iconic stars. Some important buildings found on Vine street are Capitol Records, the W Hotel, and the Pantages Theater.

 

Ivar Street

“He had first met Abe when he was living on Ivar Street, in a hotel called the Chateau Mirabella. Another name for Ivar Street was ‘Lysol Alley,’ and the Chateau was manly inhibited by hustlers, their managers, trainers and advance agents” (Chapter 2). See pg.26

Ivar Street runs parallel to Vine street, located in Hollywood. Every weekend there is a farmers market on Ivar street for the community to go buy fresh fruit and vegetables. The Arclight theater, the Knickerbocker Hotel, and many clubs are located in this street today.

 

Hollywood Boulevard

“That year Tyrolean hats were a being worn a great deal along Hollywood Boulevard and the dwarf’s was a fine specimen” (Chapter 2). See pg.28, 62, 98

 Hollywood boulevard is one of the most famous streets in Los Angeles. The Chinese theatre is located here, along with the Kodak theatre, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and many more places. At most, it is known for being the home of the Hollywood Stars, located on the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd.

 

 Santa Monica

“And who got her fiddle out of hock that time in Santa Monica?” (Chapter 2). See pg.31

 The city of Santa Monica is one of the cleanest and most beautiful cities in the Los Angeles County. Santa Monica beach is the treasure of the city. During the summer this beach is accessible to many families due to the vast amount of public transportation that leads you to this beach. Santa Monica Pier has many attractions including a newly renovated ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and even a roller coaster.

 

 Glendale

“He had gone all the way to Glendale to see her in that movie” (Chapter 3). See pg.34, 192

 Glendale is a city located in the San Fernando Valley. It is known for its Grand Central Airport, and the famous Alex Theatre which opened in 1925, featuring many popular films of its time. Glendale also has one of the largest Armenian populations in the country.

 

 Sungold Market

“The Sungold Market into which he turned was a large, brilliantly lit place. All the fixtures were chromium and the floors and walls were lined with white tile” (Chapter9). See pg.63

This market is described in the book in a way that resembles the Fairfax Farmers Market in Los Angeles. Although we are not certain this was West’s intention in Day of the Locust, they seem to have similarities in the way West describes the large Sungold Market as full of fruits and vegetables. Fairfax Farmers Market has resided in Los Angeles since the 1930’s, and is known for its large variety in fruits and vegetables.

 

Sunset Boulevard

“He worked occasionally in horse-operas and sent the rest of his time in front of a saddlery store on Sunset Boulevard” (Chapter 14). See pg. 42, 94

 This street is one of LA’s most popular landmarks; its name and location is one of LA’s biggest symbols of all time. It is a stretch of road that is filled with the city’s most famous film studios, clubs, restaurants, theaters, music venues, and television stations. Sunset Blvd passes through many different areas of Los Angeles, and ends at the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

 

Western Avenue

“Tod drove them to the ‘Cinderella Bar’, a little stucco building in the shape of a lady’s slipper, on Western Avenue” (144) 

Western is one of the largest streets in Los Angeles. If you drive throughout the stretch of this street, you will see the many different areas found in the city. Ranging from the poorest neighborhoods in South Central to the castle-looking houses in Los Feliz.

 

La Brea

“When she reached La Brea, she turned right to Hollywood Boulevard (Chapter 14). See pg.98

 La Brea is a street located in the west side of the city running north/south parallel to Western Ave. It passes through many important landmarks, such as the Third Street farmers market, Museum row, La Brea tarpits, and the famous Pink’s hot dogs. It is also known for the various eateries and stores located between Melrose and Santa Monica.

 

San Pedro

“That’s Hermano, five times winner. He’s one of Street’s Butcher Boys. Pepe and El Negro are still stags. I fight them next week in San Pedro” (Chapter 14). See pg.101

San Pedro is home to the city’s port where many ships bring cargo from all over the world.  San Pedro is also home to the city’s only  cruise terminal, which allows people from LA to travel by seas. San Pedro is known for its’ delicious sea food restaurants. Situated next to the ocean, all the food is guaranteed fresh.

 

 Venice

“They watch the waves come in at Venice” (Chapter 27). See pg.192

Venice beach located next to Santa Monica beach. This beach is known for its’ liberal spirit. The boardwalk provides many art walks, dance shows, and freak shows for all visitors. This beach is also home to the famous, “Muscle Beach,” which is where many men exercise and show off their sculptured and chiseled-looking muscles.

 

 Non-Existant Locations

These additional locations were mentioned in the novel The Day of the Locust, but have little or no information proving their existence. Page numbers are given to reference each location as described in the novel.

 

Chateau Mirabella

He had first met Abe when he was living on Ivar Street, in a hotel called the Chateau Mirabella. Another name for Ivar Street was ‘Lysol Alley,’ and the Chateau was manly inhibited by hustlers, their managers, trainers and advance agents” (Chapter 2). See pg.26

San Bernardino Arms

“The house he lived in was a nondescript affair called the San Bernardino Arms. It was an oblong three stories high, the back and sides of which were plain, unpainted stucco, broken by even rows of unadorned windows” (Chapter 2). See pg.25, 31, 82, 86

Zacarias Street

“She slammed off the emergency brake and started the car again. At Zacarias Street, she turned into the hills” (Chapter 14). See pg.99 

Cinderella Bar

“Tod drove with them to the Cinderella Bar, a little stucco building in the shape of a lady’s slipper, on Western Avenue. Its floor show consisted of female impersonators” (Chapter 20) See pg.143

Pinyon Canyon

“He reached the end of Vine Street and began the climb into Pinyon Canyon”(Chapter 1). See pg.23, 32, 52, 63, 64, 175

Kahn’s Persian Palace Theater

“Whenever on of the fiery columns reached the lowest point of its arc, it lit for a moment the rose colored domes and delicate minarets of Kahn’s Persian Palace Theatre. The purpose of the display was to signal the world premiere of a new picture” (Chapter 27). See pg. 190, 189

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