The Pan Pacific Auditorium

One of Americas finest examples of Streamline Modern architecture, that epitomized a 1930s America, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium opened in 1935 and once stood at 7600 West Beverly Boulevard near the site of Gilmore Field, an early Los Angeles outdoor sports venue, and within sight of both CBS Television City, also on Beverly, and the Farmer's Market on Third and Fairfax. This 100,000 square foot building, was 228 feet long, could seat 6000, it was used as a sports arena, for political events, car shows, circuses, conventions and concerts, Leopold Stokowski conducted and Elvis Presley played there. No doubt there were probably thousands of portable partitions and custom room dividers setup for events and conventions over the years. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower spoke to 10,000 there one month before he was elected President of the United States. The Ice Capades Shows, hockey and basket ball were regular events until 1972 when the Los Angeles Convention Center opened, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium closed. In the late 1970s it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. On the evening of May 24, 1989 the 54 year old landmark was destroyed by fire.

3D rendering by Lee Cox

Designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Wurdeman and Becket, a firm that would go on to design other L.A. landmarks such as the Music Center in downtown and the space-age "Theme Building" at Los Angeles International Airport, the green and white, western-facing facade perpendicular to the Beverly Boulevard entrance was 228 feet long and featured four stylized towers and flagpoles meant to represent upswept aircraft fins above the entrance.

Photo by Larry Welsh

Behind that fabulous facade was a large but modest rectilinear wooden structure resembling an overgrown gymnasium both inside and out. Covering 100,000 square feet and comfortably seating up to 6000, the Pan-Pacific was Los Angeles' primary indoor venue until the 1972 opening of the much larger Los Angeles Convention Center. The Pan-Pacific Auditorium then closed for good. It stood lonely, neglected and damaged by small fires accidently started by transients for years afterward, but not forgotten. Almost immediately after the auditorium closed, much talk circulated throughout the surrounding Fairfax District neighborhood about refurbishing the Pan-Pacific, possibly as an ice rink or cultural center even though the parking lot would soon become the site of a park. Serious considerations remained, namely the sheer size of the building and its now-missing parking lot. Talks would drone for years while the Pan-Pacific continued its downward spiral.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Fire Dept.

The auditorium continued to deteriorate for several years afterward mostly due a tremendous lack of security. A large loading door on the southeast corner was frequently forced open and left that way, allowing access by anyone who chose to enter. A fire in May, 1983 damaged the northern end and on the evening of May 24, 1989, six days after the fifty-fourth anniversary of its heralded opening, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was destroyed by one final and incredibly spectacular fire that was visible for miles.

Photo by D.V. DeVito

Although the original Pan Pacific auditorium burned down in 1989, the exterior of the new structure in the Pan Pacific Park closely resembles the Streamline Moderne exterior of the former building.