A Diner Shaped Like an Oil Can? It Happened in Montebello | KCET
A Diner Shaped Like an Oil Can? It Happened in Montebello
There are greasy spoons, and then there was The Oil Can. Located on Whittier Boulevard in Montebello, this tiny diner mimicked the shape of the cans once used to lubricate machinery, complete with a giant handle and a spout that towered above the building's domed roof.
Its oil can shape may have been unique among restaurants, but this eccentric building does fall squarely within an architectural tradition inspired by Southern California's embrace of the automobile in the 1920s: programmatic or mimetic architecture. Built along major automobile routes, these eye-catching structures attracting passing motorists with their unusual forms. In essence, the buildings acted as their own signage. Some resembled food items (Randy's Donuts), others pieces of clothing (the Brown Derby), and some everyday items like an oil can.
Montebello's Whittier Boulevard was home to several examples of programmatic architecture in the 1920s and '30s, but as the bus-driving historians of Esotouric note, none was as fitting as The Oil Can. The discovery of an underground oil field in 1917 had brought fortune to the town and transformed its once graceful hills ("Montebello" is Italian for "beautiful mountain") into a forest of wooden derricks.
Little is known about The Oil Can apart from the details gleaned from these photographs, taken in 1928 by the Dick Whittington Photography Studio and recently digitized by the USC Libraries as part of an NEH-funded project. It apparently served several locally produced refreshments, including Whittier Ice Cream ("not just as good -- but better") and Eastside Beer (most likely 0.5% ABV "near beer," due to Prohibition). The Los Angeles Times made no mention of the restaurant or its proprietors, but the envelope that protected these 5x7-inch nitrate negatives mentions a Mrs. Rosenfield -- perhaps the woman responsible for this amusing object from the Southland's architectural past.
L.A. as Subject is an association of more than 230 libraries, museums, official archives, cultural institutions, and private collectors. Hosted by the USC Libraries, L.A. as Subject is dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region..
Mole, Micheladas and More: What to Eat and Drink While Watching the First Episode of ‘In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl’
It’s not a Hollywood Bowl concert without food. Here’s a guide to eating and drinking your way through the bounty of Mexican food in Southern California to complement the first episode of “In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl.”
Spurred by the cancellation of the Hollywood Bowl's summer concert season, the LA Phil, KCET and PBS SoCal have partnered to offer Los Angeles a different communal experience of music through a new television series “In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl.”
USC faculty pushes for independent investigation into allegations of shadow and dirt files on colleagues
USC faculty members are pushing their leadership to demand an independent investigation into allegations that university administrators maintained “shadow files” on employees.
Saying he has zero tolerance toward alleged deputy cliques, most notably in the East Los Angeles station, Sheriff Alex Villanueva today announced a crackdown potentially involving the suspension or firing of more than two dozen deputies.
- 1 of 335
- next ›