1959: Midnight at the Garden

Too much fun: A partygoer takes a break from the farewell party for the Garden of Allah Hotel

By the late 1950s, the Garden of Allah Hotel had fallen into a decline, overrun by call girls and cockroaches. The lot at 8152 Sunset was eventually purchased by Lytton Savings & Loan which had developed a plan to rip out the 2.5 park-like campus and convert the property into the shopping center that is there now. In August 1959, the outgoing management threw one last party before the bulldozers came. Booze flowed, Alla Nazimova’s surviving films were projected onto walls and people fell into the pool, a Garden of Allah tradition since 1929.


  1. Joni Mitchell’s song lyrics “They tore down Paradise to put up a parking lot” is the story about the destruction of the Garden of Allah to build a strip mall that would become the Sunset/Lammaele theater and shops at the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights. You can get a facial at Burke-Williams, a Jamba Juice and wonder what Hollywood was like before the magic evaporated.

  2. No that’s not true, oh pr person for Burke-Williams. Joni herself has disputed that rumor. The song was written while she was in Hawaii and has nothing to do with this area or intersection of Sunset & Crescent Heights. And while we’re clearing the air, the worst most useless and expensive massage I ever got was from this Burke Williams. A big ripoff. Thank you and goodnight.

  3. Julie S. Lantz

    August 3, 2014 at 2:53 am

    It’s truly a shame the Garden of Allah could not, in some way, survive the greed. I lived on N. Laurel Ave. after graduating High School for quite some time and had no idea that F. Scott Fitzgerald also lived on Laurel – how fascinating to me. Fortunately, Schwab’s was still there and I used to go in and sit at the counter to soak up some history. What a time it all must have been.

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