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Maptastic: Los Angeles in 1891

February 17, 2012 in Art, History, LA, Vintage

I have sung the praises of the Big Map Blog in the past, most recently in December when a 1932 map of Los Angeles was added to its extensive cartographical collection. And here I go again, because they just posted another jaw-dropper in the form of H.B. Elliott’s birds-eye viewpoint of our town when the population was only 65,000 back in 1891 — one that looks like the artist drew inspiration for it from an imagined vantage point aloft above what is now Elysian Park.

What makes this document so exquisite is not just the map itself, but the detailed representations of both exteriors and interiors of some of the commercial and civic landmarks of that time, most of which are long gone. Click the above image to biggify it. But better yet, got here on Big Map Blog and click the full size download link and get yourself the 157″ x 111″ version to marvel at available there for free.

Blogging.LA Meets Atlas Obscura

February 15, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, History, LA bloggers

Green leafy car

After my recent Hollyhock House tour, I met a friend from out of town at the Figueroa Hotel for a drink. At the bar by the pool, we met a woman named Rachel who said she was holding a meetup for the local Atlas Obscura chapter. My friend got all excited at the mention. I thought, what the hell is Atlas Obscura? Turns out, it’s a bit like blogging.la.

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The Watts Happening Ride Is What’s Happening February 18

February 4, 2012 in Biking in LA, Crime, History, LA, Politics, Social issues, South Side, Transportation

The first Watts Happening Ride I organized five years ago was a simple there-and-back to Watts Towers from the Cornfield downtown, spurred on by the lamentable fact that as a native angeleno I had spent my whole life to-date never having been to the true treasure that is the amazing, inspiring and enduring work of Simon Rodia.

In its various editions since (the last one taking place in 2010), the Watts Happening Ride’s destinations have grown well beyond the iconic towers to include a variety of landmarks involving people, places and events in and around South Los Angeles.

The 2012 incarnation of the Watts Happening Ride will be departing from Silver Lake on Saturday, February 18 at 9 a.m., and will include the addition of a couple locations I’ve recently found. So if you’re not heading out of town for the long weekend and have a hankering to get your bike-riding discovery on, I hope you’ll join me.

For the latest info and any updates, the ride’s Facebook page is here.

When: February 18, gathering at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. departure
Start/Finish: Silver Lake’s Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign (northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard & Benton Way)
Distance: 32.95 miles (route map)
Pace: Casual
Terrain: Flat
Weather: In the event of rain that morning, the ride will be canceled and rescheduled to a later date.
Approximate Time: 5-6 hours
Optional Partial Ride: If doing the full route isn’t feasible, consider joining the ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. downtown on Spring Street (anywhere between 2nd & 9th streets) for the roughly 9-mile portion to the Watts Towers. The 103rd Street Blue Line station is near to the towers and can be an alternative to get you back into downtown.
Things You’ll Need (in no particular order): A functioning bicycle; $7 for the half-hour optional tour of Watts Towers; snacks and water for along the way; money for a late lunch at King Taco.

Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House

February 2, 2012 in History

Hollyhock HouseSmack dab in East Hollywood sits one of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s gems, the Hollyhock House. I was part of a private tour of the house recently, and was truly, er, floored.

Hollyhock House was built for oil heiress and single mom Aline Barnsdall just after World War I. The setting was a stunning hilltop olive grove surrounded by 36 acres, with 360-degree views of a then very picturesque, perhaps even quaint, Los Angeles. Barnsdall designed her homestead as a multi-structure arts complex, complete with theaters for both live performances and films. Today, that spirit remains, as the property is now the Barnsdall Art Park, housing the Los Angeles Municipal Art gallery, theater, and art center where numerous art and music classes are held.

More photos after the jump

A Modest, Magnificent Exhibition Of Our City’s History

January 27, 2012 in Art, Downtown, Entertainment, Events, History, LA

You’re probably not like me and are able to cope with the scope of the massively collaborative and on-going Pacific Standard Time exhibitions that fall under the ambitious region-wide initiative’s banner. Me, not so much. With so many institutions involved, I suffer from something of a paralysis when trying to decide whether I should go to the Getty or the Hammer  or LACMA or wherever. Case in point: I literally became immobile when I just now went to the Pacific Standard Time website and a banner popped up that told me there are 42 events taking place right this moment of 10:28AM — and that may even include a Big Gulp Cup retrospective at my local 7-11.

A few weeks ago I did manage to brush my intimidation aside and pay a first-time visit to MOCA to see the cool exhibition of Weegee’s Hollywood period photographs, but — pardon the digression — then I wandered around the museum’s permanent exhibit and found this piece of crap stuck to the wall, which reinforced both my abject disdain for “contemporary art” and my urge to punish whoever curated it with an extended indian-burn session to the forearm of his or her choosing.

So instead of getting all wound up trying to eenie-meanie-miney-mo to which big box the next I’d go, instead I brought along my inner map geek and together we ventured yesterday to the first floor galleries of the Central Library downtown where I spent an extended segment of the afternoon marveling at the selection of kick-ass cartography displayed as part of  its “As The City Grew: Historical Maps of Los Angeles” exhibit.

The 34 maps arrayed go back to the mid-1800s and offer an awesome and up-close glimpse back into our city as it was and as it became. Unlike the aforementioned contemporary bullshit I encountered, some of the maps are true and intricate works of art, and I would highly recommend paying them a visit whether you just find yourself in the library’s vicinity or are in between far better-decided visits than mine to the myriad Pacific Standard Time venues.

WHERE: Los Angeles Public Library, Central Branch, 630 W. 5th St, 90071
WHEN: Through November 4, 2012
COST: Free

Maptastic: 1932 Los Angeles!

December 20, 2011 in Art, History, LA, Maps

One of my favorite blogs to wander through is the Big Map Blog, which finds and shares truly exquisite historic cartography from all over the place — Los Angeles included, of course. Witness their most recent ridiculously detailed find from 1932: “Greater Los Angeles — The Wonder City Of America” from the Metropolitan Surveys company:

Click the above to enlargify it a bit, but if you wanna truly pore over aaaaall those details* in their high-resolution glory than boogie on over to its Big Map Blog page and download away!

* Such as a very interesting omission: the entire Los Angeles River.

 

Classic Eats #15: Take 2!

November 14, 2011 in Classic Eats, Events, History, LA

Classic EatsOkay, here we go again. My plan is to revive Classic Eats this coming Saturday, November 19th. Please join me, and hopefully others, at The Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake.

The Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake is a German Gasthaus and Beer Garden that was established in 1959 as an English pub. When the ownership changed in 1963, it took on its German theme. There’s food, lots of beer, and atmosphere at the Red Lion. Come out this Saturday, November 19th at 6:30pm to have a bite to eat, a drink, and hang out with writers and readers of Blogging.la. If you missed a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest, now you can!

Classic Eats #15
Saturday, November 19th at 6:30pm

Red Lion Tavern
2366 Glendale Blvd 
Los Angeles, CA 90039-3209

The Red Lion Tavern is about 5 miles north of downtown L.A. It’s located just south of Silver Lake Boulevard. Limited parking is available in lots on either side of the building. There is also plenty of street parking in the vicinity. Leave a comment or drop me a line if you plan to attend so I know how many seats to snag.

Next In An Occasional Streetfiti Series: Swastika-Star-Swastika

November 5, 2011 in Biking in LA, History, Vintage

One of the cool things about biking around Los Angeles is the stuff you get to discover that’s hidden in plain sight, with a favorite of mine being sidewalk vandalism. Most of the time you’ll just see a name and maybe a date scratched in the concrete or perhaps a decades-old shoe print. But sometimes you’ll come across more enigmatic stuff — like the following for example, written into the sidewalk by George, Bobby and Robert on the east side of San Fernando Road south of Figueroa Street, directly under the Arroyo Seco Parkway overpass (here) and right at the bottom of the steps leading up to what I like to call the “super-secret freeway bike/ped path” paralleling the southbound 110 between here and the what once was Chavez Ravine (click to enlargify):

Streetfiti

I’ve accessed those steps easily a couple dozen times over the last few years, but it was only today that I looked down and found this odd permanent record of the existence of George, Bobby and Robert. That crack running around it like a frame is interesting, but I’m at little more than a guess at the significance of the comma-delineated numbers that follow each name: 28, 1969; 27, 1969; 29, 1969. Birthday date and birth year, maybe? Or their ages during that fateful year? Or perhaps a year yet to come in the lives of these future thinkers?

What’s most curious is the decidedly more faint shapes scrawled at the bottom: a five-pointed star bookended on either side of it by swastikas that mirror each other. Three names, three figures. Kinda makes you go hmmmm.

Classic Eats #15: It’s Back!

October 31, 2011 in Classic Eats, Food & Drink, History, LA

Classic EatsIn the spirit of the season of things coming back to life, I thought it was time to bring back Classic Eats and continue our enjoyment of L.A. restaurants and bars that have been around longer than most of us have lived here. From my calculations, this will be Classic Eats #15 and it’s going to be a fast and simple one. By that, I mean it’s happening later this week and there’s no voting because I already decided on the location.

The Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake is a German Gasthaus and Beer Garden that was established in 1959 as an English pub. When the ownership changed in 1963, it took on its German theme. There’s food, lots of beer, and atmosphere at the Red Lion. Come out this Friday, November 4th at 7pm to have a bite to eat, a drink, and hang out with writers and readers of Blogging.la. If you missed a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest, now you can!

Classic Eats #15
Friday, November 4th at 7pm

Red Lion Tavern
2366 Glendale Blvd 
Los Angeles, CA 90039-3209

The Red Lion Tavern is about 5 miles north of downtown L.A. It’s located just south of Silver Lake Boulevard. Limited parking is available in lots on either side of the building. There is also plenty of street parking in the vicinity. Leave a comment or drop me a line if you plan to attend.

 

Venice Vintage Motorcyle Rally this Saturday

October 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Events, History, Transportation, Vintage, West Side

Venice Vintage MC Rally Poster
If you’re a fan of engineered machinery as I am, the words “Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally” may be among your favorites. This Saturday, October 22, the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club will hold its annual Vintage Motorcycle Rally on the Venice Farmers Market lot at 400 Venice Blvd. South, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event will feature vintage bike judging, live music, a barbecue, beer garden, pin-up girl contest, and vendors.

Admission to the rally is free. If you want to enter a vintage bike in the judging, the cost is $10 and includes VIP parking. Others arriving by motorcycle can park for $5. According to The Argonaut newspaper, proceeds from the rally will benefit the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA). I plan to arrive on foot, but if there are bikes for sale, then who knows, I may be leaving in a different manner.

Ruben Pardo: Elevator man in the LA Times

October 16, 2011 in History

The cover of the LA Times yesterday featured a story about Ruben Pardo, the elevator operator at the building I work in at 5514 Wilshire Blvd. Ruben is one of the coolest cats in town and is always in a good mood despite being in an elevator for 35 years. Check out the video and accompanying story. And yes, that’s me carrying the case of Corona…

Photo by Mel Melcon

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Found on Road Alive:1930 Ford

October 9, 2011 in Driving, History

1930 Ford Model A

It always amazes me the old cars that get used around here.  This sure is a nice 1930 Ford Model A but its not your typical trailer queen this driver actually pops up around town every now and then just being driven and enjoyed.  I spotted it yesterday afternoon at the Celebrate the Arts here in Monrovia (an art festival I participate in every year at this time).  They owner just popped into Library Park to check out the art exhibits leaving it unattended to draw a crowd all on its own.

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Blogging (in) LA: Preserving what we lost in LA with On Bunker Hill

September 29, 2011 in Blogging (in) LA, Downtown, Entertainment, History, LA, Vintage

Hat tip to my friend Petrea Burchard over at Pasadena Daily Photo for turning me onto On Bunker Hill this morning via a tweet.

On Bunker Hill has blogs and historical archives of the history we lost when Downtown LA grew so explosively after World War II.  George Mann has quite the historical archive of images of some of the old homes that once stood on Bunker Hill taken in the 40’s and 50’s.  (They are for sale too if you are so inclined).  A little quoted from their blog to get you interested in checking out the site:

Bunker Hill is a ghost, and though you may today walk streets named Grand and Hope and imagine that you stand where once were grand Victorian homes turned flophouses, you are in fact one hundred feet beneath the old roads, which the city shaved away to make a wider footprint for the high rise tenants that replaced them.

Its always just a little interesting to see what we have lost in the name of progress.

Shelby Car Show on Santa Monica Pier: Check Out the Photos

September 22, 2011 in Driving, Entertainment, Events, History, Transportation, Vintage, West Side

PierThe Shelby Car Show last Saturday on the Santa Monica Pier was just about the greatest thing ever. But instead of gushing about it in words, I’ll show you more photos after the jump.

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Blogging (in)LA…Did ya know history lessons this month at Militant Angeleno

September 16, 2011 in Blogging (in) LA, History, LA, People, Profiles, Which Side?

Did ya know that  near Union Station was the village of Yangna back in the days of the Tongva Nation?  That name means “Place of the Poison Oak” and fortunately the settlers of the area saw fit to rename us to Los Angeles.  Need more history this month?  You just need to simply meander over to the Militant Angeleno blog where he is celebrating 230 years of Los Angeles city-hood with a giant history lesson on the native peoples who first inhabited the area.

He has several posts, the one I found most fascinating was the map of Tongva Villages overlaid onto a map of the L.A. area.  Militant Angeleno went as far as to take that map and list the villages by name and the modern city built over them.  I just wish I lived in one of those cities that had a Tongva name, I’d go as far as using it as my official city of residence instead of the current name…mail would still get to me using the zip code but how fun would that be to pay homage the natives that were here first and confusing stalkers at the same time.