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The fight to preserve an iconic Los Angeles diner

A commission in Los Angeles is considering landmark status for Norms, a 24-hour diner beloved by fans of mid-century architecture. They're worried the iconic building could be wiped off the map.

Patrons like Mark and Minnie Kramer have been coming to Norms in Los Angeles for more than 40 years, CBS News' Ben Tracy reports. They like the fact that little has changed in the 1950s-era restaurant from the wait staff to the prices on the menu to its iconic zigzagging lines.

"It means so much to us. We are completely lost without Norms," Minnie Kramer said.

The Kramers have reason to be alarmed. After a recent change in ownership, a permit was issued to demolish the building, prompting urgent calls from both customers and local preservation groups to save the restaurant.

"A building like this captures a point in time in Los Angeles history -- American history really," architect and historian Alan Hess said.

Built in 1957, Norms is considered a model of what's called Googie architecture, a futuristic design that was symbolic of Southern California after World War II. It was popular among motels, gas stations and coffee houses from the late '40s to mid-'60s.

"Googie buildings like this were almost literally on every corner in Los Angeles," Hess said. "Today they are not."

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission agreed to consider a petition to declare Norms a historic-cultural monument. This would put the restaurant in the same category as famous L.A. landmarks like the Capitol Records building, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign and Johnie's Coffee Shop, which is seen frequently in films.

The iconic Tower Records building was not so lucky. It failed to receive historic status and today is no longer the towering presence it once was on the Sunset Strip.

At Thursday's meeting, an attorney for the Norms property tried to calm fears that the building would be destroyed.

"There are no current plans to demolish the property," the attorney said.

But that did little to ease suspicion.

"Los Angeles has suffered the loss of a number of important buildings literally overnight," Hess said. "So it's right for the community to be concerned that this not happen for such an important building as Norms."

They don't want the future without a touch of the past to become the new norm.

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