Rising 13 round stories above Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame, this city landmark, built in the mid-1950s to house the first West Coast outpost of a major record label, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Famed for being the site of recordings by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and many other big artists, the distinctive tower, designed by Louis Naidorf and Welton Becket (the latter, architect of the nearby Cinerama Dome and other prominent L.A. buildings) was purportedly meant to symbolize a stack of record albums on a turntable.
The building houses a series of working recording, mixing and mastering studios, including a unique echo chamber designed by guitarist and inventor Les Paul. Though the building has made a handful of appearances in popular entertainment, it was most dramatically featured in the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, being smashed to the ground by a giant tornado (and computer-generated effects).
Aside from its tall, cylindrical shape, lights make it easy to see the Capitol Records Building from many spots around the Hollywood Commercial and Entertainment District: since 1956, a blinking red light atop the building has spelled out the word "Hollywood" in Morse code, and every winter, a Christmas tree-shaped cone of sparkling lights has been strung up on the roof. The Capitol Records Building isn't open to the public.