This elegant book chronicles the efforts of the impressive team of international architects, designers and businessmen who created Los Angeles’ famed Art Deco masterpiece. Bullock’s Wilshire recounts the lives of the two immigrant entrepreneurs, John Gillespie Bullock and Percy Glen Winnett, who, with this magnificent department store, tested a new theory of retailing in the suburbs, and the architectural team, Parkinson and Parkinson, who executed that vision into one of Los Angeles’ most beloved landmarks.
Written by a noted chronicler of Los Angeles history based on extensive interviews and research, Bullock’s Wilshire promises readers an unprecedented opportunity to peek inside the doors of a unique architectural icon and discover its rich history from construction and golden age to its renovation and rebirth. This hard-cover volume combines 100 beautifully reproduced historical photographs with the dramatic text of award-winning author Margaret Leslie Davis.
Bullock’s Wilshire recounts the story that unfolded beneath the store’s 241-foot tower, a glittering beacon bathed in spotlights on Wilshire Boulevard when the street was the Champs Elsyees of Los Angeles. It relives the visits of the famous who shopped there: Greta Garbo who brought men’s suits to create her outrageous fashion statement; Mae West who shopped from her chauffeured car as clerks brought merchandise for approval; and Marlene Dietrich who considered Bullock’s Wilshire her “only emporium.”
A store like no other, the architectural gem is considered a national treasure, part of the fabric of Los Angeles, indelibly etched into the city’s cultural soul. Historian David Gebhard calls the building “one of the key monuments of the art deco style in America and the most beautifully and consistently carried out.” Noted Los Angeles architect, Albert C. Martin says, “Bullock’s was a magnificent architectural expression, a high quality design using outstanding materials. It created a new spirit in retailing.” Historian Kevin Starr wrote that Bullock’s Wilshire “celebrated and climaxed the expansion of a decade. . . reflecting the confidence and optimism of Los Angeles.”
In August 1996, 67 years after the structure first captured the hearts and imagination of the people of Los Angeles, the beloved icon reopened its doors. “It’s an extraordinary thing, ” restoration architect Ron Altoon says, “to breath new life into one of the city’s most prominent architectural landmarks.”