Roadside zigguratMonrovia, CA

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This post is part of an ongoing series called 66 Fridays, which explores the wonders of old Route 66. Click on the preceding “66 Fridays” link to view all posts in the series, or visit the initial overview post here.

Here’s a unique one. If you drive Route 66 through the seemingly unending sprawl of greater Los Angeles, you’ll pass an ornate oddment around the halfway point of the Valley. The place is called the Aztec Hotel, and it’s apparently one of the best (and only) still-standing examples of Mayan-Revival architecture.

Did you know that was a thing? Me, neither.

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Nevermind that the Aztecs and Mayans were two completely different cultures, and the implications of approximating either or both in America—whatever your opinion of the genre, the Aztec Hotel’s unique relief work is quite a beauty. And amazingly, the “Mayan” style dovetails beautifully with the Art Deco era in which this place was built.

The Aztec is currently closed, but rumor has it that the building is owned by a Chinese investor, who is supposedly fixing the place up with plans to reopen in the near future. I really hope that’s the case, because based on vintage photos I’ve seen of the interior, I’m dying to get in there with my sketchbook.

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