1920's

The History

Additional Information

The first Art Deco landmark tower built on the Miracle Mile. Crafted in an eight-story zigzag rectangle with the offices vaulting skyward from a wide Streamline Moderne base. The Desmond was a striking and optimistic structure that helped set the architectural standard for Wilshire Boulevard. The lobby featured fourteen-karat gold ceiling detailing; the sidewalk display windows were trimmed in rich black and red granite. Professionals snapped up the upper floors, while downtown icons The Desmond and Silverwoods took the wings on the ground floors.


In the late 1920s, the Miracle Mile represented the best hope for the new metropolis of Los Angeles. The city here had a clear structure: linear and automobile oriented. As Los Angeles expanded along the lines of its great boulevards, so did linear shopping districts like the Miracle Mile. The Desmond Building, finished in 1929, remains the most expressive monument to this time of urbane consumerism. Both the 11-story tower and the curved, two-story base from which it rises, had a specific function. The tower served as a kind of billboard, a signal to those driving along the boulevard that this was where they could find the Desmond's store, and the base attracted shoppers walking along Wilshire Boulevard. Desmond's was scaled to both the automotive city and the pedestrian. Up close and from a distance, Desmond's sold itself and seduced you inside. 


The Desmond’s architect  spent his career trying to come up with designs that would express the grandeur of the landscape of the West while celebrating the new technology of trains and cars. He created monumental forms that were equal to the forces of nature as well as the fast motions of the Jazz Age. The Desmond was the pinnacle of his success. 

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Architect: Gilbert Stanley Underwood


Year of Completion: 1929


Community: Los Angeles California


Street Address: 5514 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036


Property Type: Commercial


Architectural Style: Art Deco 


Original Name: Silverwoods/Desmond's