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History of Miracle Mile Los Angeles 90048
In the early 1920s, Wilshire Boulevard west of Western Avenue was an unpaved farm road, extending through dairy farms and bean fields. Developer A. W. Ross saw potential for the area and developed Wilshire as a commercial district to rival downtown Los Angeles.
The Miracle Mile development was initially anchored by the May Company Department Store with its landmark 1939 Streamline Moderne building on the west and the E. Clem Wilson Building on the east, then Los Angeles’s tallest commercial building. The Wilson Building had a dirigible mast on top and was home to a number of businesses and professionals relocating from downtown.
The success of the new alternative commercial and shopping district negatively affected downtown real estate values and triggered development of the multiple downtowns which characterize contemporary Los Angeles.
Ross’s insight was that the form and scale of his Wilshire strip should attract and serve automobile traffic rather than pedestrian shoppers. He applied this design both to the street itself and to the buildings lining it. Ross gave Wilshire various “firsts,” including dedicated left-turn lanes and timed traffic lights, the first in the United States.
He also required merchants to provide automobile parking lots, all to aid traffic flow. Major retailers such as Desmond’s, Silverwood’s, May Co., Coulter’s, Mullen & Bluett, Myer Siegel, and Seibu eventually spread down Wilshire Boulevard from Fairfax to La Brea.
Ross ordered that all building facades along Wilshire be engineered so as to be best seen through a windshield. This meant larger, bolder, simpler signage and longer buildings in a larger scale. They also had to be oriented toward the boulevard and architectural ornamentation and massing must be perceptible at 30 MPH (50 km/h) instead of at walking speed.
Ross’s moves were unprecedented, a huge commercial success, and proved historically influential. Ross had invented the car-oriented urban form — what Reyner Banham called “the linear downtown” model later adopted across the United States.
The moves also contributed to Los Angeles’s reputation as a city dominated by the car. A sculptural bust of Ross stands at 5800 Wilshire, with the inscription, “A. W. Ross, founder and developer of the Miracle Mile. Vision to see, wisdom to know, courage to do.”
As wealth and newcomers poured into the fast-growing city, Ross’s parcel became one of Los Angeles’s most desirable areas. Acclaimed as “America’s Champs-Élysées,” this stretch of Wilshire near the La Brea Tar Pits was named “Miracle Mile” for its improbable rise to prominence. Although the preponderance of shopping malls and the development in the 1960s of financial and business districts in downtown and Century City lessened the Miracle Mile’s importance as a retail and business center, the area has retained its vitality thanks to the addition of several museums
and commercial high-rises.
An Art Deco style bank at 5209 Wilshire was built in 1929, and joined a select other Miracle Mile buildings when listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by the architecture firm of Morgan, Walls & Clements, which also designed the Wiltern Theatre, the El Capitan Theatre, and other notable buildings in Los Angeles.
Attribution goes to Wikipedia for the History of Miracle Mile 90048
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