Looking back at the growth of a city

Photo Courtesy of Julie Lugo Cerra. Looking north on Main Street in Culver City circa 1937. The Bank of America building is on the left corner. Close scrutiny reveals a sign shaped like a saw, for Steller Bros. and Skoog Hardware further up the street. O

Harry H. Culver filed Main Street with the L.A. County Recorder the same year he announced his plan for a city in 1913.  Mr. Culver’s creative advertising drew crowds! There were marathons, other sporting events, and free bus rides to this emerging city with a promised free lunch on the site of the new town. Families were excited by the opportunity to win a “lot” to build their new home in what he called his “Home City.”  Culver pointed out the accessible central location early with ads boasting “All Roads lead to Culver City.”

Harry Culver strived to develop a community that appealed to families, but he wisely balanced it with commerce to support it. And he enticed the emerging movie industry, from the beginning, to play a part in what became known as “The Heart of Screenland.” That phrase appeared on the city seal, adopted in 1936.

Although the Great Depression and other difficult economic times have impacted growth, it appears that the people in this town found simple ways to enjoy life in Culver City.

There was a celebration in Culver City history that brought people together, en masse. Tom Sawyer Day happened around the time Selznick was making “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” in Culver City. It featured a young man by the name of Tommy Kelly in the starring role. A mature Mr. Tom Kelly became a popular teacher in Culver City Schools.

Tom Sawyer Day, a precursor to La Ballona Days, allowed the community to come together on closed downtown thoroughfares.  Dressing in costume was, of course, encouraged. Pie contests were an attraction, and if you look closely, you might see some cotton candy.

Photos like the one featured, act like a window into early times. In addition to the businesses cited in the photo caption, others at that time included: Stella Music, L V Gray Jewelers, Bert’s Toggery and Hub Pharmacy. Special thanks to Cheri Hadley, whose mother personally participated in this event. Enjoy more city history in the Culver City Historical Society Archives and Resource Center, free and open to the public.

Looking back at the growth of a city