As a beach dweller, when out-of-town friends ask “how’s L.A.?” I often have to answer “I have no idea.” So I was really happy to turn my coverage of last Saturday’s pro-labor union rally into a mini-tour of Downtown Los Angeles, where I was able to check off several places on my “to do” list.
The rally took place outside the iconic Los Angeles City Hall, which figures prominently in L.A.’s history and its crime fiction, such as the movie version of James Ellroy’s “L.A. Confidential“. I have never been to City Hall, and really enjoyed its counterpoint to the Walt Disney Concert Hall a few blocks away, which was near where I parked. Check. After covering the rally, a friend and I went in search of coffee. We crossed 1st and Spring Streets and walked past the Moderne Los Angeles Times Building, which has an interesting historical motif on the Broadway side.
Just a couple of blocks down Broadway, we saw the Bradbury Building, another item on my list, and another building widely known for its appearances in L.A.-centric movies, including “Blade Runner“. It was quite stunning to see all the wood and other trim in such good shape, all well-lit by the cathedral-like skylight ceiling. I enjoyed the old cast iron letter box, with its chute reaching up to the top floor. Check.
When we got back outside, my friend noticed the Grand Central Market across the street, and recommended that we get some food there. I had no idea that this 1917 landmark even existed. Inside, the variety of chow choices was a bit overwhelming; you can pick up prepared food, fresh produce, and, according to the Market’s website, “a cone of ice cream.” I did find my espresso at a rather modern coffee bar, the Hill Street Cafe, on the upper level.
Then, right across Hill Street from where we were sitting, I saw the Angels Flight railway. I had to get back up the hill to get to my car, so the ride was transportation as much as tourism. However, I really enjoyed stepping into the car and into the past. The car, tracks, ticket house, signs, etc. all appeared to be in superb restored condition. And for just $ .25 per ride, with 5 rides for a buck, it’s a great deal. Check.
At the top of the hill, I walked by California Plaza/Water Court, turned right on Grand Ave., and past MOCA. The view of the metallic Disney on the other side of the street and the mountains with lots of new snow on them just in the background was another reminder of the uniqueness of Los Angeles.
I left armed with a greater appreciation for our city, and, perhaps more importantly, some answers about L.A. for my inquisitive out-of-town friends.