Over the years, Los Angeles has lost many of its eye-catching "landmarks": a 23-foot Chicken Boy in downtown; a 35-foot-tall, nyloned left leg atop Sanderson's Hosiery in West Los Angeles; the Toad Inn, a green and white neoned eatery in Santa Monica Canyon, and the Mother Goose Pantry in Pasadena. This eccentric tradition of using a structure as its own sign became known over the years as "programmatic" architecture. The funky structures that proliferated on city streets during the '20s, '30s and '40s--led by the Brown Derby on Wilshire Boulevard in 1926--may be staging a comeback. Here are some of L.A.'s monuments to architectural zaniness, some historic and some newly created.
1. Academy Theater--3100 Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. Built in 1939, this futuristic structure is distinguised by its pencil-like, 125-foot cylindrical tower, crowned with an optimistic sunburst.
2. Assyrian wall--5675 E. Telegraph Road, City of Commerce. The former Uniroyal tire factory next to the Santa Ana Freeway, built in 1929 with a distinctive 1,700-foot-long facade, recalls the palace of Sargon II, an Assyrian king. It is now the Citadel, a discount shopping center.
3. Burger That Ate L.A.--Corner of Melrose and Stanley avenues, L.A. Propped up against a miniature model of L.A.'s City Hall, this burger joint's facade is shaped like a hamburger, complete with oozing ketchup, sesame seeds and a missing bite. Built in 1989, this attempt at architectural wackiness was designed by Solberg and Lowe Architects and inspired by owner David Alderman.
4. Capitol Records--1750 Vine St., Hollywood. Reminiscent of a stack of 45-r.p.m. records with a stylus on top, the familiar office building, designed by Welton Becket in 1954, has become a symbol of the Hollywood skyline. Frank Sinatra was the first to use the recording studios when he conducted a 56-piece orchestra in February, 1956.
5. Chiat Day Advertising Agency--340 Main St., Venice. Completed last year, the 75,000-square-foot building designed by noted L.A. architect Frank Gehry has as its entry a three-story, upright pair of binoculars. The eyepieces serve as skylights illuminating the interior of the binoculars, which open into a large conference room. To enter the building's underground garage, cars must drive between the upright lenses, allowing visitors to experience the sculpture.
6. Chili Bowls--12244 W. Pico Blvd., L. A., and 2230 E. Florence Ave., Walnut Park. The slogan "We cook our beans backwards--you only get the hiccups," was adopted by Arthur Whizin, who built the original 18 Chili Bowls in the early 1930s. Four still stand. Taking up space in the bowls are a body shop in Glendale, a bar in Walnut Park, a family restaurant in Los Angeles and a Chinese eatery in Montebello.
7. Coca-Cola Bottling Co.--1334 South Central Ave., L. A. Designed by Robert Derrah in 1936 and shaped like an 1890s-era ocean liner, this utilitarian structure is complete with porthole windows, ship doors, a promenade deck, catwalk and metal riveting. The nautical image was intended to connote coolness and cleanliness.
8. Crossroads of the World-- 6671 Sunset Blvd., L. A. With its fantasy-like architecture by Robert Derrah, the Crossroads, which opened on Oct. 29, 1936, was Los Angeles' first cosmopolitan shopping mall. The central building is patterned after a ship on a world cruise, passing small shops representing a variety of architectural styles--Spanish Colonial, Tudor, French Provincial. Atop its 55-foot tower sits a giant revolving globe that for half a century has been one of Hollywood's most familiar beacons.
9. The Dark Room--5370 Wilshire Blvd., L. A. This replica of a Leica camera, complete with lens and shutter-speed indicator, was built in 1938 by architect Marcus P. Miller and originally served as a camera shop. Today, it houses Sher-e Punjab Cuisine, probably the only Indian restaurant in which customers enter through a camera. \o7 Sher-e\f7 means tiger.
10. Donut Hole--15300 Amar Road, La Puente. This drive-in donut shop was built in 1946 and resembles two gigantic chocolate doughnuts stuck together in a baker's box. Each fiberglass doughnut is 26 feet in diameter and hollow. It was featured in movies including "Dragnet" and "Moving Violation" and in a German rock group's video.
11. The Dutch Castle--1366 Angelo Dr., Beverly Hills. Also known as Kasteel Kamphuyzen, the 6,000-square-foot main house and 1,600-square-foot gatehouse are perched on the edge of a canyon in Beverly Hills, the scene of many civic, corporate and charitable galas. The castle was built in 1981 by Beverly Hills designer Mark Nixon and named for his business partner, Baron Herbert Hischemoeller van Kamphuyzen of the Netherlands. The structures boast stepped gables, inspired by the 16th-Century castles and townhouses of Holland.