Nightlife and Restaurants in West Adams and Nearby Communities

Links to the Photo Database of the Los Angeles Public Library

Photo: Club Alabam at 42nd Street and Central Avenue, 1945.

"The Club Alabam was the epitome of Central Avenue. It was right off Forty-second Streeet across from Ivy Anderson's Chicken Shack. There were a lot of other clubs, but the Club Alabam was really one of the old-time show-time places, a huge room with beautiful drapes and silks and sparklers and colored lights turning and flashing. The bandstand was plush and gorgeous with curtains that glistened. The waitresses were dressed in scanty costumes, and they were all smiling and wiggling and walking around, and everwhere you looked you saw teeth, people laughing, and everybody was decked out. It was a sea of opulence, big hats and white fluffy fur. And the cars out front were real long Cadillacs with little mudguards, little flappy little things, shiny things."
-- Art Pepper from his autobiography, "Straight Life."

West Adams from its inception in the 1890s has always been primarily a residential area with little immediate commercial development or nightlife. Below we are presenting mainly links to photos from the Library collection of the vibrant African American club scene on Central Avenue and on Western Avenue about 10 blocks south of West Adams, mostly from the 1940s, as well as the few other area restaurants and clubs represented in the online part of the Los Angeles Public Library collection, including early shots of West Adams' best-known Mexican restaurant, El Cholo.

Click on thumbnail or on link to see photo

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Title: Cover of concert program for Etude Ethiopian Chorus, Shrine Auditorium, 1925


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Title: Concert program with photo of Frieta Shaw, Director of Ethiopian Etude Chorus, 1925


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Title: Daddy Grant's Oldtime Pit Barbecue , Washington Blvd., 1930


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Title: Lemuel "Daddy" Grant at his Oldtime Pit Barbecue, Washington Blvd., c. 1930


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Title: Interior of Daddy Grant's Oldtime Pit Barbecue, Washington Blvd., c. 1930


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Title: Exterior, El Cholo Restaurant, 1931

Description: A close picture of the front of the cafe, showing 4 or 5 steps leading up to the entrance which has an awning reading "Spanish food", and "Orders to take out" on the wall between the door and window. A neon sign above the windows reads "Spanish food".


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Title: Front exterior, El Cholo Restaurant, 4012 S. Broadway Place, 1937

 Description: The entire house/restaurant can be seen and includes a large neon sign above the "Spanish food" sign, giving the name "El Cholo Cafe". Address on the house is 1121. [El Cholo is currently located at 1121 S. Western Avenue, but the house pictured here and in the previous photo has been replaced by a larger restaurant building. The Broadway address used by the Library is wrong for El Cholo going back to the time of the photo just above this one, taken in 1931. We do not know if El Cholo once had a still earlier restaurant on Broadway Place.]


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Title: Waiters at El Cholo Restaurants, 1938.

Description: Three waiters in white jackets (1 with black pants and shoes, 2 with white pants and shoes) pose in front of the restaurant.


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Title: Graduation Dinner at the Me Mo Club, 42nd & Central, 1940


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Title: Last Word Club Advertisement, 4206 S. Central Ave., c. 1940


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Title: Downbeat Club advertisement, 1941

Description: The Downbeat Club advertisement with treble clef and star. [4201 Central Avenue.]


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Title: African Americans at Downbeat Night Club, 1942, 4201 Central Avenue


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Title: African Americans at New Club Alabam, 42nd & Central Aves., 1942


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Title: Handbill for the "Oasis Club" nightclub, 3801 S. Western Avenue, 1945


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Title: Dunbar Cocktail Lounge and Grill, 4225 S. Central Avenue, 1945


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Title: Dunbar Cocktail Lounge handbill, Central Avenue, 1945


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Title: Handbill for the "Congo Club" nightclub, 4215 S. Central Avenue,1945


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Title: Handbill for the "Last Word" nightclub, 4206 S. Central Avenue, 1945


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Title: Ringside at Club Alabam, Central Avenue, 1945


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Title: "Drag" gay ball, Club Alabam, Central Avenue, 1945


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Title: African Americans at the Club Alabam, ca1945

Description: L to R Elnora Cole, Irving Louis (Joe Louis' cousin), Maxine Warren, Alton Warren, Howard Martin, Alma Martin at Club Alabam, circa 1945. [Central Avenue].


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Title: African American Ledo Café, 3519 S. Western Avenue, 1947


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Title: African American restaurant (Mike's Famous Waikiki Inn), 3741-43 S. Western Ave., 1947


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Title: African American restaurant (Charley & Joe's Chicken Shack), 1893 W. Jefferson Blvd., 1947


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Title: African American cafe (New Trocadero Café), 1781 W. Jefferson, 1947


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Title: African American restaurant, 1947

Description: Ad for Mike's Famous Waikiki Inn published in the 1947 Westside Yearbook and Business Directory. Includes photo of interior. [3741-43 So. Western Avenue].


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Title: African American restaurant, 1947

Description: Ad for Charley and Joe's Chicken Shack published in the 1947 Westside Yearbook and Business Directory. Includes photo of interior. [1893 West Jefferson Boulevard]


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Title: Paradise Club Christmas party, 5505 Central Avenue, c. 1948


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Title: Dutch Grill at the Hotel Watson, Pico & Flower (n.d.)


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Title: Stand-up comic at Club Pigalle, Figueroa St. at Santa Barbara (now Martin Luther King Blvd), c. 1950


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Title: African Americans at nightclub, ca1953

Description: L to R Jesse Hardaway, Grace Williams, Elouise Johnson at Club Alabam, circa 1953. [Central Avenue]


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