I love and miss my hometown. I can’t adequately express how wonderful Culver City is and how much I loved growing up there. It used to be the home of MGM, famously housed the cast of Wizard of Oz during filming, and is the current home of Sony Studios and the NFL Network. It has an incredible history. It used to be where the Hughes Aircraft company was located. The Culver Center was one of the first “malls” open in Southern California. It is a gorgeous and charming city with Palm and Jacaranda (the purple beauties) Trees lining many streets making it a beautiful place to visit almost any time of year. While reflecting on Culver City I thought about how much it has transformed over the years. This post is for those of us who are familiar with Culver City and have witnessed the evolution. Those of us who were around when the Drive In was still in existence on Jefferson and Sepulveda, who have fallen on our bottoms at the Culver City Ice Rink, have eaten our fair share of Titos Tacos and remember when the Kirk Douglas Theater was built in 2004. For those who aren’t familiar with Culver City, it might be a place to explore if you ever visit Los Angeles (as long as you treat the city well, I allow you access to the city, if not don’t go. You have been warned).
One of the best ways to see how Culver City has changed over the years is to take a quick walk around our lovely downtown area. What once was a small fairly abandoned area, with empty parking lots and a few restaurants scattered about, has now become a busy downtown locale. It’s busy every night of the week! Culver City, our heart of Screenland, has become one of the most thriving cities in the Los Angeles area in the blink of an eye. Our hidden gem, is now on “Best of LA” lists in almost every publication. Over the past decade, we have seen the rise and fall of many restaurants and mom-and-pop shops with specific contenders seeming to hold strong since the beginning of time. Grand Casino Bakery has been a consistent presence on Main Street for over 24 years providing affordable Argentinean eats. Novecento Italian food has been open since 1995. Church Hill Antiques has been on Main Street it seems since the beginning of time and keeps gliding through. These businesses have survived the waves of new people that have made Culver City a regular visiting spot. Growing up in Culver City, I witnessed what once was a fairly stagnant downtown area develop into an ever flowing, ever growing, absurdly “hip” place to be and congregate with friends. No matter the day or time.
As a 16-year-old Culver City High School student I worked at a small scrapbooking store on Main Street, which like many other small Culver City shops, have gone out with the tide and have ceased to exist. (Fun Fact: Did you know Culver City has the smallest Main St. in the world?) On my lunch break I would walk around and explore the empty store spaces, the scattered old restaurants, and would come across a few people walking around the downtown area, most of the them being familiar faces and fellow Culver City residents. My friends and I would describe Culver City as its own little bubble since you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone you know. When the Pacific Theaters opened up, it was a major source of excitement and became an employer for many of my Culver City High classmates. I would meet my best friend that worked at the Pacific Theaters for a sandwich at the Grand Casino Bakery and things would be especially exciting on a Tuesday afternoon when the Farmers Market would be taking place. Had the 16-year-old me walked around Downtown today, I think I would have fallen over in shock.
Chic bars. Valet parking. A yoga studio. Trader Joes. A place to go dancing (if you feel like dealing with a certain crowd). Wine Bars. Celebrity spottings. Various delicious and modern dining establishments. Downtown CC has experienced a large surge of growth and opportunity and is now the place to go exploring, dating, and socializing for people of all generations. This change hasn’t just affected the local Culver City folk. What I once used to reference as a small town in the big city, is now full of unfamiliar faces, leaving limited parking and regularly long waits at restaurants. Culver City has boomed and established itself in the Los Angelenos minds and the restaurant scene as a hot-spot. But how do the Culver Citians feel about the constant changes? Are we happy with the expansion and popularity, or do we miss our small town feel with the familiar faces? When I’m sitting in the downtown CC parking structure for about an hour trying to get out you can bet what my answer would be, but in most instances I am undecided. As I mull over my decision I am riding the wave and delighted to explore the fresh and creative business ideas that this constant blooming city is providing, because who knows what tomorrows tide will bring or take away.