Cahuenga Building – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

Cahuenga Building

This bank is widely believed to be the inspiration for the offices of Philip Marlowe, the hardboiled detective featured in a number of Raymond Chandler's stories. 

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Raymond Chandler’s noir stories, which blazed the trail for the genre, are famously set in the ever-squalid, neon-lit city of Los Angeles. It served as a sultry muse for Chandler as he created one of literature’s most iconic private eyes, Philip Marlowe, and his exploits with sleazy thugs, corrupt cops, and femmes fatales.

“I had an office in the Cahuenga Building,” Marlowe narrates in the 1943 novel The High Window, “sixth floor, two small rooms at the back. One I left open for a patient client to sit in, if I had a patient client.” While the building is supposedly fictional, its location unspecified, it is widely believed to have been based on Security Pacific Bank, a six-story-tall office building at the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga Boulevards.

Also known as Security Trust and Savings, it was built in 1921 and considered the tallest building in Hollywood at that time. Soon, the area became a popular filming location and the Security Pacific Bank building can be seen in the background in several silent comedy classics, such as those starring Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin.

The 1947 film adaptation of The High Window, titled The Brasher Doubloon, also featured the building as the location of Philip Marlowe’s office. After decades of being a bank building and years of abandonment, the Cahuenga Building stands today as a historic landmark, the street corner below it now named Raymond Chandler Square in honor of the legendary noir author.

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July 28, 2022

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