Downtown, Los Angeles
This magnificent Neo-Gothic building was designed by Howard Crane for the United Artists corporation, the film company formed by several individuals, including Charlie Chaplin. The architect was inspired by Spanish Gothic architecture, or more specifically by the Cathedral of Segovia. Completed in 1927, this theatre was the first built by United Artists and it was subsequently copied by other movie theatres around the US. It continued to be used as a movie theatre until 1989, when it was purchased by Eugene Scott who turned it into the Los Angeles University Cathedral. Very recently, in October 2011, the building was sold yet again, but this time to a developer who will turn it into a hotel. It might become the place to stay in Downtown LA.
Update: In Jan 2014, the trendy Ace Hotel opened in the building. It is probably worth trying to stay here to admire the architecture.
LA Live is the busy commercial, dining and nightlife area in Downtown Los Angeles within the vicinity of the Staples Center and LA Convention Center, it has two hotel complexes (the JW Marriot and Ritz Carlton Plaza, the Nokia Theater, Nokia Plaza, Grammy Museum, Grammy's Musuem, ESPN Zone Restaurant and Broadcast Studios and several Upscale Restaurants and bars like Trader Vic's, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Katsuya, Lawry's, Rock'N Fish, Rosa Mexicano, The Farm of Beverly Hills Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, and Yard House to name a few.
most of the shops and restaurants are open from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm everyday and the bars close at 12 midnight.
L.A may not be the most Irish city of America and may not be the best place for watching a more authentic, celebratory St. Patrick's Day event. NY and Boston may serve as better options for the patron's day. However, L.A. does put its own unique spin on green, shamrock Irish pride, involving the culturally diverse at large. ( I.E. having Latin actor Erik Estrada of Chips fame in 2008's official St. Patty's as the main guest of honor, instead of having just guest of honors be strictly of undeniable Irish blood). For many years, the city put on an official parade, but due to budget concerns, it was ditched. However, L.A. has done a slightly smaller scale but still fun celebration at L.A Live.
Pics are from the 2008 festivities. After the parade, there was a concert featuring the well-known band, Young Dubliners that drew thousands in and around Pershing Square. Food, drink and other festivity at the square included corned beef, $1 O'Douls beer and an appearance of a number of Laker Girls (or should I say O'Laker Girls :-? )
OK, riding on the metro is such a mundane thing to do but it's quite interesting (even better- can be free!) here in Los Angeles. Art tours are conducted mainly on weekends. Meeting places and times may change- check website. Free passes or badges are given beforehand, good for use for the whole day of tour.
MTA docents have done something special, though many who are boxed in their cars do not even realize it. Metro has 7 major lines-RED, PURPLE, BLUE, GREEN, GOLD, ORANGE and the EXPO. All are artistic in their own way, with many stops having a unique motif. The most extensive, perhaps most fascinating tour is the RED. Hopefully, LA government will actually make more lines, but of course there's even argument about colors to be chosen for the new lines, besides which routes.
RED & PURPLE are the only all-underground lines, running downtown. Both travel the same route until at the Wilshire/Vermont station. The PURPLE heads ultimately to Wilshire/Western. The RED goes down to North Hollywood. At the Universal /NoHo station stops, there is mosaic artwork on columns displaying historic scenes of Los Angeles & California.
BLUE is an external line that goes from downtown through south LA, ending in Long Beach. At the busy Imperial/ Rosa Parks stop, there are a number of colorful, joyful images of young African-American figures cut out from wooded board.
GREEN is another line running above ground, from Norwalk (south-east from LA) to Redondo Beach (west of LA). At the Harbor Fwy stop (from LA travelogues), there is an archaic feel of the place.
GOLD is a newer line, running over ground from downtown , through Pasadena to Sierra Madre. The most colorful construction along here is the Chinatown stop with harmonizing yellow, green and orange-red.
ORANGE is a bus line which runs through the San Fernando valley. It starts/ends where the red line does, North Hollywood. Ride a bus that imitates a train on its own track. Although not so artistic of a line, it is a nice, fast way to get around LA. The best stops here are the starting/ending points, the artistic NoHo district and Warner Center, close to major Valley shopping.
EXPO is the newest rail line of Metro. Its major end points are Downtown L.A. (7th/Metro) to Culver City. While I can't judge the art work from all the stops in between as I have not yet explored the whole line, the Culver City stop is quite interesting for the impronto mural art along Washington Blvd, just steps away from the Expo rail exits.
Many Los Angeles visitors tend to scratch off downtown for exploring, thinking it is a vast "blah" area- but they most likely do not know about the L.A. Conversancy Tours, which are well organized by knowledgeable city folk who show off fascinating aspects of the city of Angels. One tour especially of interest to art admirers is the Art Deco tour. It runs every Saturday around 10 AM and lasts 2 1/2 hours. Art deco was especially well appreciated in early 1900s Los Angeles as it was an architectural highlight on several buildings, including the Eastern (Colombia), as pictured.
Cost of general (non memebership) tour is $10. Check website for updates and more info on Conservancy.
I love taking walking tours of historic areas so I was glad to hear of the LA Conservancy which offers a variety of walking tours in Los Angeles. I picked the Historic Core tour which started in Pershing Square in downtown LA and covered the highlights of the downtown area including the Bradbury Building, the LA Central Library, the Million Dollar Theater, the Subway Transit station to name a few. We ended the visit at the Grand Central Market which is a nice place to grab some lunch.
If you want to do a walking tour on your own, this the Angels Walk website has a walking tour of the Bunker Hill/Historic Core.
L.A. Live downtown is home to the Grammy Museum. The venue includes permanent and short term exhibitions from a great variety of musical artists. Famously, an extensive Michael Jackson memorabilia collection can be viewed. Also, viewed colorful costumes and various trinkets from The Beatles Love production and treasure pieces from Bob Dylan.
If you are lucky, you can see some of the most famous and respected names in music history play here for a very exclusive performance. Previous acts who have stopped include Ringo Starr (Beatles), Mike Wilson (Beach Boys), Heart, Glen Camobell, Lee Ann Rimes, Arlo Guthrie, Annie Lennox, Maxwell, Buddy Guy, Train, Roseanne Cash and Public Enemy. Artists "programs" are sure to sell out. Check often on grammy.com to try to score a much coveted (free) invite.
Outside the entrance, look down at Walk of Fame-ish sidewalk album etched tributes of past winners of major Grammy awards for: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Bets New Artist. Feel free to argue with your travel mates about some of the names cemented who have won.
Admission for the musem is $12.95 (regular/adult), $11.95 (senior 65+), $10.95 (youth/military). Ticket price subject to change. Watch out for coupon deals online for the venue because they often come up for 50% off.
As I mentioned in my first tip on film locations for the movie L.A. Confidential, one can see many of these today This tip covers a couple of the locations downtown, the eatery that was used as the Night Owl, and the Pacific Electric Building across the street, which was the site for D.A. Lowe's office.
One of the oldest movie theatres in the world, the Million Dollar Theatre was inaugurated in 1918. It was built by Sid Grauman, who helped shape the early movie industry. His name is eternalised in the more famous theatres he built in Hollywood, Grauman's Egyptian Theatre and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, both of which helped move the industry from Downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood in the mid-1920's. The flamboyant Million Dollar Theatre was designed by two architects, William Woollet for the interior and Albert Martin for the exterior. It continued to serve as a theatre (with offices above) for many years, but in recent history the theatre served as a Spanish-language church! In 2008 the theatre was renovated and it reopened back as a theatre.
Rising 138 metres, the Los Angeles City Hall was the tallest building in LA from its completion in 1928 until 1968, when Union Bank Plaza was built. The iconic tower was designed by the architectural firm Austin, Parkinson & Martin, with hints of Art Déco and a crown inspired by the Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus (located near Bodrum, Turkey, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). The building was featured in numerous movies and TV shows, including Superman in the 1950s.
Downtown Los Angeles has an impressive collection of old theatres built between 1910 and 1935 in a variety of flamboyant architectural styles. This was the main theatre and movie district of the city before the movie business moved to Hollywood. Most of these theatres are located around South Broadway and have retained their original look both outside and inside. Some of the most famous include the Los Angeles Theatre, the Orpheum, and the Million Dollar Theatre. Attached are a few examples.
For more photos, take a look at the Travelogue: "Theatres of Downtown Los Angeles."
Typically ignored by visitors to Los Angeles, Downtown LA is where the city actually started. When it was founded in 1781 by the Spanish, Los Angeles was intended to be in this location, quite a distance from the ocean, while everything around it was merely a suburb or a settlement. Growth in the 20th century resulted in a large metropolis that usurped everything around it and beyond. A few exceptions resisted joining the City of Los Angeles, namely Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and more recently West Hollywood. Each is considered an independent city, though for all intents and purposes, they function as mere neighbourhoods in this massive city. Downtown LA is where the largest skyscrapers in the city are located, east of Hollywood. The district has had its ups and downs, but its age of glory was in the early 20th century where it was a thriving commercial district. The area fell into neglect later in the 20th century, but in the last few decades it has experienced a significant resurgence. Many big businesses are now located there, while new and sleek architectural buildings have been constructed. For lovers of history and architecture, Downtown LA certainly is the most interesting part in all of Los Angeles. Many of the iconic buildings of this district are described individually on this page.
Inaugurated in 1923, the Biltmore Hotel was one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the USA. No expense was spared in its construction, which was designed by the architects Schultze & Weaver in an eclectic mix of styles. The colourful and richly decorated interior contains famous murals, frescoes, chandeliers and other artwork. The building is designated as historic landmark and it was restored and renovated in the 1980s. It continues to serve as a hotel under the luxury Millennium chain.
Built in 1931 by the architects James and David Allison, this Art Déco looker was originally the headquarters of Southern California Edison, a utility company. Nowadays, it is also known as "One Bunker Hill" and serves as an office building. It is listed a Los Angeles Historic Monument.
Located in the heart of Fashion District in Downtown LA, the Bendix Building was built in 1929 for the Bendix Aviation Company. It was designed in a Neo-Gothic style by the architect W. Douglas Lee, and was topped with a steel tower carrying the iconic "Bendix" sign. The top of tower is 48 metres above ground level. The area surrounding the building is a popular shopping area for inexpensive clothes, shoes and fabrics and gets quite busy on Saturdays.