Culver City is a city in western Los Angeles County, California. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 38,883. It is mostly surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, but also shares a border with unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Over the years, considering its incorporated status, over forty annexations of adjoining areas have occurred. As a result the city now comprises approximately five square miles.
Since the 1920s, Culver City has been a significant center for motion picture and later television production, best known as the home of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. It was also the headquarters for the Hughes Aircraft Company from 1932 to 1985. National Public Radio West and Sony Pictures Entertainment now have headquarters in the city. The NFL Network studio is also based in Culver City.
Archaeological evidence suggests a human presence in the area of present day Culver City since at least 8,000 BC. The region was the homeland of the Tongva-Gabrieliño Native Americans, who held a presence in the region for over 8,000 years.
From 1861 to 1862, during the American Civil War, Camp Latham was established by the 1st California Infantry under Col. James H. Carleton and the 1st California Cavalry under Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Davis. Named for California Senator Milton S. Latham, the camp was the first staging area for the training of Union troops and their operations in Southern California. It was located on land of the Rancho La Ballona, on the South side of Ballona Creek, near what is now the intersection of Jefferson and Overland Boulevards. The post was later moved to Camp Drum later the Drum Barracks.
Harry Culver's first attempt to establish Culver City was in 1913, and the city was incorporated on September 20, 1917. (His first ads read "All roads lead to Culver City" indicating a main transportation route via the city.) The city was one of many all-white planned communities started in the Los Angeles area around this time.
The first film studio in Culver City was built by Thomas Ince in 1918. In 1919, silent film comedy producer Hal Roach built his studios there, and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) in the 20s. During Prohibition, speakeasies and nightclubs such as the Cotton Club lined Washington Boulevard.
Culver Center, one of Southern California's first shopping malls, was completed in 1950 as a post World War II-project. Situated on Venice Boulevard near the Overland Avenue intersection, it featured many retail stores, a supermarket, J. C. Penney's department store, a dime store, several banks and a drug store.
Hughes Aircraft Company
Hughes Aircraft opened its Culver City plant in July, 1941. There the company built the H-4 Hercules transport (commonly called the "Spruce Goose"). Hughes was also an active subcontractor in World War II. It developed and patented a flexible feed chute for faster loading of machine guns on B-17 bombers, as well as manufactured electric booster drives for machine guns. Hughes produced more ammunition belts than any other American manufacturer, and built 5,576 wings and 6,370 rear fuselage sections for Vultee BT-13 trainers.
Hughes grew after the war, and in 1953 Howard Hughes donated all of his stock in the company to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. After he died in 1976, the institute sold the company, which made it the second-best endowed medical research foundation in the world.
The studios (1960s and 1970s)
The Hal Roach Studios were demolished in 1963. In the late 1960s, much of the MGM back lot acreage (lot 3 and other property on Jefferson Boulevard), and the nearby 28.5 ac (11.5 ha) of the somewhat inaccurately named "back forty", once owned by RKO Pictures and later Desilu Productions, were sold by their owners. Elvis Presley, among others, occasionally rehearsed in these studios. In 1976, however, the sets were razed to make way for redevelopment. Today the "back forty" is the southern expansion of the Hayden Industrial Tract, while the MGM property has been converted to a subdivision and a shopping center known as Raintree Plaza.
Rebirth of downtown (1990s and 2000s)
In the 1990s, Culver City launched a successful revitalization program in which it renovated its downtown as well as several shopping centers in the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor near Westfield Culver City. Around the same time, the relocation of Sony's motion picture operations (known as Columbia Pictures) to the former MGM studios at Washington Boulevard and Overland Avenue brought much-needed jobs to the city.
The influx of many art galleries and restaurants to the eastern part of the city, formally designated as the Culver City Art District, prompted The New York Times in 2007 to praise the new art scene and call Culver City a "nascent Chelsea."
In 2012 Roger Vincent of the Los Angeles Times said that, according to local observers, the city's "reputation as a pedestrian-friendly destination with upscale restaurants, gastropubs and a thriving art scene is less than a decade old."