North Hollywood "Amelia Earhart" Regional Library (1929)
North Hollywood "Amelia Earhart" Regional Library (1929)
St. David's Lutheran Church (1954)
Richard Hilton (third from left) leads tour.
Bank Building (1915)
Urban archaeology: Terrazzo Floor from former
First Baptist Church (1964)
Masonic Lodge (1950)
Masonic Lodge (1950)

Photos by Andy Hurvitz

Richard Hilton, a Board Member at the Museum of the San Fernando Valley, led a walking tour around North Hollywood yesterday.

Any time someone mentions one of these historic expeditions on foot to me, I start to nod off. I expect it to be dry and fact filled.

But this tour was amazing. We saw the exteriors and interiors of churches, a post office, an old bank, an Art Deco fire station, a Masonic temple, and explored a rich tapestry of architecture and social history.

Dr. Gerald Fecht added his pithy and erudite observations as well, further enriching us.

7 thoughts on “North Hollywood Walking Tour

  1. I recently spent a short time in “NoHo,” aka North Hollywood (around Lankershim and Magnolia) where I was reminded of how utterly hopeless the sprawling project of Los Angeles is. There, in a “neighborhood” marketed to a new round of real estate suckers as an “arts district,” my overriding sense was of endless pavement, aggressive drivers, frightened and forlorn pedestrians, mostly lousy food choices, and a huge oversupply of commercial space. The same holds true for much of the San Fernando Valley.

    Whatever promises were made to the American middle class by the developers of such living arrangements have been proven to be outright frauds. The L.A. pattern of car-centric living, especially in the post-WWII San Fernando Valley, is a cancer on society, evident on most of the citizenry, even some of those who profit from this arrangement.

    North Hollywood in 2010 is yet another example of the failure of automobile-suburbs to result in healthy communities. Unfortunately, a few pretty buildings do not save this area, like the rest of the San Fernando Valley, from the toxic arrangements of streets designed for one mode only: vast flows of automobiles. That these areas are only a few generations old, yet are well advanced in their decay and social disfunction, is all the proof any of us should need to recognize that the great experiment has failed and it’s time to make other arrangements now.

    My sense is that people are starting to wake up to the lie they’ve been fed through the mass media — the lie that their car would set them free. (Stimulated by endless AM radio advertisements for leased Mercedes that would somehow make driving more bearable?)

    Drivers are frustrated and angry, because no matter how rich they are, no matter how fat their asses grow, no matter how black and shiny their car is, no matter how witty the texts they write while negotiating the racecourse that is Lankershim Boulevard — they are imprisoned in a mobile prison cell, living an attenuated existence where every action they take is bludgeoned on both ends by a soul-killing automobile trip.

    Better to rip the whole place down and rebuild it in a smaller, denser space. Keep a few of those fine old buildings, but otherwise, start from scratch, because what’s left on the ground for us all at this moment is simply not worth keeping.

    God help Los Angeles. 26 years into my California experience and I’m finally understanding just how truly awful that place has been handled by the hands of man — in the service of automobiles.


    1. Testify!! 25 -30 years ago the place was nice to be young and free. Today, it’s not even good for that. Congested and constipated.

      – Tasty Thincrust


  2. Andy, will you be giving a Van Nuys commentary at the 1st VN Walking tour? 8th May 10 am to 12.30 pm.

    To the readers…Richard Hilton has just posted a flyer for the 1st Van Nuys walking tour. Go and support these guys.

    1-818-347-9665 or email at


  3. How often is this tour given . . and where can I find out about it?? I would love to see the insides of these places that I used to pass every day and learn their history– I used to live behind the Masonic Hall but never had a chance to go inside! And bought hundreds of comic books in that old bank building!

    Great, evocative photos! Where is that exposed terrazzo floor?


  4. I went to the 2nd NoHo tour and I too was amazed with the hidden gems in NoHo. The regional library is just so amazing. People outside LA poo poo the city with no history or culture, but this tour demonstrates the contrary. I am grateful for Richard Hilton and Dr Fecht for their work into this tour.

    Your architectural shots are great.


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