Friday, March 24, 2017

Reading LA History: LAX, Cat & Fiddle, Van Upp

I've written about the mosaic walls at LAX before, but tonight I'll point you to an article in DesignObserver about Janet Bennett, who claims to have designed those mosaics. I hope enough people will pay attention to make it official.

As far as I know, Janet's boss in 1960 (when she worked for Periera and Luckman, the architects of the Los Angeles International Airport) never claimed credit for the mosaic walls. After he died, however, they became part of his legacy as the designer of the airport's interior - rightly or wrongly. Janet Bennett, who left Los Angeles for other projects before the mosaics were installed, says she designed them, and the fact that a fresh-out-of-school young female artist didn't get proper credit in 1960 probably surprises no one.

The Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood is gone, and the new tenants want to return it to its former days. Before it was a British-style pub, the restaurant with the huge patio was the Mary Helen Tea Room with an enchanted garden. In fact, that's how it started life in 1927, during Prohibition. A bit of its history is here, in posts from the Hollywood Gastronomical Haunts blog.

Eater (the source of this photo) has posts about the new folks moving in, chef April Bloomfield and restaurateurs Ken Friedman, and about the history of the place.

Ever hear of Virginia Van Upp? She was a screenwriter and became Hollywood's first female executive producer in 1944. Great success, and then a big, slow, fall from the heights. This piece in by Christina Newland goes as in depth as possible into Van Upp's career, but leaves a lot of questions.

Finally, here's a link to Zocalo Public Square's short article on a newly donated group of photographs of Los Angeles and Santa Monica. The collection of over 4,000 pictures came from Ernest Marquez, and was donated to the Huntington Library. This one shows the Arcadia Hotel in the background, while Victorian daredevils ride a roller coaster not far from the shore in Santa Monica in the 1880s.


Anonymous said...

For your consideration.

Anonymous said...

For your consideration.

Vivian Love said...

I just came across your blog and wondering if you can help me. I inherited a number of photos from my grandfather and I have some an aerial shot of LA in 1920. Just trying to identify some of the buildings in the photo. Can I have you look at it via email or some other way?
Vivian Love

Vickey Kall said...

Hi, Vivan: Tried to answer you directly but my email bounced. Hope you see this:
I doubt that I could help you much (though I'd love to see the picture!), but here are a couple of resources:
The UCLA Geography Dept has a collection of aerial, oblique photographs by R. Spence, and many photos are online. Some date back to 1919. Their website is:
and look under Air Photos.
Also, check the Los Angeles Library downtown. (I don't know if you live locally or not.) They have a huge archive of photos of Los Angeles. You can set search parameters like dates, etc. Here's their address:

USC also has a huge Los Angeles historic photo section.

THen there's the Los Angeles Conservancy, at

There are other resources ... People have set up walking tours of Olde Los Angeles using old postcards, etc. Here's one:

If you'd like to show me the photo, i'd be glad to look. You have my email. I'm just not an expert so I don't know if I'll recognize anything.