Vintage Photos: A Drive Down Sunset Strip in 1966 (Part 1) – The Google Street View Prequel

CC reader Rob O. turned me on to what is undoubtedly the ultimate vintage photo CC car-spotting treasure trove. In 1966, artist Ed Ruscha drove along the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Los Angeles with a motorized camera mounted on the back of a pickup truck. His intent was to photograph all of the buildings on each side of the street, which were then assembled in the book Every Building on the Sunset Strip.

Rusha did this more than once; twice in 1966, then again in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and either he or some of his students did it again in 1990, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2007.  The result is over a half-million negatives, of which the Getty Museum has digitized some 60,000 to date. They are now available here. But Ruscha’s objective was the buildings, not the cars, so many of the images in the somewhat clumsy interactive format are of just buildings, as he obviously did this on Sunday mornings when traffic was at a minimum.

So I’ve started going through them and picking out the ones with the cars, and what a CC cornucopia it is. I’m starting with the first drive in ’66, heading east a bit east of Fairfax to near Gower St. It’s actually more old Hollywood than what is typically referred as “The Strip”; the next episode will be there, and of both sides of the street. So get ready for a ride down Sunset Boulevard in 1966, looking strictly to the north.

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