A Map of Raymond Chandler’s Fictional LA in Real-Life LA
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Raymond Chandler fans, rejoice! Kim Cooper, a writer/historian and one of LA’s brightest torchbearers, has collaborated with Herb Lester Associates in the UK to create a comprehensive map of rare points of interest from Raymond Chandler’s work in present-day LA. From Malibu to Pasadena, iconic spots dot the landscape, and while Cooper has been leading literature, architecture, and history tours like “Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles” and “The Birth of Noir” for her company Esotouric, this map is the culmination of that information and much more.
Take, for instance, that Cooper found The Treloar Building (actually the Oviatt Building) from The Lady in the Lake must have been named for Al Treloar, whom Cooper says was “the world’s champion body builder who was the Athletic Director at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, half a block from the Oviatt.” She also found a connection between Chandler and the Great Eleven cult and its ties to the Dabney Oil Syndicate, a story that’s almost too absurd to be true if it hadn’t have happened in Southern California. The latter tidbit of research Cooper actually turned into a novel of her own in the classical Chandler style.
With LA’s penchant for tearing down our own landmarks, a few of the listed spots don’t exist anymore, and you’d never know they were ever there or mattered if Cooper hadn’t unearthed their origins.
“I was thrilled to be able to confirm the actual location of Victor’s, the bar where Marlowe and Terry Lennox grow close over gimlets in The Long Goodbye. Unfortunately, it’s been demolished, but at least we can point fans to a little patch of sidewalk where they can close their eyes and raise a virtual toast.” If you look at Cooper’s website, you can find archival photos of the long-gone locations to fill in for the real thing, but other points of interest on the map have just been hiding in plain sight with a new name.
“The map also points readers to one of the most beautiful, and off-the-radar, historic interiors in Los Angeles: the almost-untouched lobby of the 1896 Van Nuys Hotel, now called the Barclay. A room in the hotel is where Chandler sets the icepick murder in The Little Sister.”
Even if you don’t ever get to LA physically, the map lays out enough textual and visual information to imagine it fully, through Cooper’s arduous research and Paul Roger’s mapmaking skills. For the handful of Angelenos who’ve embraced the city’s history — and who’ve often reveled in it with distaste for the contemporary decayed landscape — viewing LA through Chandler’s lens is the preferable vantage point, something with more truth than the history books.
“He was a wonderful stylist, but an even better historian. Every time a Southland politician goes down in flames, or a developer gets a sweetheart deal, or a story in the news just doesn’t quite add up, I can feel Chandler’s hand on the page. He watched this town grow from a sleepy backwater into a metropolis, and the systems, schemes, and characters he chronicled are still here, still playing out those bitter riffs that Marlowe couldn’t stomach.”
You can purchase the map from the Herb Lester Associates website here.