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23. Streamline Moderne Commercial Building, 1940 23. Streamline Moderne Commercial Building, 1940
507 Wilshire Blvd.
Architect: Douglas Lee

Streamline Moderne, 1940
507 Wilshire

detail - photo M Grandcolas

A good example of the Streamline Moderne style
Apartment-Building - Paris

Another example - Winnie & Sutch Company, Los Angeles

Art Deco style was formally introduced to the world in 1925, at the great Paris L'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Deco offered an escape from pre-World War I design constraints. Then came the Wall Street stock market crash in October, 1929. This served as the great divide between the 1920s and the 1930s, and between American modernist designs – Art Deco and Streamline Moderne. Streamline Moderne was a new look that unified business and propelled the country out of economic stagnation. Based on flowing, linear designs and sound aerodynamic principles, it came to symbolize industrial progress.

"Simple lines are modern. They are restful to the eye and dignified and tend to cover up the complexity of the machine age…they allow us to feel ourselves master of the machine." Paul T. Frankel

The aesthetic Streamline Moderne style evolved from the streamline aerodynamic designs of trains, ships and automobiles of the late 30s, with a dose of America’s infatuation with science-fiction thrown in for good measure. This dramatic example of American architecture broke with the tradition of reviving historical styles. It offered a glimpse of the future, the vision of a near-Utopian, sci-fi world that helped to lift the American public out of the gloom of the Depression. Streamline Moderne's unique style boasted a fully automated world in which machines were everywhere, yet virtually invisible.

Enjoy the structure at 507 Wilshire, as it’s one of the few remaining examples of Streamline Moderne style that once thrived in the Santa Monica commercial area. This building was built in 1940 as a bowling alley. Known as the Llo-da-mar Bowl, it served as hangout local strike zone for 30 years. The 14,000 square foot structure included a mezzanine (offices) coffee shop and cocktail lounge. The building's mechanical system was invisible: pipes, ducts and electrical conduits were all hidden behind a smooth exterior. Notice the long, horizontal lines of the exterior, superimposed with the era’s high-tech architectural elements; glass block, dramatic rounded corners, and a new innovation -metal window frames and doors.

Floor to ceiling windows were installed along Wilshire Boulevard in the 1970s, when the Llo-da-mar Bowl was sold. The property was divided into storefronts, but the property has still been landmarked for its unique design. According to the City of Santa Monica, 507 Wilshire is representative of the prewar stage of the development of the downtown commercial district, and is noteworthy for that reason.

Other commercial structures that are fine example of the Streamline Moderne era of the late 1930s and early 1940s are Greyhound Bus Stations. This form of mass transit came of age during the Streamline Moderne era, and most all of the Greyhound Stations were designed by William ("W.S.") Arrasmith. The Louisville, Kentucky-based architect designed more than 100 of the stations across the country. About a half dozen of these properties still exist today.