Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Friday: Greetings from Covina

Greetings from Covina, California. A lush garden of citrus and tropical plants and the home of Reynolds Buick since 1915. We're very proud of our hometown and its rich history, and so today we're going to remember some of the fun sights of Covina and West Covina that we grew up with. (And isn't the vintage postcard neat?)

Where it all began, almost. Actually, Irv Sr. got his start selling Buicks out of a desk in Webber's Garage, but he did well and built this beautiful showroom at the corner of Citrus and Badillo in 1922. As you can see, it was done in a Beaux Arts Motif which was popular at the time. The brand new 1936 Buicks at the curb establish the date of the photo. Can you imagine a brand new Buick for $1,029.00?

A much loved icon of mid-century architecture, Covina Bowl opened in 1955. The pyramid roofline and sign lent itself well to an Egyptian theme, with banquet rooms called the "Egyptian" and the "Pyramid." The interior has been lost, but thankfully the fabulous exterior has been preserved for everyone to enjoy. Possibly the best surviving 50's bowling alley in Southern California.

The Alpha Beta was a Southern California Supermarket chain which was founded in 1915, the same year as Reynolds. The Alpha-Beta concept at that time referred to alphabetizing the merchandise to make self-serve shopping easier and more convenient. The first market named Alpha Beta opened in Pomona in 1917. Like many Southern California retailers, they experienced huge growth in the 1950's and 1960's. Their parent company bought Ralphs in 1994 and assumed their identity.

The Carousel was a live perfornance theater adjacent to Eastland Center that opened in 1965. It was constructed as a "theater in the round' which was in vogue in the 1960's. It was also a popular venue for live bands. Many of Covina's teenagers remember seeing the hot acts of the day at the Carousel- bands like Buffalo Springfield, Stills and Young, even Simon and Garfunkel played the Carousel.

Approaching Eastland Center from the San Bernardino Freeway, westbound, early 1960's. Office towers under construction around the perimeter of the Eastland Center and the famous Huddles restaurant.

One of many drive-in movie theaters around the Covina area, here is the Edgewood Drive In Theatre in Baldwin Park, shown in a 1973 photograph. Other drive-ins in the area included the Big Sky in Duarte, the El Monte Drive-In, the Star-Lite in South El Monte, the Covina Twin in Covina, the Fiesta 4 in Pico Rivera and the Foothill in Azusa. The Edgewood site is now Kaiser Permanente Hospital.

Eastland Center was the sixth major shopping mall built in Southern California, and the first to be build adjacent to a freeway. The initial section opened in 1957, and was a two level open air design in an ultra modern style. The anchor tenants were the May Co, and W. T. Grant. It has been susbtantially altered from its original design.

The color and distinctive sign tower at Eastland Center was a local icon.

Jack In The Box began in Long Beach, CA in 1951. They pioneered the drive in window replacing the carhop. The circa 1960 design of the drive-in restauants is considered to be a marriage of art and architecture - a mondrian meets "building as sign." In reality, the design was intended to skirt local sign regulations in the communities where they were built. A Southern California classic.

The much loved and sadly missed Huddle Restaurant of 1958. It was built on a site adjacent to the Eastland Center and featured outrageous "Googie" style architecture. The Huddle chain was well known for their architecture with no two restaurants exactly alike. Their flagship was a beloved icon in Palm Springs for many years.

More views of the iconic Huddle Eastland

A double relic- newspaper advertisements for Drive In Movies. Circa 1968.

White Front Stores were founded in Los Angeles in 1929 and consisted of only two location. Purchased by Interstate department Stores, they set out on a massive expansion plan in 1959. Incidentally, the term "White Front" referred to their custom of placing appliances (known in the industry as "white goods" in the front windows.)

The classic American success story- Mc Donalds. Founded by the Mc Donald brothers in San Bernardino, brought to retail glory by Ray Kroc. He simplified the menu and created the Speedee Service System, as well as creating the standardized look that we all remember. This location was on Azusa Avenue.

The first Taco Bell was built by Glenn Bell in Downey in 1962 and the chain expanded rapidly. Franchises were offered beginning in 1964. This is the original look, complete down to the Pepto Bismol color. Not sure that was very appetizing!

The Vineland Drive In is located in the City of Industry, One of many in the Covina area originally, it is the sole operating survivor now. It has a dual purpose, operating both as a swap meet and as the only operating drive in theater in Los Angeles County.

Reynolds Buick was outgrowing its downtown Covina location by the late 1950's, so plans began to be made for the new showroom on Citrus where they operate today. Here is the architect's rendering from 1963.

And just over a year later, here it is in all it's finished glory. Note the brand new 1964 Buick and GMC models on the show floor. It remains largely original today.

We're proud to have been part of the fabric for ninety-six years now and hope to continue the community for many more.

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