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The West Hollywood History Center: Preserving and Sharing Our City’s Incredible Story

That camel barn on Melrose Place. The celebrity-packed restaurant where Comedy Store is now located and where Frank Sinatra got headlines for assaulting a journalist. Art Linkletter’s bowling alley on Santa Monica Boulevard (which in its later years Cher came to roller skate and where today you can get a prescription filled) and Jim Morrison’s room at the Alta Cienega Motel. Then there’s the building on Sunset that private-detective-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano allegedly planned to blow up, and the Viper Room, where River Phoenix took a fatal overdose.

The list goes on and on: From 3,500 years ago when the Tongva tribe called our land home to 1890 when Victor Ponet, the Belgian banker bought land now known as Sunset Plaza that his family still owns. Then let’s jump way ahead to 1966 when the riot on the Sunset Strip helped make it famous, and to 1970s and the welcoming of Russian-speaking emigres from the old Soviet Union who called West Hollywood’s Eastside home. And of course there was the successful battle for cityhood, which brought together groups as disparate as gay men, senior citizens and those who feared eviction because of rising rents. Throughout the city’s history it has been home to fierce rallies by local residents in opposition to discriminatory state and federal laws such as a ban on same-sex marriage and Donald Trump’s treatment of undocumented immigrants.

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And let’s be honest, that’s pretty darn gay.