WeHo turns 38 today. Here’s what it looked like back then.

The pictures prove it: WeHo is aging well. As West Hollywood celebrates its 38th year of cityhood today, WEHOville takes a look back at the beginning with a selection of historic photos from the early to mid-1980s. The gritty streets and chaotic signage of yesteryear stand in stark contrast to the gentrified, hyper-regulated WeHo of today. Enjoy this trip down memory lane, and perhaps walk away with a new appreciation for modern-day Santa Monica Blvd.

West Hollywood residents celebrate cityhood at a Nov. 25, 1984 meeting of the Coalition for Economic Survival, which led the incorporation effort on behalf of renters. Courtesy of the LA Public Library’s Herald-Examiner Collection.
The West Hollywood sign is unveiled outside EZTV on April 15, 1986. (Photo courtesy of Sallie M. Fiske Papers and Photographs / ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.)
French Market Place
The French Market circa 1982, two years prior to cityhood. Photo by The New Mr Burlesk
Irv's Burger Stand
The original Irv’s Burgers on Santa Monica Blvd. The restaurant re-opened this year. Photo by The New Mr Burlesk
Appearing At The Roxy
Ad for a Billy Idol show at the Roxy. Photo by The New Mr Burlesk
Revolver, Blades, and a Mortuary Billboard
OPEN 24 HOURS
Revolver circa 1982. Photo by The New Mr Burlesk
Facing West at 8800 Santa Monica Blvd
Facing west at 8800 Santa Monica Blvd. circa 1982. Photo by The New Mr Burlesk
Santa Monica Blvd. circa 1985. Photo from Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
Sunset and Larrabee circa 1984. Photo from westhollywoodhistory.org.
Sunset and Crescent Heights in 1984
Sunset Blvd. with Back to the Future billboard from 1985.
Sunset and Sweetzer circa 1985. Photo by Terry Guy
Rage in 1987. Photo by Alan Light.
What Little Boys Are Made Of
Tail O’ The Pup at its original location. Like Irv’s Burgers, the restaurant re-opened this year. Photo by Terry Guy.
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Kenny Tashman
Kenny Tashman
2 months ago

When the City was created it was a dump. Power lines, rail road tracks,and old car washes were the main landmarks. The people were cool,Rockers, Russians, Gays, Jews, and regular folks, like actors,studio people,and some old folks too! Today the City look very nice, if you like big buildings and lots of traffic. Somewhere along the way, the City has lost it’s soul. It is very regulated, very expensive, and kind of woke now. I think it has amazing potential! If the Leaders will just not make so many expensive rules, and really help people afford to live here. Small… Read more »

Ernesto Sportello
Ernesto Sportello
2 months ago

It looked better. It was affordable and still maintained a rich history. Developers destroyed all that . It’s just a bland mall now.

JACK twist
JACK twist
2 months ago

I lived in LA LA LAND from 1977 on- AND I LOVED THE CITY BACK THEN- so much more character , and fun….now its over built, over expensive…and sad.

David
David
2 months ago

I think the City of West Hollywood evolved pretty nicely and appropriately for it’s location in the second largest city in the United States. It was clearly only county property in those early 80’s photos of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Joshua88
Joshua88
2 months ago

Great photos!

Kyle
Kyle
2 months ago

Thanks for sharing these great photos! I’ve only lived here 10 years and feel like so much has changed already, for better and for worse. These give even more perspective. On balance, I’ll take it! I love this place.

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
2 months ago

West Hollywood started off with such a great idea, and it’s turned into a place for either very rich people, or very poor people who are lazy and don’t want to pay for rent and services. There are very few people in the middle anymore. The two don’t mix well because the goal of the poor is to try to live near the rich, and the goal of the rich is to be as far away as possible from the poor and freeloaders. It will end in disaster, and we are approaching that fast.

Joshua88
Joshua88
2 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

What is the matter, WeHoQueen?

JACK twist
JACK twist
2 months ago
Reply to  Joshua88

he speaks the truth

mike
mike
2 months ago

Great Pics! My first experiences in West Hollywood were way back in 1978. When West Hollywood was really GAY: Studio One, Rascals (now Motherlode), French Market (Sissy Square), The Blue Parrot. The Eagle, and the Nail. Oh, those were the days.

John Arnold
John Arnold
2 months ago

Love, Love, Love! Thanks for putting this compilation together.

Randy
Randy
2 months ago

These photos are great. One of the end scenes from “Annie Hall” was shot at that location on the north side of Sunset, from the Sunset and Sweetzer photo. 8301 Sunset Blvd. It was called the “Source” restaurant.

Not sure if it was still open in 1985.

https://hollywoodgreatest.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-source-restaurantannie-hall-film.html

mike
mike
2 months ago
Reply to  Randy

You could see what used to be the Golden Crest Retirement Home across Sunset.

Strip Mining in Weho
Strip Mining in Weho
2 months ago

Gentrification by way of strip mining a city rather than evolving through thoughtful development and historic/cultural preservation. The city has acquired a cheap veneer.

SeeMe
SeeMe
2 months ago

Wow, these are great and a real testament to how West Hollywood has transformed from a lively neighborhood into an over-developed city. Glad I have experienced both – lots of memories.

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