Friday, November 2, 2012

Wilshire Grand Hotel


The Wilshire Grand in downtown Los Angeles, CA as it looked until recently,
shortly before demolition is scheduled to begin.
* Images courtesy “Google Images”, USC Digital Archives and
the Los Angeles Public Library.

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman

Our story this week takes us back to the mid 20th. century and back even back further into the late 19th. century as we trace the property where the Wilshire Grand Hotel has stood for the last 60 years.  Sometimes history just has this kink of allure for me when I think of all the events which most certainly occurred in the past within a place. I love history and reconstructing the chain of events associated with a place or location. 

If it’s true that Los Angles is much like New York, “the Naked City with a million stories to tell”, as depicted in literature and film Noir, than our hotel has the perfect setting.  The mid 20th. century was the age of Noir, after all.  Maybe Los Angeles could have been the setting for a Mickey Spillane crime and suspense novel characterizing most big American cities. Radio and television’s program “Dragnet” chronicled the story of a police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, who certainly brought things home for Angelinos with the stark confession of his profession stating:  "Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent"!  

Our article takes us back over a number of decades and is about a hotel here in the downtown Los Angeles  area.  Maybe you might remember Hotel” was a novel by Arthur Hailey and became a television dramatic series in the mid 1980’s staring James Brolin and was produced by Aaron Spelling for ABC.  Grand Hotel” was also the title of a motion picture produced in the early 1930’s which followed the activities of various people in a large busy hotel, with some of the characters' lives overlapping in odd ways and some of them remaining unaware of one an other's existence.  This is the experience that I’m beginning to feel!   
I first read about the story of the Wilshire Grand Hotel’s planed demolition in “The Los Angeles Downtown News”, a small free publication covering news of our downtown area with an emphasis on the growth and expansion of real estate in the vicinity of downtown proper.  At the time I didn’t think too much about it.  Just another revitalization effort to upgrade the LA city core.  It happens all the time.  As I began to hear more of the project, the idea of a story began to form and with a little research the projects picture and scope started coming into focus for me.
On February 14, 1946, high officials from Hotels Statler, Inc., arrived in Los Angeles to scout locations for a potential hotel here. The company, which then operated eight hotels in cities to the east, apparently liked what it saw. On March 6 a company spokesman announced that the firm had taken an option for 125,000 square feet of land at Figueroa and Wilshire.  The hotel is shown here shortly before completion in November of 1951.

November 1952 - some of the first guests arrive at the Statler as Chefs and
kitchen staff prepare Turkey's for dinner. 

The Wilshire Grand was originally built as the Statler Hotel.  The Statler hotel chain managed a number of hotels across the country and opened its new establishment at 930 Wilshire Blvd. and Figueroa St. on August of 1952.  This is the first coincidence for me because I was born in March of 1952.  The hotel and I are the same age!  It is rare that I should be out living a building because so many buildings are older than I am and will still be around after I have passed away.
The hotels opening ceremony and dedication was held on October 27, 1952.   Governor Warren and Mayor Bowron were both on-hand to speak, as were hundreds of business leaders.  Actor Ronald Reagan, later to become California Governor and President Reagan, was the Master of Ceremonies.  The hotel itself  when opened, was a 13-story complex housing 1275 rooms, all wired up for television (Remember: television was still a new medium at this time with only a few stations broadcasting in black & white).  A 150,000 square foot office tower on Figueroa was fully leased.  A garage in the project held 500 cars, and the laundry facilities were described as "capable of serving a city of 20,000." 15 conference and banquet rooms had a capacity of 3500. 


Statler Executives display the model of their new Los Angeles hotel.
It was a mammoth project for its day and many cities in the country would love to have a hotel of this size in their community. I would describe the architecture as a clean looking reinforced concrete style which could have lasted for many more decades as a beautiful part of our city. The largest hotel to be built in the United States since the Waldorf Astoria in 1931 it hosted movie stars, presidents (Eisenhower to Reagan) and kings as well as Pope John II; it was the venue for the 1952 Emmy Awards; it welcomed the Brooklyn Dodgers to their new home in Los Angeles; sequestered the jurors in the Rodney King Jr. trial; as well as delegates to the 1960 and 2000 Democratic National Conventions and it was once one of the “Crown Jewels” of Conrad Hilton’s mighty empire.
Since Hilton's ownership of the hotel it was sold two more times; once becoming the now Grand hotel and most recently to the new owners, Korean Airlines.  This was the second point of interest for me.  Most United States airline companies usually are for the most part unprofitable and end up in bankruptcy.  Although US airline companies are bigger and service more routs in the world the smaller Korean company has managed to turn a profit large enough to finance a deal like the new Wilshire Grand.
I also found the money trail of the hotel very interesting.  Rarely do we get a look at these kind of finances in the real world of Monopoly.  Below is a basic chart of the investments made at the Grand:



1905 - The property at the site of the Wilshire Grand prior to the photo below.
The area was a residential neighborhood and Figueroa was lined with these old
Victorian homes.  The suburbs of the late 19th. century.  This would be
E.A. Forrester's house at 949 West 7th St. where the Grand sits today.

The site of the Wilshire Grand as it was in 1937, a decade before plans were being assembled for the hotel in 1946.The Figueroa and 7th. St. corner of the location had been a Studebaker automobile dealership. The cables suspended above the street intersection were for the “Red Car” of the “Pacific Electric Railway” system established in 1887. Everything pictured here would soon passing away in to history.
Work begins in 1951 on the "Atomic age" hotel as the foundation and superstructure
for the Statler Hotel is put into place.

Aerial photograph shows the hotels location on Wilshire Blvd. and Figueroa St.
flanked by 7th.. St. to the rear and the newly opened Harbor Freeway to the right.
The building circled in red was the sight for a silent film which is how I ran across this photo.



7th. St. and Figueroa services and guest entrance.  Below are the interior views of
the hotels and many of its facilities and suites.

The developer–a collaboration between Korean Air (a subsidiary of Hanjin) and Thomas Properties Group.  The taller of the two towers pictured below would rise to a height of 1,250 feet tall (that figure includes the architectural spire), eclipsing the current tallest skyscraper west of Chicago that is also in Downtown LA, the Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) standing at 1,018 feet tall. The most recently completed skyscraper in Los Angeles is L.A. Live Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Condominiums, which rises 653 feet (199 m) and 54 floors.

OK;  now I'm intensely interested in the proposed plans for the new hotel.  But won't a building of this size be at risk of earth quake damage when the "big one" hits?  It would seem so, how ever new construction techniques employ the use of shock absorbers in the buildings foundation and rollers add flexibility so that buildings of this size are earth quake resistant.  Believe it or not with these new innovations the new Wilshire Grand will be able to with stand quakes and even the "big one"!  If you ask me, I think this project is the construction deal of the century.  I would love to be the firm receiving the commission on this project!

Korean Air is considering major changes to its $1 billion plan to replace the aged Wilshire Grand Hotel. Instead of building a 45-story tower with 560 hotel rooms and a second-phase, 60-story office complex, the company is looking at erecting a single tower with 900 hotel rooms and a diminished office component.
The pending changes come as Korean Air has parted ways with office giant Thomas Properties Group, which handled the project’s entitlements and was widely expected to serve as the project developer. Martin Project Management, a new venture by architect Chris Martin (whose firm AC Martin is handling the project designs), has been appointed to manage the development.



Tonight the lights are dark at the old Wilshire Grand as demolition has already begun. A $25,000,000. project to tear it down floor by floor and salvage as much valuable recyclables as possible. Soon work will begin for the new Wilshire Grand with it's opening scheduled for 2017.  The hotel towers will rise some 75 to 80 stories.  I'm Felicity for the Noodleman group as we again are keeping our feet on the ground and looking to the future!

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

Friday, November 02, 2012
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows the race tied, with President Obama and Mitt Romney each attracting support from 48% of voters nationwide. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and three percent (3%) remain undecided. See daily tracking history.

Matchup results are updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update).
NOTE: Rasmussen Reports is based in Asbury Park, New Jersey and we were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. However, our survey interview calls are placed from a different location, so data gathering was able to continue. The Rasmussen Challenge is on hold until next week due to the weather.
“It’s somewhat surprising that heading into the final weekend of the election season, we are unable to confidently project who is likely to win the White House,” Scott Rasmussen writes in his latest weekly newspaper column. “But the race for the White House remains close because of the economy. Most Americans do not feel better off than they were four years ago, but most are not feeling worse off either.”

New surveying finds Romney ahead by one point in Iowa and by three in Colorado. The candidates are tied in Wisconsin. All three states remain Toss-Ups.
We will release new numbers out of Michigan and Ohio later today.
For most of the year, Rasmussen Reports has conducted 500 survey interviews per night and reported the results on a three-day rolling average basis. For the final week of the campaign, we will conduct 1,000 survey interviews per night.

In the battle for the White House, the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College projections now show the president with 237 Electoral Votes and Romney 206. The magic number needed to win the White House is 270. Eight states with 95 Electoral College votes remain Toss-ups: Colorado, Florida,Iowa,Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Incumbent Democrat Jon Tester has taken a one-point lead in Montana's U.S. Senate race. Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin are tied in Wisconsin. Both races are rated Toss-Ups in the Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings.
If you’d like Scott to speak to your organization, meeting or conference, please contact Premiere Speakers.

(Presidential Job Approval Data Below)

Romney vs. Obama - November 2, 2012

A president’s job approval rating is one of the best indicators for assessing his chances of reelection. Typically, the president’s job approval rating on Election Day will be close to the share of the vote he receives. Currently, 50% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) at least somewhat disapprove (see trends).
Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and additional information from the tracking poll on a daily basis.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction. That’s the highest level of optimism since May 2009. The latest finding is up 15 points from 24% at the beginning of the year and up 22 points from 17% a year ago.

Republicans now lead Democrats by three points on the Generic Congressional Ballot.
The economy and the election are the topics on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks, Scott Rasmussen’s new weekly television show. The program is seen on more than 60 stations nationwide.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company whose work is followed by millions on a wide variety of platforms. In addition to the new TV show, we regularly release our work at, through a daily email newsletter, a nationally syndicated radio news service, an online video service and a weekly newspaper column distributed by Creators Syndicate.

Rasmussen Reports polling tends to show less volatility than other polls for a variety of reasons. In 2008, we showed virtually no change during the final 40 days of the campaign. Then-candidate Obama was between 50% and 52% in our polling every single day. He generally held a five- or six-point lead, occasionally bouncing up to an eight-point advantage and only once falling below a four point-lead. This stable assessment of the race is consistent with the reality of what we know about voter behavior. Obama won the election by a 53% to 46% margin.

To get a sense of longer-term Job Approval trends for the president, Rasmussen Reports compiles our tracking data on a full month-by-month basis.

(Approval Index data below)
Obama Total Approval - November 2, 2012

Intensity of support or opposition can have an impact on campaigns. Currently, 31% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing as president. Forty-two percent (42%) Strongly Disapprove, giving him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -11 (see trends).
During midterm elections, intensity of support can have a tremendous impact on turnout. That was demonstrated in 2010 when Republicans and unaffiliated voters turned out in large numbers to express opposition to the Obama administration’s policies. However, in presidential election years, there is a smaller impact on turnout. Still, all indications so far for Election 2012 suggest that Republicans are more engaged and more likely to turn out.

(More below)
Obama Approval Index - November 2, 2012

Rasmussen Reports has been a pioneer in the use of automated telephone polling techniques, but many other firms still utilize their own operator-assisted technology (see methodology). Pollsters for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have cited our "unchallenged record for both integrity and accuracy." During Election 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected that Barack Obama would defeat John McCain by a 52% to 46% margin. Obama was 53% to 46%. In 2004, Rasmussen Reports was the only firm to project the vote totals for both candidates within half a percentage point. Learn more about the Rasmussen Reports track record over the years.

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 1,000 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 3,000 Likely Voters is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Platinum Members.

  * “The Noodleman Group” is pleased to announce that we are now carrying a link to the “USA Today” news site.We installed the “widget/gadget” August 20, and it will be carried as a regular feature on our site.Now you can read“Noodleman” and then check in to “USA Today” for all the up to date News, Weather, Sports and more!Just scroll all the way down to the bottom of our site and hit the “USA Today” hyperlinks.Enjoy!
The Noodleman Group is on "Google Blogger"!

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