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I understand that the Bonito Theatre was on Ford Blvd & Brooklyn Ave (presently Cesar Chavez Ave)I believe the old theatre building still stands on the east side of Ford Blvd. I saw “High Hopes”, with Frank Sinatra, at the Unique Theatre (area of First & Rowen) in the early 1960’s. I understand that the First Street Store, was intially half it’s present size, (if it’s still standing) the area of the men’s/boy’s department was a former E.L.A., Belvedere theatre. Does anyone know the name of that theatre?
The Wabash Theatre was another Boyle Heights area theatre located at Wabash & Evergreen, close to Manuel’s Tepeyac Mexican Restaraunt (known for their famous king sized burritos). Other Boyle Heights theatres included the Brooklyn Theatre located at 2524 Brooklyn Ave, in the area of N. Fickett. The National Theatre was located at 2229 Brooklyn Ave. The Joy Theatre was formally located at 2014 E. First Street.
For more information about the area of Boyle Heights, Brooklyn & Soto contact the Southern California Jewish Historical Society to purchase a video called, Meet Me at Brooklyn & Soto. This is an incredible historical video about the history of early East Los Angeles and the contributions by the Jewish community to our California history.
Max Factor was formerly a barber in Boyle Heights before he became a make up artist for the Hollywood stars. Golds Gym was started by a family that owned a wrecking yard on Ford Blvd, many years ago. During World War 2, the Jewish community purchased two B-17’s, one was named the Spirit of City Terrace, and the other, The Spirit of Boyle Heights, both were purchased by the community towards the war effort. My grandfather was a driver for the Chicago Meat Packing Company that delivered Kosher meats to the famous deli’s such as Kanter’s in the area of Brooklyn & Soto and hotels in the greater Los Angeles area.
Thanks for the memories. Born in East L.A.
Mr. Davila, I glad to know that I wasn’t the only E.L.A. cardboard, dirt rider. I did the exact same thing in the area of Sunol Drive and 3rd St. I along with family and friends would hang out in all the vacant, condemned houses and explore all the time.
There must have been so many families that were forced to sell their homes to make way for “progress”, called the Pomona Fwy. I’m sure we drove the construction companies crazy when we would move or take the long wooden stakes that the surveyors had placed for the freeway. These wooden stakes made great swords for battle. In the area of 3rd & Humphrey’s Ave we would have serious rock fights with other kids for hours.
This must have been my effort to oppose the distruction of our community to make way for “progress”. It’s funny how the Long Beach Fwy never went beyond Valley Blvd in the north. Then again, the predominiately white communties of Alhambra, South Pasadena would not have allowed that to happen. Sadly, the Whittier Blvd area went into a rapid decline shortly after the East Los Angeles Demonsrations/riots in the late 60’s, 70’s. The large white population in the area left for safer ground towards further east and or Orange County; sociologists use the term, “white flight”
I don’t like the changes that have occurred in the past 30-40 years, but no one can take away all the good memories I have of growing up in East Los Angeles. Just think of all the families who can share the East L.A. experiance.
Thanks for the memories, Happy New Year to all you good people.
That’s amazing! Do you remember the day (not so long ago)) when no man or women would be seen having there haircut along side one another. Boy how times have changed for the better. Isn’t it great to have your hair cut at a super cuts type place with no one male/female territorial issues taking place. In the early 1970’s I had a women take strong offense to me holding the door open for her. Oh well, just got to roll with the changes.
Is this the same barber from around 1964-1965?
Greeting good people,
I seem to recall W.T. Grant’s being directly across the street from the Center Theatre. I should remember, since my mom worked there in the early 1960’s. My mom worked the morning shift and worked the food counter. She would make coffee for all the local store owners and employees who would need there coffee in the morning.
Does anyone recall the See’s Candy store next to W.T. Grants. I use to buy my dress shoes at Flag Brothers, next to W.T. Grants. Funny, I can’t seem to remember where I bought my first pair of “Beatle boots”; I certain it wasn’t at Buster Browns (smile!!!). Al’s Army & Navy, always seemed to have the best bargains on Levis and work clothes.
What was the name of the barber shop on Kern Ave, just south of Whittier Blvd on the west side of the street? The barber was Chicano who always played jazz music for his customers.
Speaking of the area of Atlantic Blvd & Pomona Blvd, does anyone remember the first E.L.A. “head shop” on Atantic right next to the Pomona Fwy? There used to be a Builders Emporium Store, just east of the bowling alley, close to the East L.A. Sheriffs Dept. What the heck ever happened to the Foster Freeze on Beverly Blvd close to Atlantic.
We used to buy our milk and eggs from the Reliance(?) Diary on Atlantic Blvd next to Beverly Blvd. It was one of those ever so popular drive-thru places.
Shopping at Atlantic Square was considered to be upscale from the Blvd. J.C. Pennys had the best high neck tee-shirts in the planet in the 1960’s!
Born in East L.A.
The Center Theatre was located between Ford Blvd and Duncan Ave’s. How about the other questions I asked you?
JDuran,I seem to remember a bowling alley in the area. Are you old enough/young enough (smile!) to recall the Vic Tenny’s Gym located just east of the Golden Gate (Atlantic Blvd). Can you recall the Stan’s Drive kiddy-corner to the Golden Gate? What year did you graduate from high school?
Thanks for sharing this additional piece of information on the history of one of five Whittier Boulevard Theatres",(located between Atlantic & Downey Road. We can’t forget the Strand Theatre.
Can you provide some additional details about the lunch counter such as was it to the left or right side of the Center Theater if you were facing the theatre.
On one of my last visits to Whittier Blvd I stopped at the Center Theatre (now a low end retail store). I could faintly make out the floor entrance which once had an elaborate, multi-colored pattern, design which was typical for theatres once upon a time and not so long ago.
Thanks for the memories.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, man with no name. To Kern Ave. E.L.A., I recalled seeing the movie “Thirteen Ghosts” at the Center Theatre sometime in the 1960’s, man was that high tech for those days or what! We even wore special glasses to see the special effects. Two feature movies & a cartoon for .50-.75 cents.
I recall the older gentleman who used to sell peanuts or in Spanish, “cacahuates”; he used to chant the words, “cacahuatitos, bien salatitos”. This old guy was always flirting with the women both young and old.
If you e-mail me at
This guy was just one of E.L.A.’s many colorful characters. I somehow don’t remember street vendors in East L.A. in the 1950’s….Thank God.
Flash back, does anybody remember the old CHP office located on Goodrich near Whittier Blvd? I recently met a family member who’s husband was assigned out of this office in the 1950’s, way before the CHP moved to there office east of Garfield Ave by the Pomona Fwy.
I was recently in East Los Angeles and drove down Whittier Blvd. In the 1960’s I used to ride my mini bike down the blvd. (right up the middle of the road) to avoid being stopped by the CHP or the L.A. Co Sheriff’s. I had the displeasure of telling it to the judge on a couple of occasions in juvenile traffic court.
I bought this mini bike at a lawn-mower shop on Whittier Blvd, just east of the famous K-Mart with all the Blue Light Specials.
Thanks for the memories of E.L.A.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all.
I really enjoyed elopez comments dated Wed, Nov. 24th, because I along with family shopped at the same stores that are now gone. Everyone remembers the Western Auto Store across from the Boulevard Theatre, and down the street from Stones furniture by Pep Boy’s. I wish someone could tell me how old, the ice house located on Ford Blvd & Whittier Blvd. Incidently, I think the Southern California Edison office was located on Kern Ave by Whittier.
You know were you could buy a hamburger at the old Monk Uddle (?) hamburger stand by the alley near W.T. Grants or by the S.H. Kress Store,where you could catch either the Kern or Ford Bus for only a dime in the 1950’s. There used to be an old taxi cab company across the street from the Monk Uddle.
Both the Ford & Kern buses ended up at First & Rowen where you could ride the P Car (old street car)and later the No.26 bus into downtown L.A. all the way to the west side on Pico & Rimpau.
The other end of the Kern Bus line was on Whittier Blvd, across from the old Strand Theatre, now a garment factory across the street from the Calvary Cemetery.
From there you could ride the old R Car to downtown L.A. I believe the R Car was later replaced by the Rapid Transit District (RTD) No 72 bus. The R Car was the old street car that made a round turn at the end of the line to head back to downtown L.A.
My mom use to pay 5 cents to ride the Kern/Ford Bus in the late 30’s, early 1940’s. My mom worked at Home Decoraters, The Kress, W.T. Grants, and later at Dotty Dean’s, a very classy womens store next to Lerner Shops. I would sometimes get a root bear soda & a hot dog at the Grant’s cafeteria when my mom was working the fountain.
Boy I’m I old or what? One of my neighbor, Richard here in Fremont, Calif. was born in East L.A. in the 1940’s and his mother was also born in East L.A. in the early 1920’s.
If you think this is isn’t a small world another neighbor, Daniel,(younger than you know who!) attended Garfield H.S. and his mother owned several bridal shops in the area one on Ford & Whittier Blvd.
It seems to me that the answer to all our concerns about saving the Golden Gate and other old East Los Angeles icons is to have a East Los Angeles, Belvedere, Historical Museum.
Is that a great idea or what? If such a museum now exists, someone please enlighten me as to this fact.
It would be something to visit a museum where you could travel back in time and experiance the sights and sounds of East Los Angeles experiance. Just remember this my fellow freinds, before the Golden Gate Theatre or Whittier Blvd, there was the El Camino Real (The Kings Highway)now Whittier Blvd. That’s why you see the old green colored bells on the road.
This highway was built by the Spaniards that spanned the distance from Guatemala thru Mexico, and into Alta California, extending to San Francisco, San Rafael.
You know what’s amazing is that you can still actually see parts of the old road (Old Coast Highway) starting in the area of Hwy 101 in Camarillo, just to the right of the highway all the way to San Francisco.
My father was born in Guadalupe, California in 1925. My dad would share stories of traveling on the Old Coast Highway in a Model A or T Ford into Los Angeles in the 1920’s. My paternal grandfather, Pedro,and my great grandmother settled into the Central Coast area, of California, Santa Maria-Guadalupe in the early teens(1900’s).
My maternal grandfather, Jose Hernandez, was born in a area now known as Norwalk, Ca. in 1912. What’s truly amazing is that my younger sons former preschool teachers family last name is Dominquez. The Dominquez family is one of the earliest settlers in the Los Angeles area dating back some time in the 1700,s (or so). These original families were given vast title to land by the Spain and later Mexico.
Incidently, the earliset members of the Dominquez family and other notable persons are buried at the Calvary Cementary. Across the street on Whittier Blvd (El Camino Real) is the old Jewish cemetery
known as the Home of Peace where one of the Three Stooges (Curly) is buried. Yuk Yuk Yuk (smile).
Getting back to the Golden Gate, I am an antique post card collecter and I have one of the earlist black & white post card taken in the area of Whittier Blvd & Clela (just west of the Golden Gate), circa 1920’s. For you older people(smile), you know where the old Pontiac Dealer was located.
Does anybody remember the old Chevrolet dealer which was across the street from the Atlantic pool and St. Alfonso’s Church. My granfather bought a 1958 Chev. Impala there right out of the show room floor.
I also have a post card of Garfield High School, circa, 1920’s or 30’s. My other classic post cards are of Los Angeles, Compton, Highland Park, San Pedro and Long Beach, the Pike, at the turn of the century, early 1900’s.
I am so greatful to all of you for sharing your memories.
It’s a wonderful life, Living one day at a time.
Happy holidays, Merry Christmas to all.
Thanks for the memories! Keep on sharing.
Thank you for sharing your Golden Gate theatre and East Los Angeles experiance. I thought no one else was interested in old theatres such as the Golden Gate theatre. I just attended two back-to-back family reunions in Bakersfield & Alhambra California.
I was pleasently surprised to learn that my cousin, Christina was a ticket cashier at the Boulevard Theatre, just west of The Golden Gate. I shared how special it was as a child to buy a ticket and seeing the ticket dispensed from beneath the highly polished ticket counter by the cashier.
Several years ago, I was at an antique fair in Alameda (Oakland area)California, when out of the blue, there was one of the old theatre change machines for $100 dollars; darn I should of bought it…(sound familiar). I was told the coin machine was from the old Alameda Theatre.
The coin dispenser was the one that returned the customers change that rolled down a slide into a round coin receptacle holder.
Funny, how I really admired the theatre ushers and cashiers. The theatre ushers were dressed in black dress pants, black dress shoes, white shirts, black ties and red jackets. To think that we (customers)were actually escorted to our seats by the theatre usher with a flash light is unthinkable in this day and age.
Theatre ushers were respected and not to be taken lightly. I know from personal experiance, my buddy and I were promptly escorted out of the Boulevard Theatre in East Los Angeles in the very mid 60’s for whispering to one another despite a previous warning by the usher. I took a huge financial loss of around $1.25.
I think back to those days and remember a time when you would never seeing anyone talking on there cell phones (they didn’t exist), kids running up and down the aisles, people with their feet up on the seats (unthinkable)or other rude behavior.
My boys are amazed about the “old days”, when you could buy a theatre ticket for $1.00, watch two movies, a cartoon and have someone playing an organ.
I worked as a gas station attendant in East Los Angeles, for the Hudson Oil Company, formerly located on 3rd Street and Humphreys Ave in the mid 1960’s, the gas was around 14-15 cents a gallon.
Even though it was a less expensive gas station (we didn’t sell tires, or performed other services such as oil change) compared to Shell, Chevron stations. I still pumped your gas, checked your hood, which included the radiator, battery, oil and transmission fluids. I would also clean “all” your windows and tire pressure as part of our service.
I rarely recieved any tips since management discouraged the practice of being tipped by the customer. To think that you should tip someone, and I do for selling you a cup of “regular” coffee at a Starbucks just blows me away.
You would never, ever, see a women (out of respect), an elderly person pumping their own gas. No way, no how. I’m 51 years of age and remember paying ten cents to ride the bus or street car and using a public phone for only a dime. Boy am I old or what! (smile)My dad would by a cup of coffee for only a dime (no not vanilla nut!)just regular coffee.
It’s great to hear from others who can share the East Los Angeles, Belvedere experiance. Before our society became mall crazy there was the Boulevard, were the finest mens, womens and childrens, variety, furniture stores in the L.A. area which extended from Whittier & Ford to Atantic & Whittier Blvd.
Another bit of local history includes the former Los Angeles County East Los Angeles Sheriffs station located on Ford Blvd and Whittier Blvd. This facility had both a juvenile/adult temporary detention facility. There was a coroners office and possibly a court house. This non assuming building was last used as a church.
What predates the Golden Gate, Whittier Blvd and the Calvary Cematary is the El Camino Real which stretched from Guatemala to beyond San Francisco. I always wondered what that green colored bell hanging on that steel bell holder was as a kid.
I was born and raised in Belvedere, East Los Angeles, in 1953 at the Santa Marta Hospital, formerly located on Humphreys Ave near Brooklyn Ave (now Cesar Chavez Blvd).
I remember going to the Golden Gate Theater to see the first James Bond movie,Gold Finger. There was something special about the Golden Gate Theater that clearly set it apart from either the Center or Boulevard Theaters.I also clearly remember Stan’s Drive Inn Restaurant, kitty corner to the Golden Gate where the waitresses would come to the window of your car to take you order, what service. The Greyhound Bus Station was just across the street on Atlantic Blvd.
Other great memories include riding the Ford & Kern Bus for just ten cents and riding the “R Car” street car that ran from downtown Los Angeles to Whittier Blvd across from the Calvary Cementary. The “P Car” traveled on First Street over the L.A. River to downtown onto Broadway & First out to Pico Blvd. When we were downtown no self respecting person would be caught wearing a tee shirt and jeans. You wouldn’t be caught dead downtown L.A. or any other large city in the U.S. without wearing your best clothes.
You couldn’t visit downtown L.A. without stopping at either Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Grand Central Market, Angel’s Flight, the L.A. City Hall(formerly one of the highest building in L.A.) as well as Olvera Street, China Town & Philippe Restaraunt for a great French dip sandwich.
Talking about old Theaters my mom and grandparents use to catch movies at the Strand Theater which was adjacent to the “R Car” street car turn around. Now sadly enough a converted garment factory.
My mom worked on Whittier Boulevard at W.T. Grants, the Kress Store as well as a fine womens clothing store called Dotty Dean’s close to the See’s Candy store. Some of the finest clothing stores could be found just down the street from the Golden Gate Theater up till the late 1960’s.
The Moon Light sales & the Christmas decorations on the Boulevard were really something special for everyone in the community. Does anyone remember the Pontiac dealership in the area of Whittier Blvd & Clela.
Yes I remember the Golden Gate and so much more
Please excuse any and all typos.