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Sunset Boulevard Series: Two Views of Sunset and Highland Avenue 1961

We are back on Sunset Boulevard today, this time in March of 1961 at the intersection of the Boulevard and Highland Avenue which is left-to-right in the photo. The lead image was taken while the traffic light was green on Sunset and the second shot about fifteen-seconds later.

The vast majority of all of the vehicles seen in the pictures are domestically made although, four imported cars are visible, in the first view a VW “Beetle” is in the center, and a Porsche 356 coupe on the far-right at the top. In the second image a light colored MG TD is to the left at the bottom and what appears to be a dark colored Jaguar 120 or 140 series roadster has just crossed Highland Avenue on Sunset.

Tell us what you find of interest in this image. Earlier posts in the Sunset Boulevard Series can be found here.  The photograph from the Los Angeles Examiner Photographs Collection is courtesy of the USC Libraries.




33 responses to “Sunset Boulevard Series: Two Views of Sunset and Highland Avenue 1961

  1. In the lead photograph, driving to the left, following the 1951 STUDEBAKER convertible, is a 1955 HUDSON.

    In the 2nd picture, driving to the left, leading the pack, is a 1954 STUDEBAKER Champion.

    • In both photographs, on Highland Avenue, on the left, are:
      Parked facing left, a dark, four-door, 1959 CHEVROLET Biscayne Sedan
      Driving facing right, a dark, two-door, 1960 CHEVROLET Corvair.

  2. There is something in the middle of the pic that you never see and more,.Three telephone booths.
    I haven’t seen a public phone in years.

  3. Sure wish I could go back in time to this era. Alas, I was only a year old when this was shot.

    Nice `50 Studebaker cvt. heading to the left, along with a beautiful `59 Pontiac Star Chief flat-top, and Ford Country Sedan wagon. Interesting that the pickup, 49 Olds & `50 Olds 98 sedan turning left hadn’t made much progress in all 3 photos; traffic was heavy. Interestingly, unless the T-Bird parked down Highland Ave. at the curb is a `60, I don’t spot anything newer than `59. Behind the `50 Stude cvt. going the same direction, a `55 Hudson sedan & a `56 Buick. In the last photo, waiting at the light on Sunset is a `54 Olds Super 88 2dr., and a `57 Dodge Lancer hardtop.

    • Thank You Will Fox, I saw the same thing. I believe however that the Corvair is a 1960 also. I almost think that the photo is miss dated, as I know by March of ’61 you would have seen a lot of 1961 cars, its L.A . after all . I lived in this area of L.A. at the time and it was the thing for everyone to have the latest cars.

  4. The Olds coupe in line for the left turn looks like the trunk emblem has been removed. Is that an XK 120 across the intersection?

  5. Is that a Porsche in the first shot, driving away just past the intersection, next to the stakebed truck? It’s a little hard to tell, since it’s cut in half by the lamp post. But the curved roofline and slanting back deck do look familiar.

  6. Can’t miss that brand new ’59 Cadillac convertible rounding the corner in front of the Camera Rental shop either. HUGE I say!!!

  7. I see a phone truck parked in front of the camera rental. Maybe the nickels are being cleaned out. Also, exactly what is camera rental? I assume for the movie industry? It’s interesting to see what everybody notices and comments on.

    • I think it might be for the general public, particularly for tourists. Maybe for visitors who forgot theirs, those who didn’t take enough pictures to justify the cost or who just couldn’t afford one. It wasn’t too many years ago that renting a VCR camera was common for vacations or special events. They were too expensive. The Kodak wrapped post leads me to believe this store might be consumer oriented.
      Sanka coffee advertised on the billboard. Haven’t seen that brand for a while!

  8. I’m not sure I could drive through that intersection. Traffic lights on corner poles, and a stop sign? What if the light is green? That truck is taking forever to turn left, too. ha ha

      • Doesn’t make sense that the lights are for the crosswalk…how could they possibly be timed for traffic that is using a stop sign?

        • Ok, I’ll go with the lights’ being for the vehicles.
          Odd that the traffic signals are at the far corners of the intersection and not the close corners.
          I believe that under “STOP” on the stop sign is “X Walk”.

    • Perhaps the lights were only used during rush hour? For times when traffic was low, they reverted to the stop sign.

  9. Love the 59 Caddy, and there’s a mid fifties Caddy there as well, and a 58 Olds. The size of these, and the 59 Pontiac is awesome! 59 Chevy at the curb and 58/59 T Bird on the same side of the street, along with all the rest, just show how neat it is to be able to tell the cars apart –

  10. 59 Fords aplenty! In the first photo there’s a Country Sedan and two Galaxies. It looks like it was a long light to turn left. Both the 50 (?) Oldsmobile and the Ranch Wagon are in both photos.

  11. Stan’s, part of a chain in LA and other places. Drive in establishments with somewhat unique architecture. Several on Sunset Blvd. They may have been the remains of the Carpenter’s Sandwiches chain as I know their flagship shop became a Stan’s. David, you should think of doing a bit on the LA drive-in culture, pre-war and post war as it was surprisingly robust in the 30’s. There was even a McDonnels chain on the scene well before Mickey D arrived.

  12. i think there is another foreign two seat convertible behind the left turning pickup. i think the stop sign was to remind right turning on red traffic to yield to pedestrians.

  13. The step van turning, appears to be a mid 50’s UPS van. Research shows it was made by Hahn with a Ford F3 chassis. The box truck is a ’59 F600 Ford. A 1960( ish) IH V190 tandem dump behind it, and what looks like a ’56 Chevy tandem behind that. The phone co. truck appears to be a Chevy or GMC, but can’t find any examples. Most were Ford or Dodge.

  14. Both photos have the same four cars waiting to turn left, and the oncoming van is finally turning left in the second photo.

  15. I believe we are looking west on Sunset, with Highland intersecting left-to-right (south to north). Please correct me if I’m wrong. If I’m seeing it correctly, Hollywood High School (out of vision) would be at the upper-right, top of the photograph.

  16. This was “Saturday Night Cruising Territory” for us, at John-Marshall High school (East Hollywood) and driving out Sunset Blvd to the next: “Stan’s Drive -in” at La Brea Avenue was “part of the Gig”. The “Stan’s sign” on the Drive-In was so faded. Hollywood Blvd & Sunset Blvd were both fun, as “Sunset” went all the way out to the Beach, which also included the “Sunset Strip” of TV fame.

    • It also included “Dead Man’s Curve” of Jan and Deane fame, a bit of a tricky test of young hormones at times (yes Billy, I survived my several attempts through there in a variety of vehicles).

  17. The car to own today would be that 1950 Olds Coupe about to make the left turn. The new Rocket 303 CI V/8, introduced in 1949 , was the king of the highway for many years.

  18. I know that intersection well. In the far right hand side of the photo, at the top is Hollywood High School – my alma mater. Spent many afternoons at Stan’s Drive In, which was diagonally across the street from the school

  19. It’s truly amazing how many times I have seen period photos of this corner ! I lived just West of this photo or towards the bottom in 1973 . The ONLY reson I recognize the picture is because of the palms in the top that are in front of Hollywood High school.

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