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Central Avenue: Dunbar Hotel

Glen Creason, Librarian III, History & Genealogy Department,
Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas, Sheet 469, 1950.

As a salute to African American Heritage Month we present a brief glance at the epicenter of Central Avenue in the once glamorous and glorious Dunbar Hotel. In its heyday the Dunbar was THE stopping over point for the greats of the Black community when Central was the liveliest spot in all of LA. Those who stayed might include Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Jack Johnson, Billie Holiday, Nat Cole or Count Basie who performed in clubs nearby (even next door!).

Due to real estate covenants and wide spread discrimination, black people were limited in their places of residence and recreation so Central Avenue was the answer to those who would discriminate. Leaders in the black community stood together and created a place of culture, commerce and really great music that stretched from downtown all the way out to South Central. While Central Avenue is widely known for the R&B and Jazz scene it was also a street of style and dreams that hosted the first NAACP convention and featured the offices of many prominent banks, insurance firms, doctors, lawyers, newspapers and even a renowned mortuary.

Sanborn Fire Insurance atlas,  Sheet 469, 1950.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas, Sheet 469, 1950.

Exterior view of the Dunbar Hotel, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1928.