Los Angeles Locations Featured in "500 Days of Summer"

"500 Days of Summer"
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "500 Days of Summer" | Photo: 500 Days of Summer, Facebook

Read on for information about historic locations that were featured in the 2009 Fox Searchlight film (500) Days of Summer, courtesy of the Los Angeles Conservancy. The film is a romantic comedy, but critics have noted that the City of Los Angeles and its stunning architecture play almost as important a role as the young couple, Tom and Summer (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel).

San Fernando Building Lofts at night
Photo: San Fernando Building Lofts

San Fernando Building

400 S Main St (at 4th Street)
*Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #728
*Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
In the film, the San Fernando Building serves as the video & record store.

  • The original building was built by John F. Blee in 1907
  • The two top stories were added on by R. B. Young in 1911
  • Designed in the Renaissance Revival style
  • Commissioned by James B. Lankershim, one of the largest landholders in California (his father Isaac helped develop the San Fernando Valley for farming)
  • Originally had a café, billiard room and Turkish bath in the basement for tenants
  • Achieved local attention in 1910, when a series of police raids occurred on the sixth floor due to illegal gambling in the rooms
  • Redeveloped by Gilmore Associates and reopened in 2000 as 70 loft-style apartments; one of the early projects that sparked Downtown’s current renaissance
Exterior of the Hotel Barclay in DTLA
Exterior of the Hotel Barclay in Downtown LA | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hotel Barclay (Van Nuys Hotel)

103 W 4th St.
Look diagonally across Main Street (northwest corner of 4th & Main)
*Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #288

In the film, the Barclay lobby serves as the hangout for Tom and his buddies.

  • Built by Morgan and Walls in 1896
  • Designed in the Beaux-Arts style with Romanesque features (which are less detailed and ornate than the more formal Beaux-Arts style)
  • Look up to the top of the building to see “The Van Nuys”
  • Commercial venture by Isaac Newton Van Nuys, one of L.A.’s wealthiest businessmen and landowners
  • Opened in 1897 as the Van Nuys Hotel, one of the finest in the city, with the latest amenities
  • First hotel to provide telephone and electric service in every room; “a neat device for the electrical heating of curling irons in each room is a new feature of special interest to the ladies” (Los Angeles Times)
  • 4th Street lobby has many original elements, including ceiling decorations, columns, arched doorways, stained-glass windows with old-fashioned scenes, and a crest with “V. N.” held up by seahorses
  • The oldest continuously operating hotel in Los Angeles, now a low-income residential hotel
Exterior of the Continental Building in DTLA
Continental Building in Downtown LA | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Continental Building (Braly Block)

408 S Spring St.
*Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #730
*Part of the National Register: listed Spring Street Financial District
Cross Main Street at 4th Street (toward the Barclay Hotel), go one block to Spring Street - the Continental Building will be on your left.
In the film, this is one of Tom’s favorite buildings, as viewed from Tom’s bench. Identified by Tom as “LA’s first skyscraper.”

  • Built by John Parkinson between 1902 and 1904
  • One of the first examples of the Beaux-Arts business block
  • At 175 feet, considered the city's first skyscraper
  • Completed shortly before the city established a 130-foot building height limit in 1905 (later raised to 150 feet); it remained the city's tallest building (in terms of occupied space) for more than 50 years (except City Hall, which was exempted from the limit by public vote)
  • First floor has been altered, but the second story retains its stone block design
  • Notice the row of lion heads on the projecting cornice made of pressed galvanized tin
  • Served as office space and later housed many banks
  • Now owned by Gilmore Associates, which converted it into 56 loft-style apartments, opened in 2001
The Bradbury Building in Downtown LA
The Bradbury Building  |  Photo: Discover Los Angeles

Bradbury Building

304 S Broadway
*Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #6
*State Landmark
*Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Continue west on 4th another block. Turn right on Broadway and head north to 3rd Street. The Bradbury will be on your right.
In the film, this is the site of an important meeting for Tom.

  • Built by Sumner Hunt and/or George H. Wyman (disputed) in 1893
  • Built in the Victorian Romanesque style
  • Simple sandstone and brown brick exterior gives way to a five-story interior court filled with light from the glass roof, cast-iron railings, and open-cage elevators
  • Hydraulic elevators originally powered by steam-derived boilers in the basement
  • Lewis Bradbury was a mining millionaire who moved to LA later in life to become a real estate investor
  • The oldest commercial building in the center city
  • Purchased by Ira Yellin in 1989; renovated as a key part of his Grand Central Square project, which foreshadowed downtown’s current renaissance by a decade
  • Has long been a popular filming location, probably best known for the 1982 sci-fi epic Blade Runner
Property of Discover Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Ryan Vaarsi, Flickr

Million Dollar Theater

307 South Broadway
*Part of the National Register-listed Broadway Theatre and Commercial District
*Photo by Larry Underhill
In the film, Tom and Summer see "The Graduate" here.

  • Built by Albert C. Martin in 1918
  • The interior was done by William Lee Woollett
  • The exterior sculpture was done by Joseph Mora
  • Sid Grauman’s first Los Angeles theatre
  • One of the earliest movie palaces in the U.S. and with more than 2,300 seats (originally), one of the largest
  • Designed in the ornate Churrigueresque style
  • Lavish exterior terra-cotta ornamentation by Mora includes bison heads, longhorn skulls and allegorical figures representing the arts
  • The name "Million Dollar" comes from the combined original costs of the land and the building
  • Originally had a two-story exterior foyer/lobby; has been altered over the years, though some details, such as murals, remain underneath
  • From 1949 until the late 1980s (when it closed), the theater was a major center of Latino entertainment, with Mexican films and traveling vaudeville shows from Latin America
  • Operated as a Spanish language church in the 1990s
  • Reopened in 2008 after a year-long, million-dollar refurbishment
  • Upper stories originally housed office space; now apartments
Grand Central Market
Inside Grand Central Market   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Grand Central Market

315 South Broadway
John Parkinson, 1897
*Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
This was the site of a deleted scene in which Tom and Summer are shopping for fruit.

  • Built by retired Ohio entrepreneur Homer Laughlin, founder of the Homer Laughlin China Company
  • The city’s first fireproofed and steel-reinforced structure
  • In 1905, the building was expanded through to Hill Street
  • GCM opened in 1917
  • Today GCM has more than 50 vendor stalls, each privately owned and operated
  • Building was rehabilitated in the early 1990s as part of the Yellin Company’s Grand Central Square project
  •  Project removed a tile façade added in the 1960s to reveal the second-story windows and many of the original Beaux-Arts details

Property of Discover Los Angeles
500 Days of Summer, Downtown | Photo courtesy of gtall1, Flickr

Tom's Bench

NOTE: Tom's Bench is currently inaccessible to the public. It’s still visible through a chainlink fence.
Angels Knoll/Bunker Hill, 356 S Olive St.

From Grand Central Market, cross Hill Street and go all the way up the 100+ steps.
This is Tom’s favorite LA spot, offering a great view of (mostly) pre-war buildings. As Tom shows Summer the architecture he says, "There’s so much beauty here. Sure the street level isn’t much to look at, but if you look up, there’s some exciting stuff going on. If it were up to me, I’d get people to notice!”

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Redwood Bar, Facebook

Redwood Bar & Grill

316 W 2nd St.
If you’re as thirsty as a pirate, head north on Hill to 2nd Street.
Redwood serves as the office bar where Tom, Summer, and coworkers indulge in drunken karaoke.

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain at Grand Park | Photo courtesy of Shabdro Photo, Flickr

Other Downtown Film Locations

*FENTON BUILDING (circa 1925; aka Roseland dance hall)
833-835 S Spring St, between 8th and 9th Streets
In the film, this is where Tom works as a copywriter for a greeting card company.

Civic Center Mall, between First and Temple Streets, near Grand Avenue
In the film, this is where Tom dances to the Hall & Oates song “You Make My Dreams Come True.” The fountain is a mid-century classic, recently restored as part of the Grand Park project.

*FINE ARTS BUILDING (Walker and Eisen, 1926)
811 W 7th St.
This is one of Tom’s favorite buildings; he incorrectly singles out architects Walker and "Eisner."

849 S Broadway, across from the Orpheum Theatre
Another one of Tom’s favorites.

830 South Broadway, next to the Orpheum Theatre
In the film, this is where Tom defends Summer.

Many thanks to the Los Angeles Conservancy, Fox Searchlight, Michael Chickey, Martin J. Cummins and Harry Medved. The Los Angeles Conservancy is a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving the historic architectural and cultural resources of Los Angeles County.