1982 to 2013: The Evolution of WeHo’s Santa Monica Boulevard

Red E Go Foods on the southeast corner of Santa Monica and Robertson Boulevards in 1982, soon to become Lisa Vanderpump's P.U.M.P.
Red E Go Foods on the southeast corner of Santa Monica and Robertson Boulevards in 1982, soon to become Lisa Vanderpump’s P.U.M.P.

In 1982, two years before West Hollywood became a city in its own right that attracts partying visitors from near and far, it already was a destination for gay men looking for fun and acceptance. And in no place was that more evident than on Santa Monica Boulevard, the historic former Route 66.

As the French would say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” And indeed while much of Santa Monica Boulevard has changed in the past 31 years, some of the original establishments still anchor various blocks, and the west end of it, known by some as “Boystown,” remains a gay mecca.

A gentleman who prefers to be known as “The New Mr. Burlesk” graciously allowed WEHOville to post some photos here from his Flickr collection of old WeHo pictures. “Mr. Burlesk,” he emailed WEHOville, “spent a decade living in WeHo, then hit the skids and left. The ’80s were the best of times and the worst of times.”

For a contemporary look at Santa Monica Boulevard, the intrepid Jon Viscott took to the streets to capture images of those same locations. Click through the following pages to see how WeHo’s Santa Monica Boulevard has changed, and how it hasn’t.


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Dianne Frye
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Dianne Frye

We were wild!!! 1976 blur partot, mi keys odessey etc. I have pics!!

Tom Doherty
Guest
Tom Doherty

John Mackey,
Great tale. Winning isn’t everything. You did a huge service for this 1.9 mile Mecca.
I’ll salute you and thank you forever!!
Tom @detoile

HoosierGal
Guest
HoosierGal

I simply HAD to comment. I knew Greg before he moved to California. I was blessed to have known him for approximately six years. If any of you had the pleasure of knowing Greg, this should not be a surprise to you. I’ve never, in my lifetime, of nearly 60 years, met anyone as kind as Greg. Md *Never.* Not even close. Greg was such a special person. I sincerely hope the residents, & people passing by in California, recognized an angel when they saw him. He is still greatly missed.

MARCO
Guest
MARCO

I MI$$ NUMBER$ !!

Kevin L MichaelsSr
Guest

I remember that corner as the Yellow Sub. I almost lived there in 73-75. There was an outdoor flea-market just down the street….I bought many a pair of used Levis from there. 😉 Early on, I went to Fairfax and we would meet there after school. They had THE BEST avocado w/beansprout subs I have EVER had! I was a young freelance-pharmacologist at the time and from Melrose up to Laurel Canyon {where I lived….on Wonderland….} above Sunset, that WAS THE SCENE. This was back in the day when Starwood was new and Gino’s on Melrose was great for finding… Read more »

da90027da90027Derek
Guest

The people back then were friendlier and the whole area was not as pretentious. I kind of do miss the seediness of it and the old streetcar tracks down the middle. Life was simpler back then no cellphones…people spoke to each other. You go to any of these bars now over half the guys have their face glued to their phone.

Bob Wilson
Guest
Bob Wilson

Great photos. That was the year I moved to LA. I was 20 yrs old & living at SM & Gardner. So great to see SM Blvd as it was!

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

The pic’s did bring back memories. There was a bar I believe somewhere near where the NAIL used to be that had male strippers. I don’t remember the Yellow Submarine at that location although there was one in Silverlake. Also near there was Kellys Steak House. My boss in the 1960’s and 1970’s used to take me there with his wife. My late lover worked at both the Mother Lode and Rage which was not mentioned as a DJ. The Italian place where Pump just opened had great food for take out. I think it lasted longer than any other… Read more »

Steven Blum
Guest

Love it. Would also be interesting to see slideshows from the 1930’s and 40’s when German Jewish immigrants made West Hollywood their home.

Jim Oblak
Guest
Jim Oblak

I walked my dogs past the corner of Crescent Heights and SMB a while back and noted that the old Gallery Room is now a pile of concrete rubble … what great times were had in that “coat and tie” bar in the mid 70’s … yes, we actually wore ties in a bar!

Rick Eshoo
Guest
Rick Eshoo

I remember it all like it was yesterday as well as seeing the Revolver that I once worked @ that had ’em lined all the way down Larrabee to Cynthia.
Thanks for the stroll down memory lane, Jon!

John Mackey
Guest

I quit drinking in January, 1983, and my sponsor suggested I throw my energies into the nascent movement to incorporate two square miles of county land between Hollywood & Beverly Hills. I memorized the map, and bucked up on Municipal Corporation Law. My purpose was to cause the local cable operator to servicing the new city with a municipal access channel. I was one of 40 candidates for the 5 new seats and I promised three things: 1) Night-time Council meetings, cablecast live; 2)Curb cuts along Santa Monica Blvd; 3) new parkland. I lost that campaign, but it gave me… Read more »