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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Re-Experiencing Los Angeles: Historic Downtown Core (Part II)

Two years ago, I was back in Los Angeles and had a bit of time to explore the Historic Downtown Core. Here's a link to Part I from last week. 

This is walking west (technically northwest) along 4th Street towards Spring Street. In the background is one of the office towers on Los Angeles' Bunker Hill. 

Across the street was a vintage sign for Heilman's Old Style. My educated guess is that this isn't original, but an attempt to create a working class style dive bar (think Milwaukee, circa 1975) in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Or, maybe it's been there for years, and this is all authentic? 

The six story Barclay Hotel was built in 1897 and was originally known as the Van Nuys Hotel. When it opened, it was the most state of the art hotel in Los Angeles, with telephones and electricity in every room. It has the distinction of being the oldest hotel in continuous operation in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy website, it is currently operated as a low income residential hotel. 

Another view across the street, this time of the Popular Center Building. Couldn't seem to find too much information on-line on this building, aside from the fact that it was built in 1908. 

Personally, I'd ditch the aqua blue lettering, but maybe that's just me. 

This looks much more like New York or Chicago, definitely not what one images when thinking about Los Angeles. 

Robert Reynolds Art Studio - located on the corner of 4th and Spring Streets. This is a good example of the massive gentrification and changes that are currently occurring in downtown Los Angeles. 

I've got a lot of information from this blog from google maps and other web searches. But in this case it was pretty to figure out the name of this art gallery. 

I crossed the street for a quick view back down 4th Street where I was a few minutes earlier. This is looking south towards Rocket Pizza. 

Another view of Rocket Pizza. 

Back on the corner of 4th and Spring, Robert Reynolds Art Studio is located in the historic Continental Building.   

The 13 story Continental Building was built in 1903, and was the tallest building in Los Angeles at the time. Almost 100 years later, it was converted into loft style residential apartments, and - apparently - is managed by the same firm that operates the San Fernando Building, located a block away. 

View looking up from the street. 

Public Parking. $5 for what? Per hour? For 20 minutes. Parking a few blocks away at the Bonaventure Hotel runs $30 for two hours (or $47 for the day) ... so I'm a bit cautious of what "$5 parking" really means. I'd definitely read the fine print first. 

Across the street, advertising for filming. A bit later that same day, a security guard saw me taking photos and asked if I was a location scout. Downtown Los Angeles has the advantage of a dozen or more early 20th Century buildings that ar ideal as filming locations. 

The Lunch Box cafe. Not a standout - but not everything can be in a 100 year old restored building, or sidewalk cafe. 

Mixed in with historic buildings being converted to residential were new apartments (or condos) going up. Ideally, this section of downtown will eventually be a mix of old and new buildings - saying goodbye to surface parking lots and saying hello to street level retail with residential or commercial above it - in many ways bringing Los Angeles back to how most cities were designed up until the 1950's. 

These photos were all taken back in November 2013. Actually this was a parking lot, that was in the process of being turned into the .7 acre Spring Street Park.

The 1915 twelve-story Spring Arts Tower, a historic office building located on the corner of Spring & 5th Streets. The Crocker Club - located in the former first floor bank - is a 1920's themed bar and nightclub. 

Looking back at the former parking lot - now Spring Street Park. 

Cross the street, on the corner of of Spring and 5th Streets, sits the Rowan Building, built in 1912 and converted into upscale loft condominiums in 2008. So, what does an 800 square foot unit goes for? About $400-$500 thousand. Here's a link to some listings. 

I turned the corner and headed northwest on 5th Street towards Broadway. 

More next week in Part III. 

© 2015


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Re-Experiencing Los Angeles: Historic Downtown Core (Part I)

Two years ago I was back in Los Angeles and I took some time to walk around and explore the Historic Core in downtown. This is Part I of a five part series:

I found street parking in front of Raw Materials on Main Street (in between 5th & Winston Streets). Raw Materials is, of course, an art store. But the name also symbolizes what the Historic Core of downtown Los Angeles represents. 

Next door was the Local Leaf Cafe. 

I headed north (technically, northeast) along Main Street. The "raw materials" of the historic core consist of hundreds of older buildings, most with retail spaces at the street level. Los Angeles has the advantage of some of the most stellar weather in the world. How about a cup of coffee outside in November?

Blossom Vietnamese Cafe, located at the corner of Main and Winston. Most of the street level retail was alive and active. 

What could pass for New York or Chicago. Got to love the old school (and very functional) metal fire escape. 

Crewest Gallery. The gentrification of downtown - of course - means art galleries. 

Contrast the number of people out and about on the city streets to, say, Los Angeles' Century City or even the financial district of downtown L.A. 

Across the street was Big Man Bakes. This was two years ago: they're still around. From the sign, I'm guessing they jumped on the cupcake craze that started about 2010. 

Looks like Big Man Bakes is right next to entrance to a parking garage. Fortunately, there's still some retail at the street level.

Street level outdoor dining along Main Street at Baco Mercat. This was about 3pm. I'm curious what this place is like at, say, 8pm? 

Outdoor along the street, yet with some privacy. This is not how most people envision Los Angeles. I certainly don't. Looks more like Paris, right? Someone had a vision. 

The entrance to the San Fernando Building - located at 400 S. Main. This seven story loft apartment building was renovated 15 years ago as part of the Old Bank District development - at, and around, this intersection. 

More street level outdoor dining at Ledlow - located at Main and Fourth (or is it, 4th?) Streets. 

Across the street, you can see much more the San Fernando Building, built in 1907. At the time, it was considered the finest office building in the city. Like much of downtown Los Angeles, it hit hard times in the 1950's, but - like dozens of other buildings in the area - has now come back as residential rental units. 

As a Christian, I'm always curious what makes a great city. What elements, what public policy, what sort of planning, zoning, and design elements make for a truly great city? How are neighborhoods laid out? Roads, parking, public transportation? How does this affect the poor or economically marginalized - as well as the general populace? What can we learn from other places -- and from history? How does a Christian world-view affect this, if at all?

Historically, Los Angeles - much more so than cities like New York or Chicago - grew out rather than up. There were numerous reasons for this. One hundred years ago, a sprawling, low density city was considered the wave of the future. Today, not so much. 

I headed west (technically, northwest) on 4th Street past the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building towards Spring and Broadway Streets. In the distance are the office towers that run north/south along streets like Figueroa, Hope, and Grand. 

More next time in Part II. 

© 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Under the Rainbow

photo credit: Puya Partow,
I wish I could claim credit for this striking photo: Los Angeles resident Puya Partow was in the right place yesterday after the first (of hopefully many) rainstorms this season. 

Love it. 


Friday, September 18, 2015

Historic Tall Ship "Lady Washington" in the Santa Monica Bay

Back in late Fall of 2007, my wife took our two kids on a field trip aboard the Lady Washington, a full-scale replica of the eighteenth century American sailing ship by the same name.

The original Lady Washington was the first American vessel to travel around the tip of South America, arriving on the West Coast in 1788.

An advantage of home schooling is being able to take your kids on cool field trips.

An advantage of living in Los Angeles is being able to experience something like the Lady Washington out on the open ocean (sorry Denver, sorry Dallas, sorry Atlanta).

And, another advantage of living in Los Angeles is being able to do this in short sleeves in December (sorry Chicago, sorry New York, sorry Boston).

The Lady Washington is based in Aberdeen, Washington and sails up and down the West Coast. She (why are ships called "she"?) will be in back in Los Angeles at the Long Beach Harbor December 10-14, 2015. Here's a link with more information.

The Lady Washington was built in 1989, and is an exact replica of the original ship.

It was a fun opportunity the kids and adults there to experience what life was like aboard a 18th Century ship. The crew is very hands on and works to communicate with the kids - it really is an educational experience.

And, apparently, older kids are given jobs to do. Nice.

One of the crew explaining what life was like down below.

The whole experience was about three hours (yeah, I know, time to start humming the theme song from Gillian's Island). When my wife and kids went, the ship was docked in the Marina del Rey, and went out into the Santa Monica Bay up the coast along Venice, Santa Monica, and Pacific Palisades - and back.

Apparently, the ship was been used in several films, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

Hats off the crew that works to make this experience come to life.

My son - age eight at the time. He's currently about a month away from getting his drivers license. Only three more years until he's off in college - yikes! The past eight years have gone by so quickly! 

Whatever education choice you make (public school, private school, or home school) make time with your kids - or nieces or nephews, or little brother or sister. Or, if you're an adult without children or extended - get involved with kids in your church or in your community - or a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters. The years go by very quickly!

The Ports O' Call Village shopping center in the Marina del Rey - almost home.

A final view of some of our homeschool friends - they all look like they're saying "arg".

Thought it would be good to dig and find some photos I've never posted (feel like the last few months, I've relied too much on other people's photos or video clips). I still have a few of my own from our five year adventure living in Los Angeles. 

I told a friend that I'd stop posting when I ran out of photos from our time there. Still have a few more left - but getting towards the bottom of the barrel. Mostly, now, it's a time issue. I'd rather be spending time with my 13 and 15 year olds, rather than posting photos. But, of course, it's fun to take a few minutes and post something from a few years back. 

And now, back to work ...

-© 2015


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Experiencing Los Angeles - in the San Fernando Valley

image credit: eyeball
One of the most overlooked areas of Los Angeles is the massive San Fernando Valley. 

It comes as a surprise to many that most of the San Fernando Valley (or simply "the Valley") is part of the City of Los Angeles. The Valley is separated from the rest of Los Angeles by the Santa Monica Mountains, which for all intents and purposes divides the city in two. With 1.8 million residents, the Valley has its own climate, history, culture, and vibe. 

The Valley doesn't usually come to mind when people think about Los Angeles, which is ironic because it's home to half of the six Major Studios: Warner Brothers, Disney Studios, and Universal Studios. (The other three are Columbia in Culver City, Fox in Century City, and Paramount in Hollywood. Paramount is the only studio actually located in Hollywood). 

I came across this wonderful montage of images from throughout the Valley from  

OK, all you fans of the SFV, what are the best things in the Valley to see or do?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Vadim Tereshchenko and Ian Wood's Los Angeles videos

Here's a couple of outstanding Vimeo videos highlighting different aspects of Los Angeles:

First, Vadim Tereschchenko's Los Angeles Hyperlapse/Timelapse Compilation, which took him two years to create:

Los Angeles Hyperlapse/Timelapse Compilation from Vadim Tereshchenko on Vimeo - and a link to the site where I found Vadim's video.

Second, Ian Wood's equally amazing six minute compilation of drone flyovers all over the city.

Los Angeles from Ian Wood on Vimeo - and a link to where I found this video.

Wow: both excellent, amazing work.

Which one do you like better?

Is there a short L.A. video you think we need to add?

Make a suggestion in the comments below.

(back to work)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Zach King at Biola University: "Invisible Man" video

Here's a post of student filmmaker Zach King's "Invisible Man" video. Clocking in at just under a minute, it's very fun and very creative. 

Zach King is a 25 year old film maker, based in Los Angeles. Here's a link to his website: King Film School. 

The video was filmed on the Biola University campus. Biola is a Christian liberal arts university, located approx 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. 

photo credit: Biola University
If you live in Southern California, perhaps you've seen Biola's recent promotional campaign: "Think Biblically About Everything" - the idea that Scripture impacts all of life, not simply religious things. 

photo credit:

Little known fact: the large, neon "Jesus Saves" sign a top the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles ...

photo credit:
 ... was originally part of Biola University at the school's original location in downtown L.A. at Sixth and Hope. Here's what the school looked like up until the 1950's Biola relocated to the 95 acre La Mirada campus in 1959. 

My personal connection is that I attended and received my graduate degree from Biola back in 1990. Certainly a different experience than my earlier undergraduate days at UCLA

Nice work, Zach King. Just another part of experiencing Los Angeles. 

-© 2015