Urban archaeology dream destinations…

Brand-new "vault lights," as those sidewalk grids of mini glass panes are called. Click the photo for more info.

So I was having dessert with a friend the other night and we got onto this great riff talking about the hidden parts of LA we’d love to explore, all the places we’re intrigued by.

For example, I want to explore the swap meet that’s across Broadway from the Orpheum. It clearly used to be some big old theater, but now all you see is a little glimpse of baroque architecture hidden behind the dropped ceilings of the subdivided knockoff-t-shirts booths.

Or the grids of thick glass squares on the sidewalk in downtown: when I was a little girl my family was taking a touristy tour through downtown Seattle and those glass grids were actually the skylights in the old town’s “underground.”

So those are the things I want to explore, but I bet each & every one of you knows a place that’s always intrigued you. Now’s your turn to tell me your dream urban archaeology trip! Have you ever wanted to explore the dark cobwebbed skeletons of L.A.’s past? You know, original things are disappearing all over our city every day. Maybe we should think about exploring these traces before they become permanent history.

13 thoughts on “Urban archaeology dream destinations…”

  1. There is a show on the History Channel called “Cities of the Underworld”. They just did a show on all of the weird stuff under downtown and some of the outlying areas. The show itself is a little ham fisted and the host can be super annoying, but its cool to see all the stuff they get access to!
    That said, I want to explore all of the old subway tunnels and stations. Actually, I kinda want to explore every place I am not supposed to be…

  2. Upon further reflection.
    The places I am most interested in are the ones that are secret, that no one is supposed to know about yet.
    I have no clue where these places are located but I want to go explore them.

  3. Sounds like an opportunity to create the LA MetBlogs Urban Explorers Team. I’m with “ttgopp” above, in that I kind of want to go to the places I’m not supposed to be. Also, I have an unusual(?) fascination with subterranean places; tunnels and such.

  4. I have this set of cards called “City Walks Los Angeles,” with 50 separate walking tours around the city, each with its own map and interesting info. I haven’t done any of the tours but have been meaning to suggest to the Metblogs folks, authors and readers alike, that we do some. That would seem to mesh perfectly with what you raise here. Describing the listed walks here would take too long. Maybe I can bring the cards to the next meetup (such as Classic Eats) and show them around, to see if one or more of the tours pique people’s interest.

  5. I would LOVE to explore the Merrit Building on the North-West Corner of Broadway and 8th. I bet there are still old phones,desks and other furnishings in that Stately looking Bank Building.

  6. I’m currently reading “The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies In Los Angeles.” I’d love to see some of the places they describe:
    – The inside of the camouflaged oil derrick on Pico and Doheny.
    – The artificial islands off of Long Beach, with fake condo towers and waterfalls.
    – The vast alluvial plain above Irwindale that gave us the river rock to make the aggregate that gave us our paved roads.
    – The L.A. River. All of it. From beginning to end.
    – The wildlife mitigation projects going on in the Owens River Valley. (not Los Angeles, but L.A.-centric)

    And one last one not related to the book, but Huell Howser: I want to see the Old Busch Garden Estate remnants hidden in Pasadena.

  7. [hand waving from the back]

    I’m in! I’m in! I want to see inside ALL those movie theaters on Broadway downtown.

    I did the underground tour of Seattle many times and it is fascinating.

  8. I’m a bit of an acrhitecture geek (just a bit), so it all sounds good to me. I kinda want to explore the train tracks too – my friend and I walked the 6th Street Bridge last weekend, and wished we could go down to where the tracks are. We ended up spending most of our time photographing Walt Disney Concert Hall (and standing outside Shabu-Shabu House waiting for seats :P ).

    And I want Angels Flight to reopen, dammit.

    This is less archaeological and more touristy, but:


  9. This sounds like fun, I love exploring the town. Is there any tours out there, my friend did an architect tour of downtown, Then she gave us a tour of what she learned. Fascinating shit. I have another friend the does the cemetery tours and crime tours but I think I would enjoy just the weird untouched parts of the town.

  10. I’d like to see the old subway terminal downtown. I actually explored the old subway tunnel a from Glendale/Beverly to where it was blocked by the Bonaventure’s foundation, a few years ago, and that was pretty cool; I’d like to see it from the other end of the tunnel now. :-)

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