Heart of Screenland: Points of Interest Near the CLUI Office In Culver City
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“The Heart of Screenland” is the official city motto for Culver City, an incorporated city of 40,000 people in the midst of the megalopolis of Los Angeles. “All roads lead to Culver City,” its founder, Harry Culver, once said. All roads indeed. Culver built the city from scratch starting in 1913, selecting a location that was halfway between downtown Los Angeles and the beach community of Venice, at the crossroads of a now long-gone regional public trolley system. His sales office was across the street from where the CLUI is now.
 
Culver City quickly became home to several movie studios, some of which disappeared, others which still dominate the scene. Hal Roach’s Laurel and Hardy comedies, shot on Main Street, captured the town in the 1920s, and Andy Griffith’s everytown of Mayberry was broadcast from the city’s backlots to screens across America.
 
In the 1950s, the city modernized. Its original Main Street was upstaged by a new Culver Center shopping area, a few blocks west. The studios turned to television, and the 1950s became the 1960s. In the 1970s the studio backlots were filled in with housing and office parks, as homogenization flooded the Los Angeles basin, turning Culver City into part of the continuous urban suburb. In the 1990s, the city’s efforts to restore its identity and its downtown came together, beginning a rebirth of the Heart of Screenland. Over the next 15 years the core of Culver City would be substantially transformed by redevelopment projects and an influx of entertainment affluence.
 
Today Culver City is in some ways typical: It has a main street with a weekly farmer’s market, a fire station next to a police station next to a city hall, restaurants, businesses, infrastructure, and movie theaters. In other ways though it is surreal and dreamlike − familiar in an idealized way. Culver City is built up around an industry of veneers, props, surfaces, and facades. If it is the Heart of Screenland, than it is the epicenter of representational space. Culver City is a place more like other places than most places, and in this way, unlike any place else.

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