"The violet light at the top of Bullocks green-tinged tower was far above us, serene and withdrawn from the dark, dripping city." Raymond Chandler
Back in February 2007 there were two or three shots of Bullocks Wilshire, 3050 Wilshire Boulevard the famous Art Deco building by Los Angeles architects John and Donald Parkinson from 1929, a luxury department store for more than sixty years. It deserves a closer look, if just for the basics
The department store served the upper crust of Los Angeles society. In its heyday, Bullocks Wilshire patrons included Mae West, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable. While struggling to become an actress, Angela Lansbury worked here as a clerk and it was at the store's Custom Salon that Irene Lentz began designing costumes for stars to wear that led to an illustrious career in costume design with MGM.
In 1994, the building was acquired by Southwestern Law School. The school restored the building to its original 1929 state, and adapted the building for use as an integral part of the school ("adaptive reuse" as they say). It's a historic-cultural monument of the City of Los Angeles, on May 25, 1978, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places it is number 78000685, if that matters.
There is also Margaret Leslie Davis' book, Bullocks Wilshire
Bullock's Wilshire recounts the story that unfolded beneath the store's 241-foot tower, a glittering beacon bathed in spotlights on Wilshire Boulevard when the street was the Champs Elysιes of Los Angeles. It relives the visits of the famous who shopped there: Greta Garbo who brought men's suits to create her outrageous fashion statement; Mae West who shopped from her chauffeured car as clerks brought merchandise for approval; and Marlene Dietrich who considered Bullock's Wilshire her "only emporium."
Historian Kevin Starr wrote that Bullock's Wilshire "celebrated and climaxed the expansion of a decade
reflecting the confidence and optimism of Los Angeles."
Over the years, a shift by other luxury stores and boutiques to the west of the city resulted in the primary Bullocks Wilshire trading area's fall, yet the main store held on as a destination until 1988, when it began its own precipitous decline, hastened under operation by its final owners, Macy's, who had acquired the chain from the Campeau Corporation. The Wilshire Boulevard store closed in 1993 with legal battles ensuing as Macy's stripped the store of its historic artifacts, furnishings and fixtures for other locations (bowing to pressure, almost all the 1929 fixtures were returned). Its locations had been converted to I. Magnin around 1990 and that chain was shuttered by Federated Department Stores in 1994 upon its acquisition of Macy's.
So much for confidence and optimism