Los Angeles came late to the historic preservation movement. The landmarks that have fallen to the wrecking balls is nothing less than tragic. The Sunset Strip has been luckier. Chateau Marmont and the Sunset Tower are standing and in fine fettle. Low-rise apartment building where notables like Marilyn Monroe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Dandridge lived are still in use. The building made world-famous as Ciro’s night club in the 1940s was repurposed decades ago as the Comedy Store. Even the one-time home of Cafe Gala, Judy Garland’s favorite gay bar, on Horn Avenue north of the Strip, is still standing, although it has dark since Spago’s vacated the building and moved to Beverly Hills location.
One significant loss, however, was the Garden of Allah, the most legendary and notorious of all the Strip hotels, which was razed in 1959 to make way for the bank building that is there now.
The Garden of Allah was originally an estate called Hayvenhurst, built in 1913, at 8150 Sunset Blvd. [map], at the northwest corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset — at the western terminus of the Sunset trolley line — it occupied a 2.5-acre park-like campus of villas built around an enormous swimming pool and the main house, which housed the restaurant and bar.
The buildings were torn down, the landscaping ripped out and a concrete parking lot was poured on top of the once-magical grounds — an event that was thought to have inspired the line “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” in Joni Mitchell’s song, “Big Yellow Taxi.” Mitchell, who moved to Los Angeles well after the shopping center was built, has said she was writing about a trip to Hawaii.
In January 1927, the opening of the hotel was celebrated in typical Hollywood style, as described in the Los Angeles Times many years later: