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The Neighborhood Of Culver City

Culver City is a city in western Los Angeles County, California. It is mostly surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, but also shares a border with unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Over the years, considering its incorporated status, over forty annexations of adjoining areas have occurred. As a result the city now comprises approximately five square miles.

Since the 1920s, Culver City has been a significant center for motion picture and later television production, in part because it was the home of MGM Studios. It was also the headquarters for the Hughes Aircraft Company from 1932 to 1985. National Public Radio West and Sony Pictures Entertainment now have headquarters in the city. The NFL Network studio is also based in Culver City.

Early History

The area of present day Culver City was the homeland of the Tongva-Gabrieliño Native Americans, who held a presence in the region for over 8,000 years.

The city was founded primarily on the lands of the former Rancho La Ballona, Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes, and Rancho La Cienega o Paso de la Tijera.

Harry Culver's first attempt to establish Culver City was in 1913, and the city was incorporated on September 20, 1917. (His first ads read "All roads lead to Culver City" indicating a main transportation route via the city.)

The first film studio in Culver City was built by Thomas Ince in 1918. In the 1920s, silent film comedy producer Hal Roach and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) built studios there. During Prohibition, speakeasies and nightclubs such as the Cotton Club lined Washington Boulevard.

 
The site of Culver City, 1913

Movie and television production

 
MGM Studios (now Sony Pictures Studios), 1922.

Hundreds of movies have been produced on the lots of Culver City's studios: Sony Pictures Studios (originally MGM Studios), Culver Studios, and the former Hal Roach Studios. These include The Wizard of Oz, The Thin Man, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, the Tarzan series, and the original King Kong. More recent films made in Culver City include Grease, Raging Bull, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, City Slickers, Air Force One, Wag the Dog, and Contact. Television shows made on Culver City sets have included Las Vegas, Gunsmoke, Cougar Town, Mad About You, Lassie, Hogan's Heroes, Batman, Arrested Development, The Andy Griffith Show, Jeopardy!, The Nanny and the syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune.

John Travolta's "Stranded at the Drive-In" sequence in Grease was filmed at the Studio Drive-In on the corner of Jefferson and Sepulveda. It served as a set for many other films, including Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The theater was closed in 1993 and was demolished in 1998; it is now a housing subdivision featuring large homes on small lots, as well as being home to the Kayne-ERAS center, a school and community center for the disabled and mentally challenged.

 
Sony Pictures Plaza - Present day.
 
Main entrance to Sony Pictures Entertainment lot.

Culver City's streets have been featured in many films and television shows. Since much of the architecture has not changed in decades, particularly in residential areas of town, the nostalgic sitcom The Wonder Years set many of its outdoor scenes in the neighborhoods of Culver City. The 1970s show CHiPs also featured many chase scenes through the streets. The Nicolas Cage film Matchstick Men included scenes made at Veterans Memorial Park, which was also featured in the opening scenes of the sitcom The Hogan Family.


The Aviator, a film about Howard Hughes, featured several mentions of Culver City in connection with Hughes. Scenes from Bewitched (2005) with Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell were also filmed in the Culver City streets. The 2005 film, Fun with Dick and Jane, starring Jim Carrey was filmed there. The closing aerial sequence of Get Shorty (1995) starring John Travolta and Danny DeVito is also filmed in Culver City, at the Sony Studios. Additionally, scenes of "Superbad" (2007) starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera were filmed in areas surrounding Culver City High School.

Decline of the studios (1960s and 1970s)

In the late 1960s, much of the MGM back lot acreage (lot 3 and other property on Jefferson Boulevard), and the nearby 28.5 ac (11.5 ha) of the somewhat inaccurately named "back forty", once owned by RKO Pictures and later Desilu Productions, were sold by their owners. In 1976, the sets were razed to make way for redevelopment. Today the "back forty" is the southern expansion of the Hayden Industrial Tract, while the MGM property has been converted to a subdivision and a shopping center known as Raintree Plaza.

Rebirth of downtown (1990s and 2000s)

 
Sony Pictures Entertainment office building in Culver City.

In the 1990s, Culver City launched a successful revitalization program in which it renovated its downtown as well as several shopping centers in the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor near Fox Hills Mall. Around the same time, the relocation of Sony's motion picture operations (known as Columbia Pictures) to the former MGM studios at Washington Boulevard and Overland Avenue brought much-needed jobs to the city.

The influx of many art galleries and restaurants to the eastern part of the city, formally designated as the Culver City Art District, prompted The New York Times in 2007 to praise the new art scene and call Culver City a "nascent Chelsea."

Points of interest

 
Historic Helms Bakery on Washington Blvd.

Businesses

Local landmarks

 
St. Augustine Catholic Church on Jasmine Avenue.

Museums and the arts

Recreation

Neighborhoods

  • Beverlywood West
  • Blair Hills
  • Blanco
  • Carlson Park
  • Clarkdale
  • Culver Crest
  • Culver West
  • Downtown Culver City
  • Federal Park
  • Fox Hills
  • Hayden Tract
  • Helms District
  • Higuera
  • Lucerne
  • Jefferson
  • McLaughlin
  • McManus (East Culver City)
  • Park East
  • Rancho Higuera
  • Studio Estates
  • Studio Village (Lindberg Park)
  • Sunkist Park (El Marino)
  • Telefson Park
  • Veterans Park (Park West)
  • Veterans Park

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