Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Around Old Torrance

Ahh, Sartori Ave. It's the main street of old Torrance, and houses several antique stores, a pawn shop, and an awesome cigar store. I love walking down the (usually) quiet streets of this historical part of Torrance. Here's a couple pictures of some of the buildings in the area.

Most of the stores in this area have this layout. Glass display windows are the remainders of an architectural style long gone.

Across the street is Lauridsen Ballet Centre. I believe that this building was once a really big thrift store. I don't know what it was originally.

Every fourth Sunday Downtown Torrance hosts an antique street faire. Visit the official website here.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mammoth on the Hill

Have you ever been driving to Riverside and suddenly begin daydreaming? Soon the road turns into a prehistoric river and you're imagining all the cars as boats finding their way through the savage jungle. You avoid each one as you make your way to a safe place. As you look for a suitable docking location, you notice saber tooth tigers and velociraptors on the shore. Luckily, you have your trusty rifle to protect you. But before you land, you notice a large, angry Mammoth charging towards you. Your little rifle will do you no good as the massive beast approaches. You aim, close your eyes, and pray for the best. . .

Well, me neither. But I did see this cool statue of a Mammoth on top of this hill. It's nice to see unique and unusual artwork in Southern California. There were other statues too. Dinosaurs to be exact. I fact, the statues are part of the Jurupa Mountains Cultural Center. a museum that specializes in teaching about Archeology, Paleontology, and Geology.

Visit the Jurupa Mountains Cultural Center website here.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Busch Gardens Skyrail Part 3

This is the final part of my Skyrail posts. Although Busch Gardens was just a brewery and bird sactuary turned amusement park, turned bigger brewery, I think that it deserves recognition as one of the most potentially great lost amusement parks of Southern California. The place was 70's to the bone. Bird shows, motor boats, beer barrel log flume rides, and of course the terrific Skyrail tour. When I was a kid and my family drove up the 405, I would always look for the brewery. Nobody told me whether or not the brewery was actually the former Busch Gardens, I could just tell from the look of the place that the old photos my father had were from there. I would look for the Skyrail, but as I stated in a previous pose, the place closed way before I could have ever remembered any of it. It's doubtful that any new construction would ever attempt such interesting projects. As roller coasters pop up left and right at our existing parks, attractions like Skyrails and monorails just don't excite as many people as they used to.

Another view of the Skyrail. One train leaving a building and another one entering.

An artist's rendering of the Skyrail as it leaves the loading station. It looks as if the track splits so that the trains can load on separate sides of the platform. The picture from part one shows this as well.

Visit the Busch Gardens Tampa website here.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Busch Gardens Skyrail Part 2

After a little more research, I am pretty sure that Busch Gardens did close in 1979. Perhaps someone got it confused with Marineland of the Pacific which was bought by the owners of Sea World in 1986. In any case, from the pictures I've seen the place was beautiful, but I guess Anheuser Busch makes a lot more money selling beer than doing bird shows. I just can't believe they trashed all the improvements they made to the park. In 1974, Busch Gardens expanded and built another monorail. That one basically circled the park and gave views of the many gardens and Islands of the area. I would love to see some of those pictures! So Busch Gardens had two monorails. That is pretty impressive. I can't believe that at one time Southern California had at least five monorails! Disneyland and Magic Mountain are the only two places left with them. Though Magic Mountain's was closed for a while before deciding to reopen. Santa's Village and The L.A. County Fairgrounds had the other two. There could also be more that I do not know about.

Here's a shot of the much smaller Budweiser brewery during the time of Busch gardens. You can see the Skyrail track wrapping around the building and stretching off toward the loading station.

Another beautiful shot of the Skyrails as they pass each other. I don't know if watching beer brew is all that exciting, but with a ride like this, it just very well may be.

Visit the Busch Gardens Tampa website here.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Busch Gardens Skyrail Part 1

According to wikipedia, Busch Gardens Los Angeles was in business from 1964 through 1979. Another source at, says the park operated from 1966 to 1986. I never went to the park in any case. If it closed in 1979, then I would have been too young to remember anyway, but if it did close in 1986, I could have remembered it if I would have gone. The park was not like the other Busch Garden theme parks. It was a modest park; mainly a bird sanctuary, and a couple of rides. They did look fun though. But the highlight of the park seems to have been the monorail tour of the brewery. This monorail, known as the Skyrail, offered an amazing view of the place, and gave visitors a very neat experience. When I was young, and viewed the old guidebooks my father had of the park, I knew that the place was no more, but I kept this little amount of hope that they kept the skyrail tour. I mean, if there is still a brewery there, then why wouldn't they keep the skyrail? But I was soon disappointed because it is gone as well.

look above, it's the Skyrail! The simple design is so classic. Busch Gardens Tampa's old monorails looked just like this one, but were much larger.

This appears to be the load/unload station. Check out the brewery in the background. It is like Wonka's chocolate factory, and people in the 1970's all had the golden ticket.

Visit the Busch Gardens Tampa website here.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Richfield Service Station II

Here is another set of shots of the Richfield station in Visalia (Thanks Chris for the location!) one year later; August of 2006. Apart from the man sitting outside, one change is the building sports a new paint job. What on earth could be going on with the former gasoline station? The garage door is painted red to match the office door.

Three days later, this slightly blurry picture reveals that the station is being used as a stand to sell stuff. As I drove by, it seemed like they were selling some sort of hubcap art, but I am not totally sure. It's nice to see an old building like this serving a useful purpose instead of sitting abandoned until it's too late to save it.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Richfield Service Station

I wish I could remember the town that this old Richfield service station is in, but it is on the way to Sequoia National Park. I was surprised when I saw such a cool example of old fashioned art deco inspired architecture in a small town. It reminded me of the time I went to mammoth and saw another great classic station. A few years later I saw the very same building in the Nicolas Cage movie Gone in Sixty Seconds. While this is not that building, it does have a similar feel, just on a subtler scale.

The same building from a reverse angle. These two shots were taken in 2005. The very next year the building had a slightly different look, and a purpose. Richfield Petroleum merged with Atlantic Refining in 1966 to form ARCO, which is now owned by British Petroleum.

Next time: More Richfield.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Old Towne Mall- Singing Security Guard in Restaurant

Quaint Restaurants are Found Throughout the Mall

Old Towne was most noted for its famous double decker carousel, but by the look of this photograph, the restaurants should have been equally famous. Actually, I do not personally remember any eateries besides the food court. This picture shows people having fun and relaxing in one of the "quaint" restaurants. I like how the security guard is having a conversation with some of the customers. The security guards at malls today do not seem as jovial, and I doubt I would have as pleasant a conversion with one. I guess this answers my question as to what mall Santas do the rest of the year. One more item of note in this picture is if you look way in the corner to the right of the stove, you'll see someone under 40 years old. Just like Disneyland, Old Towne was meant to be a place for the old and young to have fun together. Leave the food court to the youth, grandma and Grandpa will take this restaurant.

Does anyone out there have any information on what restaurants were at Old Towne Mall? I don't have the name of this one. Even food court restaurant names are welcome.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Movieland- Daydreams

This scene from the 1922 Buster Keaton (1895-1966) film Daydreams, is one of the smaller sets in the Movieland Wax Museum (actually just the other side of another set). The tableau shows Keaton daydreaming, but the scene once looked very different. Originally it had Keaton, in a similar pose, covered by motion picture film. His character apparently had been too busy dreaming to notice that the projector he was manning had malfunctioned. I assume the figure was moved from another section of the museum to this set to make room for another movie scene. Keaton shares this set with the figure of Charlie Chase. I guess that they are waiting for Painless Parker to finish up with the Little Rascals. It even looks like they made Keaton have a sore tooth.

A close up of Keaton's figure. They moved his arm a little to make it look like his jaw hurts. When Keaton visited the museum on January 4th 1964, they declared it Buster Keaton Day. He then donated his hat to the museum.

Some more wax Facts. Each gives more information about the famous actor. The Buster Keaton figure sold at auction for $3000, and the various props sold for $800.

Visit the Buster Keaton Society here.

See more wax museum photographs at Houses of Wax here.


Friday, February 02, 2007

El Segundo High School Part 3

In the third and final part of my El Segundo High School series we some of the structures behind the main building. Here is a mural of an Eagle, the school's mascot, holding a banner which says "Carpe Diem". Seize the Day! The mural is very inspiring.

You can see from this perspective the back of the main building. The bell tower looms in the background. The architecture is pretty standard all over the campus.

The entrance doors to the Gymnasium. over each door is a design of the various sports that may or may not be played at the school.

The engraving above the doors. I know that having the "v" looking U's looks classic, but it always distracts me.

View all of my photos from the school here.

Find more information on El Segundo here.