Culver City is a city in western Los Angeles County, California. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 38,816. The community is mostly surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, but also has a border with unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The mayor is Andrew Weissman.
Since the 1920s, Culver City has been a significant center for motion picture and later television production, in part because it was the home of MGM Studios. It also was the headquarters for the Hughes Aircraft Company from 1932 to 1985. National Public Radio West and Sony Pictures Entertainment now have headquarters in the city.
|United States Census Bureau|
The area of Culver City was earlier inhabited by Gabrielino Native Americans. The city was founded primarily on the lands of the former Rancho La Ballona and Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes. From 1861 to 1862, during the American Civil War, Camp Latham was established by the 1st California Infantry under Col. James H. Carleton and the 1st California Cavalry under Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Davis. Camp Latham was named for California Senator Milton S. Latham and was the first staging area for the training of Union troops and their operations in Southern California. It was located on land of the Rancho La Ballona, on the south side of Ballona Creek, near what is now the intersection of Jefferson and Overland Boulevards. The post was later moved to Camp Drum later the Drum Barracks
Culver City was founded by Alexander Culver in 1913, and the city was incorporated on September 20, 1917. (His first ads read "All roads lead to Culver City" indicating a main transportation route via the city.)
The first film studio in Culver City was built by Thomas Ince in 1918. In the 1920s, silent film comedy producer Hal Roach and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) built studios there. During Prohibition, speakeasies and nightclubs such as the Cotton Club lined Washington Boulevard.
Hundreds of movies have been produced on the lots of Culver City's studios, Sony Pictures Studios (originally MGM Studios), Culver Studios, and the former Hal Roach Studios. These include The Wizard of Oz, The Thin Man, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, the Tarzan series, and the original King Kong. More recent films made in Culver City include Grease, Raging Bull, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, City Slickers, Air Force One, Wag the Dog, and Contact. Television shows made on Culver City sets have included Las Vegas,Gunsmoke, Mad About You, Lassie, Batman, Arrested Development, The Andy Griffith Show, Jeopardy!, and the night version Wheel of Fortune.
John Travolta's "Stranded at the Drive-In" sequence in Grease was filmed at the Studio Drive-In on the corner of Jefferson and Sepulveda. It served as a set for many other films, including Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The theater was closed in 1993 and was demolished in 1998; it is now a housing subdivision featuring large homes on small lots, as well as being home to the Kayne-ERAS center, a school and community center for the disabled and mentally challenged.
Culver City's streets have been featured in countless films and television shows. Since much of the architecture has not changed in decades, particularly in residential areas of town, the nostalgic sitcom The Wonder Years set many of its outdoor scenes in the neighborhoods of Culver City. The 1970s show CHiPs also featured many chase scenes through the streets. The Nicolas Cage film Matchstick Men included scenes made at Veterans Memorial Park (which was also featured in the opening scenes of the sitcom Valerie / Valerie's Family / The Hogan Family).
The history of the town is beginning to be recognized. The Aviator, a film about Howard Hughes, featured several mentions of Culver City in connection with Hughes. The Hughes Aircraft Company plant had a Culver City mailing address but was actually in the adjacent Los Angeles neighborhood of Westchester at a site now called Playa Vista. Scenes from Bewitched (2005) with Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell were also filmed in the Culver City streets as well as the liquor store scene in Superbad. The 2005 film, Fun with Dick and Jane, starring Jim Carrey was filmed there.
In the late 1960s, much of the MGM back lot acreage (lot 3 and other property on Jefferson Boulevard), and the nearby 28 acres (113,000 m²) of the somewhat inaccurately named "back forty", once owned by RKO Pictures and later Desilu Productions, were sold by their owners. In 1976, the sets were razed to make way for redevelopment. Today the "back forty" is the southern expansion of the Hayden Industrial Tract, while the MGM property has been converted to a subdivision and a shopping center known as Raintree Plaza.
In the 1990s, Culver City launched a successful revitalization program in which it renovated its downtown as well as several shopping centers in the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor near Fox Hills Mall. Around the same time, the relocation of Sony's motion picture operations (known as Columbia Pictures) to the former MGM studios at Washington Boulevard and Overland Avenue brought much-needed jobs to the city.
The influx of many art galleries and restaurants to the eastern part of the city, formally designated as the Culver City Art District, prompted The New York Times in 2007 to praise the new art scene and call Culver City a "nascent Chelsea."
The first phase of the Expo line, a light rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to a terminal station at the Culver Junction near Venice and Robertson Boulevards in Culver City started in 2006, with an estimated completion date in 2010. The line mostly follows the right of way which the Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line used. The intent of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is that the line eventually be extended westward to Santa Monica, again mostly along the existing right of way with the possible exception of going through the commercial strip of Venice Boulevard.
Culver City Bus currently operates bus service within Culver City.
The city is served by the Los Angeles International Airport, which is located about 7 miles (11 km) south of the city.