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 the Disneyland!
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.
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...
According the great (sadly, now out of print) 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.......
NOTE: In the old version of this site, I posted a picture of the Village JUST after they wrecked. Well, these days, I don't have the heart to post it here.
The images from this point on are sales material selling 'apartment living' in the complex. Some of these were found on Tiki Central site. Unfortunately, I lost the name of the collector who originally posted some of these, so my apologies.