PICTURE THIS: “Who Wants Coffee?”

Wilshire Coffee Pot restaurant, 8601 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, ca. 1930.


“Novelty,” “mimetic,” “programmatic,” “vernacular”—all are terms used to define the same crazy kind of “art imitates life” architecture that once dotted the L.A. cityscape (and much of the rest of the country, for that matter) starting in the 1920’s. You knew it when you saw it (and that was the point, of course). Puppies, chickens, hot dogs, coffee cups, milk bottles, pumpkins, oranges, donuts, dinosaurs, Indian teepees—the list is endless and so much fun.

Barkies Sandwich Shop #4 (home of the “Ponderous Pup”), 3649 Beverly Blvd., ca. 1930.

Quirky and often crudely-designed, these buildings were meant to suggest the products or services they sold. Essentially, they were giant roadside advertisements that attracted the eyes (and dollars) of customers driving by. Novelty buildings were the result of America’s burgeoning love affair with affordable automobiles and the lure of the open road. Postcards often memorialized these roadside oddities.

Coffee Cup Cafe, 8901 Pico Boulevard, L.A., 1920.

I love photos that capture these historical and quirky bits of “roadsidiana.” Today I am posting a few favorites and will feature more in future L1OTB “PICTURE THIS” postings. Got any favorites of your own? Feel free to share. In the meantime, enjoy!

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