The left side is the best side.

There are only a handful of places that I would want to live in the United States. As it happens, Los Angeles is near the top of that list. I have a bunch of friends that have departed for Southern Calif., and the easy living out there continues to make the idea of living on the West Coast that much more enticing. I came across these vintage shots of L.A. and I thought they would be worth a post here. All photos are from the Neat Stuff Blog, who’s author is someone I share a love of vintage images with.

Comments on “The left side is the best side.

    Diane on March 9, 2010 12:14 AM:

    Absolutely gorgeous photos. If only LA still looked like that and not like a cementy smoggy mess. (not to kill your “move to LA dreams” or anything).

    <—– from Seattle, can you blame me for hating?

    Casper on March 9, 2010 12:17 AM:


    Any place that doesn’t have a center, doesn’t even deserve to be called a city. It was so bad living there that I actually decided to move to the Middle East, of all places!

    pat g on March 9, 2010 12:35 AM:

    Yeah that’s right LA sucks, don’t move here , er, I mean there. Yeah it’s really much cooler where you live, that’s the ticket, stay where you are. Oh sorry gotta go my dog ran down the beach with my tee shirt. Maegan on March 9, 2010 12:36 AM:

    Amazing. I wish it still looked like the first photo here. Only in dreams …and movies.

    {However, I bet the weather beats Seattle and the Middle East …to the comments above …haters.}

    Max on March 9, 2010 12:44 AM:

    reminds me of the Graduate, or the west coast scenes in Annie Hall

    Paul on March 9, 2010 12:49 AM:

    Only in LA… would you find a turquoise T-Bird cruising Capitol Records and a Jag Coupe on Hollywood and Vine, and a Woody Wagon in front of Ralphs, …. just the daily drivers out for a spin in the sunshine.

    Brett on March 9, 2010 1:20 AM:

    Dear Los Angeles,
    You mean so very much to me. Thank you for all that you have given, and I hope that what I give back adds to the collective energy.

    Best Regards,


    unitedstyle on March 9, 2010 1:38 AM:

    Beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, that LA is gone, though the May Company building is part of LACMA (and right across the street from where Biggie got shot). There’s culture here, you just gotta drive a lot to find it. You’d find it quicker if they installed some damn left-turn signals.

    Dal on March 9, 2010 1:50 AM:

    Great collection of photos. @unitedstyle has it…it take more “hunting” to find the culture here. But the hunt makes you love LA, because it’s here by the bucket loads. Haters will always hate.

    Bogart on March 9, 2010 2:32 AM:

    A city of so many extremes and ideas, makes it easy to hate. Los Angeles should be seen through the eyes of Ed Ruscha.

    Rad regards,

    farns on March 9, 2010 4:12 AM:

    I’m not sure if you chaps can see this site, but there’s some lovely archive footage of vegas, in this BBC 2 documentary.

    david on March 9, 2010 4:48 AM:
    Old Angeleno on March 9, 2010 5:06 AM:

    San Francisco is the antidote to L.A.

    REP96st on March 9, 2010 9:26 AM:

    That McDonalds pic is Crazy! 15 cents, huh?? LOL!

    Greg D. on March 9, 2010 9:27 AM:

    Adios Amigo!

    STONER on March 9, 2010 9:59 AM:

    Dang, can’t help but love the Shoebox Town & Country woody in Shot #11. And it’s true that only in L.A. could Barris’ Munsters Koach be found parked at a meter with a dude in a rubber Frankenstein mask.

    The vintage signage is probably the easiest-found last great vestige of the Olden Tymes of Los Angeles –– it’s all over the place in little nooks and crannies.

    Lots of friends are doing some amazing things in that town, but I start getting itchy and twitchy if I spend more than a day at a time there. Must have something to do with the fibers from all those Affliction and Ed Hardy t-shirts flaking off and floating around in the air and landing on my style-sensitive skin…

    Mike on March 9, 2010 11:17 AM:

    The only people who want to live in LA are people who haven’t spent much time there.

    But sure, give me a time machine and I’d check it out. Chinatown, anyone?

    K.A.A. on March 9, 2010 11:30 AM:

    I grew up southern California and moved to NYC 24 years ago – I can’t imagine wanting to ever live there again

    The lack of center, the smog, traffic, shitty architecture ….. One has to drive everywhere and thus you can’t booze properly ….. California’s economy is in the can etc etc etc

    Even Santa Barbara which was once such great mix of Eastern preps, cowboys and ranchers has turned into some B grade celebrity jerk off

    Michael, it’s not what it seams, its not what you imagine it to be

    Go there for a few prolonged trips before you decide

    william on March 9, 2010 11:43 AM:

    Born and raised in SoCal. Surfed and skated my entire life. Age brought marriage, family, and the need to make more $$ to support said family. Moved east 2 1/2 years ago thinking I wouldn’t miss it that much. Boy how wrong I was.

    Travis on March 9, 2010 12:30 PM:

    For all its ills, it is still a great city. Never stops amazing me though how much people from other parts of this great land always hate on LA. I rarely if ever meet someone from here (LA) that hates on anywhere else, especially New York or San Francisco. Great pics and I definitely feel a bit nostalgic for having some trollies and busses that run frequently.

    Lizzie on March 9, 2010 12:51 PM:

    Thanks for these. I grew up in LA and still love visiting my mom there. We always find plenty to do even if it’s just driving around looking at the old stuff that’s still around. And the smog situation is much improved from the 50s. You could look it up.

    Jeff on March 9, 2010 1:02 PM:

    new york’s alright if you like saxophones

    Brian Miller on March 9, 2010 1:09 PM:

    Love Brett’s message. Travis, you’re right on the money, too.

    eric on March 9, 2010 1:58 PM:

    Leaving SF tomorrow for LA. Staying five days which is just enough to take in all the city has to offer before wanting to run back to NorCal. Thanks for sharing the beautiful shots. A nice way to get ready.

    Jeffrey on March 9, 2010 2:01 PM:

    There are freeways that head every direction. Don’t like it, get on one and please don’t stop til you hit Seattle!

    David on March 9, 2010 2:08 PM:

    Just walked in from a 28 mile bike ride at the beach 2 miles from my house. Brilliant ocean and snow capped mountains. Yep it sucks here, don’t come. Except Michael, come on over anytime.

    Michael P on March 9, 2010 2:14 PM:

    Moved to LA last summer after 10 years in New York and many years in SF before that, LA is by far my favorite

    Driving and traffic jams? Well yes, its the same if you live in Connecticut and work in lower Manhattan, don’t live in Venice and work in Pasadena

    Smog? Much less than used to be

    Drinking / driving town? Hard to believe they have cabs here too and really not that expensive and you can hail them on the street (4AM drinking of course would have to be at your home or some of the after hours spots)

    I like New York much better as a frequent visitor than as a resident

    TBone on March 9, 2010 3:19 PM:

    Great photos. I love these posts.

    LA is a great town. You just need to get in the mindset. I grew up in NYC and moved here about 10 years ago. Haven’t looked back. I’ve made some good friends and have had some great times. The people who hate it in my experience most commonly fall into 3 groups.

    Number 1 is the person who comes from another city but can’t get past moving out. I.e the New Yorker who can only live in NY but has to move to LA for work. They sit around pining for NY and make themselves miserable. They are so closed minded they can only live in 1 place. They should move back and spare themselves (and us) the misery.

    Number 2 is the the old timer who lived here and moved because it was too busy, too many people, too expensive, they couldn’t “make it” etc. I guess the grass is always greener. Stay where you are. We’ll get by without you.

    Number 3 – People who have never lived here or don’t have the opportunity to live here so the hate on it. Come on out. Give it a try. Trust me, you’ll like it better than Akron.

    The reality for me was it was exactly what I thought it was and what I imagined it to be. My advice is get a place near the beach, buy some Rainbow flip flops, learn how to surf (not at my local break please) and get a blond girlfriend. You’ll have a ball.

    PatagoniaCommunity on March 9, 2010 3:19 PM:

    Love the Westwood shots. I went to school there and while Westwood has changed quite a bit of course, it’s still a great little place for students to hang out and catch a flick and get some Diddy Riese cookies. Didn’t know the domed building in that second shot used to be a B of A. When I was a student, it was Wherehouse Music-turned-now-defunct-Eurochow.

    JD on March 9, 2010 4:15 PM:

    Wonder if anyone else got Jeff’s comment like I did.

    Ray on March 9, 2010 7:01 PM:

    So beautiful and so amazingly clean back then. I think all that excitement and electricity has only grown in Los Angeles, but places like Hollywood have gotten so damn dirty. Not in a metaphorical way but in that theirs a lot of actual dirt and shit on the streets. Aside from that Los Angeles is amazing.

    xris on March 9, 2010 7:29 PM:

    I love LA— unashamedly.

    So many great memories with family and friends in a city that makes you feel like anything is possible — good and bad.

    wygit on March 9, 2010 7:59 PM:

    Thank you for posting the photos. They brought back SUCH memories.
    I worked in a McDonalds in Sacramento in 1968 that looked just like that one, except the burgers were a quarter by then… and it wasn’t part of a chain.

    Chal on March 9, 2010 8:13 PM:

    I love how relatively empty of cars LA was, in these shots anyway, compared to now.

    I miss NYC, but after 27 years there, I moved to LA six years ago. Your short film about Gadi Gilan sums up why I left. Gadi knows what happened. “They killed it.”

    snappy on March 9, 2010 11:26 PM:

    The pictures are brilliant. It’s always nice to be reminded of where we came from, whether you want to go back or not!

    the day after you die on March 10, 2010 4:02 AM:

    These pics are how I still look at LA.(even if i smell piss)

    Wally on March 10, 2010 10:33 AM:

    These are awesome. I remember when it really did look like this. Now you couldn’t pay me to go back. That’s why I live in KS now.

    Scott Mercer on March 10, 2010 12:22 PM:

    Let’s debunk the usual horse waste one more time, shall we?

    1) L.A. has shitty architecture.
    L.A. has some of the most diverse and acclaimed architecture of any place on the planet. This comes in many styles: commercial, institutional, residential. We have Frank Lloyd Wright houses, Neutras, Schindlers, and even several substantial pockets of Victorian mansions somebody at San Francisco would be at home with.

    2) L.A. “has no center.”
    Neither does New York, dummy. How about Midtown, the Financial District, Chinatown, East Village, West Village, Inwood, Harlem, etc. etc. Yes, there is a large concentration of large buildings called Midtown Manhattan. L.A. has one too, it’s called Downtown. (Okay, not too many people live there, but even that is changing, and half a million people do work there every day).
    I didn’t even start to delineate all the neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. The point is, L.A. has multiple centers, just like New York does, and Paris does, and London does, and Tokyo does. Downtown, Hollywood, Pasadena, Glendale, Century City, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, The Valley, etc.

    3. L.A. is choked with smog
    Hello, idiot. Are you still living in the 1970’s or what? Johnny Carson is no longer host of The Tonight Show, you know. There hasn’t been a smog alert since who knows when. L.A. still has the worst air in the country, but it is much improved over 30 or even 20 years ago, thanks to strict government standards.

    4. Los Angeles is crime ridden and gang ridden
    Yeah, we still have crime, and many gangs. But crime has been on the decline for decades, like in many other cities. It is now down to 1960’s levels. Hey, you can go back in time!

    5. L.A. has no mass transit, unlike New York.
    Yes, we do not have New York level mass transit, true. But while you were asleep, L.A. built the fifth largest urban rail system in the USA. (Behind NYC, Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Fran). And we are still building, so we should jump ahead of everybody except Chicago and NYC within 5 years, as far as miles of track goes. This after starting from nothing in 1990. Again, it’s not the 1970s anymore!

    Maybe all you people who ran out of here screaming should come back for another look, hmmm????

    jessica on March 10, 2010 12:33 PM:

    Sighh……the west coast of the United States of America…California, almost literally, is earthly paradise. Los Angeles has not only land and sea, but diverse hillsides and purple mountains to enjoy weekend recreation equal to a luxurious vacation. Sail, surf, or kayak year ’round! Camp, hike, bike, shop, eat, nap, experience diverse culture all in the same day. Oh yea and then there is Hollywood and all that stuff, too! For the laid back, for the fast paced, for just about every person who wants a slice of paradise….

    Bill on March 10, 2010 2:24 PM:

    I’ve lived in LA for 12 years, and while I love much about it, it’s becoming a very expensive place to live. The “easy living” you mention is attainable when you’re single, but much harder when you have a family and start wanting things like a house, good schools, and safe neighborhoods. Almost all the families I know are killing themselves to earn upper class incomes just so they can lead middle class lives. I’m glad that I spent so many years here, but I’m done. I’m moving back east for great public schools and affordable real estate, two things that you will never again find in SoCal.

    ramirez on March 10, 2010 3:23 PM:

    the worst thing about LA is the people

    Chal on March 10, 2010 3:57 PM:

    LA needs to get over its inferiority complex. There are great things about LA now that remind of how and why I fell in love with NYC in the mid-1970s. That NYC is sadly gone (read Patti Smith’s new book for a loving glimpse back, or Please Kill Me, An Oral History of Punk Rock.) But there’s still a glimmer of it in LA.

    Eric on March 10, 2010 6:00 PM:

    The L.A. in those pics is a myth. California is still lovely, but if you want the good life, go north up the coast. If you must stay south, don’t stop till you hit San Diego County.

    Ron on March 10, 2010 7:02 PM:

    Read @Scott Mercer’s comment, it debunks many of the claims here perfectly.

    I grew up back east and been living here in LA for 6 years. I love it. Most of the folks who bash on LA tend to have it in their head from the start that its an evil awful place. The rest of them probably moved out for a few months, couldn’t get over some of the inherent cultural / scale differences and bailed.

    The truth is that LA is a huge city, extremely diverse and buzzing with every kind of activity you could imagine. To peg it one way or another is an effort in futility. Like New York or any mega city, it becomes what you make of it. You find your comfort zone and you stick to it. Except unlike other cities your comfort zone has the luxury of being a few minutes from the beach, mountains and famous people. Plus it never snows and rains only about 3 weeks a year. I’d say its a pretty good deal.

    Ronnie on March 10, 2010 7:12 PM:

    I know this will get me tagged as a hater, but here goes: Many of my LA friends, when I NYC, would always comment about how great New York City women were. I finally asked one why I kept hearing the same comment from SoCal visitors. His reply was curt: Because LA women are fucking stupid.

    I’ve come to know LA enough now to know that such a comment was off the mark – the issue is that it’s a city with an incredibly shallow culture. Emphasis on “incredibly.” It’s alluring as hell, Los Angeles – an extended stay certainly blows off the veneer.

    K.A.A. on March 10, 2010 9:48 PM:

    1) L.A. does have shitty architecture unless you consider strip mall after identical strip mall ‘ architecture. ‘

    To your point, certainly there is value in the work of Gehry, Neutra, Schindler and Wright but you’re talking about, what, at most 500 homes or buildings throughout the entire state ?!

    In the end the rest of the place looks like an endless continuum of Taco Bells

    2) I’m just dying to get over to Glendale to see all the sights

    3) ” ….. L.A. still has the worst air in the country,…..” Thanks for confirming my point

    J on March 10, 2010 9:48 PM:

    I’ve been in the Midwest four years now. The rent is lower. I don’t dislike where I am. But I miss home every day. On a crisp, cool summer night, get on Sunset in Hollywood and drive it all the way to the ocean. That’s heaven.

    Ron on March 10, 2010 10:08 PM:

    @Ronnie – OK, I agree with the shallow culture part. I’ve definitely lost some IQ points by living in LA for so long. There are not a lot of bookstores going around. People aren’t stupid, but not a lot of folks read.

    But you do have to go with the flow – if you resist it, LA will be miserable. You get your hair cut like a movie star, put on the Ray Bans and designer jeans and lose some weight. Focusing on your personality strengths don’t get you any points.

    If you can stomach being shallow its goes down easy, if you can’t deal with that aspect of the culture you will leave in disgust, its true.

    Small price to pay for 9 months a year of sunshine and ample sushi.

    Jordan on March 11, 2010 12:51 AM:

    Can anyone tell me what make and model the two similar looking navy cars in photo 4 are?

    forest on March 11, 2010 1:33 AM:

    those 2 cars look like they are from the 30s or 40s no clue on make and model tho. love the pictures, wish i was there at that time its sucks so bad in LA now.

    johnny on March 11, 2010 1:36 AM:

    “Can anyone tell me what make and model the two similar looking navy cars in photo 4 are?”

    The lead car looks like a 1936 Chevrolet. The second– hard to tell, too blurry. It’s higher end– a DeSoto, maybe.

    johnny on March 11, 2010 1:46 AM:

    Now I’m thinkin’ 1939 Buick.

    duy on March 11, 2010 4:16 AM:

    I was born and raised in San Francisco, attended college in NYC, moved out to LA 12 years ago and still love it here. The more people who hate on LA, the better in my book. I don’t care why they hate. Just means fewer people moving out here and ruining my city.

    ramirez on March 11, 2010 5:45 PM:

    no way is that 1st car in 4 a chevy, it looks like a 36 chrysler 2 dr sedan, the chevys had a laid back nose and bustleback was shorter
    and the second car, half out of frame, looks like a 38 pontiac 4dr sedan because of the 7 windows and smoother front fenders…
    course they are pretty blurry, but i am positive they aint buicks or chevys,

    and LA still sucks

    michelle drake on March 11, 2010 10:25 PM:

    San Francisco beats La for culture and beauty everytime,even much less pollution.LA is always fun to visit but Northern Cal is the place to be!

    Chris on March 12, 2010 2:40 PM:

    I spent nearly 10 years in SoCal and from one mid-westerner to another, after 3 years you will want seasons real bad. In other words, all your great Fall and Winter clothes will basically be for naught.

    Erin on March 12, 2010 7:31 PM:

    I really can’t agree in the least: Having been a couple times, as well as Phoenix, I find that both cities’ air quality is absolutely deplorable. Throughout every visit to either city I find myself coughing up massive amounts of phlegm and mucus. I smoke half a pack a day and don’t have half the problem I do at home in Wisconsin. If the air quality bothers a serious smoker, something is terribly, terribly wrong.

    Des on March 13, 2010 1:12 PM:

    These photos are excellent. They give such a different impression of L.A. It’s more Marc Webb’s “500 Days of Summer” L.A. or Edward Ruscha’s L.A. then it is the typical LA that we normally think of.

    Morgan on March 14, 2010 2:08 PM:

    People who say LA has no culture are just completely off-base. It’s currently a hot bed of contemporary art and music, with great institutional support. LA has a decent and growing subway system and the buses work great. Downtown LA is being revitalized as a city center that is plenty walkable. It’s got a great international vibe and flair. People who hate on it just have their heads up their asses and haven’t been paying attention. While Manhattan has been sterilized into an outdoor mall LA’s been slowly getting “cool” again. And I’m an east coast kind of guy.

    Great photos, btw.

    MLPR on March 14, 2010 5:31 PM:

    L.A. is great…only if you want to be able to go surfing and snowboarding in the same day.

    Michael on March 15, 2010 2:16 AM:

    I do find the attack on this city’s architecture a little weird. What L.A. lacks is the uniformity of architecture and density that make the nice parts of London, New York, Boston, etc. so elegant. This is a notoriously sprawling city, after all. But for a century now, Angelenos have taken their extra space and individual houses and felt free to create an incredible diversity of residential architecture from the historic mansions in the hills to the Craftsman bungalows in Santa Monica to the angular garage-style experiments off Abbott Kinney.

    So listen, if you think the city doesn’t present a handsome united front, then I mournfully agree. But if you want to dismiss the architectural worth of this city, think again.

    In any case: Why be rude at all?

    Logan on March 16, 2010 6:42 AM:

    K.A.A. has only been to cities east of Pasadena on the 210.

    Sherry on March 16, 2010 4:35 PM:

    I was born in Los Angeles and later moved to the San Fernando Valley and lived there almost my entire life. Then we moved to Santa Monica for three and a half years. These photos brought back a flood of memories as a child. Sadly one doesn’t always appreciate the
    simplicity of life and their surroundings. Having gone through two major earthquakes and fighting daily gridlock L. A. isn’t what it once was and yes there are aspects of the west coast I will always miss. However, having said that living in NC is wonderful in many ways that CA is not. It is equal in beauty, the housing is much more affordable and traffic is manageable. NC has charm, a moderate four season climate, oozing with hospitality and affordable housing. I’m happy I had the opportunity of living in L.A. most of my life and now happy to spend the rest of my years in a tranquil but interesting city.

    Harvey on March 16, 2010 6:54 PM:

    I agree with Sherry as I’m married to her. Sure, there are some things that we miss but hanging on a wall I have a photo taken from the air of the 405. It shows nothing but vehicles in both directions including old Sepulveda. That reality alone makes our change worth it.

    phil on March 23, 2010 4:27 PM:

    I Love LA weather. I’m definitely a East Coast kind of guy and I’ve roadtripped along the East coast before and have visited all major cities along the way. I lived in NYC for 5 years, Seoul (Korea) for 7 years, suburbs of Philadelphia (in Jersey) for 6 years, and spent the last 4 in Cleveland for college. Actually, after living in Cleveland for 4 years, anywhere else seem like paradise (look up “lake effect” and the annual snow accumulation in Cleveland). I had the option of opening an office, for our family business, on any major city along the US coasts and I chose LA so I’ll be moving out there within the month. Sure, the crime level in LA can be a major deterrence for anyone who wants to move there but I lived 2 towns over from Camden NJ and also in East Cleveland.

    Something that I like about LA is that it’s a major city with a large population that has enough real estate for actual affordable houses within the city limits. It’s like a fine mesh of city and suburb. You don’t really seem like you’re tightly bunched up in apartments with thin walls like they do in NYC or Philly. Also, the “openness” also lets me bypass the public transit so I can drive around (I love driving). Do people really like taking the subway in NYC or Philly? I don’t.

    KK Akuoku on March 25, 2010 11:38 PM:

    The east coast is loosing the battle for my soul as of late. I’m dying to head out there, move in with my cousin, and explore the L.A. and SoCal landscape for myself, but alot of things get in the way. Living out there definitely has it potential for giving anyone with wide enough eyes a good amount of adventure if he or she looks deep enough. I’ll always consider NYC my home, but I hate to die of boredom here

    tva on March 29, 2010 6:18 AM:

    cities are different & people are different.

    – enjoy

    { beautiful fotos }

Comments are closed.