Bowling central in Glendale

August 23, 2011|By Katherine Yamada
  • Grand Central Bowl, circa 1959 at the corner of Sonora Avenue and Flower Street in an industrial park developed on the site of the old Grand Central Airport. (Courtesy of the Glendale Public Library Special Collections)
Grand Central Bowl, circa 1959 at the corner of Sonora…

Glendale’s Grand Central Airport closed down in the 1950s, and eventually the property was developed as a business park called the Grand Central Industrial Center. One of the new buildings was Grand Central Bowl, a $1-million project at the corner of Sonora Avenue and Flower Street.

The bowling alley, designed by William Rudolph of Pasadena, was developed in mid-1959 by Sports Arenas Inc., according to the Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1959. It included a restaurant and cocktail lounge, coffee shop and children’s playroom.

Rudolph’s architectural firm designed many bowling alleys and entertainment complexes. After the Grand Central project, he was hired to remodel an old boxing arena at El Centro Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. He turned it into a 44-lane bowling alley at a reported cost of $500,000, per the Times, August 28, 1960. It had a playroom for children, a cocktail bar, billiard room and a snack bar.


In early 1962, he designed a 70,000-square-foot, 72-lane bowling center in Houston. The complex, within a 3-acre amusement park, boasted a barbershop, beauty salon, coffee shop and sporting goods department.

Later that same year, he planned a shopping and recreation center in Carpinteria with a bowling alley, family billiard club, coffee shop and cocktail lounge. Also in 1962, he designed two bowling and amusement centers in St. Louis for Bowling Corporation of America, making a total of 18 centers his firm had designed for that group, as reported in The Times, April 22, 1962.

Kim MacLeod, who grew up on Cleveland Road in Northwest Glendale, remembers the Grand Central Bowl fondly. She and her younger sister, Ann, often bowled there when they were young.

“The Grand Central Bowl was very large, but since it was the only bowling alley I knew, I took it for granted. When you entered, if you would go to the right there was a coffee shop. If you went to the left, you would walk up some wide carpeted steps into the bowling alley.” Just inside the entrance was the front desk for shoe rentals, scoring sheets and lane assignments. “This is where the Grand Central Bowl stood apart from most other bowling alleys in that there were 60 lanes — 30 lanes on the left side as you walked in and 30 on the right side.”

In the 1960s, MacLeod said, she and Ann both took lessons through their Girl Scout troops. “If I remember correctly, there were six lessons, so you could learn the basics of how to bowl.”

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