Travel Pics Theme: L for Los Angeles. Hollywood First National

Hollywood First National and Wax Museum

Hollywood First National and Wax Museum

Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to see microcosms of our world whenever I put the camera’s viewfinder to my eye.

Here’s a perfect example.

We were walking along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles recently, when this building caught my eye.

Not the bright, garish Wax Museum – but the abandoned Art Deco structure beyond it.

Turns out the building, with its stern eagle gargoyles and neo-gothic facade is the Hollywood First National Bank building.

It was, when it was built in the late 1920s, the second tallest structure in LA at 13 stories – and it was a symbol of the rising prosperity of LA, and of California, and of the United States.

The First National Bank was at its height then – having bought up a number of smaller banks which were hit by the agricultural recessions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Bu then came the great crash of 1929 – and the Great Depression that followed.

The First National Bank (not the same company as the current FNB) became an early casualty of the Depression – and soon after its construction, the Hollywood First National Bank building fell into disuse.

For 60 years, it was home to a constantly rotating set of tenants .. offices, and agencies, and banks, and sales centres .. but for the last decade, it’s been all-but-empty – and, reportedly, almost impossible to sell because its 90-year-old wiring and interior construction are increasingly hard to maintain.

It’s a bit like Hollywood herself – a certain fading grandeur, but no longer able to command the respect she once did.

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