Thursday, May 28, 2009

Apartments in Blue

It's easy to get caught up in the beauty of the city's historic homes, but tucked among them are a number of charming apartment buildings, many built in the 1950s and 60s. As of 2007, about 56% of South Pas residents were renters. (Who knows how much this number may have risen due to the housing crisis.) While I am grateful to own my home, and I appreciate the fact that I can put down deep roots, there is something to be said for the nomadic joy of being the rest of a lease and a U-haul away from packing up and moving.

Remember your first apartment? For me, it was a chalet-style 8-plex near my university campus. The metal stairs rattled and the front rooms barely got any light but in my mind it was my own little niche in the universe -- complete with a futon, a Klimt poster and a burgeoning wooden bookcase. When I moved to Los Angeles a few years later, I rented a fabulous old 1920s walk-up in Hollywood a few doors down from Chaplin's first studio and a block away from the strip club Motley Crue made famous in Girls Girls Girls.

While houses allow a certain my-home-is-my-castle distance, apartments insist on a sense of community. Shared walls, shared laundry rooms, shared conversations at complex pool parties. Just think, without apartments, there would have been no Tales of the City. And who knows what tales could be told about this little city? While I was taking the picture above, I heard a snippet of a conversation coming from somewhere nearby:

"I think I might really love him," she said, "but there's that thing with the dog..."

(I guess I could have kept listening, but nobody wants to be a nosy neighbor.)

17 comments:

Dixie Jane said...

For those of you who knew the music of Glenn Miller you know that he had a famous song that this reminds me of: Serenade in Blue. I missed the whole apartment thing, unless you want to count a reconverted chicken house as an apartment. Those were grim living conditions complete with a real ice man (with a real line of bull)and a leaky ice box. What I wouldn't have given to have had a chance to live in a blue apartment during those times. Or pink, or chartreuse. This one seems to have a luminosity.

Halcyon said...

I know what you mean about apartment life. I did enjoy those days, but owning a home is nice too!

I love the blues in this photo. Now all they need is a pool.

Judy Williams said...

My first apartment was a third story furnished near Univ. of Texas - so everybody that summer were students. We hung out together and 10 of us did everything together. I learned how to do the 2-step that summer. We'd go to an old dive beer hall and drink $.10 Falstaff (eeeeeuw). I also learned how to drive a stick shift on my friend Susan's '64 VW bug that summer. I still think of her every time I see one.

This blue themed shot is so nice. I remember Shanna explaining the cool and warm color palettea and we would arrange my Crayolas so that all of the yellow, oranges and reds were on one side and the blue, green and lavenders on the other. This is a lovely study in the cool palette and the use of geometry in architecture.

Thanks for jogging my memory and sending me down a nice reminiscence.

Jean Spitzer said...

They have a pool. Beautiful blues. Maybe you just started a new blog, "Overheard in South Pasadena."

Jean Spitzer said...

I grew up in apartments. The earliest memorable one was on Willoughby in West Hollywood. It's still there and it's still memorable. Some of the apartments had these neat little iron work balconies--very Romeo and Juliet.

Sharon said...

There is something about this place that just screams "California" to me. I guess that when I was still living in Illinois this is where I pictured living in those day-dreams about living somewhere else and experiencing new things.

-K- said...

Both today and yesterday's photos have such a strong sense of what the Sixties were like before it became "The Sixties." And strictly speaking, I suppose both buildings could have been created prior to that time.

Now I have the sudden craving to watch the first season of "Mad Men."

dbdubya said...

My first apartment was in a courtyard built in the 1920's near USC. It was a small single with an unvented gas heater that cost $75 a month. I was living on my own for the first time and it was my tiny castle.

My first reaction upon seeing this photo was that it looked like Miami. But Sharon's right, it's much more California.

altadenahiker said...

Cool blues.

First apartment? Ohhh yeah. A one bedroom, no pets,pueblo-looking place; only entrance and only window was a sliding glass door. Shared it with a guy and a girl. No funny stuff, we were just really broke. And my dog lived there too.

Trish said...

I love the different shades of blue. I also noticed the aluminum windows...probably original along with those tiles and light fixtures!

Am not sure the "moat" would be considered a pool, tho it looks like they have a chlorinator floating in it!

I'm having a vague recollection of this place, but can't remember why.

My first apartment---the first first one was when mom & I moved out. A little bungalow type place over near the SoPas golf course. Cool for me who had grown up in the hills, not so cool when the night owl neighbor played his Big Band music all night long! I love it, just not while I'm trying to sleep!

My first apartment on my own, shared with a teacher I hardly knew through an ad---what was I thinking? 3rd story, no elevator, exterior stairwells that rattled any time anyone looked at using them (somewhat like the ones in this picture). The "stud" moron across the courtyard used to make all sorts of noise coming in and out, partying, boinking his dates loudly with the windows open---karma got to him---he brought home a REALLY drunk date one night, she made it 2 1/2 stories up and puked all down the stairs...we giggled as we heard him cleaning it up for the next few hours---fitting payback!

Linda Dove said...

I am intrigued by the "complex pool parties" you mention and am trying to picture some really complicated sipping and chatting as the chlorine wafts by.

;-)

altadenahiker said...

Trish, someday we'll have to do a worst neighbor ever post. And steps one may have taken in revenge. You can help me write it.

Hilda said...

That tiled (?) wall just made me smile. Reminds me of the 50s and 60s houses here too.

Shanna said...

Judy: I don't remember arranging your crayolas into a warm and cool palette, but I'm glad I did and glad that you remember!!!

Laurie said...

HEy gang,

Thanks for all the great stories and comments. I'm all for more apartment tales! But nothing more from me tonight -- I have a cold and my brain is wrapped up in benadryl. So, until tomorrow everyone...

Babooshka said...

This could be the UK. A modern rhapsody in blue. I'd rather look at than live in thought.

Andrew said...

Really amazing...

Nice photo...wonderful thoughts....


Thanks for sharing...


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