CityDig: The Ultimate Map to the Stars

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From Tyler’s Guides to Ragsdale’s Guides to Wesley Lake’s Star Maps to this memorable beauty donated to the Los Angeles Public Library by the Library of Congress, “Maps to the Stars Homes” are a Los Angeles tradition. At once a delightful memory of Hollywood in its golden age and also a totally cockeyed geographical rendering of greater Los Angeles, this map (click here to see it larger) charms and befuddles in equal parts. (But hey, who could possibly be concerned with the actual landscape with all of those famous smiling faces ringing the city?)

The creator of this map, Don Boggs, really drew excellent portraits and showed the city’s old landmarks in crisp detail. His focus, it seemed, was to include an excess of glamorous information without too much cartographical accuracy. This “Hollywood Starland” is not to be confused with the actual neighborhood of Hollywood; instead, the “moviegraph” highlights the various parts of L.A. associated with the magic of the film industry. Studios like United Artists, Columbia, Paramount and RKO were smack dab in Tinsel Town, but Selznick, Hal Roach and MGM were out in Culver City. Boggs’s rendering includes a healthy mix of tourist draws, movie studios, true landmarks, a sweet coastline (complete with Marion Davies’s 110-room beach house), nightclubs, restaurants, golf courses and the dazzling pads of the nouveau-riche stars of the silver screen.

Despite the depression, Boggs’s Los Angeles seemed to be offering plenty of upscale entertainment and recreation options. The Trocadero on Sunset, the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel, swanky Café LaMaze and the Cotton Club in Culver City were hot night spots, while tony eateries including Perinos, the Brown Derby, Al Levy’s, Sardis, the Cock & Bull, and Bit O’ Sweden (where Angelenos might have exclaimed “Skal!” while enjoying a pre-smorgasbord aperitif) abound on the map. Who cares if the Rose Bowl seems slightly west of downtown, Westwood is south of Beverly Hills, and Gilmore Stadium is east of the Pan Pacific Auditorium? Look at all those movie stars!

Viewers of this map are also privvy to a few Los Angeles landmarks lost to time. There is the “Deauville Club” on the shore in Santa Monica, where members could swim in the freshly installed breakwaters of the Pacific Ocean before retiring to the deluxe appointments of the grand castle, where a gymnasium, game rooms, smoking lounges, private dining rooms, and even an indoor saltwater plunge awaited. There is also Victor McLaglen Field, where the successful film actor built a fine facility near Griffith Park that hosted thousands for soccer matches and polo (many of whom were familiar “Starland” faces). Thelma Todd’s Café is accounted for here despite the fact she had mysteriously died in December of 1935. On the more scandalous side, Boggs also depicted the Angelus Temple, where preacher/faith healer Aimee Semple McPherson mesmerized Angelenos and filled gossip columns with her shenanigans.

Questions remain about the accuracy of the date listed on the Library of Congress website for this map (1937). On the one hand, Los Angeles was devastated by floods in the spring of 1938 that would have wiped out places like McLaglen Field, but 1937 seems early considering the New Union Terminal is in full-swing and our Union Station did not open until May 3, 1939.

Above: Hollywood Starland, Official Moviegraph of the Land of the Stars, Don Boggs, Listed as 1937 but probably 1939


Los Angeles Public Library map librarian Glen Creason shares a map from the Central Library’s collection at CityThink each week. 

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