From Southern California, public radio for your eyes.

Hollywood Boulevard in the 70s

It was 1971. The Lakers were headed to their first title in Los Angeles. Charles Manson was sentenced to death. Jon Shaft made it known that he was a bad mother. And Ave Pildas roamed the boulevard.

Hollywood Boulevard.

Today, the neighborhood is overrun with buskers in superhero outfits, but 40 years ago, real Angelenos wandered the sidewalk with the stars under their feet.

Back in 1971, Pildas walked out of his job as an Art Director for Capitol Records with the hope of pursuing a career as a photographer. The photos offer a glimpse into the character of the iconic Los Angeles thoroughfare at a height of it's strangeness. 

Pildas spent two years walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard taking photos of the homeless, the star obsessed, the old ladies and the prostitutes that all walked the same street.

"At that time people were saying the country was tilted to the West and all the crazies rolled towards California," says Pildas. "They stopped just short of the ocean and landed in Hollywood."

Pildas roamed the streets all year, but was especially fond of Halloween, when revelers dressed up as pimps and even members of the KKK. It was definitely a different time.

Although Pildas was formally trained in Swiss design, he developed an early love for photography in the '60s when he photographed jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie for Beat Magazine.

Today, he's recognized as a renowned photographer, but hasn't been as drawn to the Hollywood Boulevard scene.

"Now the storefronts are plastered with signs and merchandise," says Pildas. "In the 70s the backgrounds were shops from the 30s so the architecture made for good backgrounds."

Today you can still find Pildas' photos in L.A., but his work is more abstract. He likes to take hundreds of photos of the same place over the course of a few hours and make grids with his findings.

Pildas as also produced books about American movie theaters and Art Deco architecture in Los Angeles.

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