Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ambassador Cam, #3

Ambassador Hotel, 9/28/2005, 10:05 a.m.

Still slow going at the Ambassador demolition site, which is why we're pacing out our coverage of the hotel's demise. (We've heard from several of you though, and promise to update you more frequently in the coming weeks.)

I'm assuming the lengthy tear down has to do with all of the toxic materials likely found in the asbestos-riffic building. (I heard at the auction earlier this month that several hotel fixtures couldn't be sold because of contamination fears.) As you can see above, the center steeple has been almost completely torn down at this point, and the roof tiles continue to disappear. More to come...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ambassador Cam #2

Ambassador Hotel, 9/22/2005, 10:15 a.m.

Continuing our documentation of the Ambassador Hotel's final moments... It's slow going so far at the demolition site... here, about 20 workers (they may be too small to see here, but they're on the roof) rip up the building's roof tiles.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ambassador Cam

Ambassador Hotel, 9/20/05, 9:45 a.m.

Now that the destruction of the Ambassador Hotel is a coming reality, I thought I'd start chronicling the legendary building's slow disappearance.

Hence this new feature, "Ambassador Cam." I pass by the hotel every day on the way to work; now I'll sometimes stop and take a picture of the view from Wilshire. From today's clip: So far, looks like they're working on dismantling the roof first. More to come.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dark Ages

Power went off here at Variety H.Q a little after 1, although the traffic lights on the Miracle Mile remained active. Seems that weird spotty power experience was repeated all over town today, during L.A.'s Great Power Outage.

With the computers out here, I decided to hop into my car and head down Wilshire to the Ambassador Hotel, where I still needed to pick up a table from Saturday's auction. Traffic was bad, as some stop lights remained out and fire engines patrolled the area.

I tuned to both KNX and KFWB... it's amazing the difference in information and speculation between the two stations, even though they now reside in the same studio area. KNX was first to report that a line may have been cut to the power grid, although later both stations admitted the question hadn't been resolved. Neither station could get ahold of LA's Dept. of Water and Power (DWP) for comment.

Meanwhile, I switched to 8th street, which got me closer east... but eventually hopped back on Wilshire, where I witnessed one car plow into another. And no, the stoplights weren't even out in that intersection -- just a typical L.A. fenderbender, made worse of course by the slightly chaotic air.

Made it to the Ambassador, where people were loading up their wares -- including the handlebar-moustached guy featured in Sunday's L.A. Times article.

Also, noticed the bulldozers tearing down the last of the old Ambassador Hotel bungalows. Seriously, take as many pictures as you can of the hotel now, because we're going to blink and it's gonna be gone.

As of 2:44 power is back up here, and the day is now resuming...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Auctioning Off History

With the decaying Ambassador behind them, buyers hunt for bargains at Saturday's auction

I convinced Maria and Blogger Baby to join me Saturday morning at the old Ambassador Hotel, to witness the L.A. Unified School District auction off the last remaining items from the doomed building. It was Blogger Baby's first-ever auction -- and believe it or not, mine too.

The turnout was better than expected (according to the auctioneers and LAUSD, which pocketed around $80,000), as people checked out desks, chairs, tables and paintings. Some of the more popular items were large, 1970s-era Ambassador Hotel event planners (complete with groups penciled in, reserving the hotel's various ballrooms) -- as pictured above.

Still, most of the stuff was crap. The good momentos were auctioned off long ago, with only some furniture and other items -- some pretty unusual -- having survived previous housecleanings. (Some of the items auctioned on Saturday may actually be more famous for having appeared in countless film and TV projects, as the furniture populated the hotel over the last decade as it served as a popular shooting location.)

Nonetheless, this was the last chance to walk away with a piece of the historic hotel -- and people were willing to shell out wads of cash for several items, including an old Ambassador Hotel safe (which went for $6,000. Other less interesting items went for cheap. We picked up a marble-topped end table for $30, and another small table for $15. Neither were exciting buys, but the goal was to say we owned something from the Ambassador.

More images from the auction:

See, now this would be a cool thing to buy: A collection of the hotel's old room keys.

One of the more interesting items: A box of old breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, circa 1985. In other words, just four years before the hotel closed. A snapshot of why the hotel fell into hopeless disrepair: The glamour was long gone.

Banquet rooms, that way. Lobby, go up. If you're going to the coffee shop, just don't run into the banquet room-bound guests.

Old switchboard -- another semi-cool item. I overhead a woman saying she was planning to bid on it for her kids. The switchboard went for $300 -- not bad, but I hope it's not going to wind up as some kid's toy.

AND finally, a before-and-after shot. Maria and I visited the inside of the Ambassador in 2003 and took several pictures. I notice several of the lamps and side tables in the 2003 photo that wound up on the auctioning table last Saturday.

Then there's the big, huge fountain that once graced the lobby.

From 2003:

and 2005:

Friday, September 09, 2005

Grab a Piece of the Ambassador

Tomorrow's your chance to bid on leftover relics from the historic Ambassador Hotel, which will soon make its way into history and disappear from the Wilshire Blvd. spot where it has sat since the 1920s.

Sadly, there's nothing we can do now about the demise of the Ambassador, as its fate is sealed (and the L.A. Conservancy has ended its battle to save the building). In the end, the best we can do is bid on some of the hotel's remnants. The auction will be held Saturday at 10:30 at the hotel -- probably our last chance, by the way, to see the structure up close. (Yes, you bet I'm bringing the camera.)

Check out this site for more details. And hey, since I'm supplying ya with the info, no outbidding us, OK?

Some of the highlights of the sale:

One of the Ambassador's safes -- this thing is already going for at least $2,000 online. So bring a thick credit card.

Pretty cool classic mail box.

Disco ball from the 1970s, when the Cocoanut Grove -- in one of its last gasps -- tried to keep up with the times.

Not sure what you'd do with a telephone operator switchboard, but hey, how cool is this?