I was in Los Angeles for two and a half months and travelling about by bicycle. I was doing the tourist thing for some of that, then picked up a Bukowski book to pass the last week of my stay and was inspired to figure out a tour.

I found http://bukowski.net, where there is a whole wealth of information pertaining to Charles Bukowski, and an excellent timeline page with addresses. So I tapped them into my GPS, and took off for two days with a camera to follow the ghost of the old man.

I went in order of wherever was nearest, though I have put them into  Googlemaps as close to the correct order of time as possible.


(All the photos can be found in the post below.)

What struck me was the quality of the areas he stayed in. Maybe things have changed a lot since the time he was there. Some buildings no doubt being replaced. But the only time I really felt I was anywhere near ‘skid row’ was in Union Drive and a little around Westlake and Kingsley.

Ocean View was clearly run down, with windows hanging off and stuff dumped outside as you can see in the photos below, but Union Drive had the vibe – bums drunk in the street, people hanging around looking shifty, and the entire area was run down. The photos don’t really show it, but the place was not somewhere to hang about on a bicycle with an i-Pod strapped to my arm and a GPS on display.

Then Branden Street was positively affluent. Though the exact place he lived is hard to figure out, I think I got it right. Edgewater too, was upmarket.

I was really glad to get a shot of De Longpre in, as it was condemned to be replaced, and that place more than any other is somewhere I imagined he did some of his best work (Post Office was written there). It certainly had a vibe to it and I could picture him stumbling out to get smokes and booze before heading back to it to write.

Sadly, I somehow failed to take a shot of the other place he stayed on De Longpre.

Longwood was pretty nice looking too, and that was where he was brought up so you can almost understand why his old man despaired of him somewhat.

In his own words, in the book ‘Hollywood’, he was always heading North or West whenever he moved. That book confused me a bit, as he states he moved from Carlton Way, which he describes as Mexican and pretty run down, to another place, but according to the timeline on the bukowski.net site, he moved to San Pedro from there. Maybe someone can clear that up. (feel free to post what you know in the comments)

The only other place I had a little confusion with was Westmoreland Ave, it seemed the number he lived at was now offices and a car park. The condos on the opposite side of the street were all pretty nice, large and in place still. Number 305 you can see in the shot, but the rest of the way up that side of the avenue there are no homes. So what was there? It would be in keeping that it was all condos, like the opposite side of the avenue, but I guess there must have been a boarding house of some kind.

Then the last shot I have is of two drunks asleep in Union Drive. When I arrived there they were cuddled up together. It was beautiful, if a little messed up. By the time I could stop and get the camera out without having to watch for people who might want to lift my kit, they had split up. I only found the world I expected to find in this place. It was The Buke all over. Everywhere else just seemed too clean, maybe. I don’t know. I had been prepared to fight my way through a war-zone when I left that first morning expecting to be seeing some of the worst of LA but it was mostly pretty reasonable places I found myself. I can’t say I am sorry it wasn’t that way, but it made me revisit my perception of Bukowski’s life.

Anyway, I hope the shots are enjoyed by those interested. I guess it was some kind of pilgrimage for me. I felt his ghost there a few times those two days. I read someplace that the old boy was buried with a ceremony by Buddhist Monks. Maybe he’s doing good in the next life. Hope so.

Enjoy the tour, and if there are any corrections feel free to let me know.

Below photographs are copyright of MarkDKBerry – 2007


2122 S. Longwood Ave 90016. 1931 – 1940. Lives with parents here.
Los Angeles Public Library – Baldwin Hills Branch. 2906 S. La Brea Ave 90016. Visits library while living at Longwood Ave.
521 Union Drive 90017. 1947 – 1949.
503 Union Drive 90017. 1949 – 1951.
334 S Westlake Ave 90057. 1950.
268 Coronado St 90057. 1951 – 1952.
2325 Ocean View Ave, 90057. 1952.
323 N Westmoreland, 90004. 1952-1955. The building no longer exists. All the homes left in this avenue are condos like the one on the left of the shot (No. 305). Judging from the GPS position for No. 323, this photo is pretty much centre to where it would have been.
2254 Branden St, 90026. 1955 – 1956. (With Barbara Frye) Got confused here, there is not a 2254. This is listed on the post box as 2252. The next condo along is 2256. Then I noticed a number had been removed from below 2252. I assume they had been pestered by people like me and removed it. A common LA thing I had previously learnt. So I figure 2254 must be part of this condo.
580 N Kingsley Dr. 90004. 1956-1957.
1623 N. Mariposa, 90027. 1958 – 1963.
5124 De Longpre Ave, 90027. 1964-1972. ‘Post Office’ is written here. I feel pretty lucky to have got this shot before it was demolished. My favourite by far and made the entire trip worthwhile of itself.
2440 Edgewater Terrace, 90039. 1973. (Lives with Linda King) 2440 is unmarked. To the left of this building is 2444 and to the right 2434.
151 S Oxford Ave, 90004. 1973.
5526 Carlton Way, 90027. 1974.
5437 Carlton Way, 90027. 1974 – 1977. This looks new so maybe 5437 has been replaced or is it just a fresh paint job. The number of this is 5443. The building to the right is 5427.
Musso & Frank Grill 6667 Hollywood Blvd. Open since 1919, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. A known writer’s hang out. Frequented by Buke often enough as well as John Fante and Hemingway too. Also used in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the Quentin Tarantino movie.
Musso Franks from the other side. Pink car was just a bonus.
Los Angeles Post Office -Terminal Annex 900 Alameda St.
Keeping the tradition alive. I am guilty of a sick voyeurism here, but I spotted these guys on the way into Union Drive. When I first saw them they were cuddled up together. I think they deserve a place on this tour. The Buke would have appreciated it, I am sure.

Don’t forget you can visit the Google Maps GPS locations of all the above here – Googlemaps

If you liked this post maybe check out my Los Angeles Hollywood Star Map with photos of famous homes and locations around Sunset Strip.