broken clouds


Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach – A Look Back

Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

As we idly scan through archived photos to select an item for this column, there are times we just look upstairs and smile. It is certainly a nice gem when we see two photos approximately 20 years apart from the exact same location.

Last week we deduced the age of a photo taken in black and white from the corner of Forest and Coast Highway looking south (taken in 1938).

To reproduce the same angle today you could stand in front of Kush or BJ’s and look straight south toward the Heisler Building.

The 1939 Plymouth Coupe was a key clue in last week’s photo. In this week’s colorized photo, a beautiful 1956 Chevy two-door Bel Air occupies the exact spot. One obvious difference is the appearance of an old friend – the parking meter. In fact you’ll see a string of parking meters lining Coast Highway. However, looking at that same parking space today you’ll notice that no parking is allowed.

The White House, the Heisler Building, and Hotel Laguna appear to not have changed.

Laguna Beach A Look Back 3 3 20

Click on photo for a larger image

Looking back at Laguna Beach

The first clue as to the year of the picture is the Shell station logo, which is modernized. This type of Shell logo first appeared in approximately 1960.

Another interesting fact this photo points out is that there were actually two crosswalks at this corner of Forest, Park, and Coast Highway. The crosswalk on the north side near the station wagon is now gone.

If you look close you can see a sign for McHughes Toys where The Greeter’s Corner Restaurant is now. Owner Bart McHugh ran the Main Beach toy store for several decades.

The cars are good clues as to the date of this photo too.

Behind the 1956 Chevy is a 1958 Chevy, which is directly next to a 1960 MG. The long station wagon with fins can be identified as a 1960 Ford station wagon.

But the clincher is the white poster just above the station wagon. That slogan of Super Shell having nine ingredients for top performance was a campaign that began in early 1961 and ended sometime in 1962. Although we cannot nail the exact time of this picture as exact as last week, it would be safe to mark this photo as sometime in mid-1961 to mid-1962. Since the newest cars seen are 1960 models, 1961 would be the most logical estimation.

That puts a 23-year gap between the black and white and color pictures from the same location.

If you stand at this spot today you would of course see more modern cars, and the Shell station is gone. The street lights are a bit more modern. Otherwise the view has remained intact for almost 40 years.

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Laguna Beach Historical Society is located at 278 Ocean Ave. They are open Friday - Sunday from 1 - 4 p.m. For more information, call (949) 497-6834 or visit


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