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Ambassador Hotel
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Ambassador Hotel

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2003 - 2017.


When the Ambassador Hotel opened, it helped bring development to this area of Wilshire Boulevard. The hotel provided stays to every U.S. President from Herbert Hoover to Richard Nixon, as well as British royalty. Nixon wrote his famous Checkers speech at the hotel in 1952. Other wealthy people, including Howard Hughes, stayed for short or long terms. The hotel is also famous as the tragic assassination site of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The hotel has been closed since 1988. The hotel was once the center of night life in Los Angeles, especially for the Hollywood crowd. The Coconut Grove lounge (opened 1921) was filled every night with all the famous people in the entertainment industry.

The Ambassador Hotel lost favor and started a decline. By the 1980s and 90s, the hotel was used more as a Hollywood filming location than a hotel and hot spot for the Hollywood famous. The was sold and then resold to Los Angeles Unified School district and sat empty for several years. The Los Angeles Conservancy fought for several years to preserve the hotel. In the fall of 2005, the Ambassador Hotel lost its appeal and was sentenced to death by the LAUSD. LAUSD won a court case to demolish the Ambassador Hotel and demolition began quickly thereafter. See what is left one last time, but do it soon, it is coming down quickly and may be gone by the time you read this. Most of this web page is devoted to the demolition of this great hotel.

Demolition progressed rapidly. In mid-October, there was little evidence of demo as seen from the street. By mid-November, the roof and top floor of the north wings had been demoed. By mid-December, the north wing was almost completely gone. At the same time, the lower constructions on the west were being demolished and was gone by mid-December. Also during this time, demolition was progressing slowly throughout the remainder of the building. In the second half of December, the end section of the southeast wing was completely demolished.
Location:
3400 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California.

The below four images were taken about two years before demolition began.
Sign
Ambassador Hotel
Looking south from Wilshire Boulevard. Photo date: December 20, 2003.
Ambassador Hotel
Looking south from Wilshire Boulevard. Photo date: December 20, 2003.
Ambassador Hotel
Looking south from Wilshire Boulevard. Photo date: December 20, 2003.
Ambassador Hotel
Looking south from Wilshire Boulevard. Sign. Photo date: December 20, 2003.

The following section shows progressive grouping of images for various parts of the Ambassador Hotel.

North Side from Wilshire Boulevard

Note that the Coconut Grove remains, but the tower slowly disappears.
North Side on October 15, 2005
North Side. Photo date: 10-15-05.
North Side on November 12, 2005
North Side. Photo date: 11-12-05.
North Side on December 4, 2005
North Side. Photo date: 12-4-05.
North Side on December 17, 2005
North Side. Photo date: 12-17-05.
North Side on December 29, 2005
North Side. Photo date: 12-29-05.
North Side on January 15, 2006
North Side. Photo date: 1-15-06.
North Side on February 19, 2006
North Side. Photo date: 2-19-06.

Northeast Tower

Northeast Tower on October 15, 2005
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 10-15-05.
Northeast Toweron November 6, 2005
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 11-6-05.
Northeast Tower on November 12, 2005
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 11-12-05.
Northeast Tower on November 19, 2005
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 11-19-05.
Northeast Tower on December 4, 2005
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 12-4-05.
Northeast Tower on December 17, 2005.
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 12-17-05.
Northeast Tower on December 29, 2005
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 12-29-05.
Northeast Tower on February 5, 2006
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 2-2-06.
Northeast Tower on February 19, 2006
Northeast Tower. Photo date: 2-19-06.


West Side

West Side on November 19, 2005
West side. Photo date: 11-19-05.
West Side on December 4, 2005
West side. Photo date: 12-4-05.
West Side on December 17, 2005
West side. Photo date: 12-17-05.
West Side on December 18, 2005
West side. Photo date: 12-18-05.
West Side on January 15, 2006
West side. Photo date: 1-15-06.
West Side on February 19, 2006
West side. Photo date: 2-19-06.

Sign

Sign on November 19, 2005
Sign. Photo date: 11-19-05.
Sign on February 19, 2006
Sign. Photo date: 2-19-06.

October 15, 2005

These photos were taken shortly after demolition began. Note that the trees are gone. The exterior is still largely intact, demolition of the interior is progressing quickly.

November 6, 2005

I returned a few weeks later to observe the progress of the demolition.

November 12, 2005

By the 12th of November, 2005, the roof over the northeast wing had been removed along with the top floor for the same wing.

November 19, 2005

On Saturday, November 19, 2005, I observed the demolition in action. A large machine on the top remaining floor was hammering away at the ceiling above and on the floor below, a bulldozer was shoving debris over the side through a gaping hole in the facade.

December 4, 2005

By December 4, 2005, the top three floors of the north wings were gone. The center section was also showing more light through the building because of the removal of interior walls.

December 17, 2005

Two weeks later I returned to observe that the entire two north wings were gone.

December 18, 2005

By December 18, 2005, the north wings were gone.

December 29, 2005

I returned on December 29, 2005 and was shocked to see that the end section of the southeast wing, which had looked almost untouched two weeks earlier, was gone.

January 15, 2006

Just two weeks later on Sunday, January 15 ,2006, only one small section of the once H-shapped hotel tower remained. I was dismayed how much had been demolished in only two weeks after watching the northeast wing take over a month.

February 5, 2006

I was unable to return for several weeks by which time, only debris remained.

February 19, 2006

Two weeks later, even the debris was disappearing.

April 2, 2006

My final photos were taken on April 2, 2006. By this time, even the debris was gone and construction of the new school had begun. The Coconut Grove was still standing, but with no front or back exterior walls and the interior mostly gutted.

August 6, 2006

I took a few follow-up photos on August 6, 2006. The site hasn't changed much. The Coconut Grove was still standing, but with no front or back exterior walls and the interior mostly gutted.

April 6, 2008

The Ambassador Hotel is gone now. A new school will take its place. Perhaps one of the student educated in the new school will be enlightened enough to find a way to save other historic buildings.
Sign
Sign. Photo date: 10-15-05.

high school high school
The high school that replaced the Ambassador Hotel was originally promised to retain historic elements. The building nearing completion at the time of this writing, resembles nothing of the original building.

Photo date: June 11, 2011. The school is open. The replacement building is the same shape and size, but looks nothing like the historic hotel. Blue glass has replaced beige masonry. None of the historic elements have been preserved as promised.

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