Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Famous Hotel Del

Yesterday I discovered the connection between the Emerald City of Oz and Coronado, California. L.Frank Baum, once he had made some major money on The Wizard of Oz, began to spend long vacations at the luxurious Hotel del Coronado. The Crown Room, as illustrated here, retains its original chandeliers and amazing tongue-in-groove paneled ceilings. We managed to get ourselves in by approaching a security guard and asking if we could see it!
The Coronado was the first building in the San Diego area to use electric lighting -- as attested by the 1880s era power plant seen out the window of the Crown Room, and the crown lighting fixtures. Obviously, there's a Crown Room influence in the Emerald City, too.

The Lobby is in the old and wonderful Grand Hotel style, and also retains the original panelling and chandeliers. Somehow when many others were torn down, the Del was only neglected -- which means it was preserved. Its most famous moment in the run-down and seedy part of its history was its use as a cheap set for the film "Some Like it Hot."

The Grand Ballroom suffered from cheap modern rennovations -- we managed to get in by asking some wedding caterers if we could go into the door where they were loading stuff. Like the Crown Room, it wasn't really open to the public.

We enjoyed the visit to Coronado with Ellen and Alec. After our walk around the Hotel, we ate lunch at Rhinoceros. We visited the small museum which has an excellent pictorial and video presentation on L.Frank Baum, including a 10 minute excerpt from one of his World War I era Oz films -- all unsuccessful: he lost a lot of money in Hollywood.

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