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, in part because it was the home of MGM 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.
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. Camp Latham was named for California Senator Milton S. Latham and 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 the 1920s, silent film comedy producer Hal Roach and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) built studios there. 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.
The studios (1960s and 1970s)
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."