n the 1920s, California was a land of prosperity and sunshine. Los Angeles was growing faster than any other part of the United States, with a population that went from 576,000 in 1920 to 1,238,000 in 1930. Along with this rapid development came a boom in construction. Architects from all over the country were called to Los Angeles, each bringing their own particular styles to a city filled with an increasingly eclectic mix of buildings.
Architects working in California were responding to regional traditions as well as revivalist trends in architecture. Many were celebrating the areas connection to a Spanish colonial past. Others, like Wright were looking farther back to pre-European regional traditions of Native American cultures. Wright was one of the earliest architects to introduce non-Western detailing to projects in California. For example, the Barnsdall/Hollyhock House of 1917-22, used Mayan and Zapotec motifs and the Ennis House of 1924, is placed like a Mayan temple on a hill.
Hotels were a particularly extravagant endeavor in Hollywood and were built in a series of revival styles. New York architects Schulze and Weaver built the Los Angeles Biltmore in 1923 in a Spanish Renaissance style. With a three-story-high lobby that culminates with an elaborate staircase and wrought iron balustrade. With the atmosphere of a religious space, the lobby has a deep barrel vaulted ceiling and arcades that run alongside the main space. Other unique features are an interior shopping street called El Camino, Italian brickwork, and terra-cotta detailing.
Pictured above left and at right: Biltmore Hotel, 1923, Los Angeles, California