Crossroads of the World – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

Los Angeles, California

Crossroads of the World

A few iconic structures are all that remain of America’s first outdoor shopping mall. 

Crossroads of the World is heralded as America’s first outdoor shopping mall. The mall was commissioned by the widow of Charles Crawford—to some, a career politician, and, to others, an organized crime boss.

Built in 1936, the once-busy shopping center featured goods from Spain, France, Japan, and more. It was designed by architect Robert V. Derrah to be a buffet of culture, architecture, and commerce.

A 55-foot spire adorned with a spinning globe climbs into the sky at the center of Crossroads, surrounded by a nautical-styled rotunda building resembling a compartment of a cruise ship. The rest of the mall pays homage to the old world with a village-style assortment of Spanish, English, French, Oriental, and Cape Cod-style buildings.

Storefronts holding Cuban cigars, French hats, and Japanese kimonos once lined the street. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, it slowly changed into an office complex. Now, the buildings are home to offices full of screenwriters, producers, novelists, and costume designers. The eclectic shops may be gone, but the iconic structures still remain, like skeletons of its former glory.

Crossroads celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2016. Though it’s no longer a busy shopping center, it still attracts visitors from around the world who wander its shaded patios and glance into its glossy windows. At night, the mall is still illuminated by its distinctive neon signs.

Know Before You Go

Street parking is limited. Don't expect to actually be able to shop, as it's now mainly an office complex.

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