Despite the years of living in all over the area between
El Segundo and Santa Monica, I hadn’t know anything
about Playa Del Rey, much even anything existed in
that general area under the LAX flight path except
sand, a few deaf people who live there and birds.
The closest to any evidence of life there was the old
Sandpiper Lounge near the downtown PDR that my
mom and her sister use to hang out. Obviously, torn
down and it’s parking lot now houses a bed & breakfast.
Then in 1974, while I was sitting back seat as mom was
taking a short cut down Pershing to El Segundo, I saw
it! The Playa Del Rey Polynesian Village! I’ve seen
other tiki places before, but this one registered
permanently in my skull. It was an elaborately and
aggressively designed apartment complex straight from
Unfortunately, such sightings were rare and I usually forgot
WHERE the place was and it wasn’t until the early 90’s
when I found it and finally took some pictures.
According the great book ‘The Book Of Tiki’ by Sven A.
Kirsten, this palace was designed by those coffee
shop/googie gurus, Armet & Davis. The place had blazing
tiki torches and volcanic fires erupting with its central
garden/forest, even though they weren’t used by the time I
finally went there. The buildings themselves were detailed
with carved tiki and outriggers beams and other
interestingly details reminded me of that moment when I
was first broadsided by its beauty.
As it was located near LAX, it got its fare share of the jet-
set scene as it was mentioned in one of the ‘Coffee Tea or
Me’ books in a list of airlines stews places of residence.
I took a small batch of pictures in 2003 and it was many
months later that this palace and the adjacent Acapulco
Restaurant were shut and torn down for the latest
‘apartment living’ fad. So these just might be the last
photos of da Village.
I came back few months later with a good friend and took
pictures of the brand new hole they borrowed from the
very same spot, but I haven’t had the heart to scan them.
Heart broken? Possibly. Slightly depressed, sure.
However, on that same weekend of the ‘borrow’ sighting, I
saw a staged version of another old fave, the movie
‘Xanadu’ later that weekend. SO if crazy stuff like live
staged version of your fave movie can happen, hell,
someone is libel to do a trailer park exactly like da Village.
What the hell, ya know….
All old picture of the village were taken from the great but
out-of-print THE BOOK OF TIKI by Sven A. Kirsten
(TASCHEN). All the new ones were taken in 2003 by my
unsteady hands. Sorry about that, gang...
Another TIKI page and a
slab of good old
RIGHT and BELOW:
More last glimpses of the
old Village One from
Pershing and another
from the side of one of
Well, I did have
enough nerve to
scan one of the
picture of the