Monday, August 5, 2013

Sidewalks in front of Clifton's Cafeteria

Are these mosaics? Let's stretch the term and say yes.

This is part of the sidewalk outside Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway, which is currently closed for the "most comprehensive restoration since it was constructed, having served over 170 million guests since Clifford Clinton transformed the Boos Brother's Cafeteria into a forest oasis at the heart of the Urban Jungle in 1935."

 That quote is from the Clifton Cafeteria website, where there are lots of historic and new pictures along with news about the restoration. They found a whole grotto under a staircase, for example, and a bunch of hand-tinted pictures of the area from the old days.

And of course, the neon sign was uncovered--read about that on BlogDowntown.

They're even planning a TIki Bar as a nod to the Cliftons Pacific Seas, once on Olive.

But will this sidewalk mosaic medallion of a sailing trip to Catalina Island (you can just make out the metal wording) be restored as well?

No one has said anything about the sidewalk, which is technically terrazzo,  and sometimes mosaic, and that worries Richard Schave of LAVA (Los Angeles Visionaries Assoc.) and, who led a tour down Broadway the last Sunday in July.

(There'll be another tour on the last Sunday in August, focused a bit more on the north--3rd and 4th street.)

(The tour is free, but you must reserve in advance.)

Well, since it seems I've digressed from the sidewalk into talking about the tour, I'll add that the Broadway walking tour follows FREE lectures given in the upstairs room of Les Noces de Figaro at 618 S. Broadway. Those lectures are called "The Sunday Salons" and take place on the last Sunday of each month, at least through the end of the year.

In July, the two lectures (each about 45 minutes) were on Mack Sennett and the search for the Oldest Neon Sign in the USA (thought to be right here in Los Angeles). That second lecture was by Dydia DeLyser and was full of wild research taking us through old photographs of Packard dealers in the 1920s, in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If that's enough of a tease, go check out LAVA's Sunday Salons.

Back to the sidewalk! The concern is that nothing in Los Angeles city ordinances protect the sidewalks in front of buildings. The sidewalk is a blur of public and private land.

In the early part of the o2th century, up through the 30s, theatre owners and other entrepreneurs--like Clifford Clinton--put in beautiful sidewalks downtown, and some have survived. But for how long?

The sidewalk in front of CLifton's--technically Clifton's Brookdale--with 12 scenes from Los Angeles' history, was installed in 1934. And up to the 1950s, this spot (Broadway & 7th) was the busiest intersection in Los Angeles, so the sidewalk artwork was constantly appreciated.

 I learned from Public Art in LA article that designer Frank Romero and community redevelopment agencies may have had a hand in restoring this and other decorative sidewalks on Broadway in the 1980s.

Only a couple of the scenes before Clifton's are visible now, because of the construction. This picture to the right is from a Flickr stream put up by Jericl Cat. Go look at the lovely pictures, taken in 2007.

I have no end or wrap-up to the post, because no one knows for sure what will happen.

Just for fun, though, here is a link to the LA Times' panoramic view of Clifton's Brookdale--but it doesn't show the outside. Just the incredible inside.

August 9 update:

Here's a link to some fantastic photos of not only the sidewalk (though there's a baker's dozen covering that) but the interior of CLifton's Brookdale, taken by Bob Marlow!

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