The Bowling Alley That Helped Integrate Los Angeles

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The Holiday Bowl was once a landmark of racial integration in Los Angeles. Located on Crenshaw, the alley opened in 1957, the year the Dodgers moved to LA and right before a tumultuous time in the history of the city and country. Five Japanese-Americans owned the alley, and it became a place where the multiracial residents of the neighborhood could come together for that most wholesome of activities.

The building itself was designed in that fabulous Googie style we associate with the 1950s and likely featured the latest in 1950s bowling technology, i.e. automatic pin-setting machines.

In a 1999 article for LA Weekly, Erin Aubry distilled precisely what was so great about the Holiday Bowl.

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. [The owner] likes to point out that, not only was his establishment not damaged during the '92 riots, but people came in and bowled that night, April 29. "We're a real community sports center," he says. "It's a meeting place for the whole community. If you want to meet a friend, you sit here long enough, they'll come through."

The bowling alley closed down in 2000 and became a target for demolition. Eventually, it did get torn down and replaced with a Big 5 Sporting Goods store, but not before a wealth of information about the place was collected by Los Angeles community groups. You can read up at The Holiday Bowl Information Project.

The photos of the crumbling building below were taken in October 2002.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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