This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. May 03, Emily rated it really liked it Shelves: non-food-non-lit. In this sibling text to his prize-winning City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, , Richard Longstreth traces the transformation of shopping spaces and processes in Los Angeles during the period In successive chapters, he sketches a retail lineage linked by automobility. He begins with the drive-in businesses of the s, such as the filling station and subsequent super service center, which accommodated automobiles in new spatial arrangements.
He argues that these spaces begot the drive-in market of the s, which introduced the concept of one-stop shopping and off-street parking, conveniences that shoppers readily embraced. He then demonstrates how the supermarket of the s was the first retail business to effectively combined a host of novel retailing characteristics low prices, self-service, large volume sales dependent upon the car for transport, the selling of a variety of goods, non-urban settings, large buildings and floor spaces, ample parking lots, bright and clean interiors under one roof.
Through these three spaces, and the images of them throughout the text, Longstreth traces the transition in shopping processes and the physical environments in which it occurs from pedestrian-friendly, multi-storied, downtown stores to automobile-oriented, sprawling single story, self-service operations sited farther from the city center. With exterior spaces that prioritized copious parking over street appeal and interior spaces reconfigured to promote efficiency and profit, Longstreth argues that the supermarket led to the homogenization of all retail experiences and environments, in everything from drug stores to appliance stores, pet stores to bookstores.
He argues that these changes in the retail landscape contributed to the decline of urban spaces, the prioritization of car-centric lifestyles dependent upon copious parking, and a demise of community sentiment. Just as some bemoan consumption as a soulless preoccupation of modern life, Longstreth seems to mourn the loss of dense urban cores and the shopping patterns and community cohesion that they provided. Aug 23, Jonathan rated it really liked it. A brief but informative and cogently argued look at how the rise of the automobile shaped commercial spaces in southern California and through it, the rest of the country in the early twentieth century.
Longstreth focuses on super service stations and gas stations , drive-in markets, supermarkets, and strip malls although he doesn't use that term. The burgeoning middle-class and auto-dependent, sprawling urban design in LA--as well as various related forces in real estate and retail--fueled A brief but informative and cogently argued look at how the rise of the automobile shaped commercial spaces in southern California and through it, the rest of the country in the early twentieth century.
The burgeoning middle-class and auto-dependent, sprawling urban design in LA--as well as various related forces in real estate and retail--fueled a shift away from the Main Street paradigm that had previously dominated commerce in cities and towns. Most leases were structured on a percentage basis, then a relatively new practice, so that both parties enjoyed direct benefits from profits.
For self-employed food retailers, the overall statistics were especially encouraging. The failure rate among individuals operating a conventional neighborhood store in the region was claimed to be over ninety percent during the s, while the rate for those who ran a department at a drive-in market was about forty percent. In planning a drive-in market, however, brokers could be picky in assembling their tenants because of the advantages of participating in such an enterprise.
Numerous concessionaires came to the drive-in with years of experience and a solid reputation. Often, too, independents were bolstered by the presence of a well-known local chain in groceries E.
The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-1941
Hot or rainy days discouraged pedestrian shoppers, but had little effect on motorists. Most food stores were open eight or nine hours, their employees working on a single shift. This schedule, in turn, attracted additional customers, including those who worked late or who preferred to shop in the evening.
The standard accumulation of buildings along the spine of a commercial center and the attendant plethora of signs tended to minimize the distinction between stores. From the vantage point of an automobile, moving at speeds appreciably greater than those of a streetcar or a pedestrian, that effect was intensified, even in blocks where harmonious facade design was attempted figure Only the open front, which had become characteristic of many produce stores as well as groceries in the region by the s, distinguished these outlets from those selling other types of goods figure The primary space was the forecourt, which was reserved for automobiles.
This configuration made the building stand out as an individual entity, conspicuous even when its architectural treatment was comparatively modest figure The spatial order of most drive-in markets was not just one of a store block pushed back from the street.
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Diagrammatically, it was analogous to attaching several units in such a block end to end, bending the link more or less at midpoint, and opening most of the internal long side to the forecourt figure Western Avenue, Los Angeles, ca. Given the ability to control this space, merchants could ensure that goods were brought through alley entrances, which had long been shunned by delivery personnel. Other inducements bolstered this change. Both the corner site and long building elevation at the rear facilitated vehicular access.
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Magazine of Business, July , Rear view. Probably more than any other building type of the decade, the drive-in market gave order to a segregation of shopper and service routes that merchants had sought for years. Differences in spatial arrangement also were pronounced inside. The narrow and deep layout of most stores necessitated using a substantial part of their selling area for circulation and limited the ways in which goods could be arranged.
Space tended to seem cavernous and confined even when the dimensions were generous by standards of the day and the store illuminated by modern electric fixtures and skylights figure The internal organization of drive-in markets, on the other hand, entailed treating each department as an integral component of the whole, which, together with the long open front, made the space appear freer and more variable figure Circulation was parallel and close to the light, airy frontal zone.
Service spaces could be kept to a minimum and combined among the coordinated departments. The layout of each department as well as its relationship to the others was devised to maximize contact between customer and product through displays that were at once compact and continuous from one department to the next. An efficient layout was also important from the standpoint of service, minimizing the distance moved in assisting customers and the staff needed to perform that function. Main Street, Alhambra, California, ; altered.
Photo C. Pierce, Little room was allocated to storage, since products were selected for rapid turnover. Outside no less than in, the drive-in market was experientially different from most other retail establishments. The buildings that defined the edges were separated from this current, psychologically as well as physically, by rows of parked cars. Access to stores was from an altogether distinct zone that often was not easily reached.
As a concession to drivers, new outlying areas of many communities in the south-central and southwestern states had sufficiently wide arteries to enable right-angle or diagonal parking directly off the street. Only in places where the public right-of-way had yet to be fully utilized could motorists claim the residue space for temporary use figure The drive-in market helped to create a new relationship between motorist and store, with the forecourt serving as an entry.
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At the super service station, this space was the principal one customers penetrated, leaving their cars near the appropriate service bay. At the drive-in market, however, the forecourt was an intermediate zone, the place from which people could go inside the building at any number of points figure This integration of movement—from street, to lot, to building—was a departure both in the path taken and in the strong visual ties between its parts.
To a greater degree than the planners of many super service stations, drive-in owners chose sites in relation to traffic patterns. View looking west, Sunset Hills Market at right. Arthur E.
This Automated Drive-In Market Was Pretty Retro, Even For
Goodwin, Markets: Public and Private, Beyond substantial traffic flow throughout the day, the key locational factor was heavy use during the peak shopping period in the late afternoon. Most sites thus were on the homeward-bound side of commuter routes, with the building oriented to evening rush-hour traffic. Even though many customers were women who did not work, it was believed that they were reluctant to cross over streams of traffic to enter the forecourt, so that the homeward-bound orientation would be the most advantageous from their perspective as well.
Placement on a corner site was regarded as essential, primarily so that the market could be as conspicuous as possible to approaching motorists. Major intersections were generally avoided, however, except in areas without much concentrated settlement, where owners may have felt it necessary to divert motorists from two well-traveled routes in order to sustain business. The L-shaped plan became the norm because it was the most effective in making the facility conspicuous, spatially tying the interior to the forecourt and orienting the ensemble to the public rights-of-way beyond.
Siting was related to form in other respects as well, not least of which was the size and configuration of the lot. Ideally, that lot would be a rectangle, its depth not appreciably less than its width, so that the front and its displays were prominently on view from the street and ample room existed for parking.
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When the property was shallow or otherwise irregular, the effect on the building mass tended to be minimized by architecturally emphasizing the relationship between the long, linear forecourt and building front. One of the most effective solutions under these circumstances was the arc-shaped plan that transformed the two arms of the L into a continuous facade figure In other cases, the L was bent to conform to the site so as to underscore the length of the front from the principal approach path.
While the great majority of drive-in markets were variations on the L plan, some were merely rectangular blocks. On the other hand, the U-shaped form, introduced at Ye Market Place, proved undesirable in most instances. Obliquely referring to the Glendale complex, Willard Morgan explained in no uncertain terms: Such a market looks particularly blank while moving at a moderate speed along the main highway.
The stores located farthest back from the street cannot display their goods to selling advantage because their displays cannot be seen. The facade of the standard taxpayer block was composed in an additive manner, with more or less identical bays stretching end to end and no one portion receiving appreciably greater emphasis than the others.
The end bays could be minimally differentiated by slight projections in the wall plane, and perhaps in the roof line as well. When enclosed store units were part of the program, they were situated at one or both ends, allowing for distinctions in the treatment of openings. Sometimes one end would be further punctuated by a second-story office or loft space or by a purely decorative element see figure The principal device used to give focus to the central section was a turret or tower, which could range from one of modest dimensions see figure 36 to a soaring beacon visible some distance away figure In these cases, the wings tended to remain simple, without changes in composition at their ends.