Who would have known that America's obsession with self-storage isn't necessary a modern-day marvel? And that bohemith buildings designed for comfort and safe household holdings would rise to record-breaking heights, in Los Angeles?
Built in 1925 during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the 14-story Hollywood Storage Co. was the tallest building in Hollywood. Located at Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood Storage Co. was also home of the Evening Herald radio station, KMTR but primarily used for storage for the massive influx of people coming to reap the opportunities in the area and needing a place to stash their stuff and for things they may never see again.
Surrounded by farms and ranches, orange groves, pineapple orchards, Mexican Nopal cactus indigenous to the area and a burgeoning silent movie industry including nearby Charlie Chaplain's studio and Paramount Pictures, the building stood for 14 years until Bekins purchased it in 1939, the same year the Wizard of Oz premiered.
On the 14 floor, a model kitchen was built with an auditorium. And while cooking demonstrations were on hiatus, other "performances" seemed to occur. In typical Hollywood fashion, check out this gentle well-written L.A. Times account about an orgy of sorts where 366 men and women were arrested at a stag party. All of the arrested at the party were men, except four women! Well, modern day has proven that controversy does sell self-storage.
For it's time, Hollywood Storage Co.'s building was massive. It's prominence made it's mark onto this stylized 1930's map of the Greater Los Angeles area. You can see it below. Can you spot it? And to the far right bottom corner you can see another "landmark," the Wilshire Storage Co. Were the two owners of these building foreseeing an self-storage obsession that would last, say another 100 years?
In 1989, the Los Angeles Times covered the Bekin Storage story which included reasons for their success in the Southern California storage industry: Los Angeles was a new city, on the verge of a incredible expansion no other city in America had seen in decades. Bekins was first company in the West to specialize in moving household goods, Bekins later pioneered the concept of containerized storage. In 1903, Martin Bekins introduced the "side-winder" gasoline-powered moving truck to Los Angeles.
It all make sense, the Founder Milo Bekins believed that "moving is the American way." L.A. was the first modern American city.
In the 1940s and '50s, the style of large, tall buildings changed in Los Angeles. In keeping with the undecorated modernist design coming into style, these storage warehouses became plainer and not as tall.
But today, the Hollywood Storage Co. still stands tall, a lovely warehouse of Los Angeles history in all it's historic self-storage glory, clutter, mayhem, vagrancy, orgies and destination maps.
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