Pacific Red Cars & The Pacific Design Center.

These are Pacific Red Car trains running through West Hollywood in 1953 at San Vicente & Melrose. It was called the Sherman Yard. It’s where trains were stored during maintenance. 

The late, lamented watering hole J. Sloane's opened for business here around 1915. Raymond Chandler described this area in his early short story “Pearls Are a Nuisance”.

Today this location is the Pacific Design center. It opened in 1975, and was quite controversial....It was nicknamed 'The Blue Whale' because of its size and because there were no obvious windows, though the people inside can look out. The 'Blue Whale' name has stuck for those of us who have been around since the infancy of this structure. 

For those who were around then, you might remember that one small business who wouldn’t vacate during construction and the complex had to be built AROUND it. His name was Hugo, and he would NOT sell his little planting business or his property to the largest interior design showplace in the West. He must have been in shock when they went forward with their plans to build the big ‘Blue Whale’ AROUND his little shack. Gotta love that guy for being stubborn. The PDC put trees all around his business to try and hide it, but we ALL knew it was there!:-) See last photo. He eventually vacated several years later. 

Story by Alison Martino from Vintage Los Angeles  


  1. Worked at the Blue Whale in the '80s when it was the sole building on the site. Temp job working for Kneedler Fauchère, a top design firm to this day - Offered me a permanent position (clerical) which I declined - The atmosphere was too "bitchy gay" for my tolerances then. Remember they were selling lacquered China cabinets, at five grand a pop, made out of plywood!! Clients included HRH Saudi's & I had to explain what HRH stood for (His or her Royal Highness) to the two-person clerical staff!

  2. Ha, ha….not a “planting” business, but a “plater” of metals. Good luck finding one of those guys hanging around a local street these days.


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