30 November 2012

Crossroads of the world

From the parking lot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests’ eyes are immediately drawn to the towering Hollywood Tower Hotel. Once guests get through the initial surge through the park gates, they can’t help but notice the Sorcerer Mickey Hat resting at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. In between, however, as guests wait to enter the park, or as an annoyance that they have to make your way around as they race off to their first attraction, there is one park icon that cannot be ignored, the Crossroads of the World.
The Crossroads of the World in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is actually based on a real life landmark. The original Crossroads of the World has been sitting at the crossroads of Las Palmas and Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA since 1936. Walt Disney may be one of the most recognized names in thematic design, but this structure created by Robert D. Verrah is one of the first examples of such a design style.

The Crossroads of the World was designed to embody the feel of a cruise liner, while actually housing a shopping mall, one of the world’s first shopping malls to be precise, and did not stop at the first towering kiosk that is recreated at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The main building, as well as other smaller bungalow out-buildings, housed a variety of shops with an international flair.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-123456]
The differences between the original 1936 spire and the 1989 version at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are subtle, with one not so subtle variation. There is no Mickey strolling along the top of the Crossroads of the World in Los Angeles. Additionally, Disney’s icon lacks some of the design flourishes found on the pillars, the bracings in between them, and the wavy awnings are slightly different, but the feel when you look at the two icons is dead on!

Today, Los Angeles’ Crossroads of the World no longer beckons to worldly shoppers, but instead is home to office spaces for producers, writers, costume designers and other entertainment types. This leaves the small souvenir kiosk at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to stand as not only a beckon to the Hollywood of old, but also as a reminder of the original Crossroads’ purpose.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I recently drove past the "original" Crossroads of the World. I knew it existed and was in LA on Sunset Blvd. somewhere, but I didn't know exactly where. When I saw it, it caught me so by surprise I almost drove off the road!

Thank you for a bit of the history in this post.