Photo // Jack Benny Advertisement

QUOTE  // 

Photo // Marc Wanamaker photo of completed

Columbia Square.

Photo // William S Paley

Photo // Blandeu Tavern 

Photo // Blandeu Tavern 

THE VIBRANT HISTORY OF

1900-1920s

EARLY HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

Even before the construction of Columbia Broadcast Studios, the site at the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower had long been engrained in the entertainment industry. In 1911, the Nestor Film Company opened the first movie studio in Hollywood - under English-born, American film pioneers David and William Horsley. The site was formerly the Blondeau Tavern, and the first motion picture stage in Hollywood was built behind the tavern.

FILM // 

ROWDY ANNE - CHRISTIE FILM CO.

+ click to view short film

In 1919, short film producer Al Christie took ownership, and Nestor Film Company was dubbed a part of  “Poverty Row” - 1920s slang for small B movie studios, many of which were located in the area of Sunset and Gower.

In the 1920s there were great improvements made in sound recording and radio technology, allowing for radio to spread across the country with Hollywood as an early epicenter for the industry. In 1936 KNX Radio was purchased by Columbia Broadcasting System, one of two nationwide broadcast networks, and plans were made to construct Columbia Square, which would serve as CBS’ West Coast Flagship.

1930s

THE BEGINNING OF COLUMBIA SQUARE

William S. Paley, founder of CBS, commissioned the construction of CBS Columbia Square and hired high-profile architect William Lescaze to design the complex.

The exteriors were designed in Lescaze’s trademark International Modernism Style, and the interiors were designed to accommodate the latest innovations in broadcast technology; it was the first building to integrate broadcast technology with the capability to include a live studio audience.

1940s

FILM // 

ARMY NAVY SCREEN MAGAZINE #20

+ click to view clip

The radio industry played a momentous role at the outset of World War II - many Americans turned primarily to the radio for breaking news on the war, and CBS radio correspondent Edward R. Murrow first rose to prominence while reporting from the field during the London Blitz

AUDIO // 

MY FAVORITE HUSBAND

+ click to hear clip

At Columbia Square, CBS produced popular radio shows including Gunsmoke, Dr. Christian, Suspense, The Whistler, The Passing Parade, My Favorite Husband (starring Lucille Ball), Our Miss Brooks, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

AUDIO // 

NEW YEAR'S RADIO DANCE PARTY / 1945-46

+ click to hear clip

Big band music also became a radio phenomenon in the 1940s, with live orchestras led by bandleaders including Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, and Ray Anthony broadcast coast to coast by CBS.

HISTORY OF RADIO AT COLUMBIA SQUARE

In 1949, for the first time in twenty years, CBS beat NBC in the radio broadcast ratings, thanks to iconic shows such as Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny.

Photo // Herman Scultheis photo of KNX radio with

Columbia Square being built

"IT IS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THESE NEW HOLLYWOOD HEADQUARTERS, REFLECTING MANY INNOVATIONS OF DESIGN AND ACOUSTICS AND CONTROL, WILL IMPROVE THE ART OF BROADCASTING THAT WE HAVE BUILT THEM AND ARE DEDICATING THEM HERE TONIGHT."

 

- William S. Paley, Inaugural Speech

AUDIO // 

"A SALUTE TO COLUMBIA SQUARE"

+ click to hear clip

The grand opening celebration included a star-studded radio program, "A Salute to Columbia Square," which was broadcasted nation wide and included guests Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Cecil B. Demille.

1950s

TELEVISION TAKES THE STAGE

Photo // Beach Boys

Photo // Television Takes the Stage

By the 1950s, radio's popularity waned and its golden age was over. Taking its place: Television. 

CBS launched the first variety television program to be broadcast from the West Coast at CBS Columbia Square with the debut of the Ed Wynn Show in 1949. The show would mark the first television appearance of budding starlet Lucille Ball and her husband, bandleader Desi Arnaz.

.

Photo // Ed Wynn Show MV

VIDEO // 

I LOVE LUCY PILOT

+ click to view clip

Two years later, the couple filmed the pilot for their iconic television show, I Love Lucy, in Studio A.

James Dean worked as an usher at Columbia Square, before being discovered and starring in films such as Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden.

FUN FACT // 

1960s

THE SOUND OF THE SIXTIES

Photo // Columbia Records

Columbia Records announced plans to convert the former Radio Studio One into a single recording studio in 1960, giving the label its own dedicated West Coast recording facilities for the first time.

Columbia Records executives approached renowned orchestra conductor Bruno Walter and asked him to make new recordings for the label using the latest technology – stereo sound. A symphony orchestra was assembled from freelance West Coast musicians, and under Walter’s direction, formed a Los Angeles-based version of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

.

AUDIO // 

A SYMPHONY RECORDING
+ click to hear clip

As rock and roll quickly gained momentum, Columbia Records expanded its recording efforts at Columbia Square to include not only classical recording but more popular music. Throughout the 1960s Columbia Square was host to some of the biggest recording artists in the industry including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Mahalia Jackson. 

2000s

COLUMBIA SQUARE REBORN

Photo // Columbia Square, ~2010

Following years of under-use and deferred maintenance, the Columbia Square site was chosen for redevelopment by Kilroy Realty Corporation in 2012.

Photo // Columbia Square, 2016

The Columbia Square site is richly entwined with Hollywood history. It was the site of the first movie studio in Hollywood, as well as radio and television studios dating back to 1937. Radio stations KNX, KCBS-FM (formerly KNX-FM), and television stations KCBS-TV (Channel 2, formerly KNXT and KTSL) have all produced at the site. Independent television station KCAL-TV (formerly KHJ-TV) moved to Columbia Square in 2002. 

Columbia Square is Kilroy Realty’s first mixed-use redevelopment in Hollywood; it blends historical reuse with new construction to create a beautiful, modern environment where people live, work and play. This stylish lifestyle has already attracted noteworthy tenants such as Viacom, Fender and Neuehouse. The upgrade for the Hollywood community is long awaited, and it’s here. 

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