It’s 1938 on the rooftop of a downtown Los Angeles building, the owners of a penthouse apartment with a chewing gum view of the snowcapped San Gabriel mountains (very Wrigley,) closed the door and walked away. For seventy five years, the apartment sat empty. With downtime during a photo shoot setup, playfully examining the rooftop, I began turning door knobs. One opened….
The first indication that a bit of mystery was involved, the household appliances sat where they had been the last time they were used, the GE Refrigerating Machine keeping the leftovers cool, as our penthouse apartment dwellers looked down at the neon marquees announcing the premieres of Snow White, Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz. The maid’s quarters offered easy access to the then exceedingly luxurious spoils of a machine that actually washed your clothes for you!
Looking at the bathroom, I realized that life back in time wouldn’t have seemed much different from today. Everybody poops.
Even the circuit breakers in a closet off of the maid’s room exuded coolosity:
It seems there might have been a spitting problem, as this sign on the sun deck evinces:
From the 1938 patent date, the air conditioning unit on the roof must have been the latest and greatest. Why would they leave?
Imagine this view at night, with the neon lit.
The Eastern Columbia department store would have made for convenient shopping, though today it stands as the finest example of Art Deco era architecture surviving in Los Angeles.
If our mysterious tenants needed an excuse to stay, this million-dollar view would have been worth, in those days, over seven hundred dollars!.
Although world war would effect the City of Angeles a few years later, requiring roof light black-outs during air-raid (tests), I think the pano view of the penthouse best explains the reasons for deserting this magical loft: the pipes that travel through the apartment walls reflect laws that arose in the depression era that required high-rise residences and hotels to retrofit fire sprinkler systems, and unfortunately the only way to make that happen was to seal off the rooftop apartment, and leave it alone for us to discover.