Historical Landmark Status Officially Granted To LA’s Oldest Norms Diner

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council has voted to grant official landmark status to the city’s oldest operating Norms diner, which was slated for demolition.

The Norms at 470 N. La Cienega Blvd. will be treated as a city historic-cultural monument, meaning further review by city leaders would be required before the property’s new owners could commence with any demolition at the site.

Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes the Norms, said city officials have never seen the level of “community outpouring” that accompanied its landmark bid. He said the building’s mid-century commercial architecture is “significant,” and the 24-hour diner is a “home away from home” for many Angelenos.

The council backed a Koretz motion that instructs city officials to prioritize the building’s “Googie features” on the “west and south facing facades” that the city and tourists have come to associate with this particular location.

Television director and producer Matthew Weiner, who was among those who spoke earlier this year in support of giving the diner historical status, said his critically acclaimed drama “Mad Men” – which just wrapped up its final season – got its start at Norms.

“I actually wrote my notes for the beginning of Mad Men in this coffee shop,” Weiner said, adding that he also wrote his college thesis about Norms.

Weiner said the building — with its mosaics, glass architecture, and space-age-style signs — “is a fixture, in my imagination in particular as an Angeleno and as a high school student looking for a 24-hour place to take a date, with not much money in my pocket at the time.”

“I have a very, very close artistic relationship with this building,” Weiner said, adding that it would be treated like a museum in any other city. “It is an inspiration and a treasure, and it should be treated as such.”

The Los Angeles Conservancy’s application to obtain landmark status for the diner won the support of the Cultural Heritage Commission in March. If the landmark status is approved by the full City Council, city officials would have the ability to halt demolition of the building.

The diner was built in 1956 and designed by architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis in the Googie architectural style that distinguishes diners during the mid-century and post-World War II era. The building features cantilevered roofs, neon signs, and an on-display kitchen area.

Other well-known Los Angeles diners that Armet and Davis worked on include Johnie’s Coffee Shop, Ships Coffee Shop and Pann’s.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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