Just Above Sunset
Volume 5, Number 10
March 11, 2007

Hollywood Architecture

 The world as seen from Just Above Sunset -

"Notes on how things seem from out here in Hollywood..."

Hollywood Architecture - The North Harper Avenue Historic District

After living for fifteen years in Hollywood you'd think you'd at least know the neighborhood. But then one day this week, with traffic jammed on the Sunset Strip, three short blocks from home, an angry impulsive right turn at the Chateau Marmont, downhill on Harper to get around it all, led to the North Harper Avenue Historic District - roughly North Harper Avenue between Fountain and De Longpre, in what is now West Hollywood. It's on the National Register of Historic Places and everything. It's a block of fantastic and elaborate apartment buildings from Hollywood's Golden Age - where the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Norma Talmadge and Gilbert Roland once lived, in an odd sort of splendor. The buildings have been carefully restored, and they're still in use. The street, in spite of being one block below the heart of the Sunset Strip, is very quiet. It's like stepping back in time.

The Tour

It's an architectural giggle - extreme Art Deco, Spanish Colonial Revival, Monterey Revival, elaborate Italianate monsters - and fountains and statues, hidden gardens and fantastic ironwork and detailing. It's a bit off the beaten path, but rather wonderful.

The most famous building in the general area is the Art Deco Sunset Tower Hotel up there on the Sunset Strip (8358 Sunset Boulevard), back to its original name after being the Argyle for a bit - 1929, architect Leland A. Bryant. It's very famous, in a good number of films, and once home to Howard Hughes, John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Zasu Pitts, and that famous gangster with the great name, Bugsy Siegel. It seems everyone lived there. The link will tell you more. A few other photos of the building are here and here, and in the January 2006 issue of Travel and Leisure there's a feature article here (PDF format) that's says it is one of the best hotels in the world, or may be.

Bryant designed other snazzy buildings in the area, and they are in the North Harper Avenue Historic District.  Below, Sunset Tower with his Romanesque Villa (1928) in the foreground, and Sunset Tower as seen from his Harper House (1929).

Sunset Tower with Romanesque Villa (1928) in the foreground,
Sunset Tower as seen from Harper House (1929)
Sunset Tower as seen from Harper House (1929)

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

[Hollywood Architecture]

Last updated Saturday, March 10, 2007, 10:30 pm Pacific Time

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 - Alan M. Pavlik