The infamous… The 32-foot clown at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood was built in 1959.
All photographs by Nikki Kreuzer
As our city’s colorful past is slowly absorbed into the high tech future, erasing much of what we felt would long survive us, it feels good to take comfort in what remains. Memories are very much part of what makes a city a home. Driving down familiar streets, whether sun splashed or darkened by the cover of night, we seek what we have always known. As what we take for granted disappears, our nostalgia kicks in and we often look to cling ever tighter. And so it is with our vintage business signs…
Bright colors… 1) The Bottle Bar on Crenshaw Ave near 28th Street in the Crenshaw district, in business since 1959. 2) Amo Liquor on Euclid St in Anaheim. 3) Mike’s Liquor on Rosemead Blvd in El Monte. 4) Ocean Liquor on Alvarado & 8th, near MacCarthur Park.
Liquor store business signs in particular, here in California, were designed to POP! When prohibition ended in 1933, it was boom time for Los Angeles. The population had more than doubled in the thirteen dry years, going from just over half a million to over a million and a quarter. The fact that our city was envisioned as an automobile town made all the difference in the development of roadside advertising. Cool, stylized signs were created to catch people’s eyes at they drove down the boulevard. The 1930s to the 1960s were a prime time for creative advertisements. Business owners were willing to invest the money to get people’s attention. Fun names and themes were invented. Colors were playful and bright. Shapes were utilized and art was considered important. Today, we may be experiencing a revived appreciation in the vintage, but it has been long in coming. We are still losing important parts of our history everyday as paradise is paved by developers who, most of the time, are only in it for the money. These 100 photos of liquor store signs, which are still surviving on our Southern California city streets, are testament to our long and beautiful past. Let’s do our best to respect, admire and preserve them.
Unique and lively… 1) Carlson’s Liquor on Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills, built 1954. 2) Mr. C’s Liquor on S. Pacific in San Pedro. 3) Maple Liquor, built in 1949, on S. Western & 105th in South Central. 4) Lucky 7 Liquor on Vanowen in Reseda.
Clever names & themes… 1) Sunrise Liquors on Saticoy Street in North Hollywood. 2) Liquorarma, built in 1959, on Washington Blvd in Mid-City. 3) Purity Liquor on Gage Street in Bell. 4) Jet Stream Liquor, built in 1957, on Vanowen Street in North Hollywood.
Simple, but with flair… 1) Silver Liquor on Woodman Ave in Sherman Oaks. 2) Eddie’s Liquor on Lincoln Ave in Buena Park. 3) East L.A. Wholesale Beverage on Whittier Blvd in East L.A. 4) Milt’s Liquor on Los Robles & Orange Grove in Pasadena. 5) Fine Wine Liquor on Woodman Ave in Sherman Oaks. 6) Occidental Liquor on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles. 7) Rancho Park Liquor on Pico Blvd in Rancho Park. 8) Valley Beverage Co., in business since 1953, on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. 9) Ed’s Liquor on Pico Blvd in Santa Monica.
Day and Night… 1-2) Encino Park Liquor, built in 1957, Ventura Blvd in Encino. 3-4) Beverly Mart on Beverly Blvd & Heliotrope in Los Angeles.
Cool shapes… 1) Art’s Liquor Mart, built in 1958, on E. Beverly Blvd in East L.A. 2) Sunrise Liquor on Saticoy St. in North Hollywood uses blocks letters to complement its front sunrise sign. 3) Santa Monica Liquor on Wilshire Ave & 1oth Street in Santa Monica has liquor bottles which appear to be moving as they light up one at a time.
House of the Spirits on Echo Park Ave in Echo Park. Pure whimsy, a fairy tale for adults.
Fun and clever… 1) Frank’s Liquor on E. Beverly Blvd & Gerhart in Montebello. 2) Martino’s Liquor on Manchester Ave in Inglewood. 3) Vineland Wine Cellar on Vineland Ave in North Hollywood. 4) Wine Mess, in business since 1939, on E. Broadway Ave in Long Beach.
Going for big names… 1) Rainbow Liquor on Saticoy Ave in Reseda. 2) Pla-Boy Liquor on Yucca Street in Hollywood. 3) Hollywood Liquors on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood. 4) King Arthur Liquor, opened in 1980 on Corbin Ave in Northridge.
The 1970s in action… 1) Foremost Liquors, built 1973, on Monterey Road in South Pasadena. 2) Liquor Royale, built 1975, on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. 3) Silversun Liquor on Sunset Blvd in Silverlake. 4) Joseph’s Liquor on Pico Blvd in West L.A. 5) Sunshine Liquor Market on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena.
The variety is endless… 1) Paco’s Liquor on E. 3rd Street in East L.A. was built in 1949. 2-3) Two sides of a liquor store sign in East L.A. 4) Showcase Liquor on N. Lake Ave in Pasadena. 5) Occidental Liquor on Beverly Blvd in the Rampart District.
From fancy to basic… 1) Continental Liquor, built in 1963, on Balboa Blvd in Northridge. 2) Al’s Drive-in Liquor, built 1951 on Saticoy Street in Reseda. 3) Another shot of Hollywood Liquors on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood. 4) Rosswood Liquor on Roscoe Blvd in Panorama City. 5) Antidote Liquor on Vanowen Street in Van Nuys.
In the Silverlake area… 1) Silver Glen Liquors on Glendale Blvd in Silverlake. 2) Liquor Mart on Hillhurst Ave in Los Feliz. 3) The Kopper Keg on Glendale Blvd in Atwater Village. 4) M&W Liquor, built 1958, on Fletcher Drive in Atwater Village.
Down in the Valley… 1) Dorose Liquor on Roscoe Blvd in Panorama City. 2-3) 2 views of Ben’s Liquors, which opened in 1960 on Saticoy Street in Reseda. 4) Rosswood Liquor on Roscoe Blvd in Panorama City.
Classic liquor markets… 1) J’s Liquor, built 1963, on Normandie Ave in Torrance. 2) Hi-Ho Drive-in Market, built 1965, on Glendale Blvd in Echo Park. 3) Fountain Liquor, in business since 1973, on Fountain Ave near Vermont in Los Angeles. 4) Highland Park Liquor on the corner of Figueroa St & Ave 59 in Highland Park.
It takes all kinds… 1-2) Jolly Jug Liquor was built in 1960 on Reseda Blvd in Reseda. 3) La Paz Liquor on Magnolia Blvd in Burbank. 4) Turner’s Liquor on Balboa Blvd in Northridge.
Playful and fun… 1) Corner of Redondo & Anaheim in Long Beach. 2) Valley Beverage Co., in business since 1953, on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. 3) Rocket Liquor on Vanowen Street in Canoga Park. 4) Sorrento Liquor on Cesar E Chavez Ave & Bunker Hill in Chinatown.
Pretty basic… 1) Oasis Liquor on the corner of Whitsett & Riverside Drive in Valley Village. 2) Green Mill Liquor on Whittier Blvd in East L.A. 3) Mikron Liquor on Silverlake Blvd in Silverlake. 4) Ocean Liquor on Alvarado & 8th, near MacCarthur Park. 5) Magnolia Blvd in Burbank. 6) Formost Liquors, built 1973, on Monterey Road in South Pasadena. 7) Bogie’s Liquor on Hyperion Ave in Silverlake. 8) Bogie’s Liquor on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles. 9) Square Liquor in Los Feliz.
Markets galore… 1-2) Culver Market on Culver Blvd in Culver City. 3) Continental Liquor, built in 1963 on Balboa Blvd in Northridge. 4) The Liquor Bank on Stocker Street in the Crenshaw district.
Variety is the spice of life… 1) The OTHER location of Circus Liquor is on Lankershim in North Hollywood. 2) Surf Liquor on Main Street in Santa Monica. 3) Maple Liquor on Riverside Drive in Burbank. 4) Liquorama, built in 1959, on Washington Blvd in Mid-City. 5) Pink Elephant Liquor on Western Ave in Los Feliz was used by Charles Bukowski 6) Vendome Liquor on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood 7) Another shot of the second location of Circus Liquor on Lankershim in North Hollywood.
Drinking in Whittier… 1) Cordial Liquor on Meyer Road in Whittier opened for business in 1968. 2-3) Bailey’s Drive-In Liquor on Whittier Blvd in Whittier. 4) Uptown Liquor on Greenleaf Street in Whittier.
More variation… 1-2) L.A. Fortune Liquor on Washington Blvd in Monetbello. 3-4) Bottle House Liquors on Norwalk Blvd in Whittier.
Living la vida loca… 1-3) Catalina Liquor on 8th Street in Koreatown 4-5) La Vida Liquor on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood.
Although I have tried to get many of our area’s coolest, classic liquor store signs, the magnitude of finding them and shooting them all is enormous. This is an ongoing project. If you are interested in seeing more of Nikki’s Offbeat L.A. signs of all types, which are added to almost daily, please check out the hashtag #nikkisvintageLAsigns on Instagram or follow Lunabeat.