A Trip Down Memory Lane—a.k.a. Sunset Strip

I was born and raised in LA. My roots are firmly planted here and that’s unlikely to ever change. I have raised two kids here and by my estimation, their roots run just as deep. Growing up the daughter of a single mother, we moved a lot. But before college, I never lived east of Vine Street or west of Robertson. Mostly, we called West Hollywood home. As a young person, I spent a lot of my leisure time on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. I have always loved going to the movies and my go-to boulevards had some of the best theaters. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood and the Cinerama Dome on Sunset were the most fun. Then in the early ‘80s, I was a semi-regular at the midnight showing for The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Tiffany Theatre on the Strip. When I met my husband, Tom, in law school in 1986, it was Sunset Blvd. where we spent the bulk of our time outside of studying. Some of our favorites: The Comedy Store (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!), Coconut Teaszers (closed 2003), The Cat and the Fiddle Pub (closed 2014), and Tower Records (closed 2015).

On a recent Sunday, Tom and I traveled across town to take a walk down the “World-Famous” Sunset Strip, trekking almost as far as Crescent Heights (the old Coconut Teaszers’ site) before turning back. On our way westbound, we stopped at Book Soup (a historic landmark in its own right). On the return eastbound, we enjoyed a drink in the bar at Tesse, a French restaurant 3-years new to the Strip. We got to talking with our bartender/mixologist who shared with us that he is a transplant from the midwest, attended film school locally, and with his writer and director partners has just completed production on their first feature film. Now that’s Hollywood!

Our plan was to treat the day as if we were tourists, observing what we might not ordinarily notice rushing through by car. I also had an ulterior motive: to check out our clients’ properties and scope out the latest OOH creative signs, new structures, and up and coming projects. After all, Sunset Strip is globally recognized as “one of the world’s premier sites for outdoor advertising.” Since starting to practice law in the OOH arena, our firm has overseen many matters on the Strip, some more recent and others dating back to the once-famous Marlboro Man Sign (formerly near the Chateau Marmont Hotel). It was no surprise to Tom when I pulled out a list of property addresses that I had jotted down for our exploration.

As we strolled, we were fascinated! The magnitude of a sign’s size seems exponentially larger when you’re standing next to it. I saw a shift in the OOH operators, new imprints, brisk new copy and oh, so many signs! I pointed out the different OOH operators to Tom; no less than ten by my count. Interestingly, a single set of bulletins were still identified as “Regency.”

One sign after another, each awesome in its own right. I quickly lost count. There was a notable new digital display–its construction nearly complete while awaiting its power hookup. Elsewhere stood thousands of square feet of meticulously posted Tall Walls; hand-paints and vinyl alike, some attached like wallpaper and others strung tightly to the towering wall façade. Each Tall Wall was vibrant and colorful, still unweathered by the sun or wind. I speculated that crews must have changed the copy just days before (indeed, I learned the wildly popular JLO Body ad posted less than a week earlier). Occasionally, we came upon plans for a new project posted on a property; one of which was the top scoring projects screened by West Hollywood’s Design Excellence Committee under the ongoing Sunset Boulevard off-site advertising signage program. Ending our day, I had a few thoughts. The Strip’s skyline is now and forever impressive. While fun to reminisce down memory lane, I am inspired and excited by the change. The future is wonderfully bright on the Sunset Strip—literally!

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