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Best Mall for (Actual) Rats

(Illustration by Ronald Kurniawan)

Best Mall for (Actual) Rats

A hulking eight stories of pastel-painted concrete and tinted glass — 30 acres of shops, walkways, cinemas and restaurants — the mighty Beverly Center is as much landlocked ship as she is shopping mall. She is the grande dame of Southern California malls. The bustling midday traffic swirls around her Bermuda Triangle streams of San Vicente, La Cienega and Beverly boulevards in a vortex of heat, smog and melting rubber on an endless sea of asphalt. Three vast shopping floors rest atop a five-story parking garage. On the ground level (actually the third floor), neon-lit restaurants — Hard Rock Café, Grand Lux and P.F. Chang’s — beckon passersby. At the helm is Macy’s, pointed north by northwest. Astern, facing due south, is Bloomingdale’s. Inside is a neat cross-sectional slice of the city’s social strata: from the post-Botox, Armani-clad, aging trophy wife sifting lackadaisically through the racks at Dolce & Gabbana, to her Filipino nurse and Mexican driver waiting at the downstairs bar, to her husband’s sexy, bored 17-year-old bit of stuff manning the register a few storefronts down at Forever 21. More vintage luxury liner than modern cruise ship, the Beverly has led a past as colorful as her clientele. In her younger years, the Center fell victim to rodents, an event mall historians refer to as The Great Rat Invasion of 1987. Forced from their homes by booming construction in the nearby Hollywood Hills, hordes of brown tree rats slipped in through open service entrances and escalator gangways. At night they danced about on the Bev’s empty decks, dining on leftovers from the food court. Eventually, exterminators were brought in and the rats jumped ship; exactly how many remains unknown. Toy coffins stuffed with candy rodents went out to the media in celebration.

This year the old girl gets work done in the form of a multimillion-dollar face-lift for her starboard-side escalators, which, when complete, will glitter like giant running lights in shades of red, yellow and twinkling gold.

Beverly Center 8500 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (310) 854-0071 or www.beverlycenter.com


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