Offbeat L.A.: The Crossroads of the World in Hollywood… L.A.’s Very First Outdoor Mall

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

Crossroads of the World (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

Cool vintage neon (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Living in the City of Angels, there is a wealth of history and mystery connected to buildings we pass everyday and often take for granted. While we may say to ourselves, “Hey, that’s a cool piece of architecture,” we really never stop to think that there may be an actual story behind it. The Crossroads of the World building on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood fits that description.

Designed by architect Robert V. Derrah and built in 1936, this was Los Angeles’ first outdoor shopping mall. In the late 1930s and 1940s this plaza was very trendy, hosting upscale boutiques frequented by the Who’s Who of Hollywood. Alfred Hitchcock had a suite of the offices here in the ’40s-’50s as well. The building was designed for Ella Crawford, the widow of a corrupt Hollywood political king-pin, Charles “the underworld czar” Crawford. Charles had quite a reputation and rumored mob connections. People also called him “Goodtime Charlie” and “The Wolf of Spring Street.” Supposedly author Raymond Chandler used Crawford as a model for some of his fictional criminals. Crawford had been a murder victim five years earlier, in 1931, on the very land used to build Crossroads of the World. His death created national headlines and scandal when on his death bed Crawford intentionally refused to reveal the name of the person who shot him. He went to the grave knowing the name of his murderer and this is one of Los Angeles’ famous unsolved mystery cases.

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

The Crossroads of the World complex is a full city block deep and contains nine buildings and amazingly 60 offices. It centers around a main “ship-shaped” building designed in the Art Deco moderne style with portholes, railings, and a 60-foot high spinning neon globe facing the steady stream of traffic on Sunset. The buildings on the sides and in the rear are in the “Storybook” architectural style, playful buildings with craggy roofs that resemble gingerbread cut-out cookies, straight from the stories of the brothers Grimm. The Storybook style took a little foothold in 1930s L.A. and is said to have influenced Walt Disney and his animation.

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

 

 

Each of these old-world looking buildings was designed to represent an individual European country, with the ship in the center connecting them all.

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

The ship in the center (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1970s and 1980s, though suffering from neglect and a downturn in the neighborhood, several rock-n-roll bands used offices here for their headquarters. These bands included Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Poco and the band America. In the 1980s Tim Burton set up his production office for Beetlejuice here and in the ’90s albums by Fleetwood Mac, Patti LaBelle, BB King and others were recorded here. Throughout the years, Crossroads of the World has also been used as a shooting location for countless films, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

Photo by Nikki Kreuzer

Crossroads of the World: 6671 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028.

 

Nikki Kreuzer

About Nikki Kreuzer

Nikki Kreuzer has been a Los Angeles resident for almost 30 years. When not working her day job in the film & TV industry, she spends her time over many obsessions, mainly music, art and exploring & photographing the oddities of the city she adores. So far she has written over 100 Offbeat L.A. articles which are published at the Los Angeles Beat and on the website OffbeatLA.com. As a writer she has also been published in the LA Weekly, Oddee.com, Blurred Culture, Twist Magazine, Strobe and Not For Hire. Nikki is also a mosaic artist, working actor and published photographer. Her photography has been featured in the print version of LA Weekly and as part of an exhibit at the Museum of Neon Art. In the band Nikki & Candy, she plays bass, sings and is co-writer. Find Nikki & Candy music on iTunes, Amazon or at NikkiandCandy.com. Nikki is currently working on her first novel. Please "like" the Offbeat L.A. Facebook page! For more Offbeat L.A. photos & adventures follow @Lunabeat on Instagram or @Offbeat_LA on Twitter.
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6 Responses to Offbeat L.A.: The Crossroads of the World in Hollywood… L.A.’s Very First Outdoor Mall

  1. I have always wondered about the story behind the Crossroads! Thanks!

  2. I know someone who took acting classes somewhere in there a long time ago. I had no idea it was once a shopping mall!

  3. Rial says:

    Great article. I have recorded on a few big band albums in the recording studio there but never knew that any of those people have recorded in that room! Thanks for the information.

  4. Donna Lethal Donna Lethal says:

    Sammy Davis, Jr. had an office there for years as well.

  5. Afropix Afropix says:

    There used to be a fabulous photo lab there……..(film is NOT dead!)

  6. admin says:

    Great photos and info.

    Here’s a similar post on another blog with both contemporary and historic photos of Crossroads of the World: http://www.experiencingla.com/2011/04/cross-roads-of-world-hollywood.html

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