clock menu more-arrow no yes

Mapping the Essential Sites of Nathanael West's Los Angeles

View as Map

In Maps to the Stars, Curbed LA maps the lives of the most notable figures in Los Angeles history through the places that were important to them.

Compared to the capitals of Europe, or even America's Eastern cities, Los Angeles may be young, but it's made an awful lot of history in its 230-odd years. Authors, directors, basketball stars, and crime kingpins have all called Los Angeles home, and each has made some contribution to the dark, delicious image of LA that exists in the collective consciousness. Years on, it's hard to imagine some of these legends as average people—Quentin Tarantino writing in a coffee shop, Bertolt Brecht buying milk at the market—but they were and are! They lived here and worked here and ate here and drank here; some even died here. Our collective history is on the walls and in streets, buried just beneath that latest coat of paint. We're going to see what we can find. There's no better place to start than with writer Nathanael West, the quintessential Angeleno.

West was a transplant, as most in his day were and many still are, who came out to LA to work as a screenwriter. He lived here only five years, but his booze-fueled, junk-around, tragicomic time came to define the image of life as a writer in the studio system, a world run by fast-talking, handshaking sharks. Hollywood wasn't just another city, it was another world; an entirely new thing, with zero precedent. West found inspiration in the madness—an army of every nation throughout history marching through the backlot, "lines broken, as though fleeing from some terrible defeat"; a movie premiere on Hollywood Boulevard turned blood riot—and, as fellow author Budd Schulberg said, "recorded it in acid."

Seventy-six years later, The Day of The Locust, the last of the four books West wrote, is still the defining Hollywood novel. No one knew the town better—West lived it himself, recorded life around him in bold, delicate prose. It is fiction, yes, but with a double shot of reality. The Day of The Locust remains as essential today as it was upon publication. Below, the places that made up West's Los Angeles. —Ian Grant

Read More

1. Parva-Sed Apartments

Copy Link
1817 Ivar Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028

West's first home upon becoming a permanent Angeleno, and the inspiration for Tod Hackett's seedy Hollywood apartment building in DOTL.

2. Columbia Pictures Studios

Copy Link
1438 N Gower St
Hollywood, CA 90028

West's first studio gig came with Columbia Pictures, writing scripts. The legendary lot still stands today as Sunset-Gower Studios.

3. Republic Studios

Copy Link
4024 Radford Ave
Studio City, CA 91604

In 1935, West went to B-movie studio Republic to write Westerns and gangster pics. The lot exists today as CBS Studio Center.

4. 6614 Cahuenga Terrace

Copy Link
6614 Cahuenga Terrace
Los Angeles, CA 90068

A modest house tucked into the side of the Cahuenga Pass, where West lived alone, and later with his wife Eileen.

5. RKO Encino Ranch

Copy Link
17178 Burbank Boulevard
Encino, CA 91316

West's final studio job came with RKO Pictures, whose Encino Ranch was built on 89 acres along Burbank Boulevard. The ranch was subdivided for single-family houses in 1954.

6. 12706 Magnolia Blvd.

Copy Link
12706 Magnolia Boulevard
Valley Village, CA 91607

A larger North Hollywood home West and Eileen moved into weeks prior to their deaths. Since demolished.

7. Stanley Rose Book Shop

Copy Link
6661 1/2 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Legendary Hollywood bookstore that West, William Saroyan, Bill Faulkner, and Budd Schulberg, among many others, frequented.

8. Musso & Frank Grill

Copy Link
6667 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 467-5123
Visit Website

"The oldest restaurant in Hollywood." West, like so many, many others, was a frequent patron of the bar.

9. El Centro, CA

Copy Link
909 Imperial Valley Pioneers Expressway
El Centro, CA 92243

West and Eileen, on their way back from a weekend trip to Mexico, died in a car accident outside El Centro on December 22, 1940.

Loading comments...

1. Parva-Sed Apartments

1817 Ivar Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028

West's first home upon becoming a permanent Angeleno, and the inspiration for Tod Hackett's seedy Hollywood apartment building in DOTL.

1817 Ivar Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028

2. Columbia Pictures Studios

1438 N Gower St, Hollywood, CA 90028

West's first studio gig came with Columbia Pictures, writing scripts. The legendary lot still stands today as Sunset-Gower Studios.

1438 N Gower St
Hollywood, CA 90028

3. Republic Studios

4024 Radford Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

In 1935, West went to B-movie studio Republic to write Westerns and gangster pics. The lot exists today as CBS Studio Center.

4024 Radford Ave
Studio City, CA 91604

4. 6614 Cahuenga Terrace

6614 Cahuenga Terrace, Los Angeles, CA 90068

A modest house tucked into the side of the Cahuenga Pass, where West lived alone, and later with his wife Eileen.

6614 Cahuenga Terrace
Los Angeles, CA 90068

5. RKO Encino Ranch

17178 Burbank Boulevard, Encino, CA 91316

West's final studio job came with RKO Pictures, whose Encino Ranch was built on 89 acres along Burbank Boulevard. The ranch was subdivided for single-family houses in 1954.

17178 Burbank Boulevard
Encino, CA 91316

6. 12706 Magnolia Blvd.

12706 Magnolia Boulevard, Valley Village, CA 91607

A larger North Hollywood home West and Eileen moved into weeks prior to their deaths. Since demolished.

12706 Magnolia Boulevard
Valley Village, CA 91607

7. Stanley Rose Book Shop

6661 1/2 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

Legendary Hollywood bookstore that West, William Saroyan, Bill Faulkner, and Budd Schulberg, among many others, frequented.

6661 1/2 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

8. Musso & Frank Grill

6667 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

"The oldest restaurant in Hollywood." West, like so many, many others, was a frequent patron of the bar.

6667 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

9. El Centro, CA

909 Imperial Valley Pioneers Expressway, El Centro, CA 92243

West and Eileen, on their way back from a weekend trip to Mexico, died in a car accident outside El Centro on December 22, 1940.

909 Imperial Valley Pioneers Expressway
El Centro, CA 92243