Culver City: A New Walk Through An Old Town

While thousands of Angelinos agonize over their long commutes to work and lament the precious time and energy lost while driving, Errol Guidry relishes his five minute commute to work, to the bank, to the local diner, to see his doctor or to see a movie. His neighborhood is downtown Culver City.

"The best part of living here is the convenience of everything… and the food," Guidry said.

If you have not visited Culver City in a while but have only passed it by via car or bus, it is worth taking a walk through downtown to see what Guidry means. There is live music most days of the week at the Jazz Bakery and Culver Hotel, theatrical performances at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, movies at the Pacific and Culver Plaza Theaters, art galleries, yoga studios, spas and restaurants all catering to the diverse taste buds of Angelinos.

Over the years, Culver City has evolved into a popular destination spot for dining and recreation in L.A.

"Except for auditions, I don't ever leave Culver City, I don't need to," Guidry said. "They've got everything here."

Since moving to Culver City, Guidry has sold his car and says he has come to appreciate a life of simplicity, enjoying the benefits of increased time and money and decreased aggravation.

"It's set up perfectly, so you don't need a car," Guidry said. "The Culver City bus system is great when you need it. I can get to anywhere from here."

That's precisely what Harry Culver, the real estate developer who founded Culver City, envisioned for his new community almost 100 years ago: accessibility and convenience. To promote the city, he ran ads that read, "All roads lead to Culver City."

Were Culver to return to his city today, he might be relieved to see how much of its old charm is still intact. The hotel he built in 1924 also has its own history. It has changed hands several times, serving as a speakeasy during prohibition and was a residence for celebrities like Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and the 124 little people who were cast as "Munchkins" in "The Wizard of Oz" during the golden age of Hollywood.

The triangle shaped, six-story Culver Hotel still stands out in downtown Culver City as a relic of the past to be visited today. It's been designated as one of California's historical landmarks, which protects it from any major renovation or reconstruction.

Douglas Newton, the general manager of the Culver Hotel, says the hotel gets a lot of attention because it's "right in the hub" and "people love historic buildings."

Newton explained that there was no Hollywood when the hotel was built. Celebrities stayed at the Culver Hotel because it was the closest luxury hotel to MGM studios. The hotel and surrounding areas of Culver City appeared in numerous movies and television shows because of their close proximity to MGM.

"The movie industry started in Culver City," Newton said. Today, Sony Studios is the giant presence in the city and the stimulus for its revival. Still, more tourists flock to Hollywood Boulevard than Culver Boulevard to spend their vacations for the time being.

As more people discover Culver City's pedestrian-friendly environment and its close convenience to LAX (about 7 miles), beaches, shopping, and entertainment, the more people will be heading to Culver City.