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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Santa Monica at Sunset

This time last year I was in the area and had some time to explore Tongva Park, a new six acre park a couple of block from the Santa Monica Pier. Here's a link to Part I and Part II, with some photos of Tongva Park and adjacent Ken Genser Square.

Above, the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, located at Ocean Avenue and Colorado Avenue at sunset. 

Another view. The historic neon sign at the entrance was installed in 1940. 

The City of Santa Monica recently installed an artistic walkway from the entrance to the Pier to the terminus of the newly opened Expo Line. 

Another view, this time looking back toward the setting sun. 

Parking garage, with a new exterior. 

Pedestrian walkway to the Expo Line. 

Expo Line light rail station, downtown Santa Monica. 

The Expo Line extension to Santa Monica opened on May 20, 2016. 

Here's a handy map, showing the stops along the entire 15.2 mile route between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. For the first time since 1953, Angelenos can take a ride from the city to the beach on rails. 

OK, technically the Expo Line doesn't go all the way to the beach. You have to walk three blocks. What's that take? Five minutes? 

Speaking of five minutes, while the final station in Santa Monica doesn't have a designated parking lot, there 3,000 parking spaces within a five minute walk. 

Diagonal from the Expo Line is the Santa Monica Place shopping center. The Santa Monica Place opened in 1980 and recently went through a massive, three-year renovation process reopening in 2010. 

Across the street, and directly across from the Expo Line terminus is the 1947 Sears Building. Sears recently closed the store. The store was deemed a historic landmark in 2004, meaning the owners can't change or expand it. Plans call for a mixed used development. Meanwhile, the land that parking lot is sitting on is worth a small fortune - easily 100 million dollars, if it could be developed to it's fully potential. No idea if the updated version of the building will include an update to the parking lot. 

I walked back over toward Tongva Park along Olympic Blvd. This apartment building is across the street Tongva Park. 

Cool, modern light fixture on the walkway between the two buildings. 

Despite the new construction, supply is no where meeting demand. According to this article, Santa Monica has the distinction of being the most expensive rent in the United States, surpassing San Francisco and New York City. The average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment is an incredible $4,799 a month

Olympic Blvd at Ocean Avenue. Olympic Blvd goes from Santa Monica all the way to downtown Los Angeles, and is named in honor of the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Los Angeles hosted the Olympics again in 1984 and has recently been selected to host them a third time - in 2028. 

A final view from the deck of the beautiful Loews Santa Monica Hotel, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. More next time.

© 2017


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Santa Monica

I was back in the area this time last year and took some time to explore Tongva Park and the adjacent Ken Genser Square.

Ken Genser Square is one acre park in front of the historic Santa Monica City Hall, named after a former mayor of Santa Monica. It's across the street from Tongva Park. 

Pictured above, the fountain at entrance to City Hall - obviously popular with seagulls. 

Santa Monica City Hall was formally dedicated on November 25, 1939. It's an outstanding example of the Public Works Administration (PWA) Moderne style of architecture. 

Place at the entrance. It was after 5pm and the building was closed. 

Beautiful lily pad flowers. These photos were all taken in last December.  

I walked back across the street to Tongva Park. Here's a link to a previous post with additional photos. 

As stated last time, Tongva Park opened in 2013, on a former six acre parking lot. Trees, paths, water features, sculpture, a children's play area, splash pad. Remember the lyrics to the old Joni Mitchell song "they took paradise and putting in a parking lot"? In this case, just the opposite is true. 

The park borders the Santa Monica Freeway, just as it narrows down to two lanes and merges into the Pacific Coast Highway. 

Up against the edge of the park, right where it borders the Freeway, is "Morty," a massive 100 year old Moreton Bay Fig Tree (Ficus macrophylla). 

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) native to South Africa. This is the "official flower" of the City of Los Angeles. 

A view of the end of the Santa Monica Freeway at the 1935  McClure Tunnel. You can almost, but not quiet, see the end of the tunnel. Here's a link to a previous post with a bit more info. 

There's probably no bad time to visit Tongva Park, but sunset was particularly beautiful. 

Palm trees (another non-native) silhouetted against the setting sun, with one of the park's beautiful fountains. 

This sculpture is apparently also a weather monitoring station. 

The setting sun and the incoming coastal fog made for an beautiful view of the overlook deck. 

Another view of the overlook deck with the reflecting sun at sunset. 

I had more time to explore the surrounding area. More on that next time. 

© 2017


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tongva Park Santa Monica

This time last year I was back in the area - and took some time to explore Tongva Park in Santa Monica. 

Tongva Park is a 6 acre urban park, located on Ocean Avenue a couple of blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. The park officially opened on October 19, 2013. 

Informational sign at the entrance. 

Lots of drought tolerant plants. I believe these are Agave Attenuata, native to Jalisco, Mexico. They're fairly common here in Southern California. 

The large ficus trees (as well as a massive fig tree) have been there for years. Apparently, Tongva Park was previously a six acre parking lot. 

At any rate, it's awesome to see a twist on the old Joni Mitchell song: "They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot." In this case, just the opposite. 

The park features a beautiful overlook deck, allowing for outstanding views of the adjacent Pacific Ocean. 

Another view of the overview deck. 

Tongva Park was designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, the New York-based design team behind the High Line in Manhattan.

Here's a link to an outstanding article from the Los Angeles Times, with ten times more information that you'll find in the wikipedia article. 

While Southern California is no longer in an extreme drought, water conservation is a ongoing issue. Xeriscape, based on the Greek word "dry" is drought tolerant landscaping. Unfortunately, xeriscape can sometimes be "zero-scape" --- rocks and weeds. 

That is not the case in Tongva Park. The James Corner team did an excellent job brining in an incredible 30,000 plants from more than 170 unique species. Above, aloe plants - native to North Africa. 

Southern California's Mediterranean climate allows for unique plants that simply can't be found anyplace else in the US.  

It was a weekday afternoon in late Fall; the park was relatively quiet. I'm sure it's busier on weekends and summer months. 

Palm trees in the background. Tongva Park has more than 300 trees from 21 species. 

photo credit:

Here's an photo of what that park originally looked like: a 6 acre parking lot. Note the palm trees along the perimeter, which were wisely kept.

There is a fun children's play area, no doubt packed on weekends. I wisely decided against taking any photos with kids. 

Across the street from Tongva Park is the Santa Monica City Hall, and Ken Genser Square. 

Here's a link to the Tongva Park + Ken Genser Square website. More next time

© 2017