Friday, July 29, 2011

Capitol Records Building

The Capitol Records Tower is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood, California. The 13-story earthquake-resistant tower, designed by Welton Becket, was the world's first circular office building, and is home to several recording studios. It is designed so the wide curved awnings over windows on each story and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building combine to give it the appearance of a stack of vinyl 45s on a turntable.  The building is located just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and is the center of the consolidated West Coast operations of Capitol Records—and was nicknamed "The House That Nat Built" to recognize the enormous financial contributions of Capitol star Nat "King" Cole. The building houses the Capitol Studios, a recording facility which includes an echo chamber engineered by guitarist Les Paul. The first album recorded in the tower was Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color.

The blinking light atop the tower spells out the phrase "Hollywood" in Morse code, and has done so since the building's opening in 1956. This was an idea of Capitol's then president, Alan Livingston, who wanted to subtly advertise Capitol's status as the first record label with a base on the west coast. The switch activating the light was thrown by Lyla Morse, Samuel Morse's granddaughter.  In 1992 it was changed to read "Capitol 50" in honor of the label's fiftieth anniversary. It has since returned to spelling "Hollywood".

In the 1974 disaster blockbuster film Earthquake, the tower was shown collapsing during a massive tremor. Thirty years later, in an homage to Earthquake, the tower was again depicted as being destroyed, this time by a massive tornado, in The Day After Tomorrow.

This landmark is very significant in Hollywood and can be seen from miles away.  It is worth the trip for an up close visit!

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