Ambassador Hotel at night

Los(t) Angeles: Ambassador Hotel – photos

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A night view of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel. Hay Whidden & His Orchestra is on the marquee for the Cocoanut Grove.

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The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel, c. 1920s. Bizarre Los Angeles

An early view.

 

Photography Prints

 

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A vintage view of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's original dining and ballroom, circa 1921. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Another vintage view of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel’s original dining and ballroom, circa 1921.

 

Colleen Moore at the Ambassador Hotel

Colleen Moore at the Ambassador Hotel, circa 1922.

In the 1920s, the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel had a putting green for golfers. Bizarre Los Angeles

In the 1920s, the hotel had a putting green for golfers.

 

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel Theatre Lobby, c. 1920s. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The hotel’s theater lobby, c. 1920s.

 

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Art Prints

Sell Art Online

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Photography Prints

 

If you don't recognize the Ambassador Hotel offhand, it is the French room redecorated to resemble a Parisian Cafe. The occasion was a welcome home party thrown for Marion Davies after she returned from a three-month trip to Europe. The year is 1928. Standing, left to right, Lorraine Eddy, Matt Moore, Aileen Pringle, Louis B. Mayer, Gloria Swanson, Harry D'Arrast, Marion Davies, Louella Parsons, Ricardo Cortez, Charles Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Irving Thalberg, Harold Lloyd and Robert Z. Leonard. Seated in foreground are Harry Crocker, left, and William Haines. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

If you don’t recognize the Ambassador Hotel offhand, it is the French room redecorated to resemble a Parisian Cafe.

The occasion was a welcome home party thrown for Marion Davies after she returned from a three-month trip to Europe. The year is 1928.

Standing, left to right, Lorraine Eddy, Matt Moore, Aileen Pringle, Louis B. Mayer, Gloria Swanson, Harry D’Arrast, Marion Davies, Louella Parsons, Ricardo Cortez, Charles Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Irving Thalberg, Harold Lloyd and Robert Z. Leonard. Seated in foreground are Harry Crocker, left, and William Haines.

 

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel lobby, circa 1930. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The Ambassador’s lobby, circa 1930.

 

Ambassador hotel 1930Dancers on the grounds at the Ambassador Hotel. No date given, but could be around 1930.

 

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel Plunge. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The hotel’s Plunge.

 

 

Ambassador Hotel fashion Show 1930

Ambassador Hotel fashion show 1930

Ambassador Hotel Los Angeles flappers

Fashion show on the hotel grounds, circa 1930.

 

Ambassador Hotel Lido pool

The Dancing Sunbeams (from the Bud Murray Dancing School) share the Lido swimming pool with a trained seal named Charley. I think the idea was that the dancers were supposed to race the animal. Photo taken in June of 1930. (LAPL: 00055444)

 

Ambassador Hotel Dining Room

Patio dining at the Ambassador Hotel, taken sometime between 1923 and 1933.

Art Prints

 

Art Prints

 

Inside the Ambassador Hotel's Field & Turf Club, a private room adjacent to the Cocoanut Grove. Photo is circa early to mid 1930s. Supposedly, William Powell was a regular. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

 

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel Field and Turf Room. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Inside the Ambassador Hotel’s Field & Turf Club, a private room adjacent to the Cocoanut Grove. Photo is circa early to mid 1930s. Supposedly, William Powell was a regular.

 

Ann Dvorak caricature (Bizarre Los Angeles)

A caricature of Ann Dvorak from the Ambassador Hotel’s Field & Turf Club. I actually own this one.

 

A caricature of Gene Raymond from the Ambassador Hotel’s Field & Turf Club. I own this one, too. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

A caricature of Gene Raymond from the Ambassador Hotel’s Field & Turf Club. I own this one, too.

 

A caricature of Gary Cooper from the Ambassador Hotel's Field & Turf Club. Bizarre Los Angeles

A Gary Cooper caricature from the Ambassador Hotel’s Field & Turf Club.

 

A W.C. Fields caricature from the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Field & Turf Club. Bizarre Los Angeles

A W.C. Fields caricature from the Ambassador Hotel’s Field & Turf Club.

 

Photography Prints

 

Rita Hayworth, poolside at the Ambassador Hotel, in 1936. At the time this photo was taken, she had signed with Fox as Rita Cansino (her birth name being Margarita Carmen Cansino). Bizarre Los AngelesRita Hayworth, poolside at the Ambassador Hotel, in 1936. At the time this photo was taken, she had signed with Fox as Rita Cansino (her birth name being Margarita Carmen Cansino).

 

Ambassador Hotel pool 1938

Poolside in 1937. Photographer: Herman J. Schultheis / LAPL 00072128

 

Two icons of Los Angeles: the Brown Derby Restaurant on Wilshire and the Ambassador Hotel across the street. From 1937. Both a memory. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Two icons of Los Angeles: the Brown Derby Restaurant on Wilshire and the Ambassador Hotel across the street. From 1937. Both a memory.

 

"Fashion Fortnight" at the Cocoanut Grove held on January 27, 1938. Ruth Stevens is the model, sporting a spring negligee of white jersey embroidered with rhinestones. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

“Fashion Fortnight” at the Cocoanut Grove held on January 27, 1938. Ruth Stevens is the model, sporting a spring negligee of white jersey embroidered with rhinestones.

 

Ambassador Hotel 1939

The Ambassador Hotel in 1939. (LAPL 00104321)

 

Art Prints

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Art Prints

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Photography Prints

Cocoanut Grove conga line

A Conga line forms after the main show ends at the Cocoanut Grove on June 22, 1940. (LAPL: 00055459)

 

Ambassador Hotel Cocoanut Grove 1942

The Navy Relief Ball held at the Cocoanut Grove on June 12, 1943. (LAPL: 00055460)

 

Surrealist artist, Salvador Dali works from the bathtub of an Ambassador Hotel suite because he enjoys working in small places. Photo taken June 18, 1944 (UCLA photo archive) Bizarre Los Angeles.

Surrealist artist, Salvador Dali works from the bathtub of an Ambassador Hotel suite because he enjoys working in small places.

Photo taken June 18, 1944
(UCLA photo archive)

 

Art Prints

Postcard reads: Save 50% on Ambassador Lido’s Special Course. 16 complete treatments for $25. Includes posture corrective exercise, Reducing Ring Roller, Baths and full body massage – also use of plunge and Suntan Beach on day of treatment. This offer may be withdrawn without further notice, so please let me hear from you. This card entitles you to a complimentary treatment – not transferable. Free Parking…Louise Brown, Directress.

Ambassador Hotel Lido Pool Club

Another view of the Lido Pool Club.

 

"Model Mothers" with the Blue Book Model Agency lounge with two children at the Ambassador Hotel's Lido swimming pool in 1945. (Photo: Ralph Morris/LAPL)

“Model Mothers” with the Blue Book Model Agency lounge with two children at the Lido swimming pool in 1945. (Photo: Ralph Morris/LAPL)

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Photography Prints

 

The Cocoanut Grove in 1949. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The Cocoanut Grove in 1949.

 

Art Prints

 

Although the Cocoanut Grove started its "Night in Hawaii" as early as 1928, it became a regular Tuesday evening event from 1951 to at least 1954. Bizarre Los Angeles.

Although the Cocoanut Grove started its “Night in Hawaii” as early as 1928, it became a regular Tuesday evening event from 1951 to at least 1954.

 

Cocoanut Grove 1955

Mrs. Herbert A. Hitchins modeling the “Butterfly Aerialist” headdress during the 17th Annual Las Foristas Floral Headdress Ball at the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, April 23, 1955. (LAPL)

 

Edward G. Robinson at the Cocoanut Grove around 1956 (or thereabouts). Bizarre Los Angeles.Edward G. Robinson at the Cocoanut Grove around 1956 (or thereabouts).

 

Ambassador Hotel Freddy Martin

House bandleader Freddy Martin recorded a live album at the Cocoanut Grove in 1957. He also provided the launching pad for one of his crooners, Merv Griffin. Martin returned to the Ambassador in the 1970s.

 

 

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Art Prints

 

Art Prints

 

JFK Ambassador Hotel

Too bad the Ambassador Hotel was edited out of this news photo, but here are two women asking JFK for an autograph during his breakfast. Photo was taken in September of 1960, shortly before election time. (LAPL 00105435) 

 

Outside bungalow

A Kodachrome taken outside of one of the Ambassador Hotel bungalows. Photo is undated.

 

Ambassador Hotel 1963

The east side entrance to the hotel, circa 1963.

 

Miss Streisand Wows Hollywood Movie Turnout

Hollywood (AP) Sept. 1, 1963 — She bends notes like Ella Fitzgerald, makes kid’s songs like “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” sound sexy ala Lena Horne and she belts like Judy Garland.

She’s also kookier than Shirley MacLaine.

And Barbara Streisand is only 21. One of the biggest movie turnouts in months greeted her Hollywood debut at the Cocoanut Grove. She’s the new pet of the movie crowd.

As she looked over the audience, which included everyone from Sue (Lolita) Lyon to Henry Fonda, she said” “I’m the kind of nut who reads movie magazines – and here you all are alive. If I had known you were coming, I would have had my nose fixed.”

 

 

African American 1964 Cocoanut Grove

Partying at the Cocoanut Grove in 1964. (LAPL 00001759)

 

"Miss Boat Show" Bi Egnell at the Ambassador Hotel in 1964. (LAPL 00124786)

“Miss Boat Show” Bi Egnell in 1964. (LAPL 00124786)

 

Ted Kennedy Ambassador Hotel 1968

Ted Kennedy campaigning for brother Bobby inside the Embassy Room at the Ambassador Hotel on May 7, 1968. (LAPL: 00105591)

 

Robert Kennedy assasination

On June 5, 1968, Robert “Bobby” Kennedy was fatally shot inside the hotel’s pantry. Juan Ramero, a hotel employee, knelt beside him seconds after the shooting. Although Kennedy did not die in the hotel, his shooting erased much of the hotel’s storied past in the minds of many Angelenos.

 

Ambassador Hotel 1978

Photo taken in 1978 by Anne Laskey. By this time, the Ambassador was definitely rumored to be a haunted by more than one ghost. LAPL 00090134.

 

Ambassador Hotel Base relief

A great shot of the art deco bas relief sculpture near the outer entrance pylon of the (demolished) Ambassador Hotel. The photo was taken in 1978 by Anne Laskey. (LAPL 00090142) 

 

The Ambassador in 1987. Renovations for the failing hotel were estimated to cost $30 million at that time. Photographer: Javier Mendoza/ LAPL 00055456.

 

The Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room in 1987. Bizarre Los Angeles.

The Embassy Room in 1987.

 

Craig Owens standing outside the Cocoanut Grove in 2003. Bizarre Los Angeles

Me standing outside of the entrance to the Cocoanut Grove in the late 1990s. The orbs are dust.

 

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel bungalows (Bizarre Los Angeles)

A view of the bungalows, circa early 2000s. I’m guessing that I am the photogrpher, though I’m not 100% sure.

 

The Los Angeles Ambassador before demolition. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The main entance.

 

The Ambassador Hotel's Coffee Shop interior. Designed by Paul Williams. Photographer: N/A (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Coffee Shop, c. early 2000s. Bizarre Los Angeles

The Coffee Shop interior. Designed by Paul Williams. Photographer: N/A

 

Palm Bar Ambassador Hotel

The Palm Bar near the lobby after the hotel closed. Photographer: N/A

 

Cocoanut Grove Interior

The interior of the Cocoanut Grove. Photographer: N/A (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The interior of the Cocoanut Grove. Photographer: N/A

 

Ambassador Hotel House Rules

“The Ambassador Hotel House Rules.” Photographer: N/A

 

Ambassador Travel at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Ambassador Travel. Photographer: N/A.

 

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Dolphin Court, circa early 2000s. Photographer: William Sandidge. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The Dolphin Court near the end of the Ambassador Hotel’s life. Photographer: William Sandidge.

 

Cut trees - north view from Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Clearing of trees outside of the hotel in preparation for demolition.

 

Inside a lost Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel bungalow before it was torn down. Bizarre Los Angeles

Inside a lost  bungalow before it was torn down.

 

Collage Theatre members performing inside the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Lido Pool, circa 2005. Bizarre Los Angeles

Collage Theatre members performing inside the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel’s Lido Pool. This musical act preceded Heidi Duckler’s dance company’s performance inside the hotel. Photo, circa 2003. Photo credit: Bizarre Los Angeles

 

Heidi Ducker performers in 2003.

Heidi Duckler performers dancing inside the Ambassador’s lobby fountain in 2003. The title of her performance art was called “Sleeping with the Ambassador.”

 

Ambassador Hotel Lobby, circa 2003. Bizarre Los Angeles

The lobby in 2003.

 

Entrance to the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Cocoanut Grove. Photo by Craig Owens. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Entrance to the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove. Photo by Craig Owens.

 

Cocoanut Grove Last Performance

The Cocoanut Grove in 2003. The palm trees were for the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, who staged the last performance before the building's destruction. Photo by Bizarre Los Angeles.

The Cocoanut Grove in 2003. The palm trees were for the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, who staged the last performance before the building’s destruction.

 

 

Ambassador Hotel registration desk

A beautiful shot of the Ambassador Hotel’s registration desk, circa 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / LAPL 00085035) 

 

Ambassador Hotel 2005

An east side entrance to the hotel in 2005 with an empty fountain is in the foreground. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. LAPL 00084984

 

Ambassador Hotel 2005

The hotel’s east facade in 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / 00084980)

 

Ambassador Hotel hallwayA hallway of the hotel’s Casino Level in 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / LAPL 00085078)

 

Ambassador Hotel Casino

The hotel’s shopping promenade on the Casino Level. Date: 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. (LAPL)

 

Ambassador Hotel casino

The interior of one of the retail spaces inside the Casino Level in 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / LAPL 00085086) Bizarre Los Angeles

The interior of one of the retail spaces inside the Casino Level in 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / LAPL 00085086)

 

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel Casino level interior. 2005, Photo by Tom Zimmerman.

Casino level interior. 2005, Photo by Tom Zimmerman.

 

Cocoanut Grove entrance 2005

Entrance to the Cocoanut Grove, circa 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / 00085039)

 

Stairs inside the Cocoanut Grove, circa 2005. Bizarre Los Angeles.

Stairs inside the Cocoanut Grove, circa 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman)

 

Last look at the Cocoanut Grove in 2005. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

The Cocoanut Grove in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. (Bizarre Los Angeles)The Cocoanut Grove in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman.

 

Ambassador Hotel hallway

A hallway that once ran from the main ballroom to the kitchen, circa 2005. (Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / LAPL 00085098)

 

aMBASSADOR hOTEL PANTRY

The infamous pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman / LAPL 00085100

 

Tile flooring inside the lost Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Bizarre Los Angeles.

Tile that was once located inside the kitchen adjacent to a ballroom.

Photographer: N/A

 

The penthouse area of the Ambassador Hotel's main building. 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. (LAPL) Bizarre Los Angeles

The penthouse area of the Ambassador Hotel’s main building, circa 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. (LAPL)

 

A dormer room at the Ambassador Hotel, located on the south side. 2005. Photo by Tom Zimmerman. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

A dormer room, located on the south side. 2005. Photo by Tom Zimmerman.

 

Ambassador Hotel suite 2005

An empty suite at the Ambassador, circa 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman (LAPL 00085056)

 

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. Bizarre Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. Bizarre Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman.

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. Bizarre Los Angeles

The Embassy Room in 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman.

 

Expterior of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Huerta Bungalow, c. 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Exterior of the Huerta Bungalow, c. 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman (LAPL)

 

Interior of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Huerta Bungalow, circa 2005. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Interior of the Huerta Bungalow bedroom, circa 2005. Photographer: Tom Zimmerman. (LAPL)

 

The Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's Huerta Bungalow balcony, circa 2005. Photo by Tom Zimmerman. (LAPL) Bizarre Los Angeles

The Huerta Bungalow’s balcony, circa 2005. Photo by Tom Zimmerman. (LAPL)

 

Ambassador Key Drawer

For Sale: Stardust Memories

 

Los Angeles Times

It might just be the biggest architectural salvage project in Los Angeles.

For more than 15 years, workers have been slowly taking apart the Ambassador Hotel. They’ve removed many of the fixtures, furniture and equipment from the Wilshire Boulevard landmark that once hosted Hollywood stars and world leaders and have sold them off, piece by piece.

It started in 1991, about two years after the hotel closed. Donald Trump, who had bought the hotel in hopes of tearing it down to build a 125-story building, sold off silver serving platters with the hotel’s eagle-topped crest, tiki-style soup bowls from the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub, and beds and nightstands from the rooms. Someone paid $2,250 for a baby grand piano used in the hotel by Sammy Davis Jr.

Trump’s grand plans never materialized. But the slow process of stripping the hotel continued. Now, the Ambassador’s current owner, the Los Angeles Unified School District, is poised to demolish most of the sprawling hotel this fall and replace it with schools. So workers are frantically pulling out what is left — to be put up for auction Sept. 10.

Many of the soon-to-be-auctioned goods are already grouped in careful rows in a parking lot at the west edge of the Ambassador property that will serve as the auction site when the bidding starts at 10 a.m.

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel safe, circa 2005. Bizarre Los Angeles

Some are one-of-a-kind treasures, like the old black safe, made decades ago by Halls Safe Co. of Cincinnati for the Ambassador. It will be auctioned off along with its combination.

Then there are the two statue light fixtures that may have once peered out over the Cocoanut Grove and are, admittedly, of questionable taste nowadays: Black boys in richly colored tunics holding palm-frond chandeliers aloft. District officials said they have been rewired more than once.

Other items are the more mundane pieces necessary to run a hotel famed for serving hundreds of guests at once: banquet chairs and tables, for example.

Also for the taking are dozens and dozens of sconces, products of the disco era, with burly wood bases and cork-and-fringe lampshades; eight black leather couches with red trim, their wooden feet a little chipped, their lining a little frayed; a gaggle of stage lights pulled down from the Cocoanut Grove ceiling; and two spotlights from the nightclub.

A disco ball from the Cocoanut Grove. (Bizarre Los Angeles)
A disco ball at the Ambassador Hotel auction.

A district official said he had heard that the lights still worked. But there was no guarantee.

Is there a market for any of this?

Officials say they’re not sure — it depends in part, they said, on the “buzz” the auction generates. But they have agreed to remove as many pieces from the hotel as they can before it is razed.

The hotel, closed since 1989, still holds a warm place in the hearts of many Angelenos — so much so that the Los Angeles Conservancy and other groups fought for years in an ultimately unsuccessful battle to keep the hotel buildings intact. [My note: Hah! Don’t get me started about the Conservancy!]

Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel's exposed bricks, c. 2005. Bizarre Los Angeles.

The booty also has ties to Old Hollywood, always a plus in the collectibles world: Opened in 1921, the hotel was host to six Academy Awards ceremonies as well as countless movie stars and dignitaries, including Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill. It is perhaps best known, however, as the site where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

And to make sure everyone knows the pedigree of that lamp, items sold at the auction will include certificates of authenticity, said Diane Bendis, president of Bendis Companies Inc., which is managing the auction for the Los Angeles school district…. 

One reason the Ambassador has sustained so many years of salvage is its sheer size. It has 1,000 rooms, and the hotel’s grounds, pool and bungalows took up a 27-acre site.

As its layers have been stripped away since it closed, the hotel itself has taken on the look of a house left vacant by owners who departed quickly.

The furniture left in the lobby — much of which is being auctioned off in the sale — was placed haphazardly, moved around the cavernous space by movie crews that used the hotel regularly to recapture bygone eras on film. Ballrooms were littered with trashcans to catch the leaks, and the only fixtures that truly seemed to belong to the hotel anymore were a group of cats who called the old building home.

Los Angeles Ambasador Hotel lobby fountain at auction in 2005. Bizarre Los Angeles.

Even after the Sept. 10 auction, more last-minute salvaging could occur — on big items like the massive alabaster fountain in the lobby, stair railings and heavy-duty kitchen equipment.

Glenn Gritzner, special assistant to district Supt. Roy Romer, said the district hoped to find architectural salvage firms willing and able to remove those items from the building. But he said the construction of the new schools was on a tight schedule and that timing was an issue, because the district was committed to opening the campus’ elementary school in 2008, and the middle and high schools the following year.

School officials said they hoped that there were enough small items in the auction so that anyone wanting to take home a piece of the Ambassador would find something they could afford.

Among those they can pick from are dozens of floral prints and mirrors, one of which has a sticker from the liquidators last time around — and a price tag of $35.

All of the money raised from the auction will go into the school district’s general operating fund. But Bendis said she had no way to predict how much that would be. “Because of the historical thing,” she said, “you really have to have a crystal ball to know.”

Gilliam Greyson, owner of Scavenger’s Paradise in North Hollywood, said her store was selling a couple of crystal chandeliers — removed from the hotel on the last go-round of salvaging — for between $200 and $500 apiece.

“When people come in, I think of finding a good home for these pieces, because they have such a good history,” Greyson said. “If we can save a piece of that history, it’s well worth it.”

 

Demolition of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

 

 

Demolition of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Demolition of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel.

 

 

 

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