The Wall Street Journal: Sunset Boulevard, From Louche to Luxury - The Wall Street Journal

By Katy McLaughlin

June 16th, 2016 for The Wall Street Journal

To understand the transformation on Sunset Boulevard, consider Larry Flynt’s Hustler Hollywood flagship store. The venue for sexy lingerie and other erotica was purchased last year for $18.3 million to make way for the Arts Club, an elite, members-only social club.

The Hustler store is among the symbols of Sunset Boulevard’s louche past that are being razed to make way for upscale residences, shopping and dining. The luxury developments represent a dramatic cultural shift on Sunset. The boulevard—and particularly the 1½-mile-long West Hollywood portion known as the Sunset Strip—has throughout its history been famous for nightlife, counterculture, and sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.

Sunset’s notoriety began in the 1930s and ’40s, when it was a glamorous nightlife destination for Hollywood stars. Even when its famous nightclubs closed down one by one, Sunset’s fame drew crowds of young people from around the country, said Hans Fjellestad, director of the 2012 documentary “Sunset Strip.”

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