Glory Days (They'll Pass You By)

Playa del Rey trying to make it back to the glory days


This story in today’s Los Angeles Times is an interesting look at the neighborhood in Los Angeles which was developed in large part by Fritz B. Burns, about whom (prepare for unfortunate self-promotion) I wrote a book before I entered the Society of Jesus.  Burns later became one of the first of the "master builders" who transformed Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s with huge suburban housing developments to house war workers and, later, war veterans and their families.

I lived in Playa del Rey for a number of years, and know its streets and sand like the back of my hand. I am not convinced there was ever such a glorious past for Playa del Rey as the article suggests, nor do I think the neighborhood is in such disrepair today--one of the major complaints of residents in my time was that the incoming yuppies were destroying PDR:  the day the "wine storage facility" opened was not an auspicious one.

However, the story of the neighborhood is an interesting part of Los Angeles history.  It boomed in the 20s as part of one of Los Angeles’ boom-bust real estate cycles, was partially abandoned in the 1930s, rebounded with the discovery of local oil in that decade, then was forever changed by the development of LAX in the postwar years.  These days, another boom-bust real estate cycle is changing the neighborhood again, with new condos and businesses popping up in the past few years just before the roof fell in on the housing market.

A photo of the neighborhood from its early days, culled from an exhibit put together by the Loyola Marymount library’s Special Collections staff (exhibit can be seen here):






And a photo of Fritz B. Burns leading his real estate salesmen in their morning calisthenics routine on the beach at Playa del Rey, also from the LMU library exhibit:


Jim Keane, SJ

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Adam Hochfelder
2 years 1 month ago
The Playa field has had at least 10 leaking wells over the years, including several wells that were repaired, then leaked again. Adam


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