Downtown, Los Angeles
At just over 310 metres, the US Bank Tower is not only the tallest building in Downtown Los Angeles, but also the whole of California. It was completed in 1989 by the architect, Henry Cobb, and was originally known as Library Tower. In 2003, US Bancorp moved its headquarters into the building and since then it has been called US Bank Tower.
Part of the city's Public Library, the Los Angeles Central Library is yet another landmark in Downtown LA. It was completed in 1926 by the architect, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who combined Ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, and Art Déco styles. The structure's central tower is crowned with a pyramidal roof covered in mosaics.
One of the strangest structures in Downtown Los Angeles (maybe after Frank Gehry's theatre), the Central Los Angeles High School #9 opened in 2009 with some controversy. It is also known as the School for the Visual and Performance Arts because of its focus on these arts, largely inspired by its proximity to the Performing Arts Center of LA. The futuristic campus was designed by the Austrian architectural firm, Coop Himmelb(l)au, but it cost more money than some people thought was reasonable for a public school. There was also fear that it would become an exclusive high school in a mainly poor neighbourhood of Los Angeles, but ultimately, the school decided to reserve a large percentage of its admissions to local students.
I had the privilege to live in Southern California all my childhood. Recently, I moved away to Florida and I miss the California spirit everyday. But, last weekend I was able to relive the memories. I flew in on Thursday and spent the whole weekend exploring the great attractions.
As soon as we flew in from LAX we used Prime Time Shuttle. Prime Time Shuttle picked us up from the airport and took us to my aunts house. Their Southern California’s first choice for shuttle service. Thursday night we spent the night exploring Downtown Los Angeles. They hold Artwalks every Thursday night. They are so exciting and showcase
On Friday, we spend the whole day at Disneyland and California Adventure. There’s really no way to go wrong with Disneyland. Afterwards we walked around Downtown Disney and ate dinner at ESPN zone. It was a magical night.
On Saturday, we decided to spend the whole day at Huntington Beach. We went later in the day and spent the night having a bonfire. Since we went in the evening we knew that parking and driving would be a hassle, so we decided to use Prime Time Shuttle again. It was a great decision because to park at Huntington beach is $15 alone, then we would’ve had to find a parking spot which would’ve took hours. But, because we used Prime Time Shuttle they picked us up, accommodated all our junk, and dropped us off beach front. The rest of the day was time well spent.
On Sunday we flew back to the sunshine state. I was happy to be heading home but I love Southern California. I hope to visit again very soon.
This distinctive Art Déco building is a landmark in Downtown Los Angeles. Known as the Eastern Columbia Building, it was designed by Claud Beelman and completed in 1930 for the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company. Although this blue beauty continues to carry the name "Eastern" on its large clock tower, its original owner is now long gone, but it was fortunately spared destruction. In 2006, the building was converted into residential apartments.
Named after the longest serving Los Angeles City Councilman, the John Ferraro Building is 1960's architecture at its best. The iconic edifice was designed in 1961 by the architect, Albert Martin, as the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. It was conceived as an energy efficient structure, and at the same time it is sleek looking and gloriously illuminated by night. The reflective pool that surrounds the building is used to cool the tower, while the car park (parking lot) contains solar panels for energy, quite appropriate for a water and power building. The John Ferraro Building is located in Downtown LA, next the LA Performing Arts Center.
There's not much you get for free nowadays - well the Watercourt in downtown LA is right up there with free plastered all over it! Right up on top of bunker hill, craddled between high-rise towers is a beautiful water-themed plaza. You find waterfalls and fountains dispersed between shops, hotels, and restaurants. At night the fountains are mesmerizingly illuminated in different color lights. You can stroll around, sit at the tables all around the plaza, have a coffee at the coffee-shop, or dress up and go for a fancy dinner. Since you are on top of bunker hill, you can enjoy the beautiful view over downtown LA, or (once it is re-opened) you can take a 50 cent ride on the antique angels-flight monorail down and back up the hill.
During summer you can catch one of the Grand-performances, a series of free concerts and art-performances. If you keep strolling further down along the plaza (follow the water!) you will end up at the back-entrance of MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Arts). You can also stroll across the street and visit Disney Concert Hall.
Watercourt can be a fun hangout, catching a concert with friends; a solitary leisurely afternoon; or a romantic evening for two. *
Caltrans, the gigantic entity that runs California's roads and transportation system, just completed a new headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles. The result is a sneak attack on the movers, shakers, and elite of LA. Bold, beautiful and environmentally friendly, Caltrans' new homebase is an archictectural wonder stealing the spotlight from the nearby Disney Hall. Designed by Morphosis Architects, the building was featured on the History Channel's show "Modern Marvels". The metal skin of the building is motorized, and constantly moves and changes with the weather, protecting its tenants from the midday sun. It's truly mesmerizing. A friend of mine is considering buying a loft, Downtown. She was demanding a view of Disney Hall, until she saw Caltrans. Now, she's demanding a view of Caltrans. Sorry, Mr. Gehry.
The high cost of taxis is always the issue with an LAX stop over. But, even in winter, Venice Beach is a good daytime destination. It's a sort of Camden on the beach...bazaar-like and lots of fun. And, if you do take a cab to Venice, once the sun goes down you can walk inland to uber-trendy Abbott-Kinney Blvd. to window shop and have that dinner. I recommend Axe(www.axerestaurant.com) for a reasonably priced, but great meal.
Manhattan Beach is great. A very upscale area not as frequented by tourists. Again, it's that damn cab fare that is the rub.
As for public transit options, the FlyAway bus opens up two stop over ideas, as they get you out of the airport, quick, for $7pp. One, is that you can take the Westwood FlyAway. It will take you directly from LAX to Westwood, in West LA. Westwood is one of LA's few walkable hoods, adjacent to UCLA. It's heyday is over, but it has it's charms(and some good restaurants). But, moreover, the Rapid buses on Wilshire will have you in Downtown Beverly Hills in less than 10 minutes. So, if you want to see Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, this is a pretty uncomplicated, cheap option.
The second option is to take the Union Station FlyAway. Same deal, different destination. Direct from LAX to downtown. It's 40 minutes or less. No traffic, it can be as little as 20-25. You can see Downtown sites like Olvera Street, Chinatown, Disney Hall, MOCA, LA Live, et al. And, it even connects into the metro if you wanted to pop up to Hollywood or Universal(20 min. travel time to Hollywood/Vine). It's pretty uncomplicated. Downtown after dark is strange and empty and some areas are very unsafe. But the area around 4th and Main is now one of the hippest in the city. You can do nachos and happy hour at Pete's or do dinner at Takami in the Financial District(takamisushi.com) which is in a high-rise penthouse for great city views. Similarly, a pricey cocktail in the iconic Bonaventure's rotating rooftop lounge is always fun. And, Downtown on a weekday, at lunch hour, is a crazy bustling place that stands in contrast to most images of LA as "non-urban".
I stay near LAX with friends, now that I no longer live in LA, and I have them drop me at FlyAway to go Downtown rather than have them drive me ...it's that easy. Yes, there is an airport Metro stop, but it's useless. Don't bother.
Those are your non-cab, stop over, suggestions.
Finally, downtown Los Angeles has a mega entertainment-restaurant center in the neighborhood development of L.A. Live. In 2010, the mega-million project is complete, with with the premiere of the luxurious and hip JW Marriott and the grandiose Ritz Carlton. There is entertainent galore with Nokia Plaza, featuring Nokia Theater (new home of the Emmys and the ESPY award shows), the Conga Room (venue esp for Latin-themed performance), a huge Edwards cineplex and the Grammy Museum. Several restaurants, including, sushi mecca Katsuya, Boca at the Conga Room and the great steakhouse, Fleming's. For those who like to play, the trendy bowling alley, Lucky Strikes, makes for a fun night out. All of these are just steps away from the well-established Staples Center for major, crowd-pleasing sports and music events.
Warning! Expect traffic and parking nightmares here for events! There are still not enough parking spaces and premium ones can be rather pricey. Also, check out the L.A. Live calendar for new updates. There is always something exciting going on at this place.
The Central Library in LA is definetely worth a visit. The building is located downtown with a nice exterior space (pics 1-2-3), a garden with fountains, sculptures and famous apothegms written on the walls. What I didnt know was how big and nice was the interior though (and very clean too). The Library's eight-story atrium is really beautiful (pic 4) while some great rooms, especially the awesome rotonda that has a great ceiling and murals (pic 5).
Students come and go while at the same time you can find photo exhibitions, lectures etc Of course the books are the main reason to visit this place, if you have some time your will find something to please you, so much knowledge is available here, I believe public libraries one of the most important things in our society, all residents must have access to the information. Here in LA, it is free for all the residents of California.
It is open Monday-thursday 10.00-20.00, Friday-Saturday 10.00-18.00, Sundays 13.00-17.00. There’s free wi-fi. Their site is also very useful, provides information and entertainment resources, web site indexes, databases, virtual library links as well as links to its central library.
Walking around downtown LA was more interesting that I first thought. This is where real people live and work away from the glamorous district like Beverly Hills etc. We got down at Pershing Square(named after the general J.J.Pershing) where we met with a friend, this open park-like square is a meeting point for many people some guys approached us and asked if we were someone else btw! :) )
First we visited the amazing Central Library where we spend some time before starting to explore the area around. There are some interesting corners with modern sculptures among highscrapers (pic 1), there are not so many in LA because of the earthquake issue. We admired some more of them like the US Bank building (pics 2-3) but as the sun starts to go down have in mind the area is a bit dangerous (a lot of homeless people and beggars around) so you may not feel very comfortable(dont go further south than 3rd street in the evening). The Bunker Hill Steps(pic 4) are some funky stairs with a nice cascading fountain coming from the top of the steps, we walked up the steps to reach Grand avenue on our way to MOCA.
The Town Hall (pic 5) is definetely one of the distinctive buildings in the area. It was built in 1928 and has a nice art deco style. It’s 138 meters high with 32 floors. If it looks familiar to you is because it has shown up in many films/TV series and of course the The Daily Planet building for Superman. There is an observetion level on 27th floor but we didnt have time to go there so missed the view.
Dont forget that Olvera Street, Chinatown and Little Tokyo are in walking distance from here (actually part of it) so you will noticed the variety of diverse neighborhoods in downtown (modern high rises in Financial district, short ethnic buildings in Chinatown). LA Conservancy offers walking tours in downtown for $10, the tour usually lasts for 2,5 hours (www.laconservancy.org/). We prefered to do it on our own but their program is interesting.
I was staying in Hollywood but traveled Downtown to meet with a friend who lives in the fashion district. I took the Metro Red Line from Hollywood and Highland to Pershing Square. I was in awe of the beautiful high rises. I also found while walking along the streets a couple of old theatres that were tucked away on lonely streets and alleyways. I found it interesting and felt as if these structure hold character and tradition in this area. It is fun just to take a jaunt to downtown LA and check out the sights.
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown L.A. was always just a business community, that was busy during the day and then fell quiet and empty at night. In the last ten years or so, that has changed dramatically. All the old and rundown neighborhoods that surrounded the business district have transformed, into a real and vibrant, urban environment with condos, lofts and trendy restaurants and bars. Living and working downtown has become a preferred lifestyle here in L.A. There are numerous choices for hotels in Downtown L.A., many luxury and business type hotels as well as 3 star and boutique hotels.
The fairly new Complex surrounding the home of the L.A. Lakers basketball team, is called "L.A. LIVE!", and is quite a combination of restaurants and bars, as well as shopping and sport related activities. Located on Olympic and Figueroa, it includes the trendy club, the Conga Room, owned by such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Smits, Paul Rodriguez, Sheila E, and will.I.am. of the Black Eyed Peas.
Another not to be missed attraction downtown is Olvera Street, a step into Old Mexico. Somewhat touristy but a lot of fun with many many stalls and restaurants, - located across from Union Station.
Also close by, are both Chinatown and Little Tokyo, each worthy of a visit as well.
For those looking for bargain shopping, there is the Garment District, located on Los Angeles Street and Santee Street, where all the famous designer fashions are available for a fraction of the price.
Most people don't think historic anything when it comes to LA and the city is not synonymous with beautiful architecture but there are some real gems in the city, most of which are concentrated in the downtown area.
Art deco treasures dominate in this area although there are some other styles to see and enjoy. If you go, wear comfortable walking shoes, take a map (altho there are kiosks throughout the area to help you find your way if you don't have a map), and keep an eye on your purse and wallet because, unfortunately, this is not the greatest neighborhood in any other aspect besides architecture. It's worth the effort though, because what you'll find are some real treasures of architecture.
Included in that are the Orpheum Theatre, the Eastern Bldg, 215 Seventh, the Oviatt Bldg, the Biltmore Hotel, the Los Angeles Theatre, the Fox Bldg, the LA Library, and the Title Guarantee & Trust Bldg. Each one of these and many others highlight an era that not only showcased but truly honored hard work and attention to detail. Nothing was created quickly, cheaply, and thoughtlessly. A lot of buildings built nowadays could take a lesson from the beauty found in some scrolls around a window, patterns above the door, tile flooring, fanciful sconces, and many other touches that most present designers don't seem to know exist.
The LA Conservancy offers many walking tours if you don't want to attempt it on your own.