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“I used to like this town. A long time ago,” Philip Marlowe observes in The Little Sister. “There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard.”
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The Raymond Chandler map of Los Angeles

The writer had a dark view of the City of Angels but was undoubtedly seduced and enthralled with it too

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“I used to like this town. A long time ago,” Philip Marlowe observes in The Little Sister. “There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard.”
| Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Los Angeles was Raymond Chandler’s muse, mistress, and his making. For his famous anti-hero, private eye Philip Marlowe, it is a torturous, nasty place filled with “tough-looking palm trees” and crooked cops. “I smelled Los Angeles before I got to it,” he says in The Little Sister. “It smelled stale and old like a living-room that had been closed too long. But the colored light fooled you.”

Chandler saw Los Angeles through a dark glass, but he was undoubtedly seduced and enthralled with the City of Angels. From his first short story Blackmailers Don’t Shoot, published in 1933, LA is the centerpiece of Chandler’s—and his characters’—world. In it he writes:

“The lights of the city were an endlessly glittering sheet. Neon signs glowed and flashed. The languid ray of a searchlight prodded about among high faint clouds…. The car went past the oil well that stands in the middle of La Cienega Boulevard, then turned off onto a quiet street fringed with palm trees…”

As Tom Williams, author of the masterful Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler explains, Chandler was never quite settled in the city he defined, living in more than 30 Southern California locations from 1913 until his death in 1959. Perhaps he was always searching for the mythical LA that once was, before the darkness overtook the light.

Related: A map guide the LA places favored (and tolerated) by famous authors, from Joan Didion to William Faulkner

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1. Greystone Mansion

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905 Loma Vista Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 285-6830
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Perhaps no true-crime story influenced Raymond Chandler more than the alleged murder-suicide of oil scion Ned Doheny and his best friend and private secretary Hugh Plunkett in 1929. The scandalous shooting (and its subsequent coverup, placing all the blame on Plunkett) took place at Greystone. Doheny’s gloomy faux-English manor in Beverly Hills, according to Williams, inspired Ray’s description of both the Sternwood estate in The Big Sleep and the, Grayle home in Farewell, My Lovely.

“The house itself was not so much. It was smaller than Buckingham Palace, rather gray for California, and probably had fewer windows than the Chrysler Building,” he writes in Farewell, My Lovely.

Ray would also touch on the coverup of the case in The High Window, re-christening it, “the Cassidy case.” In it, Philip Marlowe asks: “Did you ever stop to think… that Cassidy’s secretary might have had a mother or a sister or a sweetheart—or all three? That they had their pride and their faith and their love for a kid who was made out to be a drunken paranoiac because his boss’s father had a hundred million dollars?”

Greystone Mansion.
LunchboxLarry (CC BY 2.0)

2. Westlake

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713 S Bonnie Brae St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

It was in the stylish, clubby home of Caroline and Warren Lloyd at 713 South Bonnie Brae Street that Ray and his domineering mother Florence first lived, when they moved to Los Angeles in 1913. The progressive, elegant, and intellectual Lloyds lived a charmed Southern California life in the posh neighborhood of Westlake, surrounding what is now MacArthur Park. Ray was absorbed by the Lloyds into their circle, known as “The Optimists.” According to Williams: “Every Friday evening, the Lloyds threw the doors of their home open to musicians and intellectuals...Evenings of cocktails and conversation would sometimes end with Warren Lloyd sitting down at a Ouija board.

Year’s later, Ray (though the character of Marlowe) reflected in The Little Sister on what LA was like during the golden age of folks like the Lloyd’s:

“I used to like this town. A long time ago. There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. Beverly Hills was a country town. Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and no takers. Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the interurban line. Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep out on porches. Little groups who thought they were intellectual used to call it the Athens of America. It wasn’t that, but it wasn’t a neon-lighted slum, either.”

Wilshire Boulevard, as seen from MacArthur Park in the 1940s.
Bettmann / Getty Images

3. Bunker Hill

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Bunker Hill
Los Angeles, CA

After leaving the Lloyds’ heady home, Ray and his mother settled into the crowded Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill, overlooking Downtown LA. Though they lived there only briefly (a pattern the restless Ray would later repeat with his wife Cissy), Ray was struck with the quirky neighborhood and its eventual decline and disappearance. In The High Window (1942), he wrote:

“Bunker Hill is old town, lost town, shabby town, crook town. Once, very long ago, it was the choice residential district of the city, and there are still standing a few of the jigsaw Gothic mansions with wide porches and walls covered with round-end shingles and full corner bay windows with spindle turrets. They are all rooming houses now, their parquetry floors are scratched and worn through the once glossy finish and the wide sweeping staircases are dark with time and with cheap varnish laid on over generations of dirt. In the tall rooms haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants. On the wide cool front porches, reaching their cracked shows into the sun and staring at nothing, sit the old men with faces like lost battles.”

Typical Bunker Hill Victorians, before they were razed for redevelopment.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

4. Bank of Italy Building (now the Nomad Hotel)

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649 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 358-0000
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During Ray’s time at Dabney Oil, he worked in the company offices of this new neoclassical-style building in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Ray was a popular boss at the company, at least in his own mind, fostering a convivial atmosphere and instituting an open door policy. But not everyone at Dabney was so fond of Ray. “At the annual oil and gas banquets of a thousand rollicking oil men at the Biltmore, Chandler was a shadowy figure, stinko drunk and hovering in the wings with a bevy of showgirls, a nuisance,” one colleague remembered. Ray was fired in 1931, and decided to try his hand at mystery writing instead.

The exterior of the Bank of Italy building in Los Angeles. The facade is tan with columns on the front of the building.
The former Bank of Italy Building.
Courtesy of Killefer Flammang Architects

5. Signal Hill

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During the heady days of the roaring, boom-time 1920s, Chandler spent many days in the Signal Hill oil fields of the Dabney Oil Company, where he was an executive. In his stories, including The Curtain, he repeatedly uses oil wealth as a metaphor for the dark forgetfulness that came with Los Angeles success:

“Some of the wooden derricks still stood. These had made the wealth of the Winslow family and then the family had run away from them up the hill, far enough to get away from the smell of the sumps, not too far for them to look out of the front windows and see what made them rich.”

And then there is the end of The Big Sleep, where Marlowe realizes his fate in the city that oil and water built:

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep…. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.”

View of an oil field on Signal Hill.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

6. Crossroads of the World

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6671 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 463-5611
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The murder of crime boss Charlie Crawford in his ivy-covered office bungalow on May 20, 1931 titillated all of Los Angeles, including Raymond Chandler. Crawford was part of the City Hall-underground crime loop that Ray would fictionalize as the nefarious “The Syndicate” in his novels. What made Crawford’s murder all the more shocking—Dave Clark, a corrupt district attorney, was charged with his murder. On the site of the bungalow, Crawford’s wife Ella would build Crossroads of the World, the Streamline-Moderne office complex that became an LA landmark.

Crossroads of the World.
Shutterstock

7. 1639 Redesdale Ave

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1639 Redesdale Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026

In 1933, Raymond and Cissy moved into this small stucco home in the hills of the modernist, bohemian neighborhood of Silver Lake. Recently fired from his job as an oil executive, Ray was strapped for cash, trying his hand at mystery writing. But it was a happy, nesting period for the peculiarly particular couple, who were “better than we ever were before,” according to Ray, enjoying “good air and a view of the mountains.” While living here, the Chandlers brought home their beloved black Persian cat Taki, who they would spoil for the next 20 years. The home still stands to this day.

1639 Redesdale Ave.
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8. Ocean Park

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Ocean Park
Santa Monica, CA

“A couple of D.A.’s investigators got a tip about a gambling hell in Ocean Park, a sleazy adjunct to Santa Monica. They went down there and picked up a couple of Santa Monica cops on the way, telling them they were going to kick in a box, but not telling them where it was. The cops went along with the natural reluctance of good cops to enforce the law against a paying customer, and when they found out where the place was, they mumbled brokenly: ‘We’d ought to talk to Captain Brown about this before we do it, boys. Captain Brown ain’t going to like this.’ The D.A.’s men urged them heartlessly forward into the chip and bone parlor, several alleged gamblers were tossed into the sneezer and the equipment seized for evidence (a truckload of it) was stored in lockers at local police headquarters. When the D.A.’s boys came back the next morning to go over it everything had disappeared but a few handfuls of white poker chips. The locks had not been tampered with, and not a trace could be found of the truck or the driver. The flatfeet shook their grizzled polls in bewilderment and the investigators went back to town to hand the Jury the story.” — letter from Raymond Chandler to Charles Morton, 1944

The Ocean Front Promenade near the pier in Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

9. Silver Lake Reservoir

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Silver Lake Reservoir
Los Angeles, CA 90039

This manmade reservoir makes an appearance as Gray Lake in Ray’s 1934 short-story Finger Man. He describes the LA landmark thusly:

“Gray Lake is an artificial reservoir in a cut between two groups of hills, on the east fringe of San Angelo. Narrow but expensively paved streets wind around in the hills, describing elaborate curves along their flanks for the benefit of a few cheap and scattered bungalows. We plunged up into the hills, reading street signs on the run. The gray silk of the lake dropped away from us and the exhaust of the old Marmon roared between crumbling banks that shed dirt down on the unused sidewalks.”

Silver Lake Reservoir.
By Liz Kuball

10. Paramount Studios

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After the success of his early novels, Ray was tapped to adapt James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity with writer/director Billy Wilder. The two men loathed each other, and the scenes inside their cramped Paramount office were tense. According to Wilder, Ray wrote a letter of complaint about him that he never forgot:

“He couldn’t work with me any more because I was rude; I was drinking; I was fucking; I was on the phone with four broads, with one I was on the phone—he clocked me—for twelve and a half minutes; I had asked him to pull down the Venetian blinds—the sun was streaming into the office—without saying please.”

 

However, after the movie’s success Ray settled into life on the Paramount lot, where one co-worker observed, “he loved interruptions more than anything else.” He also loved drinking, and burned bridges at the studio when he presented a list of demands in exchange for finishing the script for The Blue Dahlia. Unless he could write at home and drunk, he claimed, it would never get done in time. According to Williams, his full demands included;

 

A. Two Cadillac limousines, to stand day and night outside the house with drivers available for:

1. Fetching the doctor (Ray’s or Cissy’s or both).

2. Taking script pages to and from the studio.

3. Driving the maid to the market.

4. Contingencies and emergencies.

B. Six secretaries—in three relays of two—to be in constant attendance and

readiness, available at all times for dictation, typing, and other possible emergencies.

The studio agreed to Ray’s demands, and the script was finished in record time.

Paramount Studios.
Shutterstock

11. MGM (now Sony Pictures Studios)

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Sony Pictures Studios
Culver City, CA 90232

After his tumultuous time at Paramount, Ray went to MGM to work on a screen adaptation of Lady in the Lake. Assigned to an antiseptic office in the Art Deco-style Thalberg building, Ray proved difficult and maddening. He hated the Thalberg building, which he referred to as “that cold storage plant.” He found the writers distant and formal, and he didn’t like their traditional way of doing things. According Williams;

“MGM was not what it had been at Paramount. There, he had been able to work in his office, sitting or lying on a sofa and dictating into a machine, but sofas were frowned on by MGM executives who thought that a writer lying on his back was not writing but sleeping. Ray, who was now used to getting his own way, brought out a rug from his car and lay on that instead. When his producer paid a

visit to the office and found his star writer lying on a picnic blanket, he immediately called down to the story editor and, according to Ray, ‘shouted that I was a horizontal writer and for Chrissake send up a couch.’”

The Irving Thalberg building at MGM Studios, February 1950.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

12. Lucey’s Restaurant

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5444 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

While working at Paramount, Ray would often escape for long, booze-soaked lunches with other boisterous writers at this long-gone Hollywood haunt (not to be confused with the nearby Lucy’s El Adobe, which didn’t open until the 1960s).

“At the writers table [sic] at Paramount I heard some of the best wit I’ve ever heard in my life. Some of the boys are at their best when not writing,” he wrote. It was perhaps because of these endless convivial meals, both at Lucey’s and the studio commissary, that Ray wrote: “Paramount was the only one [studio] I liked. They do somehow maintain the country club atmosphere there.”

Correction: An earlier version of this map guide incorrectly identified the restaurant as Lucy’s El Adobe.

Lucey’s Restaurant, photographed in the 1930s.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

13. Second Street Tunnel

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620 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Completed in 1924, this sleek modern tunnel running under Downtown LA was famous from day one due to the reflective white tiles that line its interior. Ray was clearly inspired by the tunnel, and turned it into a symbol of efficient violence in The Big Sleep:

“The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel, but I didn’t move.”

Second Street Tunnel.
Shutterstock

14. Big Bear Lake

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Ray and Cissy would frequently spend long stretches of summer at this rustic resort town, a place to recuperate and relax and meditatively chop wood. “I went up to Big Bear Lake to get over a case of complete exhaustion such as you will never know, you dynamo,” Ray wrote to a friend in the mid-’40s. “I’d done a script for MGM in 13 weeks and hated every bit of it, especially as it was one of my own stories. I was completely sunk. The only thing I could read was the Perry Mason stories.”

In stories including the short story No Crime in the Mountains and the novel The Lady in the Lake,  Big Bear is transformed to the romanticized mountain town of Puma Point.

Big Bear Lake.
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15. Central Avenue

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This bustling, vibrant street—the heartbeat of black LA—is central to the action in short stories including Pick-Up on Noon Street, as well as the novel Farewell, My Lovely. Scenes on Central Avenue and in its legendary bars are some of the most problematic in Raymond Chandler’s canon, as William’s explains:

Noon Street Nemesis (now generally published under the title Pick-Up on Noon Street) is an uncomfortable story for modern readers because it is set around Central Avenue, Los Angeles, home to the city’s black population, and the language Ray uses is clearly offensive. Black characters are invariably referred to as ‘the negro’ while the heroic protagonist is called Pete Anglich, a name which seems to deliberately evoke Anglo-Saxon whiteness.”

Central Avenue in December 1939.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

16. Security Trust and Savings

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6381 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

This landmark 1921 building was designed by John and Donald Parkinson. In the Marlowe stories, it is transformed into the Cahuenga Building, where the private eye keeps his offices, which he sure seems to love! From The High Window:

“I had an office in the Cahuenga Building, sixth floor, two small rooms at the back. One I left open for a patient client to sit in, if I had a patient client. There was a buzzer on the door which I could switch on and off from my private thinking parlor. I looked into the reception room. It was empty of everything but the smell of dust. I threw up another window, unlocked the communicating door and went into the room beyond. Three hard chairs and a swivel chair, flat desk with a glass top, five green filing cases, three of them full of nothing, a calendar and a framed license bond on the wall, a phone, a washbowl in a stained wood cupboard, a hatrack, a carpet that was just something on the floor, and two open windows with net curtains that puckered in and out like the lips of a toothless old man sleeping.”

Today, the intersection in front of the building is designated “Raymond Chandler Square.”

17. Musso and Frank Grill

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6667 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 467-7788
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Ray would spend many a night (and day) drinking in the legendary “back bar” of this Hollywood institution, along with other literary lushes like Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He mentions Musso’s in The Long Goodbye, and it is said that the nearby Stanley Rose Bookshop was the inspiration for the rare books store (really a front for criminal enterprises) in The Big Sleep.

Musso and Frank Grill.
Shutterstock

18. Central Library

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Central Library
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Detectives need libraries too! In The Long Goodbye, Philip Marlowe searches for facts in the age before Google:

“I went over to the Hollywood Public Library and asked questions in the reference room, but couldn’t find what I wanted. So I had to go back for my Olds and drive downtown to the Main Library. I found it there, in a smallish red-bound book published in England. I copied what I wanted from it and drove home.”

Central Library.
Shutterstock

19. Santa Monica City Hall

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3205, 1685 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-8411
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In Farewell, My Lovely, Santa Monica is transformed into Bay City, the corrupt seaside small town at the heart of the story. Marlowe describes the Santa Monica City Hall with his customarily critical eye:

“It was a cheap-looking building for so prosperous a town. It looked more like something out of the Bible Belt. Bums sat unmolested in a long row on the retaining wall that kept the front lawn—now mostly Bermuda grass—from falling into the street... The cracked walk and the front steps led to open double doors in which a knot of obvious City Hall fixers hung around waiting for something to happen so they could make something else out of it. They all had well-fed stomachs, the careful eyes, the nice clothes and the reach-me-down manners. They gave me about four inches to get by.”

Santa Monica City Hall.
Shutterstock

20. Chandler’s home

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6005 Camino De La Costa
La Jolla, CA 92037

In the mid-1940s, the ailing, aging Chandlers finally settled down in this upscale beachside community, despite Ray’s feeling that it was it was “[too] dear, too damp, too elderly, a nice place, as a visitor remarked this afternoon, for old people and their parents.” It was a place filled with “tired old men and tired old money,” which perhaps described Ray more than he would have liked.

Ray and Cissy also became home owners for the first (and last) time, buying a house near the sea. According to Williams;

“The house was very Californian. It had been built that year and had white stucco walls, a cool shaded courtyard where pots of geraniums flowered, and a small garden, where purple bougainvillea crept up the walls and Taki stalked. There was a large, bright living room with a picture window that looked out over the Pacific towards Loma Point.”

After Cissy’s death in 1954, Ray fell apart, but he kept their one true home. He died at the nearby Scripps Clinic in 1959.

Raymond Chandler’s home in La Jolla, photographed in 1978.
Getty Images

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1. Greystone Mansion

905 Loma Vista Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Greystone Mansion.
LunchboxLarry (CC BY 2.0)

Perhaps no true-crime story influenced Raymond Chandler more than the alleged murder-suicide of oil scion Ned Doheny and his best friend and private secretary Hugh Plunkett in 1929. The scandalous shooting (and its subsequent coverup, placing all the blame on Plunkett) took place at Greystone. Doheny’s gloomy faux-English manor in Beverly Hills, according to Williams, inspired Ray’s description of both the Sternwood estate in The Big Sleep and the, Grayle home in Farewell, My Lovely.

“The house itself was not so much. It was smaller than Buckingham Palace, rather gray for California, and probably had fewer windows than the Chrysler Building,” he writes in Farewell, My Lovely.

Ray would also touch on the coverup of the case in The High Window, re-christening it, “the Cassidy case.” In it, Philip Marlowe asks: “Did you ever stop to think… that Cassidy’s secretary might have had a mother or a sister or a sweetheart—or all three? That they had their pride and their faith and their love for a kid who was made out to be a drunken paranoiac because his boss’s father had a hundred million dollars?”

905 Loma Vista Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

2. Westlake

713 S Bonnie Brae St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Wilshire Boulevard, as seen from MacArthur Park in the 1940s.
Bettmann / Getty Images

It was in the stylish, clubby home of Caroline and Warren Lloyd at 713 South Bonnie Brae Street that Ray and his domineering mother Florence first lived, when they moved to Los Angeles in 1913. The progressive, elegant, and intellectual Lloyds lived a charmed Southern California life in the posh neighborhood of Westlake, surrounding what is now MacArthur Park. Ray was absorbed by the Lloyds into their circle, known as “The Optimists.” According to Williams: “Every Friday evening, the Lloyds threw the doors of their home open to musicians and intellectuals...Evenings of cocktails and conversation would sometimes end with Warren Lloyd sitting down at a Ouija board.

Year’s later, Ray (though the character of Marlowe) reflected in The Little Sister on what LA was like during the golden age of folks like the Lloyd’s:

“I used to like this town. A long time ago. There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. Beverly Hills was a country town. Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and no takers. Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the interurban line. Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep out on porches. Little groups who thought they were intellectual used to call it the Athens of America. It wasn’t that, but it wasn’t a neon-lighted slum, either.”

713 S Bonnie Brae St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

3. Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, CA
Typical Bunker Hill Victorians, before they were razed for redevelopment.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

After leaving the Lloyds’ heady home, Ray and his mother settled into the crowded Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill, overlooking Downtown LA. Though they lived there only briefly (a pattern the restless Ray would later repeat with his wife Cissy), Ray was struck with the quirky neighborhood and its eventual decline and disappearance. In The High Window (1942), he wrote:

“Bunker Hill is old town, lost town, shabby town, crook town. Once, very long ago, it was the choice residential district of the city, and there are still standing a few of the jigsaw Gothic mansions with wide porches and walls covered with round-end shingles and full corner bay windows with spindle turrets. They are all rooming houses now, their parquetry floors are scratched and worn through the once glossy finish and the wide sweeping staircases are dark with time and with cheap varnish laid on over generations of dirt. In the tall rooms haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants. On the wide cool front porches, reaching their cracked shows into the sun and staring at nothing, sit the old men with faces like lost battles.”

Bunker Hill
Los Angeles, CA

4. Bank of Italy Building (now the Nomad Hotel)

649 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
The exterior of the Bank of Italy building in Los Angeles. The facade is tan with columns on the front of the building.
The former Bank of Italy Building.
Courtesy of Killefer Flammang Architects

During Ray’s time at Dabney Oil, he worked in the company offices of this new neoclassical-style building in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Ray was a popular boss at the company, at least in his own mind, fostering a convivial atmosphere and instituting an open door policy. But not everyone at Dabney was so fond of Ray. “At the annual oil and gas banquets of a thousand rollicking oil men at the Biltmore, Chandler was a shadowy figure, stinko drunk and hovering in the wings with a bevy of showgirls, a nuisance,” one colleague remembered. Ray was fired in 1931, and decided to try his hand at mystery writing instead.

649 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

5. Signal Hill

Signal Hill, CA
View of an oil field on Signal Hill.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

During the heady days of the roaring, boom-time 1920s, Chandler spent many days in the Signal Hill oil fields of the Dabney Oil Company, where he was an executive. In his stories, including The Curtain, he repeatedly uses oil wealth as a metaphor for the dark forgetfulness that came with Los Angeles success:

“Some of the wooden derricks still stood. These had made the wealth of the Winslow family and then the family had run away from them up the hill, far enough to get away from the smell of the sumps, not too far for them to look out of the front windows and see what made them rich.”

And then there is the end of The Big Sleep, where Marlowe realizes his fate in the city that oil and water built:

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep…. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.”

6. Crossroads of the World

6671 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Crossroads of the World.
Shutterstock

The murder of crime boss Charlie Crawford in his ivy-covered office bungalow on May 20, 1931 titillated all of Los Angeles, including Raymond Chandler. Crawford was part of the City Hall-underground crime loop that Ray would fictionalize as the nefarious “The Syndicate” in his novels. What made Crawford’s murder all the more shocking—Dave Clark, a corrupt district attorney, was charged with his murder. On the site of the bungalow, Crawford’s wife Ella would build Crossroads of the World, the Streamline-Moderne office complex that became an LA landmark.

6671 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

7. 1639 Redesdale Ave

1639 Redesdale Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026
1639 Redesdale Ave.
Google Maps

In 1933, Raymond and Cissy moved into this small stucco home in the hills of the modernist, bohemian neighborhood of Silver Lake. Recently fired from his job as an oil executive, Ray was strapped for cash, trying his hand at mystery writing. But it was a happy, nesting period for the peculiarly particular couple, who were “better than we ever were before,” according to Ray, enjoying “good air and a view of the mountains.” While living here, the Chandlers brought home their beloved black Persian cat Taki, who they would spoil for the next 20 years. The home still stands to this day.

1639 Redesdale Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026

8. Ocean Park

Ocean Park, Santa Monica, CA
The Ocean Front Promenade near the pier in Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

“A couple of D.A.’s investigators got a tip about a gambling hell in Ocean Park, a sleazy adjunct to Santa Monica. They went down there and picked up a couple of Santa Monica cops on the way, telling them they were going to kick in a box, but not telling them where it was. The cops went along with the natural reluctance of good cops to enforce the law against a paying customer, and when they found out where the place was, they mumbled brokenly: ‘We’d ought to talk to Captain Brown about this before we do it, boys. Captain Brown ain’t going to like this.’ The D.A.’s men urged them heartlessly forward into the chip and bone parlor, several alleged gamblers were tossed into the sneezer and the equipment seized for evidence (a truckload of it) was stored in lockers at local police headquarters. When the D.A.’s boys came back the next morning to go over it everything had disappeared but a few handfuls of white poker chips. The locks had not been tampered with, and not a trace could be found of the truck or the driver. The flatfeet shook their grizzled polls in bewilderment and the investigators went back to town to hand the Jury the story.” — letter from Raymond Chandler to Charles Morton, 1944

Ocean Park
Santa Monica, CA

9. Silver Lake Reservoir

Silver Lake Reservoir, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Silver Lake Reservoir.
By Liz Kuball

This manmade reservoir makes an appearance as Gray Lake in Ray’s 1934 short-story Finger Man. He describes the LA landmark thusly:

“Gray Lake is an artificial reservoir in a cut between two groups of hills, on the east fringe of San Angelo. Narrow but expensively paved streets wind around in the hills, describing elaborate curves along their flanks for the benefit of a few cheap and scattered bungalows. We plunged up into the hills, reading street signs on the run. The gray silk of the lake dropped away from us and the exhaust of the old Marmon roared between crumbling banks that shed dirt down on the unused sidewalks.”

Silver Lake Reservoir
Los Angeles, CA 90039

10. Paramount Studios

Los Angeles, CA 90038
Paramount Studios.
Shutterstock

After the success of his early novels, Ray was tapped to adapt James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity with writer/director Billy Wilder. The two men loathed each other, and the scenes inside their cramped Paramount office were tense. According to Wilder, Ray wrote a letter of complaint about him that he never forgot:

“He couldn’t work with me any more because I was rude; I was drinking; I was fucking; I was on the phone with four broads, with one I was on the phone—he clocked me—for twelve and a half minutes; I had asked him to pull down the Venetian blinds—the sun was streaming into the office—without saying please.”

 

However, after the movie’s success Ray settled into life on the Paramount lot, where one co-worker observed, “he loved interruptions more than anything else.” He also loved drinking, and burned bridges at the studio when he presented a list of demands in exchange for finishing the script for The Blue Dahlia. Unless he could write at home and drunk, he claimed, it would never get done in time. According to Williams, his full demands included;

 

A. Two Cadillac limousines, to stand day and night outside the house with drivers available for:

1. Fetching the doctor (Ray’s or Cissy’s or both).

2. Taking script pages to and from the studio.

3. Driving the maid to the market.

4. Contingencies and emergencies.

B. Six secretaries—in three relays of two—to be in constant attendance and

readiness, available at all times for dictation, typing, and other possible emergencies.

The studio agreed to Ray’s demands, and the script was finished in record time.

11. MGM (now Sony Pictures Studios)

Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, CA 90232
The Irving Thalberg building at MGM Studios, February 1950.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

After his tumultuous time at Paramount, Ray went to MGM to work on a screen adaptation of Lady in the Lake. Assigned to an antiseptic office in the Art Deco-style Thalberg building, Ray proved difficult and maddening. He hated the Thalberg building, which he referred to as “that cold storage plant.” He found the writers distant and formal, and he didn’t like their traditional way of doing things. According Williams;

“MGM was not what it had been at Paramount. There, he had been able to work in his office, sitting or lying on a sofa and dictating into a machine, but sofas were frowned on by MGM executives who thought that a writer lying on his back was not writing but sleeping. Ray, who was now used to getting his own way, brought out a rug from his car and lay on that instead. When his producer paid a

visit to the office and found his star writer lying on a picnic blanket, he immediately called down to the story editor and, according to Ray, ‘shouted that I was a horizontal writer and for Chrissake send up a couch.’”

Sony Pictures Studios
Culver City, CA 90232

12. Lucey’s Restaurant

5444 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Lucey’s Restaurant, photographed in the 1930s.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

While working at Paramount, Ray would often escape for long, booze-soaked lunches with other boisterous writers at this long-gone Hollywood haunt (not to be confused with the nearby Lucy’s El Adobe, which didn’t open until the 1960s).

“At the writers table [sic] at Paramount I heard some of the best wit I’ve ever heard in my life. Some of the boys are at their best when not writing,” he wrote. It was perhaps because of these endless convivial meals, both at Lucey’s and the studio commissary, that Ray wrote: “Paramount was the only one [studio] I liked. They do somehow maintain the country club atmosphere there.”

Correction: An earlier version of this map guide incorrectly identified the restaurant as Lucy’s El Adobe.

5444 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

13. Second Street Tunnel

620 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Second Street Tunnel.
Shutterstock

Completed in 1924, this sleek modern tunnel running under Downtown LA was famous from day one due to the reflective white tiles that line its interior. Ray was clearly inspired by the tunnel, and turned it into a symbol of efficient violence in The Big Sleep:

“The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel, but I didn’t move.”

620 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

14. Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake, CA
Big Bear Lake.
Shutterstock

Ray and Cissy would frequently spend long stretches of summer at this rustic resort town, a place to recuperate and relax and meditatively chop wood. “I went up to Big Bear Lake to get over a case of complete exhaustion such as you will never know, you dynamo,” Ray wrote to a friend in the mid-’40s. “I’d done a script for MGM in 13 weeks and hated every bit of it, especially as it was one of my own stories. I was completely sunk. The only thing I could read was the Perry Mason stories.”

In stories including the short story No Crime in the Mountains and the novel The Lady in the Lake,  Big Bear is transformed to the romanticized mountain town of Puma Point.

15. Central Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90011
Central Avenue in December 1939.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

This bustling, vibrant street—the heartbeat of black LA—is central to the action in short stories including Pick-Up on Noon Street, as well as the novel Farewell, My Lovely. Scenes on Central Avenue and in its legendary bars are some of the most problematic in Raymond Chandler’s canon, as William’s explains:

Noon Street Nemesis (now generally published under the title Pick-Up on Noon Street) is an uncomfortable story for modern readers because it is set around Central Avenue, Los Angeles, home to the city’s black population, and the language Ray uses is clearly offensive. Black characters are invariably referred to as ‘the negro’ while the heroic protagonist is called Pete Anglich, a name which seems to deliberately evoke Anglo-Saxon whiteness.”

16. Security Trust and Savings

6381 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

This landmark 1921 building was designed by John and Donald Parkinson. In the Marlowe stories, it is transformed into the Cahuenga Building, where the private eye keeps his offices, which he sure seems to love! From The High Window:

“I had an office in the Cahuenga Building, sixth floor, two small rooms at the back. One I left open for a patient client to sit in, if I had a patient client. There was a buzzer on the door which I could switch on and off from my private thinking parlor. I looked into the reception room. It was empty of everything but the smell of dust. I threw up another window, unlocked the communicating door and went into the room beyond. Three hard chairs and a swivel chair, flat desk with a glass top, five green filing cases, three of them full of nothing, a calendar and a framed license bond on the wall, a phone, a washbowl in a stained wood cupboard, a hatrack, a carpet that was just something on the floor, and two open windows with net curtains that puckered in and out like the lips of a toothless old man sleeping.”

Today, the intersection in front of the building is designated “Raymond Chandler Square.”

6381 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

17. Musso and Frank Grill

6667 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028
Musso and Frank Grill.
Shutterstock

Ray would spend many a night (and day) drinking in the legendary “back bar” of this Hollywood institution, along with other literary lushes like Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He mentions Musso’s in The Long Goodbye, and it is said that the nearby Stanley Rose Bookshop was the inspiration for the rare books store (really a front for criminal enterprises) in The Big Sleep.

6667 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

18. Central Library

Central Library, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Central Library.
Shutterstock

Detectives need libraries too! In The Long Goodbye, Philip Marlowe searches for facts in the age before Google:

“I went over to the Hollywood Public Library and asked questions in the reference room, but couldn’t find what I wanted. So I had to go back for my Olds and drive downtown to the Main Library. I found it there, in a smallish red-bound book published in England. I copied what I wanted from it and drove home.”

Central Library
Los Angeles, CA 90071

19. Santa Monica City Hall

3205, 1685 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Santa Monica City Hall.
Shutterstock

In Farewell, My Lovely, Santa Monica is transformed into Bay City, the corrupt seaside small town at the heart of the story. Marlowe describes the Santa Monica City Hall with his customarily critical eye:

“It was a cheap-looking building for so prosperous a town. It looked more like something out of the Bible Belt. Bums sat unmolested in a long row on the retaining wall that kept the front lawn—now mostly Bermuda grass—from falling into the street... The cracked walk and the front steps led to open double doors in which a knot of obvious City Hall fixers hung around waiting for something to happen so they could make something else out of it. They all had well-fed stomachs, the careful eyes, the nice clothes and the reach-me-down manners. They gave me about four inches to get by.”

3205, 1685 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

20. Chandler’s home

6005 Camino De La Costa, La Jolla, CA 92037
Raymond Chandler’s home in La Jolla, photographed in 1978.
Getty Images

In the mid-1940s, the ailing, aging Chandlers finally settled down in this upscale beachside community, despite Ray’s feeling that it was it was “[too] dear, too damp, too elderly, a nice place, as a visitor remarked this afternoon, for old people and their parents.” It was a place filled with “tired old men and tired old money,” which perhaps described Ray more than he would have liked.

Ray and Cissy also became home owners for the first (and last) time, buying a house near the sea. According to Williams;

“The house was very Californian. It had been built that year and had white stucco walls, a cool shaded courtyard where pots of geraniums flowered, and a small garden, where purple bougainvillea crept up the walls and Taki stalked. There was a large, bright living room with a picture window that looked out over the Pacific towards Loma Point.”

After Cissy’s death in 1954, Ray fell apart, but he kept their one true home. He died at the nearby Scripps Clinic in 1959.

6005 Camino De La Costa
La Jolla, CA 92037