Life Magazine has opened its archives and I found a treasure trove of photos
- from the expanse of the Crenshaw Mall to Fats Domino on Central Avenue.
You can see saxophonist Herbert Hardesty playing his instrument on floor as rhythm section of Fats Domino's band accompanies him in "Don't You Know," at 54 Ballroom on Broadway in 1955.
A series of photographs were taken of the "Crenshaw Center" shortly after it's 1947 opening - making it the first mall in the United States.
In this 1949 photo, the trucks entered Crenshaw Center through a tunnel, never blocking traffic. Hard to tell where that is but you can see the May Co. in the background.
The parking lot of the Crenshaw mall. But look at those Baldwin Hills, View Park and Angeles Vista. Nothing is there in 1949.
Many of the photos marveled at the 10.5 acre parking lot. According to MallHistory.Com, the mall "encompassed 555,000 square feet of retail space, and included a Woolworth 5 and 10 and Von's supermarket.
In this 1953 you can see the Woolworth's. Mallhistory.com (info now at http://mall-hall-of-fame.blogspot.com
): "The shopping center's orientation may seem strange today. Storefronts were built against the sidewalks along Crenshaw Boulevard and Santa Barbara Avenue, with thirteen acres of parking being situated in the rear. The "parking lot in front" plan had not yet become the shopping center design standard.
This open-air, linear shopping center underwent a major renovation in the late 1980's. Portions were torn down, and a multi-level, enclosed, mall structure added to the rear of the Broadway store. This extended over Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, to join with the May Company building on the other side of the street. A multi-level parking garage was also built. Around this time, the center, which now had 850,000 square feet of retail space, was renamed BALDWIN HILLS-CRENSHAW PLAZA.
Magic Johnson Theater came in 1995 and in 2003, Walmart opened its first three-level store, occupying the old Broadway building.
The caption from the July 1966 photo from Life: "Children holding hands while crossing street, w. storefront in rear covered w. graffiti fr. '65 Watts riots indicating black-ownership & support of violence." Is that really what the graffiti meant? Anybody know?
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