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Pan-Pacific Auditorium

Photo by Marvin Rand, Historic American Buildings Survey

If you attended any large indoor event in Los Angeles between 1935 and 1971 you most likely did so at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Its iconic architecture of its front entrance are found in Florida and . The Ice Capades, President

On May 18, 1935, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, located at 7600 West Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax District, opened to a fanfare of Boy Scout bugles and launched a Housing Exhibition as its first hosted event. It was essentially, the first convention center in Los Angeles. The 100,000 square-foot facility, designed by Clifford and Phillip Henderson, featured the uniquely American “Streamline Moderne” architectural style introduced during the 1930s. The building was designed for hosting sporting and political events, shows, concerts, conventions and circuses. In 1938, it added what was at the time the largest ice rink in the world. For 35 years, the venue hosted most of the major indoor events in Los Angeles.

In its first year, Pan-Pacific Auditorium hosted the Los Angeles International Auto Show. In 1943, it began hosting the travelling Ice Capades. In 1952, it hosted a crowd of 10,000 to see General Dwight D. Eisenhower just a month before he won the U.S. presidential election. In the 1950s, it began hosting games and exhibitions by the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1957, it hosted a performance of Elvis Presley’s first west coast concert tour before he was drafted into the Army. In 1960, it hosted a national address by Vice President and presidential candidate Richard Nixon.

In 1971, the 720,000 square-foot Los Angeles Convention Center opened, dwarfing the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. That was the end of the reign of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium as the premier indoor event venue for Los Angeles. It closed in 1972. For the next 17 years, it descended into a long, slow deterioration resulting from neglect and decay. Even then, the front entrance continued to be featured in a movies (such as Funny Lady, Xanadu and Miracle Mile) and music videos (such as Barnes & Barnes’ “Fish Heads” and Devo’s “Beautiful World”). This came to an end when, on the night of May 24, 1989, the massive wooden structure was destroyed in a fire. At the very least, 11 years before that unbefitting demise, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium won a place in the National Register of Historic Places.

In May 24, 1989, just three weeks before the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was destroyed by fire, Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park opened a full-scale replica of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium’s facade.

Today, the site is now occupied by Pan-Pacific Park with a recreation center featuring a smaller replica of one of its iconic towers. In 2011, the Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, opened with entrance gates styled after the facade of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium.

Entrance to Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, modeled after the Pan-Pacific. Los Angeles Almanac photo.