Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #13

Ambassador Hotel, 11/29/05, 10:15 a.m.

The plastic sheeting is back off the Cocoanut Grove entrance, while the building continues to get shorter as a demolition team chips away at the floors.

Meanwhile, LAist tips us off to some great up-close shots of the destruction here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ambassador Cam #12

UPDATED -- see addition to post below

Ambassador Hotel, 11/23/05, 10:30 a.m.

From the mailbag:

Many thanks for your website, I find it quite interesting. I never stayed in the hotel but in the early seventies my parents took me to see Sammy Davis Jr. and on a subsequent trip Diana Ross. I have grown increasing interested in the outcome of the hotel, being I’m in So Ca every other week on business. After viewing Chris Kraus’ tour on March 1st, I was able to convince one of the security guards to take me on a tour at about 7:00 PM on April 13th. I purchased a disposable camera and flashlight, unfortunately the photo quality is substandard.

But I was able to tour the Palm Bar, Embassy Ballroom, Pantry Kitchen, Lobby, the guards keys we unable to unlock the doors to the Grove. I drove my wife and 12 year old son by to see it in August, while we were vacationing in So CA; they think I have lost my mind being “obsessed with on old hotel.” Thanks for the site.

Randy/Danville, CA


Regarding architectural plans for the Ambassador Hotel, Kurt Helfrich, Curator of the Architecture and Design Collection, University Art Museum, UC Santa Barbara wrote that their Hunt and Chambers Collection contains over 40 working drawings (elevations, plans, sections, details) for the Ambassador Hotel, as well as an articles and clippings file and a file of historic photographs. The plans can be viewed by appointment. Thanks to the Conservancy, your photographic website, Dr. David Gebhart and the curators of the UCSB collection of architectural drawings, and all others who are advocates for saving the historic structures of California."

Barbara/San Diego

Meanwhile, several people have also asked about the plastic tarp covering part of the Cocoanut Grove entrance. I believe that's because the nightclub is one of the few parts of the hotel that will be saved. The district will spend $15 million to turn the nightclub into an auditorium.

Also to be saved: The Paul Williams-designed coffee shop beneath, which will be turned into a faculty lounge. And portions of the Embassy Ballroom -- where RFK gave his final speech, seconds before being assassinated -- will be used as the school library.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #11

Ambassador Hotel, 11/22/05, 10:15 a.m.

As you can see, destruction continues at a quicker pace. Which means we'll be chronicling the Ambassador's demise more frequently in the coming days...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #10

As you can see, the Ambassador demolition team has been busy. Not only are the upper floors of the northeast wing gone, but the front has been almost entirely stripped away. With so much frenzy, expect more frequent "Ambassador Cam" posts in the coming weeks.

A close-up look:

Franklin Avenue reader Barbara from San Diego e-mails:

I have been aware of your website for several weeks now, but am amazed at the photos you are now showing on the site. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to do this service for others who love the Ambassador Hotel, not only for myself (I live in San Diego) but for others who cannot easily get to the site to witness the sad, sad destruction that is going on there at this very time.

Two times in the last year, I came to photograph the Ambassador Hotel, and was able to take photos of it from the Wilshire Boulevard side and from what I believe to be the north side of the building. The hotel sat a half block up a street on the north side with a parking lot on the left, and the bungalows were still there on this side. Sadly, I apparently discarded the roll of film which had these photos on it, and am thus very appreciative of your work...

Do the Ambassador Hotel architectural drawings still exist, and if so, who has them? If not, has someone gone into the hotel and measured the most important rooms (the Grove, lobby, check in area, the largest suites, a sample of the smaller suites, the dimensions of the hallways, etc.) This measurement process could so easily have been done (and it indeed may have been done) but if not, it is too late to do it now.

Barbara also wonders if it's safe to get close to the Ambassador, as the demolition stirs up old asbestos in the building. Anyone have the answer to her questions, feel free to comment below.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #9

Ambassador Hotel, 11/17/05, 10:10 a.m.

The Cocoanut Grove gets wrapped in plastic, while bulldozers continue to tear out portions of the Ambassador's upper floors, in this shot captured Thursday.

MEANWHILE, Axel from the excellent tribute site, writes in to note that they've added a new discussion board. Go there to discuss memories of the Ambassador and lament its fate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #8

Some great shots taken Monday by Will Campbell's wife Susan, who captures the Ambassador Hotel's destruction from above. Thanks Susan, and anyone else who wants to submit Ambassador shots past and present, feel free to email 'em in to mikemaria (at)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #7

Ambassador Hotel, 11/11/05

It's really happening: The demolition of the historic Ambassador Hotel is accelerating, as a portion of the east wing is now dust.

I've been out of the office, which means I haven't had a chance to take a pic of the building this week. Thanks to Martin of for sharing this shot. And to Tim McGarry for also dropping a line on Thursday night. LAObserved has a depressing photo as well.

Meanwhile, up until the very end the Ambassador is a popular spot for a movie shoot. And just squeaking in before the demolishing: Emilio Estevez's feature "Bobby," about fictional events at the hotel taking place the night of RFK's assassination. Elijah Wood, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Anthony Hopkins, and yes, Lindsay Lohan, star. Production started last week at the hotel.

Rock Huckster

Speaking of the soon-to-disappear Ambassador Hotel, here's the winner for most unlikely momento: Someone is selling chunks of concrete from the building on eBay (find the page here).

Bidding starts at $2, or you can buy the rock outright at $4.99. Not so surprisingly, no one has placed a bid yet. From the eBay writeup:

Howdy!  I am in Los Angeles.  I live near the famous Ambassador, which is being torn down as we speak.  I take daily walks in front of it early in the morning.  They ae really going to town on the demolition now. 

Here's what you get in this incredible auction:

--Ambassador Hotel Los Angeles Stone from Building
--the Ambassador was made of concrete
--the hotel was build in 1921
-- this is a concrete shard from the NE Bungalow
-- hold this little shard and feel all the famous people that used to stay in the Bungalows, from Elvis to Howard Hughes
it is the hotel of a million memories
-- $3.85 ship in the US
-- Stored in a friendly, smoke free environment

Wat, you didn't mention it was being held in a friendly environment! I'm in!

Given the sheer amount of real Ambassador momentos out there (silverware, flyers, furniture, etc.) a chunk of concrete, I'm afraid. doesn't cut it.

But it does remind me of the time I saved a chunk of Santa Monica Boulevard. Back when West Hollywood was tearing up and reworking the street, I saved a piece of the old concrete that included a stamp proclaiming its construction in the 1920s. I eventually tossed it out, but hell, I probably could have put it on eBay as a "piece of historic Route 66" and made a nice profit.