Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I’M A born-again Californian, not a native one. Wife Dottie, by contrast, is a desert rat from El Centro. In rearranging some bookshelves recently, I came upon a fine California celebration, part of Taschen’s Icon series of cultural graphics. Some of this California art is shared here.


California, Here I Come (Icons), edited by Jim Heimann, Taschen, 2002.

Like others in Taschen’s Icons series, this book begins with a short essay, reproduced in English, German and French, that describes the cultural importance of the locale and era. In this case, it’s California as promoted by Chambers of Commerce, railroads, land developers and others for a good part of the 20th century.


A fine place. This and other images from Jim Heimann’s collection contained in California Here I Come.

As editor Jim Heimann observes, “The stylized illustrations of the first half of the century gave way to technological advances in printing and the prevalent use of photography. Truth in advertising also curbed some of the more exaggerated portrayals of California. Still, the image of California as a refuge from inclement weather and as a destination for unlimited possibilities continued to be a dominant visual theme well into the 1960s.”


Eventually, more’s the pity, the world of print diminished. Nonetheless, the book resonates with California lore.


From the very beginning, California was exemplary of healthy living. Forget the snow. Enjoy the year-around sunshine. And pour a glass of fresh orange juice. Even kids’ coloring books celebrated this in “A Graphic Novel from 1930.”


Westwood Village, west of downtown Los Angeles and home to UCLA, was developed as an exemplary outdoor mall of sorts in 1929. Despite the Great Depression, the area thrived. Opening with 34 businesses, by 1939 it had 452. Westwood Village flourishes to this day.


Not that California was unaffected by the Great Depression. For a week in March 1935, Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium was home to the California Exposition for Rehabilitation, a program under federal auspices related to the Social Security Act. A poster from the event conveys a spirit of cooperative effort in private enterprise.


Malibu, along Pacific Coast Highway immediately north (er… actually west) of Los Angeles, has long been a high-visibility playground for the rich and famous. And even, for a while, for Daughter Suz: She had an enviable responsibility of cat-sitting in a beach-front Malibu home for months at a time. The cats’ regular pals, Emmy-winning producers, traveled between their Malibu digs, a New York apartment and another home in Vermont. Apparently the kitties preferred Malibu.


San Francisco is well represented in the book, with the Golden Gate Bridge leading to the Redwood Empire and the Powell & Mason cable car shown at one of its turnarounds. For more details on the latter, check out this website’s “Judy and the San Francisco Cable Car.” For a trip over the Golden Gate, just head north on California Route 101.


Old and new California are contrasted in scenes around Pebble Beach’s 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula, about two hours south of San Francisco. Today, the locale is host to many classic car activities in what has evolved into more than a Monterey Week. Old-timers remember when it was but a single weekend in August, with the Pebble Beach Road Races around part of 17-Mile Drive on Saturday and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015

2 comments on “CALIFORNIA, HERE I CAME

  1. Michael Rubin
    September 28, 2015

    Wonder of there was any parking in Westwood Village back in 1929.

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