Friday, August 27, 2010


Welcome to the Orange County Googie Archive!

Many of you may have been directed here by the Whittier Conservancy Newsletter and I welcome you to explore the blog, especially the posts relating to the Greater Whittier area.

EDIT: You can view my photos in the Whittier Concervancy Newsletter here. (PDF)

It's unfortunately been quite some time since I've updated this blog, but in a way it's like a time capsule of how these architectural landmarks used to look just a few years ago. In many cases, the primest examples of Mid Century and Googie architecture in Orange County and South LA County have become much more dilapidated in the past few years.

Please, enjoy the archives of this blog and don't hesitate to contact me personally if you have any questions, stories, or comments concerning Googie in Orange County!

Melissa Cruz

Shoot from the Hip! is a design studio specializing in identity, web design, marketing & social media for small businesses. Our goal is to produce simple, great work that will make your small business stand out.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

P&M Plumbing

P&M Plumbing, Santa Ana, CA.

Located right across the street from Vodie's is a fun ol' sign with a little raindrop on it. Sorry about the crummy picture, I took this one through my windshield, while driving. Either way, a great sign, again in Santa Ana.

P&M Plumbing, Heating, & Air Conditioning
1139 W 17th St.
Santa Ana, CA
(714) 972-9662

Friday, September 14, 2007

Vodie's Auto Center

Vodie's Auto Center, Santa Ana, CA.

Wow, ok, so this sign is really swell. I wish I knew a bit of its history. It's not quite Googie, I don't know what to call it, but it's certainly a beautiful part of the otherwise drab OC skyline. Right around the corner from here is one of those ugly pre-fab shopping centers with a big ol' Target... zzz... I'll take this big teddy bear of a sign any day!

Vodie's Auto Center
1240 W 17th St
Santa Ana, CA 92706
(714) 543-8297

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Islander Apartments

The Islander Apartments, Santa Ana, CA.

Two giant A-frames-- one over the entrance to the complex (with two Tiki poles on the front and back to support the middle of the frame), and one near the pool (with another Tiki pole supporting the middle of the frame). Click on the images to see them larger and close-up!

This is a little, old apartment complex in Santa Ana. Gated, quiet, filled with lush tropical foliage-- why it's a neighborhood Tiki paradise. Your escape to the Islands! I've tried to get into the manager's office to talk about renting one of these apartments several times, but no one ever answers!

Sorry about the hiatus, it was a heck of a semester at school, but now that it's summertime, I'll attempt to be regular in my updates, although I'll be taking another short leave in a few weeks to go to Europe for a month.

The Islander Apartments
2724 N. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Bailey's Drive-In Liquor, Whittier, CA.

Ok, it's been open since 1922, so it's not quite Googie, but I still get a kick out of the architecture, the shapes, the signage, and the fonts enough to post it here. It's a Googie precursor, a predecessor if you will. And don't worry, you purists, I'll be coming home to Orange County soon (as in once I find time to do some more hunting!) Until then, enjoy Bailey's.

Bailey's Liquor Beverage
11415 Whittier Blvd
Whittier, CA 90601
(562) 695-7341

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Whittier Area Commerce Building

Whittier Area Commerce Building, Whittier, CA.

As a graphic designer, I find myself not only enthralled by Googie's and Mid-Century Modern's architectural forms, but also the typographical particularities of the age. I usually find a combination of these two great design elements only in neon signage, so it was a treat to finally take notice of this building, sitting on Whittier Blvd. as it likely has for decades. Geometric and decidedly Modern, the building is livened considerably by the typography which describes the building's purpose. The tracking, the kerning, the mish-mash of uppercase and lowercase letters-- it's enough to even get the most jaded and cynical of designers to smile a little!

Maybe this isn't the best example of lettering from the era, but with months of studying Googie, it's easy to wonder where the joy of gimmicky typography went, and why we don't live in a world where the "Googie's" logo for which this whole architectural movement is named isn't functional today, in a design sense. It's kitsch, it's retro, it's almost pandering, but Googie typography is fun and carefree. I hope fun typography will make a comeback someday.

Whittier Area Commerce Building
13601 Whittier Blvd
Whittier, CA 90605

Friday, February 16, 2007

Real Estate

Realty Executives Cornerstone, Whittier, CA.

I'm not a photographer. I'd think over the six months of reading this blog, many of you may have come to realize this. My camera will take a heck of a crisp picture as far as a basic digital camera goes, but I can not for the life of me manipulate lighting, composition, etc. Christine at eleventwentyseven is a photographer, though. Click here to see her photo of this same sign.

When I was a little girl and Dad used to take me and my sister up to Uptown Whittier to eat my usual basket of popcorn chicken at Rocky Cola and buy a "The Girls are Prettier in Whittier" tee shirt at Melrose Vintage, I used to wish that one day I could buy this old building and reopen it as a really hip clothing store called "Real Estate". Maybe it sounds silly now, but this is one of my all-time favorite old signs.

Of course, it only contains a real estate agency, nothing quite as cool as a great coffee shop. Contents aside, this is a great sign. Wish they'd sell it to me.

Realty Executives Cornerstone
13604 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90605

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Whittier Budget Inn

Whittier Budget Inn, Whittier, CA.

A motor motel turned "inn", this delapidated sign still stands between dozens of others along the west side of Whittier Blvd. It's hardly even legible any more.

Whittier Budget Inn
14030 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90605

Thursday, February 01, 2007

News & Updates

This will be my first post to this blog without any photos or frills-- if that's what you're here for (which would be understandable, it's all I've ever done), then you are invited to continue to page down to the other, more graphical entries. I just wanted to reserve a little space to play catch-up.

Of course, the biggest news story to concern Googie in years is raging all around us, in Downey. Johnie's Broiler, a classic Googie diner, featured in almost every publication on Googie architecture, even featured on the back cover of Alan Hess' Googie Redux, has been mostly demolished. The news has been pretty widespread, with many LA-area preservation websites taking notice and making a stand, showing up at Downey city council meetings to ensure that something is done about this blatantly illegal act of intentional damage to a building which was eligible to become a national landmark.

Here are several links related to the demolition, both in the news and across the web:

L.A. Times
CBS 2 (with video) (take action!)

I'm very sorry that something like this is what it finally takes for preservation societies like ModCom to take notice of Googie as a very important architectural style in the history of Los Angeles and the roadside landscape. Googie is important, it is a valid architectural style, and if somebody doesn't step up for it, and soon, it's going to be gone, and all we're going to have are watered-down remodels and contemporary remakes of the classics.

In other news, I had dinner tonight at the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, and it was as delicious as it always has been. The current, original owners apparently have no interest in selling the place, and since it's been operating for about 50 years now, your best bet is to experience the great food to be had here before it's gone for good, along with another great Googie sign. The chicken noodle soup is the best you're ever had, and for less than $7, you can get a meal with several courses, all served up with a smile. It's a classic, don't put it off.

Googie is important. It needs to be preserved. We need to be reminded of what we used to think our future could be, to remind us how our current view of the future is so bleak. I won't rest until I have my floating car and my rocket ship, and my house made all of plastic. I want the future, I want it now, and Googie is a great way of finding it. We need to all remember that.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Twin Palms Village

Twin Palms Village, Whittier, CA.

A great old set of signs (yes, there are TWO!) along Whittier Blvd. A lot of great shapes, and it still lights up at night!

Twin Palms Village
14748 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA. 90605