It didn’t have a flashing rooftop sign. In fact it didn’t have a sign at all. The distinctive Beaux Arts/Spanish-Italian Renaissance building by architects Schultz & Weaver spoke for itself- and it said: “Hello, East coast- Los Angeles has arrived!”
Located across from Pershing Square at the southwest corner of Olive & Fifth streets, it replaced the old St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral; the church promptly had a new edifice built at 615 S. Figueroa St.
At least 3000 socially-prominent guest attended its grand opening dedication gala on October 2, 1923. Thousands more tuned in to hear it over on local radio station KFI.
The main entrance was originally on Olive Street. The Olive Street lobby, a “replica of an old Spanish cathedral.” Today this is the “Rendezvous Court.” The stairs from the lobby led, then as now to the 300-ft. Galleria Real lounge. The Music Room. In 1934 the “Rendezvous Room” opened in here. Today it serves as the hotel’s lobby. The main dining room.
Commissioned by A.L. Erlanger, the Biltmore Theater at Fifth & Grand used the same architects as the hotel and, though a separate enterprise, was connected to it by an arcade. It opened on March 3, 1924 bringing recent Broadway shows to LA and, along with neighboring Philharmonic Auditorium at Fifth & Olive, was a cultural center of the city until the Music Center opened in the 1960s. It was demolished in 1964.
Run by an eastern syndicate, the Biltmore was billed as the largest hotel west of the Mississippi in 1923. In October 1928 it got even bigger when a new wing along Grand Avenue opened. The addition housed the Salon d’Oro ballroom, which in 1934 would become the Biltmore Bowl nightclub. Today the hotel operates as the Millennium Biltmore.