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The Polynesian in Canoga Park, Canoga Park, CA (apartments)

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Name:The Polynesian in Canoga Park
Street:Variel and Saticoy (ish)
City:Canoga Park

When I was down in the L.A area going to my ol buddy's party in the San Fernando Valley. I drove past this apartment complex which was right down the street in the vicinity of Variel and Saticoy. I grew up near this place yet don't recall ever seeing this aptment complex before. Unfortunately, I was not driving and could not take the time to scout around and take more pictures. I did talk my pal who was drivin' into pullin' over so I could get a shot of the giant mask on the side of the building. This place might be ripe for further exploration.


I grew up in that area (near Roscoe and Winnetka). There are -- or were -- quite a few Polynesian-style apartment buildings in the West Valley. Sadly, as is the case everywhere, too many of them have been remodeled beyond all recognition over the years, and the Northridge earthquake in 1994 took out a lot of others. Still, if you look closely you'll find some that have survived reasonably intact.

I'm heading up there this weekend to spend Christmas with my parents. If I have time I'll grab the camera and go tiki hunting.

I grew up just a few doors down from a Tiki apartment building in Canoga Park on DeSoto Ave, just north of Sherman Way on the east side of the street. In the 70s, I remember it having a lot of plants and foliage around, very tropical looking with an A-frame and I'm sure the rest was pretty Polynesian too. But I think it has been severely (and horribly) remodeled, especially after the earthquake.

Just south of that building were 2 small pre-war houses (there used to be tons in the neighborhood), but even my old house (right behind the mini-mall on the northeast corner) is now gone.

This pic is from 1961. Also note the DeSoto Motel and Steakhouse in the lower right, Bruno's Pizza at the right end of the mini-mall just above that (it's still there!) This is before they widened that part of DeSoto Ave.

Also, the Book of Tiki (p. 51) shows a matchbook from a "Club Tiki" on Roscoe and DeSoto. Anyone heard of this place? It's not there anymore, I'm sure of that.

Help! Urban archaeologist alert !!!:

On 2006-12-19 09:43, Chongolio wrote:
When I was down in the L.A area going to my ol buddy's party in the San Fernando Valley. I drove past this apartment complex which was right down the street in the vicinity of Variel and Saticoy.

Has anyone been there since and found it ? I procrastinated, but when I found myself in the area yesterday, I finally went to photograph it--but searching on, and several blocks around Saticoy and Variel yielded NO result! I hope it has not been torn down/remodeled! I really wanted to use it for my Tiki Shirt book, since that Tami mask ( taken from the classic "Art of The South Seas" book, BOT p.247)

was used repeatedly throughout Polynesian pop,

...and at the last Hukilau I photographed a gentleman wearing THIS fine shirt:

What a great tie-in! I called information and there is no "Polynesian Apartments" listed in Canoga Park. It would be a bummer if I missed it by mere months!!! Damn...

Local Tiki Agents, Heeelp!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-04-14 13:54 ]


Sven, I think I have seen this apartment few years ago, can't remember where. I will check this address for you on the way to work on Monday. :)

Thanks! The problem is that there IS no address, it is not AT Saticoy and Variel, but in the "vicinity", nor anywhere on Saticoy between DeSoto and Topanga, or on Variel North or South of Saticoy. And there are no "The Polynesian Apts" listed in Canoga Park. So we need a street number...or spend more time cruising Saticoy East of De Soto...I had to pick up my son and had to give up...well, it was Friday the 13th...and Friday afternoon traffic. :(

Any help is appreciated. Mahalo, Sven

Eeeyipe! I had a little apartment in that area at one time!


Well I spend a long time driving around from Sherman Way and Owensmouth all the way to Roscoe and down to Mason and back up Sherman way. Up and down Saticoy. So far no luck at all. I know I have seen this building but just can't remember where. I did find the building in the picture that Vintagegirl has. The address is 7260 De Soto, I went inside the gate and looked around no tiki anything. There is a small pool inside but not much else. The outside is an A frame building, has lava rocks on the facade. there are some old palm trees around the building.
I will look around again another day when I have more time.

Thanks. For the Polynesian dwelling archaeologist, tall palm trees are usually a good indicator that can be seen from a distance. I will send Chongolio a p.m. to ask him to rattle his memory, but he does not seem to be a frequent visitor here anymore. Damn, I sure hope it did not get demolished!

I have been meaning to jump back into this post but have just been way to busy to reply. Here is what I remember from when I first saw the building. It was on Variel and I am pretty sure it was west of Saticoy. It definitely was not east of Roscoe. I was going to swing by and get more pics on my way home from The Tiki Farm Sale but was I was beat and didn't want to cut across the Valley during quittin' time. I will be back down in L.A. in a few weeks and I can swing by the area and gather more info. In the meantime, I will send my buddy a message and ask him if he can cruise by there and get the address and see if it is still there. I tried to spot it on Google Earth but I couldn't spot it.

Dang double post!

[ Edited by: Chongolio 2007-04-17 13:24 ]

A big THANKS! But doesn't Variel go North/South? And I went a few blocks each way from the Saticoy, and except on the corners to Saticoy, Variel (being a side street) has only suburban bungalows on it, at least as far as I went.

On 2007-04-17 14:01, bigbrotiki wrote:
A big THANKS! But doesn't Variel go North/South? And I went a few blocks each way from the Saticoy, and except on the corners to Saticoy, Variel (being a side street) has only suburban bungalows on it, at least as far as I went.

Shootz my bad! To this day I always get directions messed up. My brain is stuck on the notion that the ocean is always west no matter where you are. Yes, Variel does run North and South so the apartments would of been south of Roscoe. I am pretty sure the Apartments were not south of Sherman Way. As you get closer to Sherman Way going South from Roscoe on Variel you will pass houses and start to see apartments and liquor stores. If they are still there you must have been really close. My apologizes for being such a rookie. Urban archeology was never one of my better subjects in school.


Well today I was there again all over the place . Pretty much saw every apartment on Saticoy and Roscoe East of Topanga Canyon and West of Mason. Same goes for Roscoe. It is hard to really focus and look since the traffic is so fast and annoying, and the trees cover the apartment. Nothing on the corner of Saticoy and Variel for sure. I will try again later. :)

ON Variel...South of ROSCOE...hmmm. I think you better travel the whole length of Variel, hiltiki, starting from ABOVE Roscoe, going South til you hit the L.A. river.
If that doesn't do it, we all meet and observe Chongolio retracing his movements! :)

I know this will probably sound downbeat to the urban archaeologists, so if you want to read ahead, just think of the following paragraph as some kind of fantasy poetry.

I find it is sometimes creepy to go to these places where things "used to be a certain way"... I'll go to a place and just find that the vibe is all wrong...everything is made out of plastic, nothing feels or looks like wood, things are modern rather than modernist, there's bars on all the windows, fluorescent tubes light everything, and folks stare at ya.

From "TIKI MODERN", Chapter 7, Beginning quote:


“In the midst of desolation and ruin we looked back to the past, cleared away the gloomy forest, and fancied every building perfect, with its terraces and pyramids, its sculptured and painted ornaments, grand, lofty, and imposing”

John L. Stephens, “Incidents of Travel in Central America”, 1841

The Polynesian
Address: 7314 Variel (South of Saticoy and one block north of Sherman Way)

I had a chance to cruise the length of Variel today, the building is on the east side of the street and appears to be a bit weather worn. Didn't have a chance to do much more than drive by. But it is still there.

Also had a chance to check out the Tiki Apartments that Vintagegirl illustrated on the post card.

Address: 7260 DeSoto Ave, Canoga Park, CA (East Side of Street)
Between Sherman Way and Valerio, almost the same place as the Polynesian, but one street further east.

The facade has been changed quite a bit, but you can still see the original structure. With a closer look you can still see some of the orignial beam work, I am sure that it originally had a Polynesian look to it.

It would be interesting if we could find an original photograph.


You are my Hero of the week!

Nice Work and Nice Pictures!

On 2007-04-20 18:40, NautiTiki wrote:
The Polynesian
Address: 7314 Variel (South of Saticoy and one block north of Sherman Way)

Oh thank goodness! I was starting to question my sanity. So sorry to everybody who tried to find this place using my half assed rum soaked directions. Nautiki you earned a gumdrop... make it two!


Yessssssss! Fan-tastic! So I just didn't go far enough South, missed it by one or two blocks. I am so thrilled that there is still undiscovered stuff out there. Once the weather is clear I will be so there. Great work, thank you!

Happy to help!


Aaaah, it was a gorgeous day for urban archeology today, and so I went into the deep valley to find the mythical site of the POLYNESIA APARTMENTS. Because of the recent fieldwork of previous TC archaeologists, the gods smiled on me today, and here are the results:

Once the first building on the block, it must have been a grandiose sight in its heyday (could not find out date of inception). The friendly manager told me the same old story of the Poly pop generation gap: After the original owners died, the children were disinterested in the building and gradually all features like tropical plantings and the waterfall were taken out. I do not know if there ever were any Tikis. There is a small swimming pool, and two sawed off poles in the courtyard, but no sight of any other Poly pop decor. I wish I would have found this place when I began my expeditions in the early 90s, the owners were still living on the premises then.

It nevertheless is a real find, here are the photos:

The name is great, the barbed wire and security gate are a symbol of Paradise Lost

My colleague Naomi Alper suggested that there might have been an A-frame above the entrance on the right side of the building (off frame)

The mural's signature

The most impressive and unique feature is the enormous size of the Tami Mask mural!

Here is why I feel so certain that the book "Arts of the South Seas" is the source for all the mid-century reproductions of this mask:

The book's photo was in stark B&W, and all subsequent reproductions of the mask I have found have been in Black and White, or monochrome, or it's color scheme has been misrepresented:

A Spanish mug from my Kon-Id edition

...while in this contemporary postcard from the mask's home the true color scheme is revealed.

Thanks to everyone for their efforts, another Tiki temple has been recorded for posterity. :)

Browsing thru Issue #15, pg. 7 of Tiki News, I found a photo of that Tami Island mask. It seems (according to the text) that The Jasmine Tree in Portland may have had one. I wonder if Robert scored it when buying artifacts for his new Thatch? If not,.....?


Here's a picture I took of that mask at the Jasmine Tree in 2003. It hung on the outside of the building.

Aaaah, very good! Now THIS one's color scheme seems very close to the original. Iwonder if and what 50s Oceanic Art book might have had this mask in color in it (...assuming it also came from the Portland Kon Tiki, which opened in 1959)

Does anyone have a full shot of the exterior, which also shows the mask? I went to see the Jasmine Tree when I photographed the Alibi years ago, but found the exterior architecturally uninteresting...funny how perceptions change, now that it's gone, and original Tiki Bars are becoming rarer and rarer, I wish I had a record of it. I'm just such a damn Tiki snob!

Hiltiki and I revisited the Polynesia today. We were able to get in and do a little bit of exploration, but not too much as I was blocking the entrance to the adjacent apt.

Here's a shot of the interior. We couldn't find any tiki remnants.

We also thought the round heavy beams on the north side of the building were interesting.

You can also get a decent view/perspective by typing it into google maps and looking at the street view. You just have to push "north" a few times then turn. The picture shows the entire building. I love that google feature. And when you look down on it from the satellite view, it gives a good perspective of how many palm trees there are. It's awesome to get that perspective too... something that would have been unthinkable or extremely hard to come by just a few years ago.

Maybe someone needs to come out with a website that just has google street views and google satellite images of tiki locations?

Found an old newspaper article from 1961 (appears to be the year the apartments were built).

"Tuttle" was indeed the artist - Milton Tuttle. However, based on the shading you can see in the black-and-white newspaper photo, compared with the current photo I've placed below it, it looks like the mural may have been repainted at some time.

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-10-06 18:27 ]

Aha! So it was painted in the original color scheme of the mask, initially. Too bad that there is nothing left of the "South Pacific decor throughout". But at least they did a good, clean job in painting the mask, they could have just stuccoed it over.

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