View 100 points of Culver City lore on the Centennial Trail as you begin your journey on the yellow brick road past the nation’s smallest main street in hip and historic downtown Culver City. Downtown Main St. was home to half of America’s movie production in the 1940’s, which became affordable entertainment throughout the war. Just beyond those first few steps, you will stride past the Culver Hotel, a century old “wedge-shaped Renaissance revival-style hotel, fashioned with sculpted stone, brick, ornate overhanging eaves and 200 magnificent windows.” From legendary ownership to memorable guests, this National Historic Landmark retains its prestige and nostalgia.
Passing the fire station, city hall and acclaimed cafes, you soon will enter through the storied gates of Sony Pictures Studios, once home to the original Ince/Triangle Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. You’ll glide through “The Rainbow” and then pop by the soundstages where classic films like Spider-Man, Singin’ in the Rain and The Da Vince Code were shot as well as the homes of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. You’ll pass the popular studio watering hole built in the 1930’s–the Backstage–on your way out of the studios onto Culver Bl. Click here to view the 100 points of lore on the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot.
Runners will get a glimpse of the permanent start and finish line marker of the Western Hemisphere Marathon located on Overland Ave. in front of Veterans Memorial Auditorium, as they turn back on Culver Blvd at the western most portion of the course. The Screenland 5K commemorates the Western Hemisphere Marathon (1948-2001), the nation’s second oldest marathon, and its founder Syd Kronenthal, late Director of Culver City Parks and Recreation. It was the final qualifying race for Boston Marathon, the oldest consecutively run marathon west of Mississippi River, the first marathon to allow women to compete, among the first marathons in nation to host Olympic trials, the first race on the west coast chosen for random drug testing, the site of several AAU National Championships, and an annual event that fostered the Culver City Sister Cities Committee marathon exchange with Kaizuka, Japan.
Passing the landmark post office, Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre (former Culver movie house), historic City Hall facade and Fire Station Number One, you will zip by the former Esther Williams swimming pool, classic bowling alley, the Green Café and Mary Ellen’s Donuts in downtown Culver City on the second mile. Click here to see the Centennial Trail travel up and down Culver City central.
Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gained stardom at The Culver Studios long before Elvis Presley began rehearsing there. Built in 1918 by silent movie pioneer Thomas Ince, and in later years owned by legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, tycoon Howards Hughes and the comic duo of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Culver Studios is now Culver City’s official Historic Site #7. Filmed inside the studio walls were King Kong, A Star is Born, Gone With The Wind, Dual in the Sun, Citizen Kane, The Untouchables, X-Men First Class, Raging Bull, E.T., Argo, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Beetlejuice, Night at the Museum, I Am Legend, Alice In Wonderland, Bugsy, A Few Good Men, Nixon, Armageddon, The Matrix, Legally Blonde, Kill Bill, and television’s The Last Ship, Andy Griffith Show, Hogan’s Heroes, Baywatch, Batman, Arrested Development, Deal Or No Deal, America’s Next Top Model, Cougar Town, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Extant.
Revel in the Academy Awards largest morning celebration at the final mile loop between Ince and National in the “Washington Block Party.” Washington Blvd, formerly Paseo de Las Cerretas (Spanish for Wagon Pass), was notorious for its nightclubs, gambling, and bootlegging. It became the economic engine of the city with Western Stove, signaling the beginning of industry and car dealerships that hawked Buicks, Volkswagens, Fords, Chevrolets and Chryslers. Click here to see Culver City’s hotspots on the Centennial Trail.
The shuttered Sebastian’s Cotton Club, where Jazz giant Louis Armstrong often performed, borders “The Turning Point” by the Metro Station at National and Washington. At the opposite corner is the former Hal Roach Studio, which functioned as Fort Roach, making training films for the aircraft industry and war effort. Now the site of Turning Point School, a Golden Wizard Presenting Sponsor, Hal Roach Studio was the Laugh Factory to the World from 1919-1963, including Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy comedies. Gazing east from “The Turning Point” is the western tip of the East Culver City Arts District with art galleries, restaurants and trendy stores along Washington Bl. and the Helms Bakery district, which housed the official bakery for the 1932 Olympic Games. The land where Surfas Restaurant Supply operates will undergo a renaissance, as planned by Arixa Capital Advisors and Vitruvian Development, a Golden Wizard sponsor of the Screenland 5K. This turnaround starts the stretch run west to the Screenland 5K finish line.