Everyone loves France. Well, most everyone does.
If France wasn't so beloved, "French girl style" wouldn't be trending on TikTok, Paris wouldn't be flooded with tourists all the time, and French food wouldn't be enjoyed around the world.
Well...Los Angeles was supposed to get what was billed as the world's largest amusement park.
It was called Somewhere in France.
|Former location of Somewhere in France amusement park.|
Note the street "Pigott Drive", named after Allied Amusements' general manager William Pigott.
I solemnly swear on my personal copy of Le Guide Français that I am not making this up.
Construction began in May of 1923. The park's founders had hired T.H. Eslick, who had built amusements around the world (and designed the La Monica ballroom that once stood on the Santa Monica pleasure pier), to build the park. The park's art director was Edward Langley, who had directed Douglas Fairbanks' acclaimed picture "Robin Hood".
Addressing the Ebell of Pomona, Langley told the club members that the park would be beautiful, educational, and cultured, appropriate for club women or for children. (At the time, amusement parks were not necessarily kid-friendly, and could be downright seedy.)
Langley teased some of the park's features:
- The park's gate would have opened onto "a typical French street".
- A scaled-down railroad would have passed through "reproductions of cities, typical of every land, and the architecture is to be wondrous and withal authentic."
- A 90-foot mountain "which flanks one side of the park and wherein is concealed a great treasure cove of waterfalls and lily ponds and quaint scenic views is, in fact, our old friend the roller coaster."
- An onsite cinema and movie sets (Langley was a director, and Culver City is the "Heart of Screenland", after all).
- Wild animals from the Hagenbeck Zoo in Berlin (the plan was to exhibit every species of wild animal ever held in captivity).
- The largest Ferris wheel in the US.
- The largest indoor swimming pool on the Pacific Coast.
- A children's playground.
- War re-enactments (the Great War was an entirely too-recent memory).
- Some sort of water spectacle.
- A replica of France's war trenches.
- One of the largest dance halls on the Pacific Coast.
- Tea rooms and restaurants, all unique.
|Somewhere in France on 1924 Sanborn map with alternate name "Bohemia"|