Googie’s Coffee Shop, Sunset and Crescent Heights, LA, 1952, via Getty Research Institute; photograph by Julius Shulman.

My recent reading of the book “Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture” by Alan Hess has prompted a new category for this blog, with this its first entry: Mod!

First off, what’s Googie? It’s the name for a type of midcentury commercial architecture with a futuristic touch, generally employed for coffee shops, fast-food stands, car washes, bowling alleys, hotels and the like, concentrated in Southern California and popular from about 1949 (when a Sunset Boulevard coffee shop named Googie’s opened; see above) until the 1960s. These days it’s become more respected and revered.

As the Wikipedia entry describes Googie:

“Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glasssteel and neon. Googie was also characterized by Space Age designs symbolic of motion, such as boomerangsflying saucersatoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as ‘soft’ parallelograms and an artist’s palette motif. These stylistic conventions represented American society’s fascination with Space Age themes and marketing emphasis on futuristic designs.”

Hess’ 2004 chronicle of the form takes an expansive, popular view of what qualifies as Googie, much in the way that almost any building from the 1930s is called Art Deco even if it’s Streamline Moderne or something else. And in the back, he lists Googie examples throughout SoCal — including 10 in Pomona and environs (some of which have since been demolished).

I’m going to use the category name Mod! to allow even more flexibility. Now and then I’ll present photos here of the local survivors from Hess’ roll cal of greatness, as well as other swingin’ examples. Feel free to nominate a favorite. The first in this irregular series will pop up here Tuesday.

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  • Bob House

    Got a great book for Christmas – Los Angeles: Portrait of a City – which has this same photo and indicates Googie’s was designed by John Lautner of Henry’s Drive In fame. You may have already known, but it wasn’t indicated in your post, so I thought I would mention.

    • davidallen909

      All roads lead to Henry’s! I did know that and should have said so. Sounds like a good book, btw.