I’ve lived here my whole life (with little breaks for a few months at a time while working on location) and it’s always weirded me out more than a little bit that Downtown has — until recently — kicked everyone out at 6pm and tossed them onto the 110, so the whole place can turn into something resembling Bartertown when the sun goes down.
At Gridskipper, Omri Ceren has written an informative, interesting, and amusingly-titled guide to the ongoing efforts to redevelop Downtown to so people will live and play there long after Thunderdome’s been closed down.
Downtown LA For Residents, Tourists, and People Who Sometimes Require Hookers And Blow breaks Downtown into different neighborhoods, attempts to let us know what makes each one a precious little snowflake, and how developers plan to melt those snowflakes into a slushy mass of crap.
Examples on the other side of what the damn kids today call “the jump.”
There’s The Fashion District:
This is ninety blocks of warehouses, depots, and sweat shops. Wiki says that it’s the “hub of the apparel industry on the West Coast,” a description that is technically true but undersells the also relevant “scary shithole” ethos of the subdistrict.
And there’s The Historic Core:
Among other city landmarks, it has Pershing Square, downtown’s smaller version of Central Park that’s not really anything like Central Park. It also has the Old Bank District – ground zero for downtown gentrification. Where old commercial buildings used to sit, new lofts, each with their own dual-use-approved Qdoba or Chipotle, are growing like weeds.
Yeah, because nothing screams history like a Chipotle!
But I especially enjoyed Omri’s take on The Warehouse Disctict:
It’s so named because it’s filled with empty, decaying warehouses. It’s also filled with empty, decaying railroad stops and empty, decaying industrial buildings. For years starving artists have been illegally occupying the abandoned buildings and using them as lofts, eventually making the area into a kind of bohemian cauldron. Then about 25 years ago the city decided to formally recognize their influence and officially redubbed the area an “Arts District.” They rezoned everything, and now shiny residential buildings are springing up. So in 10 years the empty, decaying warehouses will have been totally replaced by glittering lofts – the result being that no artists will have the money to live in the Arts District. The whole plan has a kind of unblinking, ironic stupidity that I can’t help but admire.
It’s positively unpossible for this plan to fail: take everything that makes various Downtown neighborhoods unique and historically important, then tear that down to build more cookie-cutter Jamba Juices and Pottery Barn? What could possibly go wrong?
You know, the more I look at Los Angeles and her “leaders”, Omri, the more I can’t deny that this whole goddamn city has a kind of unblinking, ironic stupidity that I can’t help but admire myself.