Holiday Bowl (building)

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Exterior in 2002

The Holiday Bowl was a bowling alley on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1958 by five Japanese-Americans and was a significant part of the rebuilding process of the Nikkei community after internment during World War II.[1] The owners of the Holiday Bowl sold shares throughout the community in order to finance its construction."[1]

Cultural significance[edit]

Located on Crenshaw Boulevard, the Holiday Bowl was important in the desegregation of Los Angeles and served an Anglo American, African American, and Japanese American clientele.[1] The coffee shop served grits, udon, chow mein, and hamburgers.[1] The Bowl operated four decades, and was a cultural, architectural, and recreational feature for the Crenshaw district "as the Hollywood Bowl has for the Hollywood Hills".[2]


The Bowl was built by Japanese entrepreneurs as a combination bowling alley, pool hall, bar and coffee shop in 1958 and served Crenshaw's Japanese residents who "had not long before suffered Manzanar's internment camps and a blanket racial ban by the American Bowling Congress."[2] A Los Angeles Times magazine story noted: "Once haunted at 4 a.m. by swing-shift aerospace workers and nighthawk Central Avenue jazz musicians, the Holiday Bowl, like Leimert Park to its south, remains a concrete expression of community in an era when the whole notion of community has been raised to the level of abstraction."[2] A 1999 LA Weekly story said, "Holiday speaks of Crenshaw’s bright, enduring middle-class dreams, with its ’50s-inspired orange-and-green décor and giant plate-glass window that affords a grand view of Baldwin Hills to the south. Eat your grits and eat your heart out."[3] The article also states that the ownership of the Bowl changed hands several times and offered "a huge cross section of ethnic dishes: Japanese (saifun, yakisoba, donburi), Chinese (a vast assortment of chow mein, pork noodles, foo yong) and black Southern (hot links, grits, salmon patties, short ribs, biscuits and gravy)."[3]

The owner said he took pride in Holiday’s staying power, in its history, and the fact that it was designed by Armet & Davis, "the architectural firm that popularized Googie-style coffee shops and turned diners like Holiday and the nearby Wich Stand into zig-zaggy emblems of L.A. optimism."[3] He said the building was not damaged during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and that people bowled that night.[3]


The Holiday Bowl is considered an example of Googie architecture and was designed by the Armet & Davis architectural firm.[4] The firm is said to have "defined '50s Googie architecture".[2] Helen Liu Fong was the designer at Armet & Davis who is credited with designing the Holiday Bowl.[5]

The Bowl was photographed in stereo for 3-D viewing by Jack Laxer.[6]


The Bowl closed in 2000 and was targeted for demolition. Bowl supporters mobilized, persuading the City of Los Angeles’s Cultural Heritage Commission to designate the structure an historical-cultural monument.[1] It is listed as number 688 on the City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument list.[4][7]


The former bowling alley front area was refurbished in October 2004 and replaced with a modern outdoor shopping center anchored by Walgreens that opened in early 2006. The former Coffee Shop had become a Starbucks Coffee and other restaurants from the former alley and the neon signs from the nearby former famous Honda/Pontiac car dealership had been upgraded.[8][9] Preservationists wanted the landmark saved for its history, cultural significance, and architectural history.


  1. ^ a b c d e Holiday bowl History project The Studio for Southern California History
  2. ^ a b c d The Best...The Beautiful...and the Bizarre; THE 'SHAW; Holiday Bowl: Strike or Spare? Ed Leibowitz August 8, 1999 page 8 Los Angeles Times Magazine; Abstract
  3. ^ a b c d Erin J. Aubry Holiday Bowl July 22, 1999 LA Weekly
  4. ^ a b Scott Kurashige Game Over for Holiday Bowl? Summer 2001Asian American movement E-zine
  5. ^ Elaine Woo Obituaries; Helen Liu Fong, 78; Architect Created Futuristic Designs for Coffee Shops April 26, 2005 Los Angeles Times page B.10; Abstract
  6. ^ Kathy Bryant All Three Sides of the Story; Photographer Jack Laxer brought '50s 'Googie' architecture to life on stereographic film. November 22, 2001 page E2 Los Angeles Times
  7. ^ [1] LA city planning list
  8. ^ Peoples Guide to LA
  9. ^ July 28th, 2008 City project California

External links[edit]

Media related to Holiday Bowl (building) at Wikimedia Commons

  • Not Bowling Alone: How the Holiday Bowl in Crenshaw Became an Integrated Leisure Space [2]

Coordinates: 34°01′09″N 118°20′05″W / 34.0191°N 118.3346°W / 34.0191; -118.3346