When Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan or George Bush visited Los Angeles, they often stayed at the Century Plaza Hotel, in Century City - just a short drive from Beverly Hills. It was even nicknamed "The Western White House" during the Reagan era.
As a result, it wasn't unusual to see demonstrators filling the posh Avenue of the Stars, hoping to get the President's attention - or at least make the six o'clock news. In June of 1967, over 10,000 protesters filled the streets outside the hotel, marking President Johnson's attendance at a fund-raiser.
preferred to stay at the homes of his Hollywood friends, but he stayed here
several times too, and he delivered the keynote address to the National
Education Association at the Century Plaza, with Elton
John and Rod
Stewart entertaining on stage.
(President Obama worked out at the hotel's Equinox gym, but when in town, he stayed at the Beverly Hilton - the same as John F. Kennedy.)
Until a few years ago, the hotel also sat across from the ABC Entertainment Center and the Shubert Theatre. Both, however, have been torn down and replaced by the imposing glass "2000 Wilshire" project, which stands between the Avenue and the twin towers.
The Century Plaza
Hotel was built in 1964 (completed in 1966), on what was formerly part
of the backlot/movie ranch of 20th Century
Fox Studios (which still maintains its studio nearby, albeit in a smaller
And as host of various social affairs and award dinners throughout the year, the hotel saw such celebrity guests as Meg Ryan, Sharon Stone, Tom Hanks, Magic Johnson, Burt Reynolds, Jane Seymour, Robert Stack, Dennis Franz, Tommy Lasorda, Barbara Eden, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Other celebs who have passed through the Century Plaza's doors include Cary Grant, Bob Hope, Irene Dunne, Debbie Reynolds, Jack Benny and the Supremes.
In 1969, Nixon hosted the Apollo 11 Astronauts, at a party here celebrating Man's first landing on the moon. In the 70's, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. of the Fifth Dimension, were married and took off in a hot-air balloon from the Century Plaza Hotel parking lot ("Up, Up, and Away"). In 1980, the Victory Party in honor of newly-elected President Ronald Reagan was held in the Los Angeles Ballroom (as was his re-election party in 1984). In 1995, former Columbia Studios president David Begelman * committed suicide in a room at the Plaza.
In 1984, the hotel
opened the new, 30-story tower on the hotel's south side, adding 322
additional posh guest rooms, for a total of over 1,046 rooms - making it
one of the largest hotels in Southern California. It's ideally situated between
Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, just a short drive to Rodeo Drive.
In 2000, that tower was sold to new owners and renamed the St. Regis Hotel. Despite beng a relatively new building, the St. Regis was torn down in 2006, and was being replaced with a 41-story luxury condo tower. The condos will sell for prices ranging from $2 million to $25 million.
In 2009, the owners announced their intention to tear down the Century Plaza Hotel, and replace it with a two 600-foot, multi-use towers . However, the plan ran into immediate opposition from a variety of groups - including from preservationists, who named the Century Plaza as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places".
In February of 2010,
new plans were announced, preserving the Century Plaza hotel, and
adding new buildings nearby.
Getting there: From Rodeo Drive, turn southwest on Santa Monica Boulevard, and go about one mile to Avenue of the stars. Turn left (south) on Avenue of the stars, and go one long block, to just past Constellation Boulevard. The hotel will be on your right (west) side, near the towering fountains.
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