Alison Martino transports readers back in time with Vintage Los Angeles, her biweekly CityThink column about L.A.’s bygone legends
Q: You usually write about places from the past. Are you a particularly nostalgic person?
A: Yes! When I was a kid, I always wanted to take home a souvenir from a restaurant or an amusement park, like a matchbook or a menu. Today my collection brings back vivid memories. I find it cathartic to study the past.
Q: If you could go back and re-live any decade, which would you chose and why?
A: 1964. I’d head straight to the Sunset Strip! I would love to experience the music scene that was exploding then. I want to stumble upon Jayne Mansfield sitting with the Beatles at the Whisky A Go Go, make a reservation at Scandia, or dance with Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen at the Daisy.
Q: What has studying L.A.’s past taught you about the present?
A: Before I founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles, I thought I was alone in glamourizing the past, but I’m not. The anecdotes VLA followers share can’t be found in textbooks. That’s a gift.
Q: How do you respond to people who say L.A. has no history?
A: Los Angeles is constantly evolving. Many old, beloved structures are gone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have history. The original Farmer’s Market is thriving and Broadway is experiencing a revival downtown. The Griffith Observatory, Union Station, and the Hollywood Bowl are three of the most magical destinations in the world, and Clifton’s Cafeteria and Tail ‘O the Pup are making comebacks.