Best Architectural Car Wash (2012)

Slauson Car Wash

Long before flossin' and Slauson were famously rhymed in hip-hop, the car wash at Slauson Avenue and West Boulevard stood as a monument to L.A.'s long love affair with cars. Slauson Car Wash opened in 1950, when the future was bright, rolled on four wheels and was covered with chrome. Like other car washes in L.A., its architectural style borrowed streamlined forms from the industrial design (and particularly transportation design) of the post-WWII era, and even more than the drive-in or the drive-thru, the car wash offered a place to enable the car fetish and flaunt one's style. The building itself became a marketing tool, reaching out to patrons who'd appreciate a similar aesthetic. Slauson Car Wash features the bold shapes found in Googie architecture, with slightly skewed spires pointing up to the sky and giant, primary-colored lettering. Urban designer and writer John Chase, in his 2004 book, Glitter Stucco & Dumpster Diving: Reflections on Building Production in the Vernacular City, refers to a car wash conservation movement in L.A, but the Slauson Car Wash, unfortunately, has not benefited from any preservationist fervor. Currently its hollowed-out shell is inhabited only by the ghosts of the sidewalk-scraping Chryslers and Oldsmobiles that once graced its guide rails. A bankruptcy this year shuttered the place and, unless someone steps up to buy it, this piece of Los Angeles history will be dust. 3615 W. Slauson Ave., Hyde Park.

—Wendy Gilmartin

Location Details

3615 W. Slauson Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90043