It was more than 79 years ago, in September 1929 -- one month before the stock market crash -- that one of the great department stores opened for business, one Carole Lombard and other Hollywood stars regularly patronized. I am speaking of Bullocks Wilshire, the beautiful Wilshire Boulevard building.
Bullock's had been a downtown presence for many years, but the company saw the growth of the Westside in the 1920s and took advantage of it by constructing a facility just right for the times. It was designed to take advantage of the growth of car travel; its rear entrance, where a parking motorcourt resided, was actually its main entrance.
Lombard did her share of shopping at Bullocks Wilshire. In fact, I believe one of her brothers worked there for a time. Later, a young Angela Lansbury worked at Bullocks before beginning her long and wonderful career.
You can see Bullocks in the 1937 film "Topper," as it doubled for the exotic Seabreeze Hotel. It was used as a building double in many other movies and TV shows.
Suburbanization brought Bullocks into decline, hastened by the 1992 riots. It closed as a store the following year, but is still in use as the home of the Southwestern School of Law, which occasionally opens it to the public for tours. For more on this magnificent building, including an article concerning its 1929 opening, go to http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2008/12/bullocks-wilshi.html