Culver City is a city in western Los Angeles County, California. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 38,816. The community is mostly surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, but also has a border with unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The mayor is Andrew Weissman.
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Since the 1920s, Culver City has been a significant center for motion picture and later television production, in part because it was the home of MGM Studios. It also was the headquarters for the Hughes Aircraft Company from 1932 to 1985. National Public Radio West and Sony Pictures Entertainment now have headquarters in the city.
The area of Culver City was earlier inhabited by Gabrielino Native Americans. The city was founded primarily on the lands of the former Rancho La Ballona and Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes. From 1861 to 1862, during the American Civil War, Camp Latham was established by the 1st California Infantry under Col. James H. Carleton and the 1st California Cavalry under Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Davis. Camp Latham was named for California Senator Milton S. Latham and was the first staging area for the training of Union troops and their operations in Southern California. It was located on land of the Rancho La Ballona, on the south side of Ballona Creek, near what is now the intersection of Jefferson and Overland Boulevards. The post was later moved to Camp Drum later the Drum Barracks.
Harry Culver’s first attempt to establish Culver City was in 1913, and the city was incorporated on September 20, 1917. (His first ads read “All roads lead to Culver City” indicating a main transportation route via the city.)
The first film studio in Culver City was built by Thomas Ince in 1918. In the 1920s, silent film comedy producer Hal Roach and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) built studios there. During Prohibition, speakeasies and nightclubs such as the Cotton Club lined Washington Boulevard.
Heart of screenland
Hundreds of movies have been produced on the lots of Culver City’s studios, Sony Pictures Studios (originally MGM Studios), Culver Studios, and the former Hal Roach Studios. These include The Wizard of Oz, The Thin Man, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, the Tarzan series, and the original King Kong. More recent films made in Culver City include Grease, Raging Bull, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, City Slickers, Air Force One, Wag the Dog, and Contact. Television shows made on Culver City sets have included Las Vegas, Gunsmoke, Cougar Town, Mad About You, Lassie, Batman, Arrested Development, The Andy Griffith Show, Jeopardy!,The Nanny, and the night version Wheel of Fortune.
John Travolta’s “Stranded at the Drive-In” sequence in Grease was filmed at the Studio Drive-In on the corner of Jefferson and Sepulveda. It served as a set for many other films, including Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. The theater was closed in 1993 and was demolished in 1998; it is now a housing subdivision featuring large homes on small lots, as well as being home to the Kayne-ERAS center, a school and community center for the disabled and mentally challenged.
Culver City’s streets have been featured in countless films and television shows. Since much of the architecture has not changed in decades, particularly in residential areas of town, the nostalgic sitcom The Wonder Years set many of its outdoor scenes in the neighborhoods of Culver City. The 1970s show CHiPs also featured many chase scenes through the streets. The Nicolas Cage film Matchstick Men included scenes made at Veterans Memorial Park (which was also featured in the opening scenes of the sitcom Valerie / Valerie’s Family / The Hogan Family).
The history of the town is beginning to be recognized. The Aviator, a film about Howard Hughes, featured several mentions of Culver City in connection with Hughes. The Hughes Aircraft Company plant had a Culver City mailing address but was actually in the adjacent Los Angeles neighborhood of Westchester at a site now called Playa Vista. Scenes from Bewitched (2005) with Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell were also filmed in the Culver City streets as well as the liquor store scene in Superbad. The 2005 film, Fun with Dick and Jane, starring Jim Carrey was filmed there.
Decline of the studios (1960s and 1970s)
In the late 1960s, much of the MGM back lot acreage (lot 3 and other property on Jefferson Boulevard), and the nearby 28 acres (113,000 m²) of the somewhat inaccurately named “back forty”, once owned by RKO Pictures and later Desilu Productions, were sold by their owners. In 1976, the sets were razed to make way for redevelopment. Today the “back forty” is the southern expansion of the Hayden Industrial Tract, while the MGM property has been converted to a subdivision and a shopping center known as Raintree Plaza.
Rebirth of downtown (1990s and 2000s)
In the 1990s, Culver City launched a successful revitalization program in which it renovated its downtown as well as several shopping centers in the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor near Fox Hills Mall. Around the same time, the relocation of Sony’s motion picture operations (known as Columbia Pictures) to the former MGM studios at Washington Boulevard and Overland Avenue brought much-needed jobs to the city.
The influx of many art galleries and restaurants to the eastern part of the city, formally designated as the Culver City Art District, prompted The New York Times in 2007 to praise the new art scene and call Culver City a “nascent Chelsea.”
The first phase of the Expo line, a light rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to a terminal station at the Culver Junction near Venice and Robertson Boulevards in Culver City started in 2006, with an estimated completion date in 2011. The line mostly follows the right of way which the Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line used. The intent of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is that the line eventually be extended westward to Santa Monica, again mostly along the existing right of way.
Culver City Bus currently operates bus service within Culver City.
The city is served by the Los Angeles International Airport, which is located about 7 miles (11 km) south of the city.
Points of interest
- Culver Hotel: A 1924 landmark pie-slice-shaped hotel in downtown. Many of the cast of The Wizard of Oz stayed here during filming of the movie in 1939. The hijinks of that period, including the hotel’s being taken over by the “Munchkins,” were featured in the 1981 movie Under the Rainbow. Formerly owned by John Wayne, the hotel has housed many stars including Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Red Skelton, Buster Keaton and Ronald Reagan.
- Helms Bakery, now a center for restaurants, art galleries, the Jazz Bakery (a jazz club), and furniture sales rooms.
- Sony Pictures Plaza: This unusual, cantilevered building was featured as the headquarters of Wolfram & Hart, the demonic law firm that was the chief nemesis in the TV Show Angel. The building is across the street from the main gate of Sony Studios, which is at 10202 W. Washington Boulevard (occupying the former MGM Studio facilities).
- Surfas: A company selling restaurant equipment and specialty cooking supplies, along with a variety of foods, including gourmet spices. It was featured on the FOX television show Hell’s Kitchen.
Education and research
- Star Eco Station is an environmental science and wildlife rescue center; the STAR ECO Station houses exotic animals that have been abandoned or confiscated and teaches learners of all ages about the environment. At 10101 W. Jefferson Blvd., it offers organized tours. The STAR ECO Station shares its facility with STAR Prep Academy: a Middle-High School that provides hands on opportunities to work with the animals on site.
- West Los Angeles College is a two-year community college within adjacent unincorporated county territory of Baldwin Hills, California. (Thomas Guide Los Angeles County, page 673.)
- Culver City Main Street, claimed to be the world’s shortest Main Street.
- Heritage Fountain at Culver City Hall.
- King Fahd Mosque, which can accommodate more than 2,000 worshippers and features a minaret that is more than 70 feet (21 m) in height.[dead link]
- Veterans Memorial Building at Veterans Park; tower is 122 feet (37 m) high.
- Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
- St. Augustine Catholic Church
- The local cemetery “Holy Cross Cemetery” is the final resting place to Sharon Tate, Bela Lugosi, and punk legend Darby Crash. Nazli Sabri, mother of King Farouk, was also buried there after converting to Catholicism in 1950.
Museums and the arts
- The Actors’ Gang at the Ivy Substation (within the Palms district, city of Los Angeles, but on long-term lease to Culver City).
- Culver City Art District: A cluster of more than 20 contemporary art galleries in the vicinity of Washington and La Cienega Boulevards.
- Culver City Public Theatre: presents an annual summer season of free, outdoor, classical theatre in beautiful Dr. Paul Carlson Memorial Park, at the corner of Motor Avenue and Braddock Drive (near the 405 and 10 Freeways) in Culver City, CA as well as a yearly tradition of presenting theater for young audiences, the Children’s Popcorn Theatre. All performances are held during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., with the Children’s Popcorn Theater performance at noon.
- The Jazz Bakery, the only nonprofit nightly jazz venue in greater Los Angeles.
- Kirk Douglas Theatre, featuring the Center Theater Group
- The Museum of Jurassic Technology
- Ballona Creek bicycle path
- Culver Boulevard Median bicycle path, a greenway featuring bicycle and pedestrian trailways.
- Culver Ice Arena is a public ice arena.
- Beverlywood West
- Blair Hills
- Carlson Park
- Culver Crest
- Culver West
- Downtown Culver City
- Federal Park
- Fox Hills
- Hayden Tract
- Helms District
- McManus (East Culver City)
- Park East
- Rancho Higuera
- Studio Estates
- Studio Village (Lindberg Park)
- Sunkist Park (El Marino)
- Telefson Park
- Veterans Park (Park West)
- Veterans Park
The city is surrounded by the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Mar Vista, West Los Angeles and Palms to the north; Westchester to the south; the Baldwin Hills and Ladera Heights unincorporated areas to the east; and the L.A. neighborhoods of Venice and Playa Vista to the west, along with the unincorporated area of Marina Del Rey.
The two primary ZIP codes for Culver City are 90230 and 90232. Because ZIP codes do not necessarily follow city boundaries, a portion of Culver City is in the 90066 ZIP code, which also serves some of the Mar Vista neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles.
The major geographic feature of Culver City is Ballona Creek, which runs northeast to southwest through most of the city before it drains into Santa Monica Bay in Marina Del Rey.
Culver City is served by the San Diego, Santa Monica, and Marina freeways.
Culver City is at 34°0′28″N 118°24′3″W / 34.00778°N 118.40083°W / 34.00778; -118.40083 (34.007761, -118.400905). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13.2 km2).
Primary and secondary schools
Culver City has its own school district, Culver City Unified School District. It has five elementary schools, a middle school, two high schools (regular and continuation), a Community Day School, an Office of Child Development, and an Adult School. In addition, there is an Independent Study program where students of elementary, middle school, or high school age can make a weekly appointment to drop off and pick up homework, which is to be completed throughout the week.
STAR Prep Academy, a private middle and high school, was established in 2004 and shares its campus with the STAR ECO Station, an exotic wildlife rescue center. It is one of the few schools in the United States in which students have the unique opportunity to work with exotic and endangered animals on a daily basis as part of their school-day curriculum.
Colleges and universities
West Los Angeles College, located in an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County adjacent to Culver City, is part of the Los Angeles Community College District. Antioch University Los Angeles is also located in Culver City, off Slauson Avenue.
The Los Angeles County Probation Department’s Training Academy is housed on the campus of West L.A. College.
Culver City is the location for the Los Angeles area campus of the Gemological Institute of America as well as Culver Beauty College and the Biofeedback Institute of Los Angeles.
As of the census of 2000, there were 38,816 people, 16,611 households, and 9,518 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,932.9/km² (7,589.8/mi²). There were 17,130 housing units at an average density of 1,294.3/km ² (3,349.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.24% White, 11.96% Black or African American, 0.71% Native American, 12.02% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 10.16% from other races, and 5.69% from two or more races. 23.70% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 16,611 households out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.9% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $51,792, and the median income for a family was $61,451 (these figures had risen to $65,525 and $82,582 as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $46,683 versus $41,478 for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,025. About 5.5% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.
Government and infrastructure
In the state legislature Culver City is located in the 26th Senate District, represented by Democrat Curren D. Price, Jr., and in the 47th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Karen Bass. Federally, Culver City is located in California’s 33rd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +36 and is represented by Democrat Diane Watson.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services SPA 5 West Area Health Office serves Culver City. The department operates the Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center in Santa Monica, serving Culver City.
The United States Postal Service operates the Culver City Post Office at 11111 Jefferson Boulevard and the Gateway Post Office at 9942 Culver Boulevard.