Sunday, June 01, 2003

The Ambassador's Last Stand

It's looking more and more like the L.A. Unified School District is planning to tear down the legendary Ambassador Hotel. That would be a shame. Not only is the Ambassador beautiful architechturally, but it's brimming with history. The Ambassador was L.A.'s elite hotel for decades, and virtually every major performer through the 1970s was on stage at its legendary Coconut Grove nightclub. The Ambassador was home of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Los Angeles’ premier night spot for decades; and host to six Oscar ceremonies and to every U.S. President from Herbert Hoover to Richard Nixon (who wrote his 1952 “Checkers” speech at the Ambassador). And most historically, the Ambassador was the site of Bobby Kennedy's assassination.

The Ambassador shut down in the 1980s, a victim of the changing neighborhood. It's been threatened with demolition a number of times-- Donald Trump wanted to build the world's tallest building there in the early 1990s, but then the economy went south. Eventually, the school district--badly in need of new schools--inherited the site.
The Los Angeles Conservancy believes there's a way to convert the building into a school in order to meet the school district's needs but still preserve most of the school. The Coconut Grove, for example, would be the auditorium. The hotel's massive lobby could turn into a student gathering place. And so on. Time's running out, though, but hopefully the LAUSD will do the right thing.

Speaking of RFK and the Ambassador, the L.A. Times' Steve Lopez meets up with Juan Romero. He now labors for a paving company in San Jose. But in 1968 he was a busboy at the Ambassador-- and is the young man you've seen cradling Bobby Kennedy's head in that famous photo taken inside the hotel's kitchen.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Beth Temkin said...

Thank you a million times for the report on the Ambassador's Final Days. I will read every word. I was in love with the Ambassador Hotel, its grandeur, its glamour, and its historic significance. And it breaks my heart to see it torn apart.

A long time ago, I bought "Are the Stars Out Tonight" in the gift shop of the Ambassador, never thinking this magnificent hotel would be demolished.

I was taken to the Cocoanut Grove on at least three occasions: One, the Golden Globes of 1966, second to see Ray Charles perform, and third, on a blind date to hear Vicki Carr. Each time it was a thrill to go to the Cocoanut Grove where it felt like a movie set.

Thank you again for this site so lovingly documented. We mourn together.

Beth Temkin

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i work 1/2 block from the hotel and have clear view of it from the lunch room. It has been interesting to see all the phases of construction/destruction. What they need to do is bring in the expolsives to take it down. It is sad, but the hotel is in disrepair, it is unstable and probably would not survive another earthquake.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great web site, I only see the westside view and part of the Wilshire view, so viewing the eatside view is interesting. i can tell you from driving up 7th st. Teh original entrance is gone as of today. All the windows are gone now as well and the workers are just tossing stuff out of the empty windows. We need new schools to relieve overcrowding.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats the story with the cocoanut grove? is it still there, are the plans still to keep it with the new school?

8:28 PM  
Blogger mysteriouspast said...

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and remeber being taken to the Grove on many ocassion by my Grand Parent and parents.

It is too bad that the Kennedy's had to use all of that wealth for such selfish means and distroy one on Hollywood's (Los Angeles) Famous Landmark.

I sincerely hope every member of the Kennedy's Burns Forever In Hell For Distroying Our Historic Landmark

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The School District Super was charmed like a school girl to respresent a few while the masses flew into hysteria and cried, "Nooooo!" Please don't wipe out one of the last ICONS that represents the GLAMOUR of HOLLYWOOD that is nolonger...and please dont destroy the SITE emblamatic of DECOMCRACY ITSELF? But the people got paid, and the hands were shook, and no one in charge here looked into their own hearts it seems if they had them and they killed it. A fantstic crime against humanity and history for ages to come. Perhaps they should tear down the ARC DE TRIUMPHE in PARIS? There were other options for LAUSD. They wanted to do something that would show how important they were? I even blame the Conservancy of LA for giving up and their paudry settlement of 4.5 mil for school preserve? Geesh! Thats like getting beaten up by your husband and not reporting him because he promised to buy you a new car next year. My god. Who is in charge of these fiascos?

6:42 AM  
Blogger Rajesh said...

Hello webmaster,

My name is Rajesh and i am from India, why don't you write something about Indian Hotels such as Leela, a popular 5 star hotel chain in India? It is present in Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, & Kovalam. Their website is at http://www.theleela.com/

Let me know if you post something & keep up the amazing work!


Love and Gratitude,
Rajesh Mergu.
HTMTI.

2:29 AM  
Blogger RC said...

Hello i work in The Embassador High School, Pretty much trough out the whole job site. it's an enourmous job site. This is the biggest project going on for the L.A.U.S.D, and Los Angeles County. Facts are this project will be done earlyer than expect. Perhaps by 6 months before deadline, it will be completed. well if you guys would like to know more information about this project just go ahead and e mail me at castro_richard@yahoo.com.

7:55 PM  
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9:07 PM  
Anonymous Allen said...

Very informative!!!!!
Hi, u told us each and every thing about the Ambassador's. Thank u so much, plz help us in future also.

3:36 AM  

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