Where to start with Los Angeles? It is so large and so spread out that it is almost like a group of towns tossed together into one. Part of the feel of Los Angeles is due to when it had its growth spurt.
1900 – 100,000
1910 – 300,000
1920 – 600,000
1930 – 1.2 million
2010 – 3.7 million
So it had its big burst as the movie industry was getting going and at the peak of the Art Deco style. So you see amazing Art Deco buildings all over Los Angeles and it is now part of the city’s DNA. Even modern buildings will have touches that pay homage to the art deco style.
In the downtown area there are some fascinating buildings you might want to duck into and see. One is the Bradbury building where a lot of Blade Runner was filmed. You would almost not recognize it. It is beautiful.
Then there is the Fine Arts Building. You won’t believe the lobby when you walk in. It is one giant piece of art done primarily in the Romanesque style and the building was originally designed to house studios and workshops for artists. They also have regular wine tastings or other gatherings which you should check out if you are there.
“Fine Arts Building of Los Angeles interior” by Sorgente Group of America – http://www.sorgentegroup-usa.com/index.php?lingua=eng. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Even though this picture is good, it still doesn’t do it justice. I don’t think anything but seeing it in person will really give a feel for the space.
In the same general area as these two is the Broadway Theater District. This area has seen better days, but is still worth the look. If you take a tour or catch a movie, the exteriors are not bad, but the interiors of these theaters is over the top opulent. Many seated 2,000 to 2,500 people.
There are the obvious attractions like the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center which have events going on all the time.
On appropriately named Hill St., you will find the Angels Flight Railway which is a funicular railway that will chug you up or down the steep hill. It was built in 1901. Nearby to the bottom end of the railway is the Biddy Mason monument on Spring St. She was an amazing African American woman, who, as a slave, had to walk behind her master’s wagon from Mississippi to Utah and then on to California where she won her freedom. The Bradbury building is also nearby.
The Disney Concert Hall which is definitely not art deco, but is amazing to see. There is apparently not a straight line in the building which must have driven the contractors nuts. Nearby is the music center which includes Dorothy Chandler Pavilion which is known to most people because of the Oscars.
Just north of these is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It created controversy when it was built because it is very modern and angular. Also because some felt the money spent on the cathedral should have been spent on the victims of sexual abuse. The interior is massive but welcoming at the same time. Very impressive are the windows made of translucent alabaster that give an amazing soft light to the space.
On the other side of the 101 is Union Station, which is the last grand train station built in the US. Across the street is El Pueblo de Los Angeles. It is the oldest surviving part of the city. Going there is like going back in time to when Los Angeles was just a small Spanish mission.
Just on the east side of downtown is Little Tokyo and to the north near El Pueblo is Chinatown. There are some great restaurants in each.