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Peacock Alley: The Pride of Vine Street

Decades before Capitol Records arrived on Vine Street, the block north of Hollywood Boulevard was projected to be Peacock Alley, a high-class fashion district.

Vine Street
Vine Street, circa 1940, looking south to Yucca Street

Its trendsetter: Jean Swartz. The couturier—whose creations were “as modern as tomorrow”—opened her headquarters in 1931 at the southeast corner of Yucca Street.

The two-story Streamline Moderne was the first structure built in a collection of specialty shops designed by architect Henry L. Gogerty (who previously did the nearby Yucca-Vine Tower, as well as the Hollywood Playhouse with his former partner Carl Jules Weyl).

Gogerty’s vision for the Alley was distinctive: sidewalks with “acid-stained colors” and palm trees planted every 30 feet (see photo below). Halfway between each, inset in the pavement would be glazed terra cotta tiles of life-size peacocks. Walking north from Hollywood Boulevard to Yucca, the brilliantly-colored birds also appeared to strut.

At the end of Peacock Alley, the Jean Swartz Building’s large windows were tailored to “stage bewildering displays of new fashions.”

Indeed, as the exclusive designer for “women of distinction,” Swartz earned a reputation for made-to-measure gowns, coats, suits, and wraps.

However, after less than a year in business, the Hollywood location fell out of style. Swartz vacated, yet the new owners refused to remove her name from the building.

In January 1932, she took out a newspaper ad announcing her Beverly Hills salon “has no connection whatsoever with the shop on Vine Street, who purchased only the remainder of the old and obsolete garments.” And three months later, they went bankrupt.

Everything inside the headquarters was auctioned off: Singer power sewing machines, electric fur machine, crystal chandeliers, marble and bronze urns, dressing mirrors, work tables, and display cases.

By this time—several years into the Depression—Peacock Alley was no longer the pride of Vine Street. The extravagant project was abandoned, making its first concept, the Jean Swartz Building, also its last.

Now part of the Capitol Records Complex, the fashionable corner’s windows are used to commemorate Nat King Cole, whose record sales funded “The House That Nat Built.”

Capitol Records building
The Jean Swartz Building, with Capitol Records in the background (2022)


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